How to obtain copies of existing approved building plans

Not sure where to get copies of your existing building plans?


Trying to obtain copies of the previously approved building plans of your existing house? Or wanting to buy a house and want to know what has and has not been approved by the local authority on the existing plans?


Here are a few ways to obtain existing house or building plans:


Local Authorities / Planning Department / District Office / Municipal Offices.

The first and most common route to take is a visit to your Local Authority, otherwise known as Planning Department, District Office or Municipal Offices to request a copy of your approved plans. The search fee is around R150 to R250 in South Africa, and will vary depending where you live. The search process 5 working days after which you should receive notification that your plans have been found in the archive system and you can then return to the Local Authority to collect your copies.


To apply for copies of approved plans you will need to provide the following documents:


  • A copy of your ID (if you are not the registered owner you will need a copy of the owner’s ID)
  • A recent rates bill (not older than 3 months)
  • The Erf number and physical address of the property ( You will find the erf number of the property on the title deed)
  • An application form to obtain copies of approved drawings, this can usually be downloaded from the district office’s website or you can complete one when you make the application at the counter.
  • If you are not the owner of the property you will need a letter of consent from the registered owner. This form can also usually be download from the districts office’s website


While this is usually the most successful means of obtaining copies of approved plans, it can sometimes be unsuccessful due to the fact that the Local Authority may not always have records of all approved plans submitted. In this case, the following routes may prove more fruitful:

  1. If you know who designed and built the building or who worked on the latest alterations and additions, contact the architect or designer and request a copy of the plans. Architects have to keep approved plans of all their projects for five years after completion.
  2. If you are unsure as to who built or designed the building and it happens to look similar in style to the neighbouring buildings, it may be worth approaching your neighbours for information as, in this case, the buildings were most likely designed or built by the same architect and they may just be able to help you out.
  3. If you live in a complex or block of flats, the body corporate may have a copy of the latest approved plans.


Unfortunately if the Local Authority could not help you and you have no way of knowing who might’ve designed or built the building it is unlikely that you will find copies elsewhere. The only option you have is to employ an architect or draughts person to measure up the building and to draw it up for you.