By Danie Esterhuizen, ECA(SA) First Vice-President
There are various technical articles about the electrical Certificate of Compliance (CoC), but the question that consumers want answered is: “Why do the repairs required to issue the CoC vary so much in technical detail and price?”
Whether you are relocating to another property or immigrating to another country, you need to supply a valid electrical Certificate of Compliance as part of your sales agreement. During this process you contact three electrical contracting companies in your area to provide you with a cost estimate. But to your surprise the cost estimates vary quite substantially in detail and value. You are quite puzzled since all three companies inspected the same property, but how do you decide which company to employ?
This is a valid conundrum that many homeowners are faced with and a question that requires unpacking. To understand the environment we find ourselves in, I have to direct you to the Electrical Installation Regulations of 2009 contained in the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993.
9. Issuing of Certificate of Compliance
(1) No person other than a registered person may issue a certificate of compliance.
(2) A registered person may issue a certificate of compliance accompanied by the required test report only after having satisfied himself or herself by means of an inspection and test that
(a) a new electrical installation complies with the provisions of regulation 5(1) and was carried out under his or her general control; or
(b) an electrical installation which existed prior to the publication of the current edition of the health and safety standard incorporated into these Regulations in terms of regulation 5(1), complies with the general safety principles of such standard; or
(c) an electrical installation referred to in paragraph (b), to which extensions or alterations have been effected, that
(i) the existing part of the electrical installation complies with the general safety principles of such standard and is reasonably safe, and
(ii) the extensions or alterations effected comply with the provisions of regulation 5(1) and were carried out under his or her general control.
The clue to this phenomenon lies in Regulation 9, Sub Regulation 2; “only after having satisfied himself or herself by means of an inspection and test that …”. This means that the registered person (the electrical contractor that you employed) must be satisfied that your electrical installation complies with the relevant clause of Regulation 9.
The subjective nature of this requirement means that the ability and effectiveness of your registered person that you employed for this purpose depends upon his or her ability to interpret health and safety regulations as well as their knowledge of electrical products and current best practices in the industry. There are other factors such as their attention to detail and being risk averse during their inspection that also impacts the repair estimate.
Does this mean you must employ the most expensive electrical contractor? Not necessarily, because the highest price does not necessarily guarantee the best quality.
Here are some questions you can ask electrical contractors to level the playing field:
- Are you a member of the ECA(SA)?
- Do you have any experience related to the work that I require to be performed?
- Are you up to date with the latest legislative requirements?
- Do you have any references that I can contact to verify your experience?
- What guarantees do you provide related to the work that will be performed?
Remember that ultimately you (the seller) are responsible to provide a valid electrical Certificate of Compliance and if it is found that registered person was not as thorough as expected, it will be your responsibility to resolve the matter with the registered person that you employed. This is where the ECA(SA) can assist you since we guarantee the work of our members and frequently host training events to upskill the electrical industry.
Contact your nearest ECA(SA) regional office and ask for a referral the next time you want to employ an electrical contractor.
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