Home Building

‘Bakkie builders’ are an everyday feature of life in South Africa. They contribute substantially to the formal and informal economy, but have garnered a – perhaps unfair – reputation for poor quality. Even so, building a home at the best of times can give headaches.

The Housing Consumers Protection Measures Act 1998 established the National Home Builders Registration Council, and aims at protecting housing owners from the misfortunes which often accompany building a home.

The objects of the Council include establishing ethical and technical standards, providing, training and inspection services, warranty protection against defects, regulating the home building industry, and providing recourse when a builder fails to comply with obligations in terms of the Act.

The offences set out in the Act apply also to every director, trustee, managing member or officer of a ‘home builder’.

A. Builder’s registration

  1. It is an offence to carry on the business of a home builder unless you are registered with the Council.1 2
  2. It is an offence to construct a home unless you are registered with the Council.3 4
  3. It is an offence to receive payment (of any sort) in respect of the sale or construction of a home, following an agreement with somebody purchasing a home, unless you are registered with the Council.5
  4. It is an offence to withhold information, or furnish false or misleading information, whether at the time of registering with the Council, or at all – if such information is required under the Act.6

B. Financing the building

  1. Written agreements for building a home must be entered into. The builder commits a criminal offence if he demands (or takes, even) a deposit for the construction, or sale, of a home unless an agreement as provided for in the Act has been concluded.7

  2. The builder also commits an offence if he receives any form of payment unless he has submitted the prescribed documents and information (and fee) to the Council; and, it has entered them in its records.8

  3. If the home is to be financed by a state housing subsidy, the builder commits an offence if he commences construction before submitting the documents and information to the Council, and the Council has issued a certificate of enrolment of the project, and the Provincial MEC: Housing has paid the prescribed fee to the Council.9

  4. It is an offence for any financial institution to lend money, against the security of a mortgage land on the home, in order to purchase it from a builder unless the institution is satisfied that the builder is registered, and that the home is enrolled, with the Council and that the prescribed fees have been or shall be paid.10

  5. Any conveyancer attending to the registration of such a mortgage bond, who does not confirm that the builder is registered, that he has enrolled the home with the Council, and that he has paid the required fees, also commits an offence.11

C. Inspection

The National Home Builders Registration Council has inspectors whose purpose is to ensure compliance with regulations, standards, plans and so forth. An inspector has fairly wide powers to enter and inspect premises during construction, ask for drawings, etc.12

  1. It is an offence to hinder, obstruct, interfere with or withhold information from an inspector in the performance of his duties.13
  1. This does not apply to a person who builds his own home, or assists another to build his home, in both cases if exemption has been granted by the Council. 

  2. Section 21(1)(b) read with section 10(1)(a). 

  3. Again, this does not apply to an exempted owner-builder. 

  4. Section 21(1)(b) read with section 10(2). 

  5. Section 21(1)(b) read with section 10(1)(b). 

  6. Section 21(1)(a). 

  7. Section 21(1)(b) read with section 13(7)(a). 

  8. Section 21(1)(b) read with section 13(7)(b) and section 14(1) and (2). 

  9. Section 21(1)(b) read with section 14(2). 

  10. Section 18(1). 

  11. Section 18(2). 

  12. Section 19. 

  13. Section 19(5).