Retaining Walls

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  1. Dear Penny

    Between both our next door neighbours there is a level difference. the neighbour on our right is higher than us and the neighbour to the left of us is lower than our property. We repaired and erected face brick walls between both neighbours before. The plots slope down from the road towards the back of the properties and then also from right to the left.

    Unfortunately the backyard parts on both sides still have prefab walls. Both neighbours had or still have trees near the prefab walls. On both sides the panels were damaged by the weight of the soil that rests on the prefab walls and the trees broke some of the panels as well.

    Not one of the neighbours, and it is also a problem for us during this Covid time, have enough money to erect face brick walls. What would be the best solution for us to repair the prefab walls? Do we dig out the soil and put retaining blocks on the side of the most soil to keep the soil from resting on the prefab wall and then straighten the prefab wall?

    We do have approved plans to build double thick face brick walls to retain the soil, but we cannot afford this at the moment.

    Kind regards

  2. Hi Penny,

    I have moved into our home about a year ago. At the back of the property we have a retaining wall. There are 50mm pvc pipes at various sections of the wall. My neighbor who also benefits from this wall of our is higher than us on the other side of the wall. I recently found that they had created mini storm water drains along our wall and connected these into the 50mm pipes that exist on on the wall. So everytime it rains each pipe pours out water like firehouse.
    To add to this this run off of storm water has dropped a 2.5 meter section of wall at the back of the property. As the water was coming through the side wall and washing against the back wall.
    Is there anything that we can do about this

  3. Madelyn Nienaber says:

    Good day Penny. We bought a house on south coast. Our house is at a slope. . With rains and swimming pool that was damage the pressure on the wall increased. The wall s is giving away. The engineer said the walls was not correctly built now we are not covered. How did they get approval to built a swimming pool
    If the walls was not correctly constructed. Our house would be full of ground and water. We only bought house a year ago. Now insurance said its our fault. Who can help me.

  4. Wim Kluijfhout says:

    Hello Penny,

    Can you advise on any engineers in Cape Town that can design a wall for me without actually building it? I can find retaining wal contractors but I would prefer an independent person.

  5. Good day
    Can I use any type of brick to build retaining wall around house?

  6. Hi

    My boundary/retain8ng wall was brought down by an in growing tree. Will my insurance cover the repair of the wall?

    Thank you.

  7. Carol Tebbutt says:

    Good day Penny,

    We have a boundary precast wall. There was a small retaining wall separating the boundary wall – on his side, but over the years they have dumped soil there, so now the space is filled with soil half way up our boundary wall resulting in it cracking and leaning over quite significantly. There is also a pine tree about 10 cm from our boundary has broken the wall in several places. I have spoken to him and asked him to repair the wall, remove the soil and remove the tree, all at his expense and he is not doing anything about it.
    What recourse do I have please as I am worried this wall will collapse soon.

  8. Barry Fullarton says:

    what is the general rule when one has a boundary rule existing and the neighbour builds a retaining wall along the top of the existing retaining wall ,inside my property but 500mm from the boundaty , and the neighbour then on his boundary start to erect a retaining wall some 2.4 m high and then causes my wall to collapse ?

    also they have built a 3.5 m high retaining wall on my boundary some 2 m from my external wall of my house taking away natural lighting and causing damp

  9. Hi. My neighbour is building a 3.8 m retaining wall 3.5 m away from my house is this safe. Also we have not seen any plans requesting permission is he allowed to continue.

  10. Zaheeda Ameen says:

    HI Penny

    Part of our garden boundary wall collapsed due to a heavy storm in KZN last year. We are the high neighbour and the retaining part is on the neighbour’s side. The neighbour has built a granny flat on his property and requested the wall to be fixed. The quotation is enormous and unaffordable. We thought we are 50% responsible for the repair but the retaining of the wall is on the neighbour’s property. Who is responsible and at what percentage are, we responsible. His property is at risk if the wall is not retained. Please advise

  11. Will insurance company pay and I was told there is no plans for my neighbour s wall that collapse how do I handle this situation

  12. Hi my retaining wall is damage due to my neighbour build a wall behind my wall which has collapsed insurance companies came out I have a form 1 from the engeering company this was was build in 1993

  13. Linda Mure says:

    client has had a wall collapse probably due to the heavy rains in early December. The insurer is declining to reimburse the client because they are saying it is a retainer wall. The wall is approximately 1.8m in height, who else can we claim from for this damage. The collapsing call damaged the swimming pool pumb and the gate

  14. I am looking to build a tiered retaining wall where the height of each tier is below 1.0 metre. I am being mixed responses regarding the need to submit plans for approval and I’d be pleased if you could advise further in this regard.

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  16. Bought land in December in a complex .
    Neighbour has a 2.1 m retainindboundary wall .
    That retain soil up to 1.5 m from my ngl.
    Neighbours house were completed in Nov 2018.

    March2019 we noticed a damped area after rain .
    April it got worse .
    May the whole retained area are now wet and shows a white sircle on te unpainted retained area.

    The complex management said it is non of theiet problem . Even though they also sign the houses off before mun can do so . With a full inspection .

    Nhbrc Inspector George told me he could do nothing afte 3 months off completion .
    Note thal all of the complex houses has to be NHbrc regestred befor we can build in this complex.

    Our local mun inspector inspected and sail he can do nothing unless the wall is a structural risk.

    We started to build our house on the plot . And I inspected the damped wall however I can not see any drainpypes .

    How is it that all buildings and boundarys has to comply with national standards and if it is not on standard no one is willing to take the bull by the horns? What am I to do next?

  17. hi penny. what is the distance for piers in a 190mm cement block wall 26m long & a heigt off 4,5m. john

  18. Chris Leach says:

    sorry I forgot to mention that the retaining wall is built with bank retaining blocks +- 600mm wide with gaps of +-50mm between the blocks. these walls are constructed almost plumb and in some places are starting to lean out with pressure of the earth behind. Please could somebody advise.

  19. Chris Leach says:

    I live near a development where three storey blocks of flats have been constructed on compacted cut and fill site with a retaining walls that are up to 8 metres in height on the on the side of a hill. The flats are built +- 3 metres away from the front edge of the wall, surely this illegal and very dangerous.

  20. Hi Penny

    Due to vehicles parked outside on the pavement the cars were kept getting broken into . So i decided to move the gate to the left hand side and put up a boundary wall to create a drive way.The builder used hollow blocks to replace the old palisade fencing .Do I still require plans to submit to the municipality

  21. Michael Van der Meulen says:

    Good day.
    Can a retaining wall be build from stones ?

  22. Do you have any guidelines besides height and involvement of an engineer, on retaining with gabion baskets. I need to repair my washed out yard with 2.5m height, 1m width gabion baskets wall.

  23. Hilton Edwards says:


    we live in a townhouse complex on the slope of a koppie. approx 2 years ago, a new townhouse complex was built on slope above us. on our boundary wall, whithin 1mt, they have built a retaining wall approx 8,5mt high (42 brick cement block high). above that they have built 3 floor high townhouse complex. above that they have another row apartments above retaining wall that is even higher.

    my query – on the corner wall opposite our unit, several cracks have appeared in retaining wall cement blocks. more have appeared and several have widened. their complex mentioned cracks appeared as result of above unit having sewerage leak. of which i do question ?

    the engineer gave an email report, without having physically checked the wall after we reported 2nd time that more cracks and older cracks wider.

    i my opinion those cracks sound alarms bells. we are concerned re our safety.

    any advise


  24. Hi,

    my neighbour below my property and has a precast fence against which my sand has levelled about 1 meter in hight. Due to the recent storms … my awning overflowed and caused the sand to wash under the fence into his yard causing damage to his yard and pool… clearly a retaining wall is needed. I just wanted to know if a plan was required to build this wall of 1 meter with the retainer blocks… and should it be totally my cost?

  25. Our property was subdivided from our neighbour’s many years ago. We have lived here now for 20 years. Our previous neighbour put up a wooden fence between our properties. We cannot remember what the ground levels were like.
    Our present newer neighbour says the fence is rotting because the ground level on his side is nearly half a meter higher than on our side. And that soon rain and soil will wash from his ground onto our driveway. The implication is that we should share the cost of building a retaining wall.
    An added complication is that they have trees virtually on the boundary. They do not want to remove the trees, but we cannot have the wall on our property as that is where our driveway is and it is already a minimum width.
    Where does the responsibility lie for sorting this problem.

  26. I have a retaining wall in the complex that I was told to maintain (water seepage flaking the plaster and paint). It seems that it is not propperly built and would like to find out what my rights are. Can I do an investigation into the construction of the wall and if it was built according to Building regulations and if it was not what stands me to do?

  27. Sorry Andre, if you are quoting on something you need to know the regulations. How can you provide a service if you don’t know what you are doing?

  28. Good morning
    We are quoting on building a retainer wall that would be outside the boundary wall below ground level up to natural ground level approximately 1 metre in height. Would we need to submit plans for this

  29. Hi Mark, As far as we are concerned we totally agree with your “ex-building inspector”. But just to cover yourself ask your local authority what their requirements are and then get a note from them and give that to the assessor.

  30. Hi Penny
    After the recent floods in Durban, my small retaining wall between my yard and my neighbour which is less than 1m high (800mm) was damaged by the flash flood and collapsed. The assessor submitted a report that said I did not have an engineering certificate? I spoke to an ex-building inspector and he said that I don’t need one for a retaining wall less than 1m. All I want is for the wall to be put back exactly like what was there (i.e. like for like). Do I really need an engineering certificate for such a small wall?


  31. J A J Lourens says:

    Dear Penny
    Thank you very much for your advice.

  32. I can’t visualise the area so can’t really judge. But it’s up to the two of you to decide what is fair. If it is a retaining wall you’ll need plans.

  33. Your neighbour should have had approved plans to build the garage. The council might allow a retaining wall to be incorporated, but an engineer would have had to be involved. Contact the council and ask them to investigate. Apart from anything else, in most municipalities (other than Cape Town) require neighbours’ consent for you to build on a boundary.

  34. J A J Lourens says:

    Since I am at a higher level than my neighbour there is a retaining wall between our erven. The neighbour has erected a garage, a proper building, using the retaining wall as one wall of his new garage. He raised the height of the wall in the process. On my side the height was approximately 1 m, and about two meters on his side. I think that one cannot build on a retaining wall. Is this true?

  35. hi,
    I have bank approximately 1.8m in height within my property. My neighbour and I have decided to put up a boundary-wall collectively. The problem is my neighbour is prepared to pay 50% only for the wall up to my property height and wants me to pay fully for the reminder of the wall.

    is this fair ?

  36. The National Building Regulations has a list of minor building works that do not require plans. In terms of walls, it states: “any freestanding wall built with masonry, concrete, steel, aluminum, or timber or any wire fence that does not exceed 1,8 m in height at any point above ground level and does not retain soil” … so yes you do. However the local authority has the right to waive the need for plans if they consider them unnecessary. So you will need to contact them.

  37. Hi,

    We Would like to build a retaining wall of about 1m in height to level out the garden. Do we need to submit plans for this?

  38. NHBRC does not have laws! Their manuals provide guidelines for good building practise. I doubt there is anything that has guidelines to prevent hairline cracks, because these aren’t structural cracks. There is nothing related to this in the building regs.

  39. Balustrades are not required for walls of any sort. However it seems obvious that this is a public safety issue. There may be some sort of legal requirement but not in the NBR.

  40. Thank you for your advise Penny, i will look into it through council and NHBRC to make sure i the right advice on how to go forward.

    I would also like some other advise as i have combed through hundreds of pages and articles concerning the chasing of walls and screeds for electrical conduits and its just plastered over with no mesh wire to hold the plaster all together. with time this forms hair line cracks that never go away. Is there any Building regulation or NHBRC law holding the builder/developer responsible to have this done to prevent these hairline cracks that form along plumbing and electrical conduits?

  41. I think you probably do have a claim against the developer because all walls over 1,8 m must have approved plans. You could probably claim against the managing agents as well.

  42. Hi Penny,

    The “boundary wall” of approximate height 2.1m (constructed with 200mm hollow block) in our complex has come down due to the recent storms. No plans were submitted by the developer. The insurance has rejected the claim on the basis that the boundary wall should have been constructed as a retaining wall (it is retain around 1.5m of road reserve soil) hence was not constructed to the NBR specifications. The complex is around 6.5 years old. Do we have a claim against the Developer and should he reconstruct the wall at his cost? If not, what other legal routes can we explore as owners, who purchased their units from managing agents without the knowledge of the developers construction methods actions?

  43. The best would be to come to a plan that is mutually acceptable. But in the event of a dispute, I would hold her responsible.

  44. SANS 10400-A mentions retaining walls in the context of minor building work (which is the only building work that does NOT require plans): “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. This clearly indicates that any wall that retains soil is NOT regarded as minor building work and therefore requires plans. However the Council does have the authority to waive the need for plans.
    SANS 10400-K (2011), Walls has comprehensive guidelines for retaining walls that vary according to height.

  45. If you are saying that the wall has been built so your neighbour gets extra land you have a case against the council. You should also report the construction company or whoever is doing the building – I’m just sure who to. This article might be of some help. It gives a number for the legal aid board. They might be able to help.

  46. First of all Ricky there are not “so many variations in the law”! If this is what so-called retaining wall companies are telling you:
    1) Ask for a reference that gives this specification in the regulations/standards. If you are referring to specialised retaining blocks (e.g. Terraforce or Loffelstein), these companies have their own engineer’s recommendations and certainly these two companies have there own approved systems. This would make sense in terms of the 1,2 m or 65 deg spec they have quoted to you. Also they can be built on gravel.
    2) Since the ultimate decision of whether plans must be submitted lies with the local authority, contact them to see if this specification is in line with their needs.

    If you are referring to ordinary hollow blocks:
    SANS 10400-A mentions retaining walls in the context of minor building work (which is the only building work that does NOT require plans): “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. This clearly indicates that any wall that retains soil is NOT regarded as minor building work and therefore requires plans. However the Council does have the authority to waive the need for plans, which is why I suggest you contact them.
    SANS 10400-K (2011), Walls has comprehensive guidelines for retaining walls. “Gravel foundations” are not mentioned in this Standard! However there is no detail on foundations required, and very little information in the Standard that specifically covers foundations. Nevertheless building any wall from “hollow blocks” requires a solid concrete foundation and the only drawing of a retaining wall in Part K indicates exactly this – a concrete “strip footing”.
    There is also a table that gives specs for retaining walls built from “hollow units”. The angle of the wall is not specified! It gives nominal wall thickness of 140 mm – 190 mm – 190 mm; all are single-leaf walls. Maximum heights 1,1 m – 1,1 m – 1,4 m. Nominal pier dimensions (overall depth x width) should be 600 x 300 mm – 600 x 300 mm – 800 x 400 mm and the maximum centre to centre for spacing of the piers should be 1,8 m – 2,5 m – 2,6 m.
    NB The standard does not cover specialist retaining wall systems. There may be another SANS that does, but it is not part of the NBR (SANS 10400).

  47. No you certainly don’t have to allow it.

  48. Hi, my property has been halved and a developer needs to build a retaining wall about 2 meters in height along a boundary. They want to come 2 meters into my property as a chamfer on my property is needed to build the wall.
    If this happens, I lose trees that would assist screening their development from my house.
    In addition, my driveway would then run along the wall, on the back-filled chamfer area.
    Do I have to allow this? Can they not build the wall 2 meters into their property?

  49. This is what confuses me, i have contacted to retaining wall companies and they say that no engineered plans are required for walls under 1,2m or less than 65degree, they say it can be build from hollow blocks with a gravel foundation. why are there so many variations in the law?

  50. I suggest you contact Terraforce. Their engineers will know exactly what you can and can’t do. However, ALL retaining walls required plans.

  51. All retaining walls must have approved plans – so contact the local authority and ask them to investigate as a matter of urgency.

  52. All retaining walls require plans – for obvious reasons

  53. If the water drains onto your neighbour’s property then it is a contravention of the NBR – and a very common one. I have written a lot about this on this site.

  54. Hi Good Day
    I am currently building a house through a developer, and the ground level of the property is very sloped. I want to raise the ground level by about 500-600mm and my developer is refusing to do anything as engineers plans to build a retaining wall with in my boundary wall need to be done up. was is the maximum height of retaining wall that can be build with out an engineers plans? in all honesty from everything i have read you are able to build a wall up to 1m high with no piers as long as it is collar jointed 290mm thick and has 50mm weep holes. is it really necessary to get a engineers plans to build a 6-7 course triple leaf wall practically against my boundary wall?

  55. Hi

    We have just had a retaining wall built by a qualified engineer.
    They put a drainage system into the wall to allow ground water to drain through.
    My neighbor is saying that the pipes which allow this water to drain are illegal. Is this true?

  56. Good evening,

    We are beneficiaries of a RDP house for 3 months now. 6 metres from our backdoor stands a house erected on a almost 3 metres high sandhill which retains a lot of water and which deals heavily from the soil especially after rainy days. The soil also break away from the house on the hill when it rains. Anytime we dig a whole to erect a pole for wire fencing we bare dig half a metre and the hole fills up with water in no time. After much effort and quarrel with the municipality and the construction company someone finally decided that this is indeed a very dangerous situation in need of a retaining wall which should have been erected in the first place before either house were build. Let me just mention that according to both plans received from the land surveyors and the municipal building offices 5 of the 6metres between these two houses belongs to us. The same construction company that built the houses got the job to build the wall. The decided to erect the wall only at me and my neighbors houses (adjoined) because the hills (soil) are at its highest there, the highest point being behind my house. They are taking all kinds of shortcuts to not have to spend much money. They decided to dig the foundation for the wall 200m and then another 300m but the deeper they dug the more water seeped from the soil so the order was given to dig another 300m deeper but the water got even more they then decided to fill it up again to only 300m as the depth the dug was filled to the brim with seepage water and buying that much concrete would be too expensive. The wouldn’t hire a jetvac truck or something similar to drain the water and instead ordered workers to use cut 2litre coke bottles and buckets to drain the water at which they failed badly. Everything was done in water from the steel rods to the concrete to the 1st 2rows of bricks (190(size) cement blocks). From the start we asked whether pipes (sigpype) would be put in place to assist with draining water from the soil they refused. The wall is now 6blocks high about 3metres then takes a step down to 5 and then down to 4blocks. It’s a single layered wall with a few iron rods and building wire here and there and the soil is still higher than the wall which both my neighbor and I complained about as the wall needs to be lifted at least 2more rows.they started filling up behind the wall almost to its height with more soil as they didn’t want to buy concrete. They planted poles (olie pale) behind the wall and is planning to erect a wire fence in the soil. This is what they are doing after they originally promised a double re-inforced concrete wall which would be able to hold the earth and stop the house from collapsing and falling 3metres and landing on top of our house. Furthermore there excavations took 2 or more metres of our 5metre backyard as whatever land is behind the fenced wall would automatically belong to the house behind the fence which I wouldn’t mind if it was given to me at the front where fence was order to be pushed back 4metres from the street as the sidewalk is apparently to small at 2.7metres which applies only to my neighbor and me one other person the rest of the street gets to fence their yards at 1.5metres from the street. Can someone please advise on whether this is lawful because we really feel like we are being robbed and bullied. We also feel like we are losing land from our plot that was approved for us and subsidized to us by the state as payment for their negligence. I have photos and videos of house that could fall and of different stages of the construction of the wall and the seepage water. They did put pieces af pipe in the wall which by now is blocked by the soil fill but they didn’t put any pipes to lead the water to a drainage system or the street if water does ever come through those little pieces of pipe it wil lie dormant cause puddles everywhere including the backdoor. That water smells bad as it is said to come from the graveyard which is on higher ground about 20 or 30metres away. Please please advise as we do not understand how such things can be approved and get the go ahead. Today some or other municipal lady told us we should count ourselves lucky we are getting a wall for free like they are doing us a favor and not like they are doing disaster management after the fact as the wall should have built before our house was or better yet they shouldn’t have build a house in such a dangerous place.

  57. What are the regulations governing the height of a retaining wall and when were they implemented?

  58. Good day:-) Hoping someone can offer some assistance to my dilemma… recently in Durban we had very heavy rains and my studio, which is in an office park, flooded. The water seeped through my back wall and upon inspection I actually realised that the property directly behind our building, had a very high remaining wall which is actually right up against my back wall of my studio. Is this legal? His wall is a retaining wall holding the soil of his yard on that side and which places my studio at below his actual ground level! I am very concerned about safety and what would happen if his wal had to give way under the pressure of tons of soil, worsened by days of heavy rain. What building laws, if any, could explain how this type of building could have been done?

  59. Hi my neighbour excavated her land, now that the heavy rains came the bank collasped,they was no wall erected,Can you tell please tell me whom is responsible for this/.
    I have lost a metre of land which the sand/bank caved in,can i go into her property and start erecting a wall,or must she erect a wall frm her side,and i can do my side ,,,

  60. Malcolm Naidoo says:

    I have an existing terraforce retaining wall approximately 1m high. I am wanting to extend the wall by a further 600m in high (3 additional blocks) in order to level out my yard. Would I require plans?

  61. Hallo,
    There is a retaining wall that has been constructed on our common property. On the one side is the garden which is fill and the wall is about 6 meters high and a sheer drop.
    Is there a legal requirement to have a ballistrate? I would imagine this could be dangerous without some protection.
    If legally this is a requirement, could you please reference this requirement.
    Many Thanks,

  62. “Are there good, less cost effective…” Should read “Are there good, MORE cost effective”

  63. Retaining walls would not normally require a balustrade unless the wall retains earth below an area that will be used perhaps as a patio or similar.

  64. Just double-check with your local authority that the plans are still valid – and if they are, then you can build.

  65. I need some advice my father died and he had drawn up a plan for boundary walls but he died before he could have build it,i have red that approved plans is valid for 12 month is it possible that i could get the plans re-approved because i’m his son and his estate is still not finalized and i need to build the wall because the neighbors taking the current sink plates that’s forming the barrier between us to sell for there own benefit ,or can i just built the wall according to the plans that was approved.

  66. Hi

    Does retaining walls require ballastrudes and if so in which instances?


  67. Cherylene Odendaal says:

    Thanks for your response and advice.



  68. Frankly the City of Tshwane should not have allowed this. They have the authority to insist that the wall is demolished and as far as I can see, they are the ones who must take action. Apart from anything else retaining walls of this calibre must have approved plans – which it sounds as if they might have had if there was an engineer involved. The question is, if there are approved plans, has the structure been built in accordance with them? You could try approaching a local newspaper and asking them to write an article with pictures. Unfortunately this type of scenario is very common and usually the only way to solve the problem is to take legal action… Which I can see is a huge Catch 22. Maybe you could get an attorney to write a letter to the City demanding they take action. That wouldn’t cost a lot, and might just force them to do something. If you did this and had the newspaper add this info into an article, it might work. At the end of the day, if the wall does collapse, your neighbour and the City will be liable – I have no doubt about that.

  69. What matter Cherylene? Please be advised that we reply as quickly as we can to queries – however this is a free service and we aren’t able to respond to the many thousands of questions we get. We are doing the best we can.

  70. Cherylene Odendaal says:

    It has been a year now and I have received ni reply! This matter is VERY URGENT! Please respond

  71. Cherylene Odendaal says:

    I happened to come across your website and we are in URGENT need of help as the City of Tshwane say they cannot help and dont want to get involved. We are against a mountain and our neighbor at the back decided he wanted to form a plateau and dug out tons of ground. He then packed loffelstein blocks right against our boundary wall which has caused our wall to crack and started leaning over into our property. It has damages our pool as well as our entertainment area. His engineer passed away and the new guy suggested move the wall back. He started off with 3 meters, but ended at 2.1 meters away from our wall and he only has ground filling and stone in between the blocks. He has pushed ground right against our boundary wall with no drainage. We had an engineer out who will now charge us R14 000 to right a full report, money we do t have. We are told this is now a Civil case for which we dont have the money. Our house is in the market, but the bank refuses to give us a bank valuation until the wall has been rebuilt. Our neighbour was going to rebuild it, but refuses to as he says he has reduces the preassure to our wall. We have tried everyrhing and no one can tell us who we can turn to for help. I have hundreds of photos of how i wall looked before rhe loffelstein wall and he results now. We are from Magalieskruin in Pretoria – who can help us. This is really an uegent matter as our wall can fall over at any time. Regards Chery

  72. Hi Jitesh, boundary walls and retaining wall construction is covered in the Regulations not who pays for them. The costs etc. should always be negotiated between the neighbouring parties before building and this should be put in writing and signed by both parties.

  73. Hi

    I’ve recently bought a plot on an estate. At the back of the land there is a slope to the adjourning plot. I’m looking at clearing part of the slope to create additional building space. I’ll need to put up a retaining wall; my question on this is whether the cost of this should be shared with the neighbour as it is holding up his plot. Surely he cannot have built with the notion that the land below will always have the slope as is.


  74. Hi, I own a panhandle property on an estate. Along the side of my panhandle driveway the neighbour has built less than a metre from the boundary line. The land sloped up the panhandle, this owner filled sand along that boundary to create a platform in order to build soo close to the boundary line, as he has a small plot and I suppose wanted to make use of all land that he could. I queried this with the estate and was told they gave him permission to do this. However my big issue is that he filled sand on that boundary to build his house and retained it with sand bags and created a bank. When it rains those sand bags have collapsed into my property in the past, and each time he puts the sand bags back. He now says that it is my responsibility to retain the bank he created as I am the “lower neighbour” which doesn’t make any sense. My understanding is that if you cut, then you retain. If you fill, then you retain. Please can you advise what the actual regulations are regarding this. He created this bank with the permission of the estate and now they have put my property at risk and put me in a position where I should pay for a bank he created.
    This guy is a developer and trying to steam roll over me. Please can you advise the rule regarding building lines and the responsibility of retaining.

  75. What they are trying to do is indeed illegal. ALL retaining walls require plans (however low they are) and permission, and there are very strict requirements laid out in Part K: Walls of SANS 10400.
    Put your complaints in writing to the planning department of your local authority. Phone, email … and demand the council stops them. You are well within your rights. They are also liable for damages – there is no question about this. And tell the project manager if he doesn’t stop harassing you you will lay a criminal charge of harassment against him.

  76. Kenneth, a 1,8 m high wall is considered minor building work so you don’t need plans. You should be able to add to the existing brickwork. You will though need to notify the council of what you are doing; they may have additional requirements.

  77. I stay in a complex in Roodepoort. Its a sectional Title. Me and my neighbor have walls that are 1.5m high. We would like to extend it to 1.8m for some privacy. We both agreed to it, but the current wall is a single layer wall with good foundation pillars (2 brick layer). Can we extend to 1.8m with a single layer or must we get plans and do a double brick layer wall

  78. Hi, I live in Fourways Jhb. The behind me was bought by a complex developer and I am having a number of problems with them. Firstly, the boundary wall between us – they have twice started raising the wall, without my permission. In fact the 2nd time was after I expressly told them that it is illegal to do so. The wall is will be over 2.5m on my side as they are higher than I am. And it is a retaining wall. They are trying to co-erce me into agreeing to the raising of the well. The project manager is arriving at my house after hours and ringing my intercom & phoning me, also msgng me over weekends! They have told me that they do not need approved building plans, that they can raise the wall and just get the work appproved afterwards if they want! Furthermore, they have said that the wall needs no work done to it, beyond just adding bricks on top. However, I believe that given that the wall a) will be over 2.5m on my side and b) retaining wall it will need to be rebuilt from the foundation up, with support pliers? Secondly, in addition, in Dec, they did groundworks too close to my house – they broke the join in my side wall and the wall has split and is falling over. The said they will “get around to fixing it”! I really need your help. Can someone pls advise me on what my rights are, what actually needs to be done, what I need to ensure is put in writing by them and agreed on etc? Your help is very much appreciated!!

  79. Hi Rakesh, This sounds like you are talking about a retaining wall. All retaining walls that are above 1 (one) meter high will need to have plans submitted and approved. Depending on the slope and cutback and the amount of soil the wall retains you might well need an engineers report to accompany the plans. Drainage is also a critical factor and the engineer will have to design the wall accordingly. Whoever told you that no plans are required is possibly not aware of the laws, you can check with your local council planning department to confirm this.

  80. mr rakesh basdeo says:

    good day,
    to whom it may concern;

    I was told that when constructing a wall using interlink blocks does not require a plan;
    further more my wall was damaged by a municipality dam that burst about 12 to 15 years ago,
    I tried in vain for municipality to re-erect a wall,
    because we bought the property a long time ago, nobody checked if the previous owner had done things correctly, thus the wall that was there didn’t have any plans, now that it has become a major problem because we live bellow road level, I had to act & erect a wall using interlink blocks
    Please advise!