Weatherproofing a South African Home

While South Africans are thankfully not subject to some of the earth’s most extreme natural disasters, we have had to adapt to erratic and sometimes severe weather. Giving consideration to what Mother Nature gets up to is all part of building and weatherproofing a home that will shelter you from the elements and stand the test of time.

Some of our harsher weather conditions include drought, floods, wildfires and severe storms. And while recent years (such as the summer of 2022!) have seen plenty of flooding and rainy weather in some regions, we’re still experiencing a major water shortage across South Africa, where the most severe effects of drought are being felt in the Western Cape.

All of these dynamics should impact the decisions that we make around building and weatherproofing our homes – not only to provide optimal shelter, but to handle both excesses and scarcities of water too.

Building for diverse climates presents challenges and opportunities to: 


Gone with the Rain – Roof design

Using roof design as a solution to excessively wet weather (and dry weather!) is what makes the world of difference in building and weatherproofing a new home.

A common roof design in South Africa is the pitched roof. These have a steep slope which offers homeowners a variety of benefits, including:

  • Pitched roofs are more weather-resilient during heavy rain and offer more effective drainage.

  • Rainwater is channeled to gutters and pipes that lead away from the foundation of the building, protecting the home from damp.

  • The space between a pitched roof and the ceiling allows for better ventilation, helping to moderate heat in summer and cold in winter.

  • Insulating a pitched roof home is usually more straightforward than a flat roof, which prevents heat transfer through the ceiling.

  • Because water drains quickly off the surface of a pitched roof, rainwater maintains its quality and can be harvested for garden and household use, especially in areas under water restrictions.

  • Most solar panels need to be installed at an angle. This means that north-facing pitched roofs are ideal for solar energy installations.

Alternatively, if a flat roof is chosen for some of its benefits – such as affordability and simple maintenance – interlocking roof tiles with an appropriate drainage system will prevent standing water and the damage it may cause. In both cases, waterproofing to prevent leaks and cracks is an absolute necessity to prevent excess moisture entering your house.

Don’t just weatherproof. Weather-optimise.

Although flooding and drought have been the most prominent of our climate issues in recent times, there are other less-extreme ways in which the weather could really ruin your day, if your home isn’t built for it.

By implementing careful and creative solutions for our diverse climate, we can drastically improve the comfort that our structures provide and ensure they stay in good condition for years to come.

Simply put – look after your home, and it will look after you.

Steps you can take to protect your home in South Africa:

  1. InsulateBy insulating the ceiling of your home, not only will it stay cooler during hot and humid summers, but also retain some warmth in winter. A reflective coating on your roof can also go a long way in keeping your home cooler.
  2. WeatherstrippingMany provinces in South Africa experience harsh winds quite frequently. With appropriate use of weather stripping around doors and windows, we can prevent unwanted drafts.
  3. Choose the right windowsMost high-quality windows use double or triple glazing, as well as UV protective coating to keep the elements out and maintain their quality and clarity for as long as possible.
  4. Make some shade Planting trees is also an aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly way to introduce more shade into your home. Think carefully about what kinds of trees to plant. For example, it may be useful to choose a tree that loses its leaves in winter, so as to allow more sunlight in.
  5. Clean gutters seasonally – Clogged up gutters could be your worst nightmare when seasonal rains arrive. By cleaning out your gutters regularly, you could prevent serious water damage inside your home, and damage to the actual gutter system as well.
  6. Install Solar PanelsLoadshedding is one of the most frustrating living conditions we bear in South Africa. But they don’t call us ‘Sunny South Africa’ for nothing! Make clever use of our glorious sunshine with solar panels and an appropriate backup power system, and reduce your dependence on the grid.
  7. Use the right materials –  Throughout all our building projects in South Africa, materials have to be carefully selected to accommodate our diverse climates. These include durable, weather-resistant materials such as concrete, brick, and stone, and even aluminium and steel for roofing where necessary.

Building for the future

Whether you’re building from scratch or improving on your current home, it’s important to consider all possible effects of the climate at the onset of your project. We also need to understand that building a house in Sandton, Johannesburg, may call for a different approach to building in the Karoo!

At Jukka, we believe that homes should be built for comfort, and be built to last. Together, we can navigate these details with confidence and construct a home you’ll love to live in, for years to come.