Build on own land – Getting your design approved




Building codes are standards in different countries or regions which are put into place to create and ensure the structural safety of buildings.  The law and regulations established and enforced by the local government, usually reinforced through your city or local parish council. However, some parishes may have additional requirements, more stringent regulations because of climatic or geographic conditions specific to that area. If you live in the earthquake, flooding plains or hurricane high rick are there will be more stringent regulations to construct a building to ensure occupant safety. The building code includes information about fire prevention and safety, structural requirements, water supply and waste and drainage etc.


Getting building approvals for your build on own land Jamaica project is a process of checking your design to see if it is in breach or of the standards outlined in the building code. Your design is sent to the local parish council or building regulation department to ebb checked by individual who should be knowledgeable about the building code of the country to make an assessment of information presented in design. All the checks are not often times done in the same place and therefore copies of the design have to be sent different agencies to check and verify different things. Your design or construction drawings are sent to agencies such National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Ministry Of Health, Fire Department, and National Works Agency (NWA) to name a few. Each agency will check for particular things for particular things to in relations to the regulation they regulations they enforce and issue approvals of rejection based on the relating information presented on the drawings submitted by your architect.


Information needed for your building approval.

  1. Completed application form.
  2. Minimum of 4 copies of building plans or construction documents. (All residential plans are to be drawn to a minimum scale of 1.75).
  3. Title blocks on all drawings to include the following information:
  • Street number
  • Name of applicants
  • Name of architect and contact number
  • Date drawing was done
  • Type of development
  • Address of proposed development
  • Size of building

all necessary notes as it relates to construction/design.

  1. Proof of ownership: to include a certificate of title, current tax receipt and sales agreement, parent title, current tax certificate and land diagram or letter from attorney relating to the transfer of property and current tax receipt.
  2. Fees and Charges: the cost to submit your plans to the building authorities are calculated based on the gross floor area and type of building stated on the plan by the architect and verification by the authorities. (E.g. residential, commercial, etc)

An architect will provide you with a lot more information that the basic requirements for submitting for building approval. This information is needed to do a proper costing for the project and to develop the project accurately and to the right standards and specification. An example of this additional information is door and window schedules, bathroom and kitchen elevations and details, finishing and painting schedules, fixture and equipment schedules, ironmongery schedules etc.

The typical list of basic drawings needed for approval of a residence is :

  1. Site planning
  2. Floor plan (scale 1:50)
  3. Sections (Minimum of two (I longitudinal and 1 cross-sectional) at scale 1:50).
  4. Minimum of four elevations for new houses.
  5. Foundation plan (scale 1:50) showing column pads, stiffeners and footings.
  6. Structural details (scale 1:20) this must include footing details, lintel, beams, stiffener details and star case reinforcement.
  7. Roof Plan (scale 1:50) showing all structural members (sizes, spacing, roof pitch etc, and reinforced concrete roof slab).
  8. Electrical plan (scale 1:50) and legend indicating placement of fixtures and outlets
  9. Drainage plan (scale 1:50) and legend indicating placement of all sewage and waste water components.
  10. Drainage details (scale 1:50) septic tanks, manholes, trap gully basins, tile fields.

N.B. typical information that would be shown for a site plan on a set of approval drawings are as follows:

Define on site plan all survey pegs to the lot.

Show all areas of impermeable site coverage showing all the trees over 6m in height and 600mm in girth.

The length and bearing of all boundaries

The existing site sanitary and storm water drainage and the proposed method of sanitary and storm water drainage shown.

Permanent site datum, finished levels of ground and floors related to datum boundary levels sufficient to check height to boundary.

Existing land contours at a maximum of 3m increments.

Any existing or proposed buildings to be clearly defined and dimensioned from boundaries and other buildings.

  1. Plumbing layout and position of sanitary drains, septic tanks, absorption pits, soak away pits, tile fields to be shown and their distance relative to boundaries to be stated.

Provide details of vehicular access and where applicable car parking spaces and vehicular maneuvering on the property.

Dimensions must be shown for parking spaces.