Building Work, Building Plans and Building Lines

Questions about Building Work, Building Plans and Building Lines

approved plans and house building work

Hardly a day goes by without questions from disgruntled homeowners relating to issues with discrepancies with house plans and building work. When I’m inspecting, I often find discrepancies between the approved plans and the built structure.

If you are selling your house, and don’t have municipal approved plans or necessary permissions, you could be in trouble. If you are buying a house, and don’t ask for approved plans or permissions, you might have very expensive problems.

Homeowners can also be in trouble with the municipality for the erection of illegal structures. Some municipalities have aerial photographs of suburbs taken every four years to check if alterations have been made to homes. In addition to this, municipalities assign building inspectors to monitor developments on the ground.

Legal Implications of Selling a House Without Approved Plans

The law requires all major building work to have plans drawn up and approved by the local authority. Therefore, it stands to reason that every house should have plans. But this is not always the case! A lack of approved building plans is a major problem for many people buying and selling houses and other buildings.

Sometimes people only discover that there are no plans years after they have bought a property. This comes to light either because they eventually want to do alterations, or because they want to sell. Buyers often find that a house they are buying does not have plans. They then want to know whose responsibility it is to have plans drawn up retrospectively (“as-built”).

It can become quite a complex legal matter if alterations and additions have been carried out on a property without municipal (local authority) approval.

Are Building Plans and Building Approval Always Required for Houses?

The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act specify the need for building plans and approval. More specifically, it is the local authority that governs exactly what can be done in terms of its zoning regulations and the National Building Regulations. So it is they that give approval (or deny it) for all building work and renovations on all properties. However, most municipalities are more lenient when it comes to minor building work.

The Act states that the municipality may grant relaxation in the case where the approval of plans requires the necessity of relaxation. However, you will have to apply for relaxation in writing and receive approval in writing.

If your property is within an estate or townhouse or cluster complex, you will also need to get a copy of the Estate Guidelines from the Aesthetics Committee, Body Corporate, Residents Associations etc.! Usually, there is normally a list of requirements that ensure aesthetic harmony and good building practice within the estate or complex. Furthermore, you will need your plans stamped and a letter from the Body Corporate for Council indicating that they are happy with your planned building.

How the Issue of “Voetstoots” Affects Building Approval and Plans

The purchase agreement made between buyers and sellers of the property will include a voetstoots clause. Essentially this clause indicates that the purchaser accepts the risk relating to defects existing at the time of the sale, patent or latent (but not visible). The exceptions to this clause are instances where the seller deliberately and fraudulently conceals latent defects from the purchaser, that he or she was aware of at the time. In this instance, the seller will remain liable for these defects. But of course, the purchaser will have to provide evidence that the seller knew what was wrong.

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Your Bedroom Paint Colour Can Affect Your Sleep

How Your Bedroom Paint Colour is Affecting Your Sleep

paint colour
Written and contributed by Krista Harper, a freelance writer from California, who writes about home and interior design

40% of Americans get only six or fewer hours of sleep per night. Perhaps you don’t either and have tried everything to make the sandman visit with little luck. Could the paint colour of your bedroom walls be to blame?

It sounds like something too simple to actually work, but the truth is the psychology behind colours has been researched for years. Different colours have the ability to make us feel particular emotions; if you’ve ever felt a difference in your mood while wearing your favourite hue, you know this is true. It’s the reason why a dentist’s office or spa may choose a soothing wall colour while a gym may go for vibrant tones to help its clients feel energized.

Here’s a general guide to the best and worst colours for your bedroom.

First, the Worst Paint Colour

When it comes to getting some shuteye, these are the general paint shades you may want to avoid.

Red

It’s the colour of romance and heat, so you may think it’s a suitable choice for your bedroom to help spice things up. But as it turns it, red is way too energetic. Red light makes cattle more aroused than blue or green light, and red is a common colour in bullfighting as it is believed to excite the bull.

Another study found that when people saw red their reactions became faster and more forceful. Red has also been found to increase the heart rate. Save the colour for roses and date night, but don’t paint your bedroom walls with it.

Bright Colors

Bright colours in general, no matter which ones they are, will stimulate and begin to energize you which is the opposite of what you need when trying to fall asleep. Vibrant shades of yellow, orange and blue are great for other parts of the house such as the kitchen and family room but may make it difficult to fall asleep when used in the bedroom.

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Damp In Freestanding Walls

Do Your Boundary Walls Look Like This?

damp in boundary and garden walls

This photo I took during a client’s comprehensive buyers inspection had rising damp, falling damp and penetrating damp in the boundary and garden walls. In addition, the white marks on the wall were caused by efflorescence.

Often the maintenance of the walls that are attached to or which do not form part of our houses is neglected. These are our boundary, garden and courtyard walls.

These walls are very important in that they protect our privacy and security and are our first line of defence against intruders. Unfortunately, we sometimes do not make enough effort to protect them!

The greatest enemy of these walls is damp which penetrates into the wall from below, above and from the sides of the walls.

Rising Damp

Rising damp occurs as a result of capillary action at and below ground level into porous building materials. These material are mainly concrete, bricks and mortar. The moisture rises up the wall in this way. It usually occurs where there is no damp proof course (DPC). Freestanding walls such as boundary and garden walls do not normally have DPC built into the walls because it would make the wall unstable. A layer of DPC would break the bond between the wall and its foundation.

The height to which the moisture will rise is determined by the evaporation rate and the nature of the wall. However, the normal limit for rising damp is generally about one metre above ground level.

Rising damp may show as a stain on the plastered and painted wall, the blistering of paint and loss of plaster. A damp area may be evident at the base of walls and in extreme situations, may cause the structure of the wall to wear away and crumble.

Falling Damp

Falling damp is caused by downward water penetration from the top of porous masonry walls. This is as a result of the top of a boundary wall not being adequately waterproofed, if at all.

Walls should be:

  • properly sealed at vertical expansion joints;
  • repaired at copings that have cracked or deteriorating mortar joints;
  • cleaned to prevent the build-up of dirt and moss on upper surfaces of stone or brickwork.
  • Leaves, bird manure, moss and dirt on top of the walls contain weak acids and salts which can promote decay of the masonry and paint if absorbed.

Penetrating Damp

Penetrating damp is a common form of damp. It occurs as a result of the horizontal ingress of water through gaps, cracks and joints in the wall’s structure. Penetrating or horizontal damp can be due to your or your neighbour’s irrigation system spraying against the boundary wall. Moreover, foliage growing against the wall (bushes and trees)can also be the cause. Other causes are deteriorating paint finishes and inadequately ruled joints which allows moisture intrusion into faced brick or stone walls.

Penetrating damp tends to produce localised patches of dampness and decay, whereas rising damp may affect the base of the wall.

Efflorescence

Efflorescence occurs where an appreciable quantity of soluble salts and moisture is present in the masonry. It routinely occurs in masonry construction, particularly in brick and concrete. It typically occurs during the initial curing of the cementitious product. Moisture carries these salts to the face of the masonry or concrete where the moisture evaporates.

As the water evaporates, it leaves the salts behind as a white fluffy deposit. Therefore, to remove it, brush the deposit off when the wall is dry. It usually disappears with time after rains or washing with water.

Efflorescence is generally an aesthetic concern and not a structural one. However, where there is excessive efflorescence, the crystallizing salts within the pores of the masonry can disrupt even the strongest material. As a result, this can lead to the breaking up and crumbling of the structure.

How to prevent damp damage in your freestanding walls

Rising Damp

Rising damp is not easy to resolve in any freestanding, boundary or garden walls because of the lack of DPC.  However, you can do the following:

  1. Make sure that there is no ponding of water against the wall. Good drainage away from the walls is essential. If you have a low point in your garden against your boundary walls you will need to create a hole in the wall at the lowest point for the stormwater to drain away. Your neighbours have to accept a certain amount of your stormwater by law.
  2. Try not to overwater your gardens against boundary and garden walls. overwatering will result in sodden earth around the walls and, as a result, rising damp in the wall.
  3. Keep leaves and other debris on the ground which may retain water away from the walls.

Falling Damp

  1. You should waterproof the tops of all freestanding walls with a layer of an acrylic waterproofing system or any other system to prevent moisture intrusion into the top of your boundary and yard walls.
  2. If there is a concrete or brick coping on top of the wall you must ensure that the joints form a water-resistant seal. You should seal all deteriorated joints or porous joints between the bricks and copings.
  3. Seal the top of expansion joints to prevent water from entering the joint with a silicone sealer.

Penetrating Damp

  1. If your freestanding walls are plastered, check the paint finish regularly. It may be time to repaint if the finish is chalky.
  2. If you have a sprinkler system make sure that you are not watering your boundary walls. Sprinklers heads are normally adjustable. If yours are not, change them.
  3. Trim bushes and shrubs so that there is a gap between the foliage, branches and the walls.
  4. If it appears that the moisture is from your neighbours’ sides, you will need to talk to them about the problem.
  5. Clean out and seal vertical expansion joints with a good silicone sealer. Any cracks should be sealed as well. Furthermore, if your plastered walls are covered in crazing cracking wash the wall down. Thereafter, when the wall is dry, seal the wall with a sealer and repaint the wall.

Efflorescence is a sign of damp

Efflorescence is caused by moisture absorbed in the wall evaporating and leaving behind salts as a white powder. Therefore, if you repair and maintain your walls as suggested above, very little efflorescence should appear on your walls.

I am not specifically promoting Prominent Paints as all the well-known paint manufacturers produce the same required paints and sealers. You can use most of them to repair and maintain your freestanding walls.

However, Prominent’s video provides very good advice on how to repair moisture damage to boundary and garden walls!

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THE HOME DETECTIVE » Home renovation

Stormwater

Homes without Gutters 

stormwater

 

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If you are like many homeowners, you have probably wondered why some houses have no gutters to provide protection against stormwater. You may have wished your own home had none because of the cleaning and maintenance issues.

Gutters are not required by law on a sloping roof. Many modern homes have none, even in instances where they would benefit by having them. There are alternatives that architects sometimes prefer such as concrete paving around the perimeter of your house.

In order to decide for yourself whether rainwater gutters are necessary for your home, it is best to first learn what the building regulations require.

The Building Regulations do not require roof gutters and downpipes if another suitable means of drainage has been provided to remove or disperse rainwater from the roof away from your home.

However, the Building Regulations do require that any stormwater that flows from your roof or any area that is in the immediate vicinity of your home must not cause damage to the interior of the building, its structure or its structural elements. The regulations require steps to be taken to ensure that stormwater does not accumulate in a way that“unduly inconveniences” you as the occupant of your home.

Furthermore, the system used must:

    1. not undercut the foundations by erosion or flooding
    2. drain stormwater away from your home
    3. not allow stormwater to accumulate against or close to the external walls
    4. make provision for the drainage of any areas on the property where water pools
    5. be capable of being easily maintained and cleaned

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