Standard Codes for Natural Building in South Africa

One of the biggest challenges facing natural building is the lack of standard codes of practice in South Africa.

This discriminates against the millions of urban, rural and peri-urban people still living and working in earthen structures whose only means is to build with earth. It discriminates against those who arrive in the city with a knowledge of natural building. It also discriminates against those who aspire to live more affordable ecologically sound lives.

Due to the lack of standard codes, the National Home Builders Regulatory Council (NHBRC) will not allow for the registration of a new naturally designed home. Hence banks, which require all new homes to be registered with the NHBRC, will not provide finance.

Internationally there exists a huge body of standard codes from which we can draw. Earth builders, architects and engineers in South Africa use these international standards to guide their work.

Our mission is to develop professional standard codes for Natural Building systems and be an alliance for environmental change; create a national database of people interested in natural building, including professional services and natural building projects and a map of contemporary and significant heritage and current natural buildings to which members will add their projects. This will be similar to, or part of the CRAterre-ENSAG international map of earth buildings. See

We are currently identifying sources of funding for employing Andy Horn, Architect and Founder of EcoDesign and member of the Whole Earth Building Foundation, as Project Officer to work with the SABS and others to get earth building codes recognised and available in South Africa.

Recent Victory

Zimbabwe adopted a rammed earth building code/standard ten years ago. This standard has been adopted though the Southern African Development Council (SADC) SADCSTAN process for ten of the member states. Eight countries, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, out of the ten voting countries, voted in favour of adopting the standard.

(Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe).

We now have an official SADCSTAN/TC1 SC5-001 SAZ724 Standard Code of Practice for Rammed Earth Structures for the Southern African Development Council region. This must legally be published in each member state by each of its standards bodies.