Metal Cladding in South Africa – Overcoming the Scourge of Misinformation

In these unsettled times it is depressing to note the proliferation of misinformation being spread on social media particularly pertaining to practices within the metal cladding industry. There are many assertions made by companies and contractors claiming to comply with or following an omnipresent unidentified ‘code.’ In this context a building code is the American term for building regulations, a set of rules that set the minimum standards to be achieved when designing and/or constructing building works to ensure public health and safety. Such regulations are normally mandatory in terms of an act of parliament.

All building work in areas under the jurisdiction of a local authority including any addition, conversion, renovation, restoration, sub-division or alteration,  but excluding electrical are bound by the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act (103 of 1977) more commonly referred to as the National Building Regulation. The regulations are divided into twenty three categories pertaining to the different aspects of building such as administration, design, public safety, walls, roof, etc. In essence they set the minimum requirements for all aspects of building work. Compliance with the regulations can be achieved by either rational design, rational assessment (both to be undertaken by a competent person, as defined in the Act, for the different disciplines), use of methods, systems or materials carrying Agrèment certification or compliance with the deemed to satisfy non-mandatory provisions of the SANS 10400 series of standards which describe a method of design or construction that is deemed to comply with a particular functional regulation, The parts of the 10400 series are matched to the categories of the National Building Regulations (NBR’s). Imbedded within the NBR’s and SANS 10400 series are a limited number of obligatory SANS standards. All other standards and codes of practice are voluntary.

Supplementary to the NBR’s local authorities impose mandatory By-laws and in some instances the Conditions of Title for a suburb impose restrictions, an example of which is the restriction on galvanised metal roofs in some residential and commercial suburbs.

In addition to the NBR’s the Standards Act (8 of 2008) provides for the establishment of the SABS as the topmost national institution for the development, maintenance and promotion of South African National Standards (SANS), Other important objectives are to promote quality (best practice) and standardisation in connection with commodities, products and services and to render conformity assessment and related services.

Another trick is to claim compliance with a particular standard (code), which to the unsuspecting would mean full compliance with every clause, and to then unashamedly comply with only a select few clauses and disregard the rest. There have been instances when enquiring as to which specific ‘code’ is being referred to a foreign code is quoted which may not meet all the requirements of the NBR’s.

So the next time you are the recipient of these claims of compliance establish which code and whether it is full or only partial compliance and most important of all does it comply with the NBR’s.