Electrical Compliance Requirements for Sectional Title Schemes

Property owners are required by law to ensure that the property is legally fit for sale, and before the transfer can take place, the transfer attorney must be in possession of the relevant COCs (Certificate of Compliance). In the case of sectional title schemes however, although the individual units are bought and sold the common property is often overlooked and falls under the radar in terms of electrical compliance certification. 

A valid electrical certificate is a legal requirement, the owner of an “electrical installation” should be in possession of a valid electrical certificate at all times.In terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (No 85 of 1993) no person may market, sell, let or supply an electrical installation that is unsafe. The South African electrician’s work must comply with SANS 10142-1 (Edition 2), which is the most recent legislation applicable to the electrical trade.

The owner/manager of a property is therefore obligated to obtain a COC from a legitimate contractible company which complies with all the criteria as stipulated by the authorities and conforms to the latest Code of Practice. Only a Qualified Electrician with a Wireman’s License, accredited by the Department of Labour and who is registered with the Electrical Contracting Board of South Africa (E.C.B) can issue an electrical COC.

The SANS10142-1 electrical installation regulations comprises an entire book of complicated regulations – and then there is also the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations to consider from time to time. The Code of Practice is amended regularly by a working group of technical experts in the industry, who meet on a regular basis at the SA Bureau of Standards. The inspector works strictly according to the Code and cannot issue a C.O.C if the installation is not safe as determined by the Code.

Oftentimes the electrical compliance of common areas have not been inspected since the original construction of the complex, and since the regulations are updated from time to time it is highly likely that the existing installations are no longer compliant. Another factor is wear and tear – everything eventually breaks or wears out, including electrical equipment. There is simply no way an Electrical Certificate can be valid forever. In addition to the electrics of the common property, another important component is the electric fencing, which requires a separate inspection and C.O.C. 

At present the electrical certificate can only be valid for an absolute maximum of two years, subject to no alterations or work being done during that period. Therefore it is necessary for all existing sectional title schemes to have their compliance assessed and a new certificate of compliance issued. 

The price of the inspection is normally a fixed fee – the total cost is however dependent on the work required (or not). The inspector will submit a report stating what work needs to be done to the installation to comply with the Code of Practice. In the event that rectifications are required in order to make the electrical installation compliant, the inspector will issue a detailed report with a quote to perform the necessary rectifications. 

What is checked during an Electrical COC Inspection?

The distribution board contains the heart of the electrical installation. From here, the mains incoming supply is split to the various plug, light and other circuits. The circuit breakers protect against overload and short circuit faults, which could cause fires.

The circuit breakers and wire size need to be correctly rated according to the maximum amount of electricity that the connected circuit may be expected to carry. The earth leakage protects against potential electrocution situations. At least the main switch must be easily accessible in case of emergencies, preferably the entire board should be accessible. 

The electrical certificate covers the permanent electrical installation which includes:

  • all the cables from the mains incoming point to the main distribution board
  • everything in the main distribution board and any sub boards, circuit breakers, earth leakage etc. 
  • all the cabling from the distribution boards to switches and plugs, including the wall plugs and light switches, through to the connection at the lights
  • all circuits and wiring to any fixed appliances, even if they are plugged into a wall socket, but it does not include the actual appliance itself
  • the earthing system and connectivity throughout the installation
  • positioning of electrical equipment, e.g. light switches and plugs may not be within a certain distance of taps, shower, baths etc.
  • mains switch must be accessible and a within a certain height from the floor in case of emergencies
  •  all electrical equipment in the installation must be approved, SABS or other relevant approvals, and be of the correct type and rating for the application
  • all electrical equipment must be installed in an approved manner, must be securely attached in place and suitably protected from little fingers gaining access
  • all parts of the permanent electrical installation must be in good working order, including safety features
  • the electrician will also take various readings to ensure that Voltages, insulation, earthing and other values are within requirements

An electrical certificate is very similar to the roadworthy test on a car. The issuing electrician is not servicing or upgrading the electrical installation – he or she just needs to ensure that what does exist is operational, complies with regulations and is deemed safe.

Inspectors cannot issue electrical certificates based on the work of others as the certificate also serves as a guarantee on materials and workmanship. Please note the inspection fee is a consultation fee, NOT a certificate fee, and remain payable irrespective of who ultimately issues the certificate.

Arcstone is a specialist property maintenance service provider for sectional title schemes, we are fully certified to carry out electrical compliance assessments and issue the necessary certificate of compliance. We also offer state of the art comprehensive 10 year maintenance plans and cater for the full spectrum of maintenance needs for sectional title schemes – from redecorations, to plumbing and electrical repairs and everything in between. Contact Arcstone today and experience the quality, service and professionalism for yourself. 

Visit our website at www.arcstone.co.za, call 011 440 8939 or email info@arcstone.co.za