Property Information for Buyers and Sellers: Everything from Building Plans to Certificates of Occupancy in South Africa.

Property Information for Buyers and Sellers: Everything from Building Plans to Certificates of Occupancy in South Africa.

In the realm of real estate, knowledge is power. Whether you are buying or selling a property, understanding every facet of it, from building plans to certificates of occupancy, can make the difference between a successful transaction and a costly mistake. In this article, we will delve deep into Property Information for Buyers and Sellers: Everything from Building Plans to Certificates of Occupancy, providing you with valuable insights and guidance to navigate this intricate landscape with confidence.

The Importance of Property Information

Property Information: The Foundation of Smart Real Estate Transactions. When beginning your real estate venture, it is of utmost importance to establish a strong and comprehensive knowledge base regarding the property in question. This encompasses an in-depth understanding of every facet associated with the property, which includes its historical background, technical specifications, and its legal standing in the present moment. In other words, before delving into the world of real estate, it’s vital to equip yourself with a thorough grasp of the property’s past, a detailed awareness of its physical attributes, and a clear comprehension of its legal standing in the current context. This comprehensive foundation will not only empower you to make well-informed decisions but also ensure a smooth and secure progression throughout your real estate journey.

Building Plans: Unveiling the Blueprint

Understanding the Property’s Structure with Building Plans. One of the initial tasks that a prospective buyer should prioritize is the examination of the property’s building plans. These critical documents serve as a visual roadmap of the structure, presenting an intricate overview of its architectural layout, precise dimensions, and any noteworthy modifications that may have occurred throughout the years. In simpler terms, when you’re considering the purchase of a property, it’s essential to start by reviewing the building plans. These documents will give you valuable insights into how the property is structured, its exact measurements, and any substantial changes that have been made to the building over time. This process is fundamental to gaining a clear understanding of the property’s design and history, aiding you in making informed decisions during your buying journey.

Certificates of Occupancy: Legal Compliance

Ensuring Legal Compliance with Certificates of Occupancy. Certificates of occupancy are indispensable documents that serve as crucial verification of a property’s adherence to the specific zoning and building regulations established by local authorities. It is incumbent upon sellers to possess and provide this document as concrete evidence that the property is indeed suitable and compliant for lawful occupancy. To put it simply, certificates of occupancy are essential records that affirm a property’s conformity to local zoning and building codes. When these documents are in order, sellers can demonstrate that the property meets all the necessary legal requirements to be safely inhabited. These certificates play a pivotal role in ensuring the transparency and legitimacy of property transactions in accordance with local regulations.

Property History: Unearthing Secrets

Revealing the Past: Property History. Exploring a property’s historical background can uncover a wealth of valuable information, ranging from details about past owners to any potential disputes or structural concerns. Delving into the property’s history is an essential step that empowers buyers to make well-informed and prudent decisions. In simpler terms, investigating the historical records of a property can provide a treasure trove of insights. It can reveal who has owned the property in the past, highlight any legal conflicts or disagreements related to the property, and shed light on any structural issues or renovations that have taken place over time. This historical exploration is a critical tool that equips buyers with the knowledge necessary to make informed and wise choices when considering a property purchase.

Title Deeds: Ownership Documentation

Title Deeds: Establishing Ownership. It’s imperative for buyers to meticulously review title deeds. These important documents serve as the cornerstone for establishing the legal ownership of a property and provide a comprehensive account of any constraints or encumbrances that could potentially impact its utilization. In simpler terms, when you’re in the process of purchasing a property, it’s crucial to give close attention to the title deeds. These documents serve as the definitive proof of who legally owns the property and outline any limitations or burdens that may influence how the property can be used. A thorough examination of title deeds is an essential step in ensuring that you fully understand the legal aspects of the property you intend to buy, helping you make well-informed decisions.

Inspections and Appraisals: Assessing Value

Determining Value through Inspections and Appraisals. In the process of buying a property, professional property inspections and appraisals are indispensable stages. Inspections are designed to reveal any concealed or underlying problems with the property, while appraisals determine the property’s fair market value. To put it plainly, when you’re purchasing a property, arranging for professional inspections is crucial. These inspections are conducted to unearth any hidden issues or concerns that may not be immediately evident. On the other hand, property appraisals are crucial to establish the property’s fair market value, providing a clear and objective assessment of its worth. Both of these steps are vital for ensuring that you’re making a sound and informed investment in your real estate purchase.

Financing Options: Making it Affordable

Exploring Financing Options. Having a comprehensive understanding of financing options, ranging from mortgages to loans, is of paramount importance for buyers. This knowledge empowers them to customize their property purchase according to their specific financial circumstances and needs. In simpler terms, when individuals are looking to buy property, it’s vital for them to have a solid grasp of the various financing choices available, such as mortgages and loans. This understanding allows buyers to make well-informed decisions that align with their financial situation, ensuring that they can tailor their purchase to best suit their individual needs and capabilities.

Insurance Considerations: Protecting Your Investment

Securing Your Investment with Insurance. Property insurance is a fundamental component for protecting your investment. It’s important to educate yourself about the various types of insurance available and the specific coverage they provide. In simpler terms, when you own a property, having insurance is crucial to ensure that your investment is safeguarded. It’s essential to become acquainted with the different types of insurance policies and understand the extent of coverage they offer. This knowledge is key in making informed decisions about how to best protect your property and assets.

Local Regulations: Compliance is Key

Adhering to Local Regulations. Local regulations can have a substantial impact on how a property can be utilized. It’s crucial for both buyers and sellers to be well-informed about zoning laws and other regulations that govern their property. In simpler terms, when dealing with real estate, it’s important to understand that local rules and regulations can play a significant role in determining what you can and cannot do with a property. Whether you’re buying or selling, being aware of zoning laws and other relevant regulations is essential to ensure that the property is being used in compliance with the law, and to avoid any potential issues or conflicts in the future.

Negotiation Strategies: Getting the Best Deal

Mastering Negotiation Strategies. Negotiation is a pivotal element in the process of buying or selling property. It’s essential to delve into effective negotiation strategies to secure the most favorable deal. In simpler terms, whether you’re in the market to purchase or sell real estate, the art of negotiation is key. It involves employing effective techniques to ensure that you achieve the best possible outcome in terms of the deal. Learning and applying strong negotiation tactics can be instrumental in reaching agreements that align with your objectives and financial interests.

Market Trends: Timing is Everything

Timing Your Move: Understanding Market Trends. The real estate market is in a constant state of flux. It’s crucial to stay well-informed about market trends in order to make strategic decisions. In simpler terms, the real estate market is dynamic and can change rapidly. To make wise decisions, whether you’re buying or selling property, it’s essential to keep yourself updated on the latest trends in the market. This knowledge allows you to adapt your strategies and choices to the current conditions, ultimately helping you make more informed and strategic decisions in the world of real estate.

Property Information Resources

Accessing Property Information: Resources at Your Fingertips. It’s important to seek out trustworthy sources and useful tools that can aid you in collecting vital property information. In simpler terms, when you’re in the process of dealing with real estate, it’s crucial to find reliable resources and effective tools that can assist you in acquiring the necessary information about a property. These sources and tools can be invaluable for making well-informed decisions and ensuring that you have access to accurate and relevant data during your real estate endeavors.


Building plans provide a visual representation of a property’s structure, aiding buyers in understanding its layout and potential.

Certificates of occupancy ensure that a property complies with local regulations, guaranteeing its suitability for occupancy.

Property history can be researched through public records, local archives, and interviews with previous owners.

Title deeds should confirm legal ownership and reveal any restrictions or encumbrances on the property.

Inspections identify hidden issues, while appraisals determine a property’s fair market value, helping buyers make informed decisions.

Property insurance options include homeowners, renters, and landlord insurance, each offering different coverage for your needs.

In the intricate world of real estate, Property Information for Buyers, and Sellers: Everything from Building Plans to Certificates of Occupancy serves as your compass. Armed with knowledge and understanding, you can confidently navigate the property market, making informed decisions and ensuring a smooth and successful transaction. Remember, the foundation of a successful real estate journey lies in comprehensive property information. So, equip yourself with the insights shared here, and embark on your property buying or selling adventure with confidence and clarity.

Let Us Help You!

We specialise in providing the best service when it comes to town planning, building plans and property information.

Internal changes and converting garages into living spaces

Additions and Alterations in Sectional Title Schemes - Internal changes and converting garages into living spaces

There is a common misconception that internal changes does not need approval from the trustees and the no building plans need to be altered when changed. It is important to understand that changes, such as removing an internal wall might affect the structural integrity of the unit and can therefor result in damages to the roof (common property).

Furthermore, internal changes to bathrooms and kitchens can result in new connections to the sewer system of the complex, that can be detrimental to the body corporate.  Therefor approval from the Body Corporate is required for internal changes.

Garages have been approved on the site development plan, building plans and often on the sectional title plans for the parking of vehicles. These parking spaces form part of the minimum parking requirements of the complex and cannot be converted for any other use (even temporary storage) without negatively impacting on the parking requirements as per Council requirement.

The general notion that vehicles can be parked in front of the now converted garage or even on visitors parking, is legally flawed.  All areas outside of units are common property and cannot be utilized by residents for their own purposes. It must also be considered that if permission is given to one owner to do so, this may by implication suggest that others can do the same, with catastrophic consequences for the complex.

The conversion of garages should at all cost be prevented and conversions done without due procedure should be returned to its original state.


In this very informative Youtube video Abrie Snyman explains the High Court judgment that prevents the conversion of garages and the implications thereof.

Contact us today for more information!

Different types of plans in extensions and alterations.

Different types of plans in extensions and alterations.

Dealing with town planning, building plans and sectional title issues daily, we often find that there is a lot of confusion concerning the different types of plans relevant to sectional title complexes.

The biggest uncertainty is between site development plans, building plans and sectional title plans.  We would like to explain the differences in a practical way.

site development plan contains information regarding the specific detail of the scheme including the layout of all the buildings, drainage, landscaping, parking and storm water.

A site development plan is required in terms of the relevant Town Planning Scheme (mostly on properties with a different zoning than residential 1). The requirement for a site development plan is stipulated in the zoning certificate but it can also be a requirement by the local authority. There may be exceptions in certain local authorities, so we suggest you contact your local authority to confirm.

The purpose of a site development plan is to evaluate a development as far as livability and compliance to land use development controls.  This includes aspects like coverage, floor area ratio, height and parking requirements. It can also include esthetic acceptability of a development. The approval of a site development is often a pre-requisite for the approval of a building plan.

Building plans are required in terms of the National Building Regulations with the main purpose being the safety of structures and compliance to all relevant rules and regulations and bylaws. All structures, permanent and temporary require building plans. It is a legal requirement in South Africa to obtain planning permission prior to building, renovating or extending your home/ unit, as per Section 4(1) of the National Building Regulations and Buildings Standards Act, which states: 


“No person shall without the prior approval in writing of the local authority in question, erect any building in respect of which plans and specifications are to be drawn and submitted in terms of this Act “. Anything you build on a property needs plans, unless it is defined as “minor building work” for which consent is required from Council to be classified as “minor building works” is concerned. 



The main purpose of sectional title plans is to indicate ownership of sections in a sectional title complex and shows how the scheme is divided into sections and common property.

If exclusive use areas are created in the rules of a complex an exclusive use area plan will form part of the rules registered at CSOS. This EUA plan will indicate areas allocated to a certain unit as exclusive use.  It will indicate the area and position of the EUA as well as the purpose of which this area is registered.  It typically includes the garden and courtyard as well as parking bays (covered or open). The Sectional Titles Schemes Management Regulations highlights the following:


MR 30. The body corporate must take all reasonable steps to ensure that a member or any other occupier of a section or exclusive use area does not —

(f) subject to the provisions of section 13(1)(g) of the Act, use a section or exclusive use area for a purpose other than for its intended use as —

(i) shown expressly or by implication on a registered sectional plan or an approved building plan;

(ii) can reasonably be inferred from the provisions of the applicable town planning by-laws or the rules of the body corporate; or

(iii  is obvious from its construction, layout and available amenities;


s.13. (1) An owner must —

(g) when the purpose for which a section or exclusive use area is intended to be used is shown expressly or by implication on or by a registered sectional plan, not use nor permit such section or exclusive use area to be used for any other purpose: Provided that with the written consent of all owners such section or exclusive use area may be used for that purpose as consented to.

It is important to understand that all these plans are required, and that the existence of sectional title plans does not mean that building plans are not required. Site development plans and building plans are submitted to local authority whilst Sectional Title Plans are approved by the Surveyor Generals office.


Watch this Minute with Multiprof video for a quick overview of the different types of plans in Sectional Title Schemes.


In the next addition we will discuss the impact that alterations and additions have on the different types of plans.

Contact us today for more information!

The role of the Body Corporate and Trustees in extensions and alterations.

The role of the Body Corporate and Trustees in extensions and alterations.

We previously discussed the complexities of sectional title living and, in this entry, we look at another hot topic – additions and alterations in sectional title schemes. 

Many of us can relate to agony of waking up to a newly constructed lapa blocking your once unobstructed view. Shortly thereafter a couple of others follow suit and before long the complex is no longer homogeneous (or harmonious for that matter!). As owners own only the inside of the unit (together with an undivided share in the common property), the lapas are built on common property and are thus for everyone’s enjoyment (and upkeep). This raises a very important question: Can extensions and alterations be allowed in sectional titles schemes?

Key to this issue is the utmost importance of following the correct procedure that will preserve the look and feel of the complex and ensure the safety of its inhabitants.  It is also the duty of trustees to ensure that levies are calculated fairly and correctly and therefor extensions must be managed accordingly. Uncontrolled alterations can negatively influence the value of the property and should be avoided at all cost.

Body Corporate approval is always requested for extensions.  However, permission given by Trustees does not override standard rules and regulations. We therefor advise trustees to always include the following indemnity:

The Trustees have in principle no objection to additions or alterations on condition that the provisions of the Town Planning Scheme, National Building Regulations and Sectional Titles Act, Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act and Prescribed Rules are adhered to.

In this Minute with Multiprof video, CEO Abrie Snyman gives a short overview of the process and timelines to legally extend in complexes.


In conclusion – requests for extensions will always be prevalent in complexes. It is the duty of owners, trustees and Managing Agents to familiarize themselves with the correct procedure to ensure compliance of all structures to all above mentioned laws and regulation. By doing so, many disputes and costly corrections can be avoided. 


Contact us today for more information!

Extensions & Alterations in Sectional Title Schemes

Extensions & Alterations in Sectional Title Schemes

In this series we will discuss all factors complicating extensions and alterations in sectional title schemes.  With extensions and alterations, we refer to adding on to your sections, closing balconies, converting garages into living rooms and similar. We will look at the impact of these changes in terms of town planning and building regulations as well as sectional title laws and regulation.

First and foremost, we will have a look at why complex living is so complicated.  Communal living always entails medium to high density living.  Mix this close proximity with shared ownership, one is bound to enter tricky territory – literary and figuratively speaking! Community Schemes are governed by rules and regulations which are mostly enforced by a handful of voluntary trustees, in their spare time. Often times occupants, owners and tenants alike, are unaware of such rules and feel personally attacked when reprimanded. However, when successfully implemented, these rules will enhance the quality of life for all, but more importantly ensure the safety of all occupants.

A good starting point on the road to a harmonious scheme, is to have a look a few basic concepts which are often misconceived.

What is Common Property? 

In relation to the scheme, it means


  • All those buildings or part of buildings not included in a section
  • All the land and space that is not included in sections
  • Any additional land or units acquired by the BC


Common property belongs to all members of the BC in an undivided share according to the participation quota of their respective sections. Often owners are unaware of the fact that they do not own their garden (even if it is fenced or walled) and may therefore not construct anything on common property. This includes louvre decks, lapas, swimming pools and wendy houses. When built on common property, these structures would theoretically be for the enjoyment of the entire body corporate.

What is an Exclusive Use Areas?

EUA is common property that the right of use is granted to a specific member – granting in terms of the rules, or notarial ceded to member (registered in deeds office). In terms of the 1971 Act, there were also developer granted EUA rights.


As mentioned in common property, you cannot build a pool without approval as it forms part of common property. When built, you have the right to exclusively use it, but you cannot own it. Depending on how Exclusive Use Area were created, you may be charged a fee to maintain the pool.  Learn more about the creation of EUA in this Minute with Multiprof video.

In the next entry, we will look at the role of owners, the Body Corporate and Trustees in extensions and alterations in sectional title.

Get in contact with us!