Nov 132012

How far from the boundary wall must I build?

OB siteplan s Boundary Lines,Walls & Fences


We get a number of questions on our sister site Building Regulations asking “How close to the boundary am I (or my neighbour) allowed to build?” The site plan above is a sample and is only a guide to the approximate building lines and distances that the Building Regulations allow a house as well as other out-buildings to be built. All the measurements on the plan are in metres and show the distance from a road at the bottom and at the top, from a public open space. You will also see that the side measurements that go on to the neighbours properties is less than that for the road and the open space.

We must point out that this is just a guide. All properties have their own characteristics and features and the distances may vary. You MUST check with your local authority even before you have plans drawn up to avoid having to re-draw and re-submit the plans again and incur extra delays and costs. There are roads, public open spaces and servitudes that all have their own unique set of requirements. If you want to build within the specified building lines you will have to apply for a waiver to the local planning department. They will, more than likely, require you to get your neighbours consent in writing before you can get approval .

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  161 Responses to “Boundary Lines,Walls & Fences”

Comments (161)
  1. Hello
    We have a boundary with the National Roads Agency. They erected a wire fence on the boundary which we have maintained and made higher. We also placed an electric fence on our side of the wire fence for safety. With the new rules of compliance, we looked to erecting a palisade fence. Must we obtain permission from the Roads Agency to upgrade this fence? We have found a supplier for the electric fence who is certified to give us a COC.

    • Hi Neen, As long as the fence is inside your property you will not need permission. The average height of a fence allowed without plans is 2.1 m but some bye-laws relax this so you should just contact your local municipality and check with them on the height allowed.

  2. Hello,

    I recently bought a house in Krugersdorp.

    The house adjacent to mine has a garage and carport built directly on the boundary wall.

    The wall erected for the garage on my side is not maintained and is looking really bad in my opinion.

    Secondly, as the carport is built on the boundary wall, the drainage pipes of the roof is leads down onto my property,through drainage pipe through a hole in the boundary wall. This leads to all water etc coming from the roof pooling down to my property leaving waste on my property.

    Now, I don’t know what the arrangement with the previous owners was, but this is not acceptable to me.
    Do I have any kind of recourse?

    • Willie, in terms of the structures, plans would have been required and while you don’t care about the previous arrangement, if these were approved then you will have to live with them. So first off check what was approved. There is a possibility that the garage was built illegally. The carport is a different story because it is classified as minor building work.
      As far as the drainage is concerned, all property owners have a legal obligation in terms of the National Building Regulations, to take care of drainage – have a look at the page on stormwater drainage on our sister site – link provided. It’s such a common problem it is scary, but you certainly can take steps to ensure that your neighbour channels his/her stormwater in a proper way. If the local authority is not helpful, you might need to go to an attorney to enforce this.

  3. I recently approved a carport my neigbour wanted to put up between our properties which was also approved by the council (only approved car port no wall extensions). The carport is on the boundry between his house and the boundary wall. My neighbour then went further by raising the vibracrete wall to 2.9 metres to enclose the carport (technically making it a garage now). This has completely taken away all the sunlight that I receive on this side of my house as my house is build on the building line.

    When contacting the building inspector he indicated that the plans was approved by the council for the wall extension.

    My question thus, how can the plans for a wall extension to 2.9 metres be approved without the neighbours consent. In theory the approval is for a garage extension which is what this is now What are my options from here to get this rectified and get the raised wall to be lowered to the original 2.1 metres and only have the carport as agreed upon.

    • For above query, I am situated in Cape Town.

    • Rudo in terms of the City of Cape Town zoning regulations which you can download from our sister website, neighbour’s consent is no longer needed for building on a boundary, provided council approval has been obtained. This applies not only to walls above 1,8 m (up to 1,8 m is considered minor building work by the NBR and so plans are not normally required – anywhere in the country) but to buildings on the boundary as well. There are though a number of conditions that may be complied with. You will find these in the City zoning document.

  4. My neighbour has decided to build a two meter wall next to the existing 1.6 meter wall that has been on the boundary line between our two properties for the last fourteen years. We live in an Estate where all construction has to be approved by the HOA. . The rules state that boundary walls have to have a maintenance-free finish facing the adjacent property. None of the above have been complied with. What I wanted to know is, whether my neighbour needs Tshwane Council approval for a two meter high and twenty meter long boundary wall and what are my options now regarding the maintenance free finishes on my side.
    Thank you

    • Rolf you will need to take up the finish issue with the Home Owners Association – they need to force your neighbour to comply with this. For any walls over 1.8 m plans are required in terms of the National Building Regulations. You should take that issue up with the council.

  5. Good day

    We bought a house (halfway build) on auction in an Estate in Pretoria. We completed the building process and sold the house. Aftre a few weeks we were informed by the estate agents that th enext door neighbour (vacant stand, measured its stand and the boundary wall (which was already there when we bought it) was roughly 400mm on his property and that we should move the wall. We tried to speak to the owner (of the vacant stand) but he wants it moved. A few questions now came up
    1) Up to what point are we responsible for moving the wall as previous owners as we bough tthe house as is as did the current owner of the house.
    2) Should it be rather sorted between the 2 current owners
    3) What is our options if the vacant stand owner are not intersted in coming up with a solution
    4) One option is probably to break down the wall and leave it to the 2 current owners to sort out

    Tour advice would be appreciated

    • Hi Bennie, We are not legally qualified to answer a civil case matter and you should consult an attorney. Having said that it is our understanding that the onus is on the present owners to sort this out UNLESS they can prove that this was a “latent defect” with the property that you as the seller was aware of before you sold the house. It is not clear when the “after a few weeks” was, before the property was sold or after. If it was before the sale then it might be for you to rectify this. As I said earlier possibly consult a lawyer about this.

  6. Hi There,

    I want to know my tenant built a wall in complex on his side. He had the go-ahead from the owner. It took him over a year to build this as he is not always at home. He works for a contruction company and used the workers to build this. Now the Body Corporate is putting pressuring on me saying this needs to be a double wall and not a single wall. Also this complex is full title.

    Can you please tell me if a boundary wall needs to be double of single?

    Thanks in advance.


    • Wendy – first of all I am confused because you say this is your tenant but he got permission from the owner to build. Are you renting out a home that belongs to someone else?
      As far as boundary walls are concerned, in terms of the building regulations, they can be single walls, provided piers are provided as per the tables given in the regs (specifically in Part K of SANS 10400 – Walls). However there may be additional rules laid down by the complex that any owners have to abide by – and a double wall on the boundary may be one of these. Whoever the owner of the house is should have all the documentation of what is and is not allowed.

  7. Hi have bought my house 7 years ago (Newlands, Pretoria). I never checked if the plans were approved. After about two years i wanted to make alterations to the property. I went to City of Tshwane and requested plans. They only had a plan which was very old. The house was completely changed by the previous owner. The Lady at Tshwane told me that the plans could have been destroyed when Munotoria was destroyed by fire. She then told me to submit as built plans. Does it work like this and what is the procedure. I also bought the house with a Granny flat which are connected with the neighbor’s back perimeter wall. Will i be able to get the plans approved or do i have to demolish the Flat.

    • Dries, yes that is the way it works if you want to make alterations to the property.The person drawing your plans will indicate what is already built and what you intend to add to the property or alter. The legality of the granny flat is anybody’s guess if the plans were destroyed. Chances are the previous owner would have had to get permission from the neighbour to build on the boundary, and in the circumstances it appears that this may have happened. As long as the building complies with the National Building Regulations it is unlikely, in these circumstances that you would be ordered to demolish it.

  8. Hi Penny
    My neighbour has asked for permission to extend the existing flat roofed double garage and family room (existing windows in the garage no windows in the family) by adding a guest wc/a bathroom and a bedroom. About a 8m extension. The original garage and family room is built 95cm from their boundary. My main bedroom and second bedroom are approx 2.5m away from my boundary but opposite the garage and family room. They want to put two 60cm width x 1200 windows in the family room and windows in the guest wc and bathroom. The double storey house is built on a 880 sqm plot located in Cape Town. I am worried about noise and privacy. Can I refuse permission for the windows in the family room? Can I refuse permission for the extension?
    What rights do I have?
    Thanks Sharon

    • Sharon, the City of Cape Town no longer requires permission from neighbours in terms of building on a boundary. So you cannot refuse permission – though you could lodge and objection. However, there are limitations in terms of windows that are contained in the City’s zoning scheme. You can download this free from our sister website. Also read the article about PAJA legislation on that website.

  9. Hi
    Im planning to extend my living room, drawn up plans and was approved. Ive discovered that the new extention trench, will partialy fall over a drain (not the lid). This drain is not situated outside the building line area, as indicated on the original plan.
    What can be done? Can I go on with building and “box it out” or must I move the drain. Who is responsible for this? According to the developer, these drains can be placed anywhere on the property and not nessasary as what the plan indicates, therefor the homeowner is reponsible for the moving of the drain. Also, as long as the lid of the drain can be opened, it should not be a problem to build.
    Please advise urgently.

    • Barend if you can make a plan and box it you’ll probably be fine, but what bothers me is the claim by the developer that he can simply put drains wherever he choses. Why don’t you phone the Institute of Plumbing and ask them? Alternatively contact the local authority.

  10. Hi Guys i don’t know anything about building that’s why i hired professionals to do it for me, my 1st builder could talk but everything he did was a mess fortunately i bought a tape with me to do the measurements on the raft foundation, the sizes on the plan and the foundation is totally 2 different things and the slap is not straight. The garage was moved in front right inside the building line, i don’t know what to do my new builder is a professional he picked all the mistakes up. During the foundation before they could pour concrete the inspector came also said everything is alright, other wise i could have not agree to cover it up and i have the proof of inspection. What can i do i cant move the house backwards please help.

    • Dunken, the local authority needs to check and approve all foundation trenches before building can commence, so they would see immediately that things were not right – which is what you say. If they made a mistake you need to take it up with them! You don’t say whether building has started or not so it is difficult to give you advice.

  11. I’m recently starting to have problems with a neighbour that extended his house closer towards the boundary walls of our property a couple of years ago. My fiancé travelled a lot back then, time before I met her, and he built this extension without consulting her or asking for permission from her. The extension is less than 2 meters from our boundary wall, and he installed a large window and sliding door on the side facing our bedrooms and converted it to his living room where he will receive friends and have his movie nights at top volume. Every time he moves or makes a loud noise on his side of the fence, because it is so close to the walls my dogs start to bark. He constantly yells over the walls for my dogs to “voetsek” but I just have to keep quiet when I can hear every word he says in his house or have to listen to the loud sounds of his TV. Yesterday he even threatens my fiancé at our gate that he will shoot us all… Can I still lay a complaint at our local municipality regarding his building or should I take the matter further with local authorities?

    • You should definitely lay a complaint – or report him to the local authority. He will have required plans to do the extension, and if he didn’t have plans then the building is illegal. There are usually bylaws that prevent openings in walls that face neighbours at a certain distance – so you can also check this with the local authority. You could also lay charges of harassment and public nuisance with the police.

  12. Hi there, I bought an older house which have a chimney, but the actual fireplace is closed off. I want to buy a old coal stove with a metal chimney. Am I allowed to put this in and route the chimney through a hole wall. Thank you

    • William, you’d be better off opening up the chimney and routing the flue pipe through the chimney. It needs to extend upwards, which wouldn’t be possible if you stuck it through a wall.
      However, this is what Part V of SANS 10400, Space heating says about flue pipes:
      “4.2 Flue pipes
      4.2.1 No flue pipe shall be designed and installed in such a manner that it will cause a fire hazard
      to adjacent material.
      4.2.2 No flue pipe shall be connected to a shaft or duct which forms part of a ventilation system.
      4.2.3 No flue pipe shall be installed in a shaft or duct in which services which might be adversely affected by heat are to be situated.”
      As a matter of interest, we had a stove fireplace at one stage and took the flue straight up through the ceiling and roof.

  13. Good day,

    My question is what is the minimum required brick force wall before laying the slab foundation (ceiling) re to SANS standards please? This applies to commercial building developments.

    Thank you in advance.

    Pierre Bester
    cell: 079 6345 734

    • Hi Pierre, The building regulations do not specifically give the height of a foundation wall, they give guidelines and you will have to take at least three of them into account to make the calculation. 1. The depth of the trench in preparation for the concrete strip must be no less than 300mm. 2. The thickness of the concrete strip footing, this will depend on the finished height of the structure, shall be no less than 200mm. 3. The DPC in the wall shall be a minimum of 150mm above the finished outside ground level. I am not sure what you mean by “foundation (ceiling) re to SANS standards”

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