THE 4 REASONS BUILDING PLAN APPROVAL GETS HELD UP

Plans trigger a departure from original title deed restrictions or zoning scheme regulations.

Many clients, understandably, are not aware of the fact their original title deed, as well as the municipal zoning of the area in which they find themselves, might have possible restrictions. Some of the more frequent issues relate to the relaxation of building lines, height restrictions on new buildings, as well as how large a building’s footprint may legally be on a property. 

Once a plan transgresses these original title deed restrictions or zoning scheme regulations it is referred to as a departure and may require additional processes to resolve. Your architectural service provider is supposed to do their due diligence on these restrictions and either creatively design around them or inform you have the impact on your process should the design trigger a departure.

Plans do not have adequate information on them to be approved by the local Authority

Building plans could be rejected by local council because of numerous criteria not being met, for example, the appointed architect is not registered with SACAP who regulates architect profession in South Africa. Another reason could be that the minimum code of information is not present on the building plans, the erf number, client details, accurate floor plan layouts do not appear complete and thus prevent plan approval.  

A recent addition to plan approval process has been the inclusion of the energy calculations prepared by the architect. Many architects are not qualified and trained in applying these calculations accurately and the plans are declined. 

Various zoning due diligence negligence can also cause the plans to be rejected, for example not confirming building line setbacks, height restrictions, servitudes and heritage grading of the building. In most cases clients need to appoint a professional registered structural Engineer before plans are submitted to council for approval. The architect must discuss this appointment with the client beforehand, and make sure that the client understands the appointment of the Engineer and his role and function. All of the above guarantees the success of plan approval for the clients project.

Paperwork not in order

Due diligence on building projects are of the utmost importance even before the planning stages start. By neglecting this part, one sets oneself up for a bumpy road to plan approval. Some of the areas the architect and client need to clear out of the way include completing the submission documents in a correct manner. If the property is owned by a trust, the trustees must issue a letter stating that the person signing off on the building plans are authorized to do so. Many plans are rejected at the submission phase because of this technical point. 

When two or more owners own the property, all should sign the submission forms as well as on the building plans itself. Failing the above the plan will not be considered for submission and rejected. Failing to provide a copy of the title deed as well as surveyor general diagram [SG Diagram] will also lead to rejection. If the professional architect or draughtsman is not registered with SACAP the plan will not be accepted and rejected. If the building is older than 60 years, a heritage permit is required through the local heritage body. If none is provided with the submission pack, the plan will lead to rejection pending the proof of an issued permit from the heritage body.

Internal circulation at council:

There are many various departments through which building plans circulate to obtain approval. Failing one of the requirements of these departments, the plan will be rejected. You will have to amend the plan to the required standard and resubmit for approval. At certain intervals in the year, city planning departments are flooded and approval of plans are slower than other months. 

Typically nearing year end and around the April months, plan approval is slower because of the many public holidays that surround these months. The registered professional should keep the client in the loop of plan approval at all times and constantly follow up on plan approval at least once every week to make sure there is movement on their project. This will also make sure that the case officer attends to the project and not delay plan approval. The client should make sure that the chosen professional knows the local council processes and has worked with them before to avoid any planning approval delays. If a professional architect does not understand the workings of the internal processes of the council, the plan approval phase will take longer than necessary and delay plan approval.