Thursday, November 5, 2015

vivaladraught - at it again - a tale of two built environment systems

tale of the two built environments in the South Africa domestic architectural landscape. – 
by vivaladraught

The South African built environment landscape has  2 very clear systems that operate completely separately from each other. This does have  a much broader impact socially and culturally,  however that  is a much more complex subject. This small essay  is to try focus on the domestic built environment here in SA. To desperately try and create some perspective and dialogue to allow some much needed level headed reasoning to prevail.
The tale of these  two built environments needs to be told as a matter of urgency,  because each has positives that can be gained  from each other. Sadly and frustratingly the rate things are now going  ,  each of these 2 built environment  systems  is doing its level best to completely ignore the other and grow in completely separate directions.  To the complete detriment of everyone.  Alarmingly at no point in the future do these 2 entities look like they will ever align, And this is very worrying
Without complicating this discussion, we need to separate  public building works and the industrialized built environment. In this discussion its only the domestic built environments that need to be carefully looked at. and the process of plans regulation and planning submissions.  The domestic built environment is a multi billion Rand industry and needs to be working smoothly for job creation and a sustainable economy. jobs are being held up by bureaucratic systems that are fanatically over regulating the building plans submission and approval process.
the two built environments are
1)   the formal domestic built environment , which is completely over regulated by council bureaucratic red tape fanatics , who at municipal level find every reason why plans should not be approved. Its becoming completely  ludicrous that the built environment  planning system is holding up simple building jobs for well over a year or more. This is now costing the public billions in inflation costs and wasted time. To add to the complete frustration these municipal  fanatics constantly fiddle with zoning scheme regulations , change submission procedures and change submission forms. Not to mention their new computer submission system going off line for days on end  and also wiping submission flash drives completely clean of all information. forcing the professionals to rescan everything once again. (at a cost of course) The knock on effect of this insanity is that the architectural professional is left looking less than professional in front of a totally irate client. This over regulation and constant changing of regulation procedures and complete disregard for architectural professionals, public and  builders waiting to build,  is now completely out of control.

2)   informal built environment  in this system the rules and regulations are no where near as restrictive. building plans are not needed for building work within these communities , street committees decide on all matters within these communities and building work is happening faster than one can keep up. municipalities dont regulate these communities with the same vice like grip as they display in the formal sector.  i would be surprised if a building inspector is able to control the full impact of the informal domestic work going appears that the municipalities here in cape town,  inspect,  regulate and monitor the first system fervently, whilst giving the second built environment a wave through of the hand. surely an equal medium should be reached between the two.

both systems have merit – if ones plans clearly  have notes like,  all building work to be in accordance with the relevant national building regulations and performed by qualified and registered contractors to meet with local authority regulations. and a structural engineer will be appointed by the owner of the property to check and approve structural integrity of design. etc etc. surely one doesn’t now still have to put every single note that is in the national building regs onto ones plans. their are plans examiners in cape town who spend days writing essays of notes that are found in the national building regs, for professionals to painstakingly add to documents , which takes a long time. – surely linking ones plans to this massive document is enough, surely making sure the owner knows that he needs to appoint suitably qualified contractors and a structural engineer will take care of the detail. once plans have passed zoning and scrutiny fees are paid , surely it should be a easy enough approval stamp.
so we have 1 system that is completely over regulated and getting worse and another system that completely is allowed to go forward largely unregulated. surely we can find a system that works down the middle somewhere.
hopefully the council for the built environment can start solving this massive issue which is bringing an entire industry to its knees. crippling job creation and holding up the economy. the SA  economy needs work to be created – it cannot be created if the very building plans are being help up for years due to petty mindedness.
a solution and an equal way forward needs to be found asap – or we sink further in the red tape.
yours sincerely