Building Plans for Additions – Alterations

Copy of existing building plans

Before starting any construction on your existing structure, not only in  Johannesburg but also in the entire South Africa region,  you will require plans for additions – alterations.

Sometimes people only discover that there are no plans years after they have bought a property, either because they eventually want to do alterations, or because they want to sell. Other times people find at the point of sale that a house they are buying does not have plans, and they want to know whose responsibility it is to have plans drawn up retrospectively (“as built”).

The reality is that if alterations and additions have been carried out on a property without municipal (local authority) approval and the property is then sold, it can become quite a complex legal matter.

A lack of approved building plans is clearly a major problem for many people buying and selling houses and other buildings in all parts of South Africa.

Plans for Additions - Alterations Johannesburg
Existing approved floor plans.
Site analysis
Site analysis
Additions and Alterations sketch plans
STAGE 1 – Additions and Alterations sketch plans
Final design
STAGE 2 & 3 – Final design
Working drawings
STAGE 4 – Working drawings

I would like to do additions and alterations to my existing dwelling, how do I get plans for it?

Before embarking on any additions and / or alterations, a site analysis needs to be undertaken by the Architect or Draughtsman.

When doing a site analysis, several factors need to be investigated before the drawing process even begins.

The first step is for the client to obtain a copy of his Title Deeds, this can be obtained from either the bank which handled the property transfer or from a registered Estate Agents, who will have access to the Deeds Office database.

The reason for the Title Deeds, is to see if there are any restrictive clauses there in. Restrictive clauses, for example where only one dwelling the property is permitted or where specifically specified, that no dwelling may exceed the building line on the street front of the property or height restrictions are imposed on that dwelling.

A copy of the zoning certificates, indicating which town planning scheme the property is subject to, but also be looked at for any Restrictive clauses. The zoning certificates will indicate the stand size, building line restrictions on the road friends and side boundaries if applicable, servitude lines, permissible coverage allowed and permissible FAR (aka Floor Area Ratio), parking space required and height restrictions for the area as defined by the Town Planning Scheme.

A SG diagram (aka Surveyor General diagram) showing roads, neighboring stands, stand numbers, boundary lengths and stand orientation relative to North, sewer servitude or any other servitude that affect the property.

Copies of the existing approved structures plans. Most local authorities have archived microfiche copies of these plans and related documentation when the file was first opened, however microfiche copies are usually of such poor quality, that at times copies of these plans are illegible. If this is the case the architect or draughtsman may have two do an on-site measurement in order to confirm the structures size.

The Architect or Draughtsman will then analyse all the relevant data together with the client’s brief of his intended additions and/or alterations, prior to starting any sketch plans.

The Architect or Draughtsman will consult with a client, to inform him of any potential problems which may delay or obstruct the plan approval process later on.

Once the client has been informed of whether or not his proposed additions and/or alterations will be supported by the Local Authority, only then can the client make an informed decision to either change is project brief or if all is in order to instruct the architect or draughtsman to proceed with STAGE 1 (sketch plans)

We encourage our clients to scrutinize the sketch plans, and possibly measure out the size of the proposed additions on site to verify that they are happy with the room sizes. We continue to make changes to the sketch plan as requested by our client, but in reason, to facilitate a smooth transition from STAGE 1 sketch plans to STAGE 2 & 3 (final design)

STAGE 2 & 3 (final design), is the point where the client has accepted the sizes and position of the proposed addition and/or alterations as proposed by the sketch plan. During the final design STAGE 2 & 3 we extruded a 3-D model for our clients, that they may easily visualize the scale of the proposed changes in relationship to the existing structure. We have found among our clients wives that a 3-D model is of great benefit to them when trying to visualize the space and storage capabilities of a kitchen or bathroom setting.

Once the client is satisfied that all the parameters of his brief have been fulfilled, they then sign off STAGE 2 & 3 and the preparation of construction and local authority drawings are then processed this is known as working drawings which is the final STAGE 4.

The completed set of working drawings and related documentation as required by the local authority in compliance with the National Building Regulations and SANS 10400 regulations is then handed over to the client for submission to the local authority or we can facilitate the plan submission process to help fast track the plans approval.


How can a virtual 3-D model of my proposed additions and alterations help me?

3-D models they used extensively during the designing process. It aids the Architect and Draughtsman to visualize the aesthetic of a building, for example do windows and doors line up with each other and are there any drainage pipes visible or passing in front of a window.

Clients are able to see their proposed additions and/or alterations in a scale which the mind can interpret, not all people have been taught how to correctly read a 2-D paper plan. Most find it difficult to comprehend scales correctly, we have found it beneficial to placing a camera view at normal eye-level inside a proposed structure to best simulates the room space for the client.

To add to this visual experience, we populate the 3-D models with items such as furniture, kitchen units, wall paintings, light fittings and sanitary fittings. When a client sees a fully equipped kitchen in the model space it is easier for them to make changes before proceeding to working drawings.

In the past physical models would have to be built to show a prospective client’s new dwelling, office building or factory. These models usually took several weeks to complete and when changes needed to be made a new model would have to be constructed, this used to slow down the entire drawing process and made it an expensive exercise.

With improved technology and superior software we are now able to design any structure in a 3-D model space and effect changes immediately, the benefits are saving in time and money.

We do not rest are just producing 3-D models, we render our models to present a more photo realistic visual representation which we have found helps Developers and Estate Agents with the advertising and marketing materials.

Clients are also able to edit specific features of their structures, for example playing with colours and textures, rock-face cladding or face brick. We are also able to show our clients various roofing options for the same design floor plan, and landscaping options.

3-D models enrich a client’s experience of the drawing process, and they all feel more involved in the decision-making process. This is a tool with great benefits which are clearly obvious to both the designer and client.

3-D modeling
3-D modeling
Interior layout plan
Interior layout plan
Model photo-realistic rendering
Model photo-realistic rendering

What are the benefits on having detailed drawings?

Having accurate and detailed drawings, takes the guesswork out of the equation when a contractor / developer needs to get on with the project at hand.

Detailed drawings are also an advantage for Quantity Surveyors when determining a cost estimate and bill of resources.

Sometimes the lack of details on a plan lead to an number of misunderstandings between clients and contractors. Here is a list of some misunderstandings and unrealistic expectations we have come across over the years:

  • The contractor will work it out, it’s their job – Simply put builders only want to build and not work out possible design flaws. Contractors prefer when decisions have been made and documented so that they don’t have to chase your customer/client for decisions and quarries. Thus Crane Designs ensures your contractor is to given the correct information and expectations.
  • Contractors don’t want Architectural Draftsman’s on the job site – All good contractors that I’ve worked with are glad to have me around and call me often with questions, at the end of the day it’s a collaborative effort. They respect me and I respect them. Contractors prefer someone to help guide them so that mistakes are less frequent and communications are effective
  • They should be able to figure it out from the drawings – Yes they are experienced enough and intelligent enough but drawings are interpretive and they often need confirmation from either the architectural draftsman or home owner, to make sure they are understanding the complex aspects before money is spent.
  • The contractors know what will meet code – Most builders don’t have the time to keep up with the details of the codes the way an architectural draftsman must. Furthermore, it is the architectural draftsman who is licensed by state law to uphold the building regulation codes, this is not the contractor’s job.
  • The client is paying twice if the Architectural Draftsman and contractor are both there – The architectural draftsman is the designer, the contractor is the builder. There is no overlap, just coordination and collaboration.
  • Contractors always read the drawings – Good, experienced contractors study the drawings, however, the way in which each contractor reads drawings may vary. Some details are frequently overlooked at the early phases. We’re all human, but we are there to unsure the constructor reads the drawings.
  • The subcontractors read the drawings – In residential and small commercial projects, many subcontractors never see the drawings. All the contractors should be reviewing the drawings.
  • The owner can build this on their own and be their own Contractor – Unless the home owner has construction experience, it’s not advised to attempt the project on your own.

One key note to remember is to not fire a team member of the contractor’s midway through the project. This is truly not the way to save money or time. Tell your architectural draftsman what the budget is and pay them to work with you and your contractors.

Detailed drawings Johannesburg
Detailed drawings