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What you need to know about building occupancy classifications

by , 17 February 2014
Are you planning to extend or build new premises? If so, continue reading to find out about building occupancy classifications so you can comply with the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act.

You can't just decide to build a structure in any way you like.

The Health & Safety Advisor explains that before you're allowed to build, you must comply with requirements of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act No 103 of 1977 before your building is approved by the municipality.

You see, legislators have categorised the 'occupancy' of buildings. This allows them to define specific requirements that enable the building to be deemed safe for use for a particular class of business.

For example, the building requirements for an explosives factory are different to those required by a shopping mall or school.

So how do you know the classification your business will fall under?

We'll give you all the details below….

Occupancy or building classification explained

#1: Class of occupancy of building

  • A1
  • Occupancy: Entertainment and public assembly (occupancy where persons gather to eat, drink, dance or participate in other recreation).

#2: Class of occupancy of building

  • A2
  • Occupancy: Theatrical and indoor sport (occupancy where persons gather for the viewing of theatrical, operatic, orchestral, choral, cinematographical or sport performances).

#3: Class of occupancy of building

  • A3
  • Occupancy: Places of instruction (occupancy where school children, students or other persons assemble for the purpose of tuition or learning).

#4: Class of occupancy of building

  • A4
  • Occupancy: Worship (occupancy where persons assemble for the purpose of worshipping).

#5: Class of occupancy of building

  • A5
  • Occupancy: Outdoor sport (occupancy where persons view outdoor sports events).

#6: Class of occupancy of building

  • B1
  • Occupancy: High risk commercial service (occupancy where a non-industrial process is carried out and where either the material handled or the process carried out is liable, in the event of fire, to cause combustion with extreme rapidity or give rise to poisonous fumes, or cause explosions.

#7: Class of occupancy of building

  • B2
  • Occupancy: Moderate risk commercial service (occupancy where a non-industrial process is carried out and where either the material handled or the process carried out is liable in the event of fire, to cause combustion with moderate rapidity but isn't likely to give rise to poisonous fumes, or cause explosions).

#8: Class of occupancy of building

  • B3
  • Occupancy: Low risk commercial service (occupancy where a non-industrial process is carried out and where neither the material handled nor the process carried out falls into the high or moderate risk category).

#9: Class of occupancy of building

  • C1
  • Occupancy: Exhibition hall (occupancy where goods are displayed primarily for viewing by the public).

#10: Class of occupancy of building

  • C2
  • Occupancy: Museum (occupancy comprising a museum, art gallery or library.

#11: Class of occupancy of building

  • D1
  • Occupancy: High risk industrial (occupancy where an industrial process is carried out and where either the material handled or the process carried out is liable, in the event of fire, to cause combustion with extreme rapidity or give rise to poisonous fumes, or cause explosions).

#12: Class of occupancy of building

  • D2
  • Occupancy: Moderate risk industrial (occupancy where an industrial process is carried out and where either the material handled or the process carried out is liable, in the event of fire, to cause combustion with moderate rapidity but isn't likely to give rise to poisonous fumes, or cause explosions).

#13: Class of occupancy of building

  • D3
  • Occupancy: Low risk industrial (occupancy where an industrial process is carried out and where neither the material handled nor the process carried out falls into the high or moderate risk category).

#14: Class of occupancy of building

  • D4
  • Occupancy: Plant room (occupancy comprising usually unattended mechanical or electrical services necessary for the running of a building).

#15: Class of occupancy of building

  • E1
  • Occupancy: Place of detention (occupancy where people are detained for punitive or corrective reasons or because of their mental condition).

#16: Class of occupancy of building

  • E3
  • Occupancy: Other institutional (occupancy where groups of people who either are not fully fit, or who are restricted in their movements or their ability to make decisions, reside and are cared for).


#17: Class of occupancy of building

  • F1
  • Occupancy: Large shop (occupancy where merchandise is displayed and offered for sale to the public and the floor area exceeds 250m2).

#18: Class of occupancy of building

  • F2
  • Occupancy: Small shop (occupancy where merchandise is displayed and offered for sale to the public and the floor area doesn't exceed 250m2).

#19: Class of occupancy of building

  • F3
  • Occupancy: Wholesalers' store (occupancy where goods are displayed and stored and where only a limited selected group of persons is present at any one time).

#20: Class of occupancy of building

  • G1
  • Occupancy: Offices (occupancy comprising offices, banks, consulting rooms and other similar usage).

#21: Class of occupancy of building

  • H1
  • Occupancy: Hotel (occupancy where people rent furnished rooms, not being dwelling units).

#22: Class of occupancy of building

  • H2
  • Occupancy: Dormitory (occupancy where groups of people are accommodated in one room).

#23: Class of occupancy of building

  • H3
  • Occupancy: Domestic residence (occupancy consisting of two or more dwelling units on a single site).

#24: Class of occupancy of building

  • H4
  • Occupancy: Dwelling house (occupancy consisting of a dwelling, units on its own site, including a garage and other domestic outbuildings, if any).

#25: Class of occupancy of building

  • J1
  • Occupancy: High risk storage ( occupancy where material is stored and where the stored material is liable, in the event of fire, to cause combustion with extreme rapidity or give rise to poisonous fumes, or cause explosions).

#26: Class of occupancy of building

  • J2
  • Occupancy: Moderate risk storage (occupancy where material is stored and where the stored material is liable, in the event of fire, to cause combustion with moderate rapidity but is not likely to give rise to poisonous fumes, or cause explosions).

#27: Class of occupancy of building

  • J3
  • Occupancy: Low risk storage (occupancy where the material stored does not fall into the high or moderate risk category).

#28: Class of occupancy of building

  • J4
  • Occupancy: Parking garage (occupancy used for storing or parking of more than ten motor vehicles).

Knowing about building occupancy classifications will help you investigate the requirements your specific building is required to comply with.

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