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.



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