What you need to know before altering your approved plan

When Charles Kisitu received an approved house plan from his architect, it was perfect and he did not want anything to be changed. However, during roofing, the engineer changed the roofing design.

It was during that time that the planning authority came to Kisitu’s site demanding to see the plan. However, he refused to show it to them on site.

“I lied to the officials that I had not carried the plan because if I had shown it to them on site, they would have realised the change in the roofing design and yet my architect told me that any change to an approved plans calls for the drawing of another one.”

“So, I instead took the plan to their office the following day and I was given a go ahead to continue with construction.”
Unlike Kisitu, what normally happens is that some people hire an architect to draw a plan for them but on delivering the approved plan, you realise that the architect either included or removed something from the plan. We explain the alterations you can and cannot make on a house after your plan has been approved.

House plan

Catherine Muyinda, an architect with K.K Partnership architects explains that a house plan is a set of working drawings technically referred to as blueprints. She explains, “A house plan defines the construction specifications of a building such as dimensions, materials, layouts, electricity installation, methods and techniques. A plan is supposed to guide the builders or the people at the site in following building regulations.”

Types of changes

Much as changes to a house plan can be made, these are defined and classified depending on the implications they will have on the final building. Muyinda explains some.

Major changes
“A major change is anything that affects the structure of the building For instance if you have a building and you want to turn it into an office or a commercial building. This requires breaking down walls and introducing partitions,” Muyinda explains.

She aises that you consider the alterations you are making are you breaking sinks as this requires shifting pipes from where the sink was passing. This is a major alteration as it affects the cost and design of the building. When making any changes always hire a professional.

Minor alterations
These do not necessarily affect the structure of the building as compared to the major changes. These could include breaking down a wall to introduce a door or breaking down a wall to increase the size of a room. However minor an alteration is, always have an architect or engineer look at them.

Types of plans and considerations

Muyinda adds that there are different types of house plans.

The architectural plan
An architectural plan is used for construction purposes and the architect gives all his instructions based on this plan, giving all the details through it. Any adjustments are made according to minimum standards stated in the Physical Planning Act 2010 although this kind of plan usually deals with the interior of the building.

Structural plan
This kind of plan deals with the structural fitness of the building and is done by a structural engineer especially for storied buildings. It is the structural engineer who prepares this kind of plan although he makes it according to the architectural plan. With a structural plan, the engineer determines the strength of the building for instance the amount of metal and furniture needed in supporting the building. Muyinda explains, “For a bungalow, help from a structural engineer is required especially if you are building on sloppy areas or areas with a lot of water.”

Electrical plan
This is a plan that helps you identify how your house will be wired and is designed by an electrical engineer.

Condominium plan
This kind of house plan helps you distinguish various condos for easy ownership.

However, after any of the above mentioned plans is drawn, many a time, one feels the need for making an extension on what the home looks like on paper. However, before a house plan is even drawn, below are some of the considerations an architect looks out for the coverage.

Sewajja Kyeyune, an architect and acting commissioner Estates Management explains that if the plan of the building drawn is covering the entire plot, it might not be approved by the authorities because that is a sign of congestion.

The plan should illustrate that the house will be sitting on a sewage pipe or if it is below an electricity poleline as this is a threat to the people that will occupy such a house. The plan will not be approved since houses are not allowed to be below electricity lines.

House plan

Making alterations to a plan can be timely if it is not yet approved. However, when it is approved, any alterations made require one to go back to the authorities to approve the changes made, which may not be approved in some cases.

However, if you feel that you need to make any changes, please contact the authorities to guide you as this helps prevent unnecessary inconveniences. Muyinda aises that when you seek help from a professional, they will look at the available land and options such as accessibility depending on the alterations you are interested in making to their plan.
“Always desist from making changes to a structure before consulting a professional even when the plan has already been approved. Alterations on paper are cheaper as compared to alterations on a structure that has already been constructed as it affects the number of building materials used.”
When are alterations justified

Depending on the kind of house plan, changes can be made, especially if the plan has room for alterations to be.

Sewajja says in cases where you need to add another room to the house due to say an increase in the number of family members, an extension can be made Another reason may be changing your roof from iron sheets to tiles, although he recommends that you speak to your architect first before implementing any changes.
However, he warns that making alterations like increasing on the number of floors a structure has can lead to grave implications on the building.

“Right from drawing the plan, you must establish how many floors you want your building to have because the foundation has to be designed according to the number of floors.” If you feel the need to expand on floors in the future, establish this during the designing of a house plan because any alterations that were not planned at the start might cause the building to collapse in future.

Alterations that are not allowed
• If the plot covering is exceeding the recommended size, such alterations will not be approved by the authorities.
• After the original plan is made and the plot is too small, then that will not be allowed.
• If the building design is not fulfilling the requirements for instance, there are no windows on certain spaces and air circulation is not properly catered for, the authorities have the mandate to reject the changes on a given house plan.
• The penalty is usually defined within the mandate of a given authority there are a set of laws and depending on the level at which you have defied a given set of rules, you will be penalised accordingly.

The Physical Planning Act

Contents of district, urban and local physical development plans.
A district, urban and local physical development plan shall consist of—
(a) a topographical survey in respect of the area to which the plan relates, carried out in the prescribed manner
(b) maps and descriptions as may be necessary to indicate the manner in which the land in the area may be used, having regard to the requirements set out in the Fifth Schedule, in relation to a district or local physical development plan
(c) a technical report on the conditions, resources and facilities in the area
(d) a statement of policies and proposals with regard to the allocation of resources and the locations for development within the area
(e) a description and analysis of the conditions of development in the area as may be necessary to explain and justify the statement of policies and proposals
(f) relevant studies and reports concerning the physical development of the area
(g) maps and plans showing present and future land use and development in the area and
(h) any other information as the Board and the committee may deem necessary.
Public display of district, urban and local physical development plans.
(2) The notice published under subsection (1) shall request any interested person who wishes to make any representations against, or objections to the plan, in writing or through an open hearing, to write to the committee within ninety days after the date of publication of the notice, or a date specified in the notice.
(3) The committee may accept or reject the representations or objections to the plan, and shall within thirty days after accepting or rejecting the representation or objection, notify, in writing, the person making the representation or objection and shall give reasons in the case of rejection.
Approval of district, urban and local physical development plans.
(1) Where, after the expiration of the ninety days specified in the notice under section 27, no representations against, or objections to, the plan have been made to the board, or where such representations and objections are dealt with in accordance with this Act, the Board shall approve the plan.
(2) A physical development plan approved under subsection (1) shall not be altered in any manner without the prior written authorisation of the district physical planning committee.
Modification of district and urban physical development plans.
(1) Subject to this section, a district or urban physical planning committee may, with the approval of the relevant local government council, and in the prescribed manner, submit proposals to the board for the alteration or modification of an approved district or urban physical development plan, upon payment of the prescribed fee, where—
(a) there are practical difficulties in the execution or enforcement of the approved plan or
(b) there has been a change of circumstances since the plan was approved.


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