Do you need building plans for a patio roof in South Africa?

Sitting outside on the patio enjoying the country’s stunning weather is a big part of South African culture. There is nothing quite like entertaining friends and family outside on the patio while the braai is going. To optimize the use of your patio with that additional sheltered space to enjoy the shade from the sun or coverage from the rain, a patio roof is definitely a good idea to look into the building. The first question you’ll need to answer is, do I need building plans for a patio roof in South Africa?

According to Part G (ii) of the Minor Building Works Schedule, a patio roof (or similar shading shelter) less than 40m2 does not need building plan approval. However, you need to submit a MBW application, detailed drawings providing sufficient detailing and appoint a registered professional to oversee the construction where necessary.

However, before getting excited about your new sheltered outdoor space, make sure that your planned patio roof actually qualifies as a “Minor Building Work” according to the building regulations. The requirements will be covered next in this article, as well as the minor building works application and the appointment of a registered professional.

What qualifies as a patio roof under “minor building works” in South Africa?

Some types of patio roofs that people refer to do not actually qualify as minor building works and require building plans and approval before construction can commence. So what type of patio roof (or similar) qualifies under minor building works?

The “minor building works” schedule defines a patio roof (or similar) as supported by lightweight structure, enclosed on not more than two sides by existing walls and having an easily removable roof covering.

A patio roof built to the 40m2 area limit will cover a 5 meter by 8 meter patio space, which will provide ample sheltered area. This should be more than enough space for most dwellings, but anything larger and you will require formal submission of building plans and approval.

A free-standing pergola structure that has a permeable or fabric/shade-cloth roof covering does not require any building plans or a “minor building works” application. You will also be able to find prefabricated shading devices sold in chain stores, such as Builders, which will also not require any building plans.

Examples of patio roofs that are prefabricated and sold in chain stores such as Builders, that are temporary structures. These types of patio roofs usually don’t need plans or a minor building works application to install.

What drawings do I need for a patio roof?

In most cases, any new structure needs a complete set of plans to be submitted to the municipality and approved before construction can commence. This is not the case with structures that fall under the “minor building works”. In some instances, no drawings are required at all. But what about a patio roof?

According to the Minor Building Works Schedule, you only need a basic site plan indicating the position of the roof structure and a sketch of the roof structure. You may have to appoint a registered professional to oversee this work.

While the drawings only need to be basic, they should provide sufficient detail showing that the patio roof will comply with the national building standards and municipal bylaws. For example, the lightweight structure supporting the roof doesn’t encroach over any building lines, the patio roof is no larger than 40m2 in area, etc. These drawings may be done by anyone, as long as they are drawn to standard.

Do I need an architect or engineer to build a patio roof?

It may seem like a regulatory thing to appoint a registered professional when wanting to build any type of roof structure for safety precautions. But do you really need an architect or engineer to build a patio roof?

You do not necessarily need to appoint an architect or engineer to build the patio roof. You do however (where necessary) need to appoint a professional registered with SACAP or ECSA to sign the “SANS 10400 Form 2”, taking responsibility for the compliance of the roof structure.

The registered professional you appoint can be an architect, architectural technologist or any draughts person registered with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP). You may also appoint an engineer or any person registered with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). The appointed person will charge a fee for this. You can refer to SACAP’s annual guideline for recommended fees charged by architectural professionals.

What will happen if I build a patio roof without an MBW application?

Building any roof or shading structure that does not classify as a pergola in the Minor Building Works Schedule, without authorization from your local municipality is an offense and you may be subject to a fine, and/or a demolition order. Therefore it is always best to first approach your municipality for guidance when planning to build a shading shelter, to suggest the required documents, drawings and assess if the appointment of a registered professional will be necessary. 

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