If you are looking to build or buy a house in South Africa and prefer a smaller city, East London, which belongs to the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality is a good option. It’s home to the only river port in the country and is situated in the Eastern Cape province along the Indian Ocean coast of South Africa. As with other cities in South Africa, all constructions in the city, including houses, come within the purview of the National Building Regulations. Therefore, rather than attempting to construct or alter an existing building on your own, it’s advisable to work with architects in East London as they can guide you through the entire process, starting with getting the drawings for the project approved by the local authorities to helping you choose the right style and materials, considering the climate in the region.
The Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality, in which East London is located, has zoning regulations prescribed by the municipality, besides restrictions on the type of architecture, building lines and land use, among other factors. Only a professional architect who is experienced in constructing buildings in East London will be aware of every rule or regulation and can prepare drawings for your plan, ensuring that everything is legal. This is also the case for altering existing buildings such as making an extension or creating an annexe on your plot of land. If you were to do this on your own, you would have to spend a lot of time going back and forth to the offices of the local authorities to get the plan sanctioned.
Many prospective homeowners shy away from hiring an architect as they have a misconception that they would have to pay exorbitant fees. However, the end-to-end services that an architectural design firm offers more than makes up for the marginal increase in the construction cost as it takes away a lot of the emotional stress that a person goes through in trying to source the right materials or find the perfect contractor for each small job. Starting with drawing professional plans for sanction by the municipality, an architect can guide you through the entire process of building a house, including advising you on the design style, the most suitable materials for the climate in the region and the interior architecture. Additionally, since they are in regular contact with suppliers and skilled labour, they can negotiate on your behalf to get the best prices, lowering the overall costs in the process. A local architect can also help to design a house that is most suited to the humid subtropical climate that East London experiences.
The overall cost of your house will depend on numerous factors like the whether it will have classic or modern architecture, the types of materials used, the size of the house, the number of floors and the terrain, among other factors. In general, building a standalone house in the Eastern Cape province, where East London is situated, costs around R 5,017 for a standalone house and R 5,324 for a townhouse. If you have a rough idea of how big your house will be, you can use these figures as a ballpark to estimate the cost of your house. A better approach is to mention your budget and preferences to an architect so that he can present a sketch of the house that can be designed to suit your requirements.
Not every type of structure or design is suitable for the warm and humid climate in East London, which has a very short dry spell. Unless your house is designed efficiently to withstand the humid weather conditions throughout the year, you could end up incurring high electricity costs in trying to keep the house cool. A local architect can advise you on the best features to use while designing the house. These could include a range of factors such as the orientation of the house, the size of the windows to maximise ventilation, the provision of maximum shade through vegetation or professional landscaping to reduce direct sun, the use of reflective outer surfaces and ventilated double roofs. Incorporating all or at least a few of these features into the design style of your house, whether it’s Scandinavian or colonial, will help to make it comfortable to live in throughout the year.
While it is easy to find the contact information of hundreds of architects online, you need to make the correct decision on the right person or firm to hire. There are a few points to consider before you choose. Firstly, ensure that the professional is registered with the South African Institute of Architects. You can do this by asking for his registration number and verifying it in the directory listing of the association. This will help you in case you encounter any unprofessional behaviour by the architect as you can file a complaint with the Institute, which will pursue the matter and take punitive action against him.
Secondly, you need to assess the architect’s portfolio to see the quality of his work as this will give you an idea of what to expect from your house when it is completed. Last but not the least, you should interact with the professional to ensure that you are comfortable with his temperament and work ethic. This will greatly minimize the stress of building your house and making decisions regarding the design, material and style. After all, you want to work with a person who takes your needs and preferences into account rather than focusing on showcasing his design ideas, even if they don’t suit you.
On the homify platform, you will find a list of professionals in our East London architect directory. Browse through to see photographs of homes designed by the local architects and send a query using the online contact form to take the first step towards building your house.