Whether you’re buying a previously owned home, or building a brand new home, built to your specifications, there are certain certificates of compliance that are compulsory as per National or Municipal by-laws. As the buyer you need to insist on receiving these compliance certificates before taking occupation of your new home. These certificates could save you from a lot of unforeseen repair costs in the future and can also protect you and your family from serious injuries.
Which certificates of compliance are required when buying your new home?
A Valid Electrical Certificate of Compliance:
This certificate may be no older than 2 years and no alterations have been made to the installation during this time period. National Regulations stipulate that this certificate is compulsory in order to ensure that the electrical work has been completed to the South African National Standards and that it is safe for those utilising the structures’ electrical points and features.
A Valid Electric Fence Certificate of Compliance:
This certificate may not be older than 2 years. National Regulations stipulate that if there is an electrical fence installed as a security measure on the property then you have to insist on an installation certificate from the electric fence contractor, from the seller or building contractor.
A Valid Gas Certificate of Conformity:
This certificate may be no older than 5 years. National Regulations stipulate that this certificate is required to ensure that the installation complies with the Pressure Equipment Regulations of the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (effective 1 October 2009)
Municipal by-laws like those of Cape Town and other areas that suffer major water shortages, stipulate that a Certificate of Compliance of Water Installation is compulsory in order to ensure that the installation makes provision for water saving requirements by the local municipalities.
Municipal by-laws in coastal provinces stipulate that the Department of Agriculture has to be notified of the existence of wood destroying beetles in order to eradicate these to avoid the risk of spreading.
Form 3 for Balustrade Installations:
The South African National Standards dictate that a Form 3 signed off by a professional structural engineer for the Balustrade Installation is compulsory. This Form 3 for a Balustrade Installation is as important as an Electrical or Gas Compliance Certificate when buying a previously owned or new home. The definition of a Form 3 – Declaration by a competent person appointed to design a component or an element of a system, from the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act, 1977 (Act No. 103 of 1977). A contractor that is unable to submit a Form 3 with his balustrade installation, is incapable of guaranteeing the safety and structural reliability of the system because it has not been tested and signed off by a professional structural engineer.
On a new build, you will not receive an occupation certificate should you not be in possession of the above certificates of compliance as stipulated by the National and Municipal by-laws. This includes the requirement to submit a Form 3 to the building inspector for the balustrade installation.
Looking at the above list of certificates of compliance you will note that the electrical, gas and electric fence certificates of compliance are required specifically to ensure the safety of those utilising the building. There is not enough emphasis in the industry on the requirement to insist on a Form 3 for your balustrade system that’s sole purpose is to protect those using the stairs and balconies from falling from dangerously high levels.
If you are buying a previously owned or new home and the home has a staircase, double volume area or balconies, including any area internally or externally that has a change in level of 1meter or more, then there has to be a balustrade to act as fall protection. In order for you to be sure that the balustrade is manufactured from compliant materials and installed in a compliant manner, you would have to insist on the Form 3 signed by a professional structural engineer.
Insisting on the above list of compliance certificates including your Form 3 for the balustrade installation will protect you from unforeseen future costs and potentially serious injuries.