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The South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) makes provision for registration as professionals in four categories:

  • Architectural Draughtsperson
  • Architectural Technologist
  • Senior Architectural Technologist
  • Architect

Draughtspersons are trained to engage at NQF level 5 in basic design and technology. The minimum qualification of a Professional Architectural Draughtsperson would be a Higher Certificate incorporating one-year full-time study; the study programme would have focused on developing basic technical and draughting skills.  This may have alternatively been acquired through experience. The Professional Architectural Draughtsperson would have completed a compulsory three-year period of candidature under an experienced professional or professional firm and would have successfully completed SACAP’s compulsory Professional Practice Exam.

Technologists are trained to engage at NQF level 6/7 in design and will have reasonable levels of competency at a technical level. The highest qualification for a Professional Technologist would be a Diploma comprising three years of full time study. The study programme would have included design and technical resolution of medium complexity building types. The Professional Architectural Technologist would have completed a compulsory two year period of candidature under an experienced professional or professional firm and would have successfully completed SACAP’s compulsory Professional Practice Exam.

Senior Technologists are trained to engage at NQF level 7/8 in design as well as high levels of competency at a technical level. The highest qualification a Professional Senior Architectural Technologist would have is a Degree or a Postgraduate Diploma, requiring a minimum of four years of full-time study. The study programme would have included design and technical resolution of complex building types. The combination of competencies and skills within this category would vary greatly, with some Professional Senior Architectural Technologists able to offer highly specialised services in particular areas of architectural work. The Professional Senior Architectural Technologist would have completed a compulsory two year period of candidature under an experienced professional or professional firm and would have successfully completed SACAP’s compulsory Professional Practice Exam.

Architects are trained to engage at NQF level 9 in design as well as in technical resolution and the administration and co-ordination of a wide range of architectural projects. The Professional Architect would generally have a Master’s Degree or equivalent Degree from a university requiring at least five years of full-time study. The master’s Degree (or equivalent) would prepare graduates for advanced and specialised professional employment. The study programme would have been substantially focused on the design of a range of highly complex and specialized building types. The Professional Architect would have completed a compulsory two year period of candidature under an experienced professional or professional firm and would have successfully completed SACAP’s compulsory Professional Practice Exam. It is noted that the previous five or six year Bachelor of Architecture Degree, albeit at NQF level 8, will continue to be recognized for registration as Professional Architect.

For more clarity on the matter, please refer to SACAP’s Interim IDoW Policy

It is widely believed that Architects must be appointed for any building above 500m² and that Draughtspersons or Technologists can do smaller projects, but this is not the case! The rule was set by The Reservation of Work for Architects (Government Notices R1769 of 1979, R701 of 1982 and R1770 of 1983), but is no longer valid.

SACAP published an Identification of Works Matrix Policy (IDoW), but withdrew it again in 2015 due to the fact that the Competitions Commissioner has declined to accept the IDoW exemption application made by the CBE on behalf of SACAP.

In January 2016, SACAP published a Board Notice notifying professionals that in taking on work, professionals must ensure that they comply with Rule 2 of the SACAP Professional Code of Conduct, which means that registered persons may only perform such work as they are professionally qualified and competent to undertake.

This leaves the industry with some grey areas and although it’s the professional’s responsibility to determine whether or not they are competent to undertake specific work, the local authorities might refuse complex applications submitted by persons deemed under qualified.

SACAP is in the process of finalizing a new Identification of Works Matrix which should be available soon.

Although most people are only aware of draughtspersons and architects, there’s two more categories that should be considered, namely technologists and senior technologists.

To answer this question, we’ll discuss a few residential examples:

If you’ve got a house that’s fairly simple and you know exactly what alterations you want to do, but need someone to put it on a plan and submit the building plans, then a draughtsperson will be fit for the job.

On the opposite side of the scale, if you’ve got an existing house with character that was designed by an architect, don’t let a draughtsperson near it. Get an architect or senior technologist.

If you’ve already done alterations to your house, but now need approved building plans, you might as well get a draughtsperson to survey the alterations and document it for submission as it doesn’t involve any design work.

Although draughtspersons are allowed to design houses, we recommend rather employing a senior technologist or architect if you are going to build something from scratch on a clean site. Something as simple as orientation of a house is often overlooked by draughtsperson and can result in something awful to live in.

In most cases, a senior technologist is the best value for money on residential projects. They are on par with architects in terms of technical details and administration and co-ordination. Their lack in theory of design and knowledge on the history of architecture will mostly go unnoticed by the client.

Beware of architectural offices who employ draughtspersons without proper supervision. You might end up paying for an architect, who have attended the initial meeting, but then leaves it all in the hands of a draughtsperson. Make sure that the architect or senior technologist, whichever you’re paying for, is actively involved throughout the project.

SANS 10400, Part A – section B.10 makes allowance for Minor Building Work, which would not necessarily require complete building plans, but it is however necessary in all cases that an application be submitted to the local authority so that it is aware that the work is proposed and it can set conditions in those cases where it is considered necessary to invoke some of the National Building Regulations to control the proposed building work.

When servitude's are involved, the sitting might be important and a site plan may be required.

Minor Building Work is defined as:

  1. the erection of any –
    1. poultry house not exceeding 10 m² in area,
    2. aviary not exceeding 20 m² in area,
  • solid fuel store not exceeding 10 m² in area and 2 m in height,
  1. tool shed not exceeding 10 m² in area,
  2. child’s playhouse not exceeding 5 m² in area,
  3. cycle shed not exceeding 5 m² in area,
  • greenhouse not exceeding 15 m² in area,
  • open-sided car, caravan or boat shelter or a carport where such shelter or carport does not exceed 40 m² in area,
  1. any free-standing wall constructed of masonry, concrete, steel, aluminium or timber or any wire fence where such wall or fence does not exceed 1,8 m in height at any point above ground level and does not retain soil,
  2. any pergola,
  3. private swimming pool,
  • change room, not exceeding 10 m² in area, at a private swimming pool;
  1. the replacement of a roof or part thereof with the same or similar material;
  2. the conversion of a door into a window or a window into a door without increasing the width of the opening;
  3. the making of an opening in a wall which does not affect the structural safety of the building
  4. concerned;
  5. the partitioning or the enlarging of any room by the erection or demolition of an internal wall if such erection or demolition does not affect the structural safety of the building concerned;
  6. the erection of any solar water heater not exceeding 6 m² in area on any roof or 12 m² when erected other than on any roof; and
  7. the erection of any other building where the nature of the erection is such that in the opinion of the building control officer it is not necessary for the applicant to submit, with his application, plans prepared in full conformity with these Regulations

Every project is different and the time it takes to prepare drawings and documentation for submission varies.

Once it’s submitted, it can take anywhere between six weeks and six months, depending on the specific council and the circumstances of the project.

If a Site Development Plan is required, it can take more than a year. These are usually required with sectional title developments.