During the month of July, we had the privilege to exhibit our work at Grounded at Echo.

The theme of the exhibition was SIMPLIFY LIFE.

In this day and age, we tend to focus on bigger spaces, filled to capacity with all our possessions.


The exhibition consisted out of 8 sketches of existing buildings that are all smaller than 100m2. They illustrate that beauty lies within the details, composition and layout.  Not the number of rooms you can fit on your site.  Excluding the one that was of daisies because my husband said he wonders if I can draw anything other than a house…. That showed him 😊

Along with the sketches we displayed two models that are close to our heart. Both are small structures.

The models represented:

  1. The Tiny house cabins.
  2. The Pods – a series of prefab structures that can be assembled as you need more space.


During our exhibition opening night we celebrated our birthday and the fact that God has been so good to us the past few years and celebrating His goodness.

We hope the exhibition inspired people to look at small spaces with new appreciation.

Thank you to the following people that made the opening evening a huge success:

René Walker for the beautiful photos.

Grounded at Echo for the venue and delicious food.

Functional Form_ Architecture _ Image 6 Functional Form_ Architecture _ Image 8Functional Form_ Architecture _ Image 9Functional Form_ Architecture _ Image 11

Functional Form_ Architecture _ Image 7



It might feel overwhelming after you decided that you want to build your own home. Where to start?
We discuss the main role of your architectural team, engineers, contractor with a few additional consultants you might need and where to find them. The councils that are stated below mainly focus on Pretoria, South Africa.

1.    Architectural team. 

The first company you should do your research on is your architectural team is there to guide you through the whole building process. They will also advise you and assist with obtaining the rest of the disciplines and professionals you would need for your project.

They act as you agent and advise you on decisions but the utmost importance is to understand the final decision lies with you, the client. They can advise you but at the end it is your house and you should never feel that you are being bullied into a direction.

However, keep in mind there are always the restrictions the local authority, HOA( Home owners association) and other councils place on the project, that are beyond anyone’s control.

Where to find your architectural team?

Which ever method you choose, either google, Facebook, Instagram, word of mouth etc

Confirm that the professional you are considering is in good standing with SACAP (South African Council for the Architectural Profession)

Confirm that the professional you are considering are allowed to sign off on your project.

“Professional” in front of any of the architects title means, that they are qualified to sign off the plans in their specific category – to read more on what these categories are follow the link to SACAP’s page

The profession is broken up in a few groups:

  1. Professional Architects (PrArch)
  2. Professional Senior Architectural Technologist (PSAT)
  3. Professional Architectural Technologist (PAT)
  4. Professional Draughtsperson (PAD)

2.    Contractors

Established relationship or tender

An established relationship between you and a contractor is always good and it is advisable to compile your team as soon as possible. However, should you wish to approach a few companies to tender on your project, it is advisable to first finalize the design and submit to council for a more detailed bill of quantities and feedback to your tender.

Included in the architectural tender stage is that they will go out and inspect the quality of the prospective contractors’ work.

  1. A building that is in the construction phase,
  2. Recently finished
  3. Lastly a project that has been completed a few years ago.

Where to find a NHBRC registered builder?

3.    Structural Engineer

Any house submitted to council must be signed off by a registered structural Engineer and they supply you the relevant SANS 10400 documents for council together with Site inspection.

ECSA is the governing council for Engineers.

The profession is broken up in a few groups:

  1. Professional Engineer
  2. Professional Engineering Technologist
  3. Professional Certificated Engineer
  4. Professional Engineering Technician

4.    Other disciplines you might need depending on the nature of your project:  

4.1 Specialists in submissions and plan approval services

Should you choose to submit the plans yourself (and not through your architectural team) there are companies that specialize in the submission of building plans to your local authority.

Advantages of appointment:

  • They work with the council drawings every day.
  • They know the process
  • They are familiar with the times that council’s different departments meet
  • They have an established relationship with the council members.

To find an excellent recommendation ask your architectural team or at your local authority.

Word of mouth is most of the time successful.

4.2 Land surveyors

General contours are available on the government’s GIS websites. Here is the link to Tshwane’s site

In some cases that will not be detailed enough especially if the site has abnormal sloped areas.

An Estate might also require you to appoint a professional land surveyor (Confirm on the HOA guidelines)

Land surveyors also provide the valuable service of indicating the corner pegs of your stand. It can be a costly mistake if you end up building on a piece of your neighbour’s stand and is seen as an unnecessary cost while building but might end up saving you.

The South African Geomatics Council (SAGC) have a list of registered members.

4.3 Town planners

The statutory Council that regulate the Town Planning Profession is SACPLAN (The South African Council for Planners).
According to the main responsibility of Town Planners is:

“to ease or avoid social, economic and environmental problems within their town of employment. They achieve this by making recommendations to local elected officials that reflect the needs of the town”

Typical involvement includes the following:

  • Rezoning of stands
  • Changing land use rights
  • Assisting with relaxation of coverage or FAR on a stand
  • Subdivisions or consolidation of stands


4.4 Geotechnical specialists

They analyse the soil condition of a site. The method of testing all depends on the site condition.

The structural Engineer requires a report to prepare an accurate design for the structural and the information is not always available at the local authority. Your appointed design or engineering team will assist you with recommendations.

4.5 Audio & Visual home automation

Living in this day and age our homes move with us into the future. It is recommended, if you considering to install audio and visual equipment (consider the complexity of the project) to appoint your specialists early in the design phase.

This will result in technology that blends into the home rather than an add on fixture.

4.6 Solar energy consultant

This group of specialists consider each home and the family’s habits and requirements.

They have knowledge of the best products on the market and what to recommend to their client’s.

The best method of getting in touch with a professional specialist is by asking your design team, expo’s and as always word of mouth recommendations of friends and family.



Build or Buy a home?

Build your home or buy an existing house?

Do not settle for less than perfection.

First and foremost, the largest advantage to build is:

It is YOUR home, the shape of your choice, materials etc. Your home will be reflection of your personality and taste.

Materials used – energy efficient and to the latest South African National Standards (SANS)

When submitting council drawings your architectural professional is required to submit SANS 10400 XA calculations that prove that your home is designed to the optimal energy efficiency.  This includes:

  • Evaluation of orientation
  • Estimated energy consumption
  • Thermal insulation for the floor slabs, walls and roof.
  • Fenestration calculations

Materials installed is manufactured under strict restrictions and safety standards.

The plumbing and electrical fixtures are more efficient which result in a more sustainable home in the long run.

Home automation and solar energy included from the start and it should not look as if it is added on.

When you appoint your professional team inform them asap should you wish to install home automation and solar panels. Your team will design according to the specialists’ requirements and specifications.


  • The main drawback of building is that its roughly 20% more expensive to build than to buy an existing house. However, should you approach the project with the right team, you can make a higher profit when you resell.
  • The house is designed with our current lifestyle and market in mind.
  • A new home with new materials and contemporary finishes is typically more appealing than a dated house.
  • Sometimes you have to live years in a “fixer upper” home before you can afford to make the changes that you dreamed about.

A new home should have lower ongoing maintenance and running cost.

Other positive points

  • If you build your own home there is a level of satisfaction of seeing your dream home come to life. You have sentimental connection with your home
  • Building in a new area your house might not be devalued by dilapidated neighbouring buildings.
  • You have a 5-year major structural defect warranty if the contractor is registered with the NHBRC
  • Building in a new area where you don’t have neighbours yet, they need your signed approval for any encroachment on their building line of you boundary where as if you buy in an established area you have no control about what the previous owners approved.
  • You are in control of the quality of design and workmanship of a new house.
  • Issues and defects are usually covered under the guarantees supplied by the contractor and suppliers.
  • The landscaping you can work with a clean canvas but it might take some time for trees to mature.
  • Your home will have updated council drawings and you have a copy with electronic copies.



  • Cost: Building can be more expensive than buying an existing house.
  • Time: It can take a significant time to finish the house especially if you don’t have the contracts in place with your contractor and architect. Plan for an extra 2-3 months before you move in.
  • If you build in a new development, you might be constantly surrounded by noise and dust even when your project is finished.
  • Landscaping – Some established houses have large beautiful trees.


Folger. J. 2019, Should You Buy or Build a Home, Viewed 6 August 2019,
Property Power,2018, Building vs buying, Viewed 6 August 2019,
Roberts. J,2013,Buying vs building a new home, Viewed 6 August 2019,
Dyer.R. Building vs buying a house: Which is better for the first-time buyer, Viewed 6 August 2019,

Building a home – workshop

We are excited to announce our last workshop for the year.

Basically it will be a summery of the whole year’s work that was discussed.

The reason we started with the workshops is that we saw that home owners were being taken advantage of in the building industry.
All the relevant information is out there but people don’t always know where to look or even what their rights are. That is where the workshop come in.
People can ask the questions and obtain the relevant information before they even think of appointing their professional team.

The workshop’s topic will be as follows:
– What to look for in a site
– How to find your professional team and suggested contracts to use.
– What to expect from the the architectural process.
– Why should you appoint an architectural professional during the construction phase?

The workshop also include a starter pack that will assist the owner until they have appointed their team and they will take over from there.

Building a home or any project for that matter is a big step and anything worth while doesn’t come easily that is why you should have a proficient and reliable team behind you.


So let’s start at the beginning…..

What do you want to build? Do you want to build a house, five houses, a skyscraper?

Your architectural team will assist you with the entire process and guide you, but the largest design generator for your building is your site and a lot of times the site has already been purchased when you appoint your team so here are a few topics to consider when you are looking for your site to purchase.

Make sure that your dream can legally take form on the sites you are considering.  Here are two resources you can refer to.

  • The Estate’s rules and regulations.
  • Zoning certificate – document the height restrictions, density, building lines etc.

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