Temporary Buildings Must be Authorized by the Local Authority

temporary buildings

temporary adj lasting only for a short time”

People often talk about temporary buildings in terms of structures that can be erected quickly and without plans. Some people go so far as to opt for what is advertised as a “temporary building” because they think it will provide a cheap, quick and easy solution to the need for additional space – either at home or at work. But if you want to erect a temporary building, first of all you need permission to do so, and secondly, you will have to demolish or dismantle it within the time frame that is deemed to be “temporary” for that particular structure.

While the National Building Regulations (NBR) do allow for “temporary buildings”, they are very specific in terms of requirements and permissions. These requirements are incorporated in SANS 10400-A: 2010 General principles and requirements.

The National Building Regulations are not intended to be restrictive, or to make it difficult for people to build. The regulations are also not intended to be a handbook on good building practice. Rather, they have been carefully compiled by experts in the construction industry to ensure that our homes, offices, hospitals, shops and other buildings are safe and hygienic. This applies not only to permanent structures but to temporary buildings as well.

What the term “temporary building” means

Each part of SANS 10400 The application of the National Building Regulations has a list of definitions at the start, that relate specifically to that particular part – this is in addition to the glossary that appears in the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act.

In Part A, the term temporary building is defined as: “any building that is so declared by the owner and that is being used or is to be used for a specified purpose for a specified limited period of time, but does not include a builder’’s shed“.

The fact that it states that an owner has the right or ability to declare a structure a temporary building doesn’t mean that property owners may simply erect them without permission from the local authority.

Even though builder’s sheds are in fact temporary structures, they are so common they are dealt with separately, in Part F: Site operations.

Permission Required to Erect a Temporary Structure

The erection of all buildings and structures are subject to the provisions of a number of laws, not only the building regulations. However plans and permissions are handled by each local authority (municipality, council or city) in terms of the NBR.

Minor building work does not require plans, but even this must comply with any NBR that are specified as a condition of the authorization that is granted by the building control officer.

When it comes to temporary buildings, before the local authority can grant “provisional authorization” in terms of Regulation A23, they must assess the building in relation to:

(i) the intended use and life of the building;

(ii) the area in which it is to be erected; and

(iii) the availability of suitable materials from which it may be constructed.

What Temporary Buildings Might be Used for

The legislation does not specify what temporary buildings might be used for. The declaration of “intended use” is up to the property owner. However SANS 10400-A does mention a few possibilities. These include:

  • stalls and structures that may be erected as part of an exhibition
  • structures that are to be used for “experimental, demonstration, testing or assessment purposes”

Plans Required for Temporary Buildings

The plans and particulars required for temporary buildings are detailed in Regulation A23 of SANS 10400-A. This regulation is titled Temporary Buildings.

When the local authority receives an application to erect a building that the owner (or applicant) has declared to be a “temporary building”, the local authority is permitted to “grant provisional authorization” for the applicant to go ahead and erect the building provided any conditions or directions are complied with.

While plans as such are not required, the local authority has the right to ask for:

  • a statement that specifies how long the authorization is required (in other words how long the temporary building will be needed)
  • a site plan – this of course would be a plan of the whole property showing any existing structures as well as the exact area where the temporary building will be located
  • layout drawings that give enough information to enable the local authority to determine the general size and form of the structure, as well as the materials that will be used to construct it
  • any other structural details that the local authority needs to be sure that the proposed temporary building will be structurally safe

If the local authority gives permission for the erection of a temporary building, it will be for a limited period of time – and this will be stated on the authorization document. 

There is a clause in this part that gives owners the right to apply for one or more extensions of this initial period of time. However they must submit any additional plans and details that may be required no later than the last day specified on the authorization document. In addition, the owner must submit an affidavit that states that the building has been erected in accordance with the plans and details mentioned above (if these were required by the local authority).

If members of the public are going to have access to the temporary building, each and every request must include a certificate that is signed by an approved competent person that indicates that the structure is safe.

If the local authority requires additional plans and details and these are not submitted, or if the local authority does not approved the temporary building, then the owner will have to either remove or demolish the structure.

Normally, if a building has been – or is being – erected without prior approval by the local authority, the local authority may serve a notice on the owner demanding that approval, in writing, is obtained by a specific date. They do not have to serve such a notice if the building is “temporary”.

Temporary Builder’s Sheds

Anyone performing work that is connected with erecting or demolishing a building is permitted to erect a temporary builder’s shed or sheds.

Part F of SANS 10400 states that both the construction and location of these sheds must be in keeping with the requirements of the local authority and they must be properly maintained. Further, they may only be used for a purpose that is directly connected to the building or demolition operation.

If builder’s sheds are not built, located or maintained properly as required, the local authority has the right to demand that the owner or person responsible, moves, rebuilds or repairs the shed within a specified time period. If it is being used for another purpose not connected with the building operation, they can demand that this “unpermitted use” stops immediately.

While builder’s sheds are not intended for habitation, the building regulations do state that security personnel who are employed on the site may be accommodated in builder’s sheds, “subject to such requirements and conditions as may be necessary for the safeguarding of public health and the health of such personnel and for avoiding nuisance or inconvenience to persons in the vicinity of such building”.

Once building and/or demolition work is complete, the shed or sheds must be removed from the site.

By SANS10400

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