Renovations that don’t require planning approval

South Africa’s National Building Regulations (NBR) requires that any building or structural changes need to receive planning approval from the relevant city council before the renovations can begin. But, are there any renovations homeowners can do without going through the somewhat tedious process of acquiring that approval?

According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, any work on a project that falls under the legal classification of “minor building work” can go ahead without receiving any planning approval.

“As long as the addition is small enough, or the changes do not affect any of the external or structural walls, then homeowners are free to make changes to their home without arranging a visit to their local municipal office,” says Goslett.

These renovations can be particularly helpful for owners who are in a hurry to sell, as acquiring the relevant planning approval can take several months. Below are some of the quick-fix renovations Goslett suggests for those in a hurry to sell:

Adding Small Structures 
“Small outdoor structures can create a certain amount of buyer’s appeal and do not require council approval. For example, tool sheds under ten square metres, children’s playhouses under five square metres, greenhouses under 15 square metres, and pergolas all constitute as ‘minor building work’ and offer a great value-add to any property.”

Changing Internal Features
“There are several clever ways to create the feeling of additional space other than to add onto rooms or extend existing walls. As long as they do not affect the structural safety of the building, internal walls can be knocked down without planning approval to create an open-plan layout that will completely change the look and feel of a home. To further create the illusion of additional space, homeowners could also consider replacing old windows with thick, dark frames for modern windows with more glass plane and thinner frames.”

Update the Roof Tiles 
“If your property lacks curb appeal, homeowners are allowed to replace their roof without requiring planning approval as long as they make use of similar materials to what was used before. Simply changing the colour of the roof tiles (to black slate instead of the faded reddish brown, for example) can do wonders for updating the look of a home.”

“All of these projects are also great for homeowners who are just looking for easy ways to fall in love with a property all over again. Home projects are a great way to keep life exciting – as long as you find reliable contactors who can do the work without causing any unnecessary stress. If you have a relationship with a good estate agent, they can usually recommend somebody that has proven to deliver good work,” Goslett concludes.

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