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Certificate of Compliance

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What is there to know?

A COC (Certificate of Compliance) is one of the most uninformed and misunderstood topics that clients have when dealing with the electrical industry, unfortunately the majority of electricians take advantage of this fact and make quick money with the client thinking everything is in order. We have heard and seen so many clients become disappointed or in trouble when something goes wrong that we decided to give the information on this topic that would guide you to better understanding and making a more informed and responsible decision when using an electrician to get your COC issued.

The biggest fact is- the price you pay is the quality you get. Most users google for the cheapest electrician in the area to get the COC done, this is the first mistake. These ‘cheapy’ electricians are the majority that make quick money and are very fast to offer their services and repairs, unfortunately these electricians won’t be around if the property catches fire or something makes a big boom in the electrical system.

We’re not saying to not use small local companies, what we are saying is always use a reputable trustworthy company to do your electrical work, ask for references, look back at their social postings for bad comments from clients and google the company’s name to find any reviews if available. If an invalid certificate is issued, there could be serious implications for the client.

What is a COC? And what does it consist of? Some facts…

A COC is a certificate stating that the electrical installation has been tested and repaired to comply with SANS 10142-1 standards. It is like having a SABS stamp on your electrical installation once it has been issued.

– It is required by law that every electrical installation has a valid COC for it.
– No insurance company will pay out in the event of fire if you don’t have a COC or if it’s invalid.
– The COC does not state that any motors, geysers, stoves, aircons, or any other appliance is in proper working order. We only test the power up to these appliances’ isolators, but the appliances themselves are not covered by the COC.
– Globes, lamps, or any light bulbs, are not covered by the COC.
– A COC does not belong to a person, but to the property it has been issued to.
– A COC does not expire, but is still required to be newer than 2 years in the event of a property being sold- this is to ensure that the new user starts with the electrical installation in tip top condition. It is the responsibility of the current (old) owner to get the certificate, it has nothing to do with the new owner unless agreed otherwise between the two parties.
– If any electrical points get changed, removed, or added, the COC is immediately invalid unless the electrician doing the changes, updates the COC by adding the changes to it. This is done by adding additional pages to it, the original COC cannot or may not be changed or it becomes invalid.
– If a COC has any corrections made to it (tippex, scratching), it is invalid.

Documentation and registrations the electrician must have…

The electrician should be registered at the Department of Labour as an Electrical contractor. This is a registration that expires, so make sure to get a copy to make sure they are still within their registration dates. If an electrician gets banned from issuing COC’s, they will not be able to obtain this registration.

Although not compulsory, we recommend you use an electrician that is either registered with the ECBSA (The Electrical Contracting Board of South Africa) or with ECASA (Electrical Contractors Association (South Africa)). Ask for a registration number and check the validity on either ECBSA or ECASA website, depending on where they’re registered. This gives you as a client a bit of extra security in the event of something going wrong.

What is the process of getting a COC?

Firstly, contact an electrician to come and do the COC Inspection Test, this is not free or considered a quote as there is work to be done when doing this test, this Inspection test is basically what the COC cost covers as the repairs are quoted additionally. Some electricians offer discount on the COC if their repair quote gets accepted.
The contractor will then quote to do the repairs. After the quote gets accepted the contractor should do all necessary repairs to the property to get it to comply with SANS 10142-1.
In the event of the client getting another contractor to do the repairs, a re-inspection is necessary to make sure repairs were done as it should have been.
They should then issue you with the Certificate of Compliance or with the invoice, some companies only issue the certificate after the invoice has been paid, this is because of many clients not paying after the certificate has been issued.

How can I as the client save the costs of the COC or make the process faster and easier?

– Lock the dogs away.
– Make sure all lights that have covers, are fitted with their covers.
– Fasten any loose fittings that you want to fasten yourself, we cannot issue the certificate with loose fittings, yet clients insist they will fasten it later themselves.
– Make sure all computers, fridges, TV’s, home theatre entertainment systems, and any or all digital power sensitive devices are switched off and unplugged when or before we start with tests.
– Make sure about the quantity and locations of all electrical points, show these points out to us, especially if there’s hidden electrical points behind cupboards, doors, appliances, etc.
– Make sure all of these electrical points are accessible as we need to reach it, not only see it.

Other resources you could use to read more about the topic:

Some links may be old, some new, but the principle has never changed

News24 article here »
theforumSA article here » (a bit old though)
BSA (The Electrical Contracting Board of South Africa) here »
hometimes article here » (tenants can request COC from landlords)