Tips and Suggestions when Building in Wilderness


Design and Architecture

  • Our first suggestion is that you appoint a qualified architect who is capable of blending your lifestyle requirements with the environment, in order to satisfy the first without destroying the second. It is extraordinary how many people fall in love with Wilderness because of the natural backdrop of indigenous vegetation, only to eradicate this when clearing their properties for construction. In Wilderness, prior to clearing the property and starting construction, it is a requirement to have the property inspected by an environmentalist. This person will specify the extent of site clearing that may be undertaken, and prohibit the excessive removal of indigenous vegetation. It may also be necessary to obtain permits from the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) and/or the Department of the Environment if construction involves a "listed activity". We suggest that you ensure compliance with these requirements so as to preserve as much of the natural attraction of the area as possible.
  • When considering the type of structure you wish to build, we would encourage you to think smaller rather than bigger, do you really need that extra bedroom? To paraphrase Thomas Fuller "Better one's house is too small for one day than too big all the year after". Wilderness is a tourist village, so there is a lot of accommodation available for those odd occasions when you may be overcrowded, and the savings in construction costs will most likely outweigh accommodation costs. Smaller is also more compatible with maintaining the environment and "sense of place" that is the charm of Wilderness.
  • Talk to your neighbours about your plans, and discuss how much impact your home may have on their present lifestyle. For example, if you are going to build a deck that will coincidentally overlook your neighbour's pool, then talk to them about it so that they have the option to plan some additional privacy measures. If you meet a general objection to specific aspects of your home design, then look to discuss these with your neighbours and reach an understanding before construction commences. It is not only good neighbourliness, but also good sense to eliminate as many potential problems as possible at the outset. You will also stand a better chance of turning your neighbours into friends.
  • If you are building on the beachfront, then consider the effects that changing weather patterns have on the ocean. Continued global warming will cause sea levels to rise and we will suffer an increased intensity and frequency of coastal storms. Best international practice in the face of sea-level rise and changing coastal dynamics is a managed retreat away from the shoreline. The severity of sand loss on beaches will be decided by coinciding phenomena such as storm events, equinoxes and spring high tides. Any construction too close to the beach interferes with natural sand movement and may impede beach recovery after a serious storm event. Removing sand from beaches increases the severity of erosion, and removing vegetation from dunes destabilises these protective sand barriers and reduces their function as natural sea defences. [1]


Builders and Building Rules

  • When your plans have been drawn and approved by the Municipality, call for tenders from as many builders as possible. Ensure that they all quote for the same specifications, and that prices include VAT.
  • Ask for references from at least the last three completed jobs. Do not accept references suggested by the builder as these may be the only people who are not suing him.
  • Ensure that the builder is registered with the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC), is registered in terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, is a member of the local Master Builders and Allied Trades Association, and has sufficient insurance to cover the building and its contents while under construction.
  • Make sure you have a recognised builder's contract, available from the Master Builders and Allied Trades Association, and not one drawn up by the builder himself. The contract must set out the obligations of both parties, and preferably include penalty clauses for late completion, a provision for extending the contract, and a dispute resolution procedure
  • Because of the sensitive ecology throughout most of  Wilderness, we suggest that the contract includes the following building rules

The builder must:

  1. Obtain an OSCA permit before any removal of trees (indigenous and otherwise) or fynbos from the demarcated footprint area is done. Indigenous vegetation is to be respected and protected with shade cloth where necessary. The OSCA permit must always be available for inspection during clearing operations;
  2. In the case of afro-montane forest areas (i.e. where the tree canopy touches), an additional permit must be obtained from DWAF in Knysna before any trees may be removed. This permit must also be kept available for inspection.
  3. Ensure that vegetation so removed is not dumped on adjacent properties but is taken to the George municipal dump as soon as clearing has been done.
  4. Provide a skip for rubble. Timely arrangements must be made to have it collected when full, emptied and returned to the site. The skip must be on site until the building project has been completed in every respect.
  5. Ensure that no rubble is buried on site, except where it is used as landfill under the building being erected.
  6. Provide a suitable container for cement and tiling slush and redundant paint. In no circumstances may such slush be emptied on the soil or in the fynbos.
  7. Maintain a neat building site throughout the building process. Builders must ensure compliance of their workers.
  8. Ensure that all loose material that can be blown about is suitably stowed to prevent littering.
  9. Provide a site hut on the property concerned.
  10. Provide a chemical toilet for workers and arrange for it to be emptied regularly. The toilet must be positioned as unobtrusively as possible, taking into account and respecting the proximity of neighbours.
  11. Provide mixing pans for cement + 1000 mm x 1000 mm (one or more as needed). Under no circumstances may cement be mixed directly on the ground.
  12. Not place equipment and building materials on adjacent properties without prior written consent of the owners concerned. Written consent must be available for inspection.
  13. Keep the building site neat and orderly throughout the building process.
  14. Prevent workers from trespassing on adjacent undeveloped properties to urinate, defecate or for any other purpose.
  15. Complete the building project within the time stipulated by the municipal planning department.
  16. Upon completion of the building, remove all building materials, equipment and rubble from the building site.
  17. Erect a display board on the building site showing the following information until the project has been completed:
    1. the name and contact details of the
      • owner
      • architect
      • building contractor and/
      • project manager
      • structural engineer;
    2. the erf number of the building site;
    3. the relevant street name.
  18. Ensure thatany adjacent property possibly used for storing building materials and equipment is likewise left clean with all materials removed.
  19. Ensure that any spillage of building materials onto road surfaces (sand, crushed stone or concrete) by him or his sub-contractors remains his responsibility and must be cleaned up immediately. Failure to do this will result in cleaning to be done by another agent for the account of the building contractor.