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Let’s Talk Compliance Certificates, With Alcocks Service Group

Let’s Talk Compliance Certificates, with Alcocks Service Group

Compliance certificates are important to any real estate transaction. These certificates ensure that the property adheres to all the legal requirements and regulations. However, obtaining these certificates can be a daunting task, especially for those who are not familiar with the process. 

To shed some light on this topic, we had the pleasure of sitting down with the Founder and Director of Alcocks Service Group, Dave Alcock, who is also the current KZN regional chair for the ECA (Electrical Contractors Association (SA)) and SAPCA (South African Pest Control Association) and Alcocks Director Of Sales and Marketing, Candy Bouwer.

In this article, we will discuss the insights they shared regarding the importance of compliance certificates, the process of obtaining them, and how their company can assist in this process. 

Table Of Contents

Q: Tell us a bit more about Alcocks Services Group?

D.A: In the 1990s, I founded the company with the goal of offering compliance inspections for Wood Borer and electrical, which were mandatory for property transactions. Our specialization in these areas allowed us to grow and expand our services, while still maintaining this core function.

C.B: Dave is also the KZN regional chair for both ECA and SAPCA, a role that involves considerable efforts in aiding with industry regulations and ensuring current practices.

Q: Tell us about your team, who’s involved when you are doing the inspections?

DA: We ensure that every inspection and repair work is performed by a qualified individual. All electrical work is done in-house, but for fumigation, we subcontract to specialized service providers. Although we used to do it ourselves, we’ve found excellent professionals to handle it. Our primary focus now is on inspections, and we have a highly skilled and dedicated staff who have been with us for many years. 

Q: What are compliant certificates and why are they important to the real estate transaction?

D.A: Certificates of compliance verify that a property meets a particular requirement, whether it’s a legal obligation or an industry practice. These certificates may go by different names, such as certificates of clearance or certificates of conformance. Essentially, they serve the same purpose – to verify that you comply with certain standards.

C.B: As a property buyer or seller, it’s important to be aware of several necessary compliance certificates. These include the entomological pest, gas, electrical, and electrical fencing certificates. While plumbing certificates are not required in KZN, they are a by-law in the Western Cape and may be relevant to your property transaction.

Q: Solar panels are becoming more prevalent, with the energy crisis and load shedding. If a seller has a solar panel on their property, would they have to get a solar compliance certificate before selling?

DA: When buying a property with a solar system, buyers should exercise caution. Solar systems have specific requirements, and unfortunately, most installations fail to meet them.

First of all, The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) mandates that any embedded generation must comply with national regulatory standards 097. These standards outline specific minimum requirements for the connection of embedded generation. In addition, your local electrical supplier authority may have supplementary requirements that must be met to ensure compliance.

In addition to that, NERSA requires that every embedded generation is registered by the electrical authority. And a lot of people aren’t getting this done. 

The Western Cape has established efficient processes and systems for registration and fines. However, KZN is falling behind in this aspect. In my role at ECA, I have encountered electrical contractors who are struggling to follow the correct procedures and register their installations with the supply authority, due to lack of support from the authorities. This issue is concerning, as many homeowners are resorting to unauthorized electrical installations.

Homeowners must remember that the regulations for electrical installation also extend to solar power systems. Even with solar, a certified electrical contractor must install the system. The installation must be verified by a registered professional who can provide a certificate of compliance. The same safety standards apply to solar power installations as they do to traditional electrical systems.

Homeowners ensure your solar installer is a registered electrical contractor with the Department of Employment and Labour. Get a certificate of compliance and guarantee their legitimacy.

Q: How does a homeowner ensure the inspector they are using is registered with the relevant regulatory body?

DA: In the compliance industry, fraud is becoming increasingly prevalent, and it manifests itself in various forms. For instance, the Entomological Clearance Certificate does not require a specific qualification or registration according to any legislation. This lack of regulation has led to the emergence of unscrupulous operators who create issues for unsuspecting purchasers. When it comes to properties with significant damage that has not been reported, it is often difficult to trace the source of the certificates. Moreover, certificates are being accepted despite the absence of evidence, with just a cell phone number or a Gmail address sufficing as proof.

To ensure proper selection, it is crucial that you exercise caution when appointing someone. 

When it comes to Wood Borer compliance, the SAPCA website is the most reliable source. This website contains a comprehensive list of all qualified Wood Borer inspectors across the nation. If the inspector you have chosen is not on this list, it is important to inquire about their qualifications and experience. Asking these questions is a prudent measure to ensure that you receive the best service possible.

Regrettably, the Department of Employment and Labour doesn’t offer a directory of contractors in the electrical industry. Nonetheless, if the electrical contractor is listed on the ECA website, it guarantees that they are not only appropriately registered, but also that you can approach the ECA in case of any complications.

CB: When it comes to gas compliance, it is imperative that a certificate of conformity, also known as COC, is obtained. It is equally important that the individual responsible for issuing the certificate is registered with the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association of South Africa (LPGSA). You can easily find registered issuers on their official website. Similarly, for electric fencing, registered contractors can be found on the South African Electric Fence Installers Association (SAEFIA) website.

Q: Over your years of experience, what are some common compliance issues you have seen and how can sellers fix them?

DA: Entomology issues are prevalent in KZN. Our goal is to prevent subterranean termites from infesting structures. Although these termites are a natural presence, we must protect our buildings from harm. It is essential to safeguard against their attacks on our door frames, windows, and roofs. Our solution is to implement preventative treatments to protect the building.

When testing an existing electrical installation, we ensure it meets the safety requirements outlined in SANS 10147. The standard specifies that the installation should be “reasonably safe.” While there are several other standards to follow during equipment installation, for property transfer purposes, a certificate stating the installation’s safety is sufficient. Unfortunately, this certificate does not verify that all appliances are in working order, which often presents a challenge.

People often mistake maintenance issues for statutory requirements, leading to disagreements between buyers and sellers regarding their application and expectations of services provided.

To address this, we strive to include the most frequent maintenance inquiries in our reports. We will indicate any malfunctions, but it’s advisable for the seller to disclose any issues beforehand. They are not necessarily responsible for repairs, as the buyer’s expectations may differ. This is a common occurrence for conveyancers, where the seller may have met the requirements, but the buyer’s expectations were not fulfilled.

Q: What are the costs involved with inspections and issuing compliance certificates?

DA: The cost of inspections varies depending on the type of compliance certificate required. Typically, they are not a significant expense when compared to the value of the property, averaging around R1000. However, issues may arise during the inspection process, leading to unexpected costs. For instance, we have encountered cases where a small flat required a complete rewiring, costing the owner R15 000. The size of the property is not necessarily indicative of repair costs. Rather, the extent of the necessary work determines the expenses.

Did you know? Usually, the sale agreement specifies that sellers are responsible for inspection costs to obtain certificates unless agreed otherwise. Some sellers opt for conveyancers to promise payment upon registration if they’re unable to pay upfront.

Q: Do you have any advice for homeowners who aren’t at the point of selling their property but want to keep up compliance to avoid any major work down the line?

DA: When it comes to compliance, you’re going to have to do it anyway. Sellers should make an effort to comprehend the prerequisites and anticipate any potential expenses that may arise in the future.

Additionally, if a fixed appliance (such as a chandelier) is not included in the sale of your property, it is better to remove it before advertising. A buyer may have submitted an offer because they adore their chandelier, but it could become a contentious issue during the transaction. It is preferable to eliminate it from the equation beforehand to ensure a smoother transaction.

Q: Would you suggest that a homeowner, gets an inspection done from time to time for Wood Borer etc., to ensure that they stay compliant?

DA: It’s always a good idea for a property owner to have an ongoing maintenance program. This is especially important when it comes to entomology, as pests can often go unnoticed and cause significant damage over time. By having a professional inspector come in every few years, you can catch any potential issues early and prevent them from causing further damage. This proactive approach to maintenance can save you both time and money in the long run.

Q: Can you walk us through the process of obtaining a clearance certificate or compliance from Alcocks?

CB: We have created a streamlined transaction process that is hassle-free for our clients. By simply filling out a form, the necessary information is gathered about what the seller is seeking when selling. This information is then used to provide a detailed cost estimate. If the seller opts to work with a conveyancer, we will work in conjunction with them.

Next, we schedule appointments with our inspectors to assess the property. Although we may not be able to complete all inspections at once, we strive to accommodate the homeowner’s schedule as best we can.

After receiving the inspectors’ reports and necessary documentation, we quickly provide the seller with a quote. Once the seller confirms the details, we set a date to begin the remedial work. Upon completion of the work, our inspectors will check the property again and issue certificates that are sent directly to the attorney.

DA: We nearly immediately engage the conveyancer as they possess vital information that the seller may not have on hand. One of our primary concerns is ensuring that all suspensive conditions have been met before the seller is committed to incurring any costs. Additionally, the conveyancer provides insight into the property transfer timeline as certificates can expire, and we must not begin any work until the window where the certificates will still be valid upon transfer. We also collaborate with the conveyancer to confirm the accuracy of our timings.

Q: Do you know of any recent changes in legislation that have affected any of these certificates?

DA: In this day and age, compliance requirements are becoming increasingly important, leaving room for unforeseeable events to occur. As for solar compliance, it is still a work in progress. While there are certain guidelines in place, the ECA is currently striving to establish a certificate of compliance that could serve as a standard for reporting requirements. However, this has not yet been officially legislated. Although compliance is necessary, there is currently no standardized way to document it. As such, work is being done to address this issue.

The Institute of Estate Agents of South Africa (IEASA) together with SAPCA has also recently announced that there is a new clause relating to Wood Borer inspections that should be included within an Offer to Purchase (OTP) / Deed of Sale documents.  


Wood Borer Inspection Clause in Deeds of Sale & Offers to Purchase  

The parties agree that prior to registration of transfer the Seller, at his expense, have all the accessible timbers of the property inspected by a SAPCA-registered Inspector for infestation by wood-destroying “organisms” {organisms cover all timber pests i.e. woodborer beetle, termites, harvester termites as well as fungi and dry & wet rot}, and a report with recommendations shall be given to the Seller. Where infestation is found, the recommendations made shall be carried out in full, in terms of ACT36 of 1947 and/or SABS Codes 0124 and 0204. Upon receipt of a Certificate of Clearance issued by the said Inspector that there is no infestation apparent on first inspection, or that any infestation as reported has been dealt with as aforesaid, the Purchaser shall have no further claim against the Seller.”

Further, IEASA has reiterated that the inspector must be SAPCA registered for the certificate to carry any weight. If a property practitioner makes use of a non-registered inspector there are repercussions and no support will be given from registered bodies such as SAPCA and IEASA. 

Q: Is there any news you would like to share about Alcocks?

DA: Earlier, I had mentioned the gap that exists between compliance and maintenance. We have noticed an increasing demand for inspections that address maintenance-related issues. As a result, we are considering implementing a new system to specifically deal with these concerns. This new structure will prioritize addressing the primary maintenance issues that our clients face, ensuring that their properties remain in optimal condition. We believe that this approach will not only enhance our services but also provide our clients with greater peace of mind.

If you need help navigating the process of obtaining compliance certificates for your property, AMC Hunter INC and Alcocks Service Group can help.  Contact us today for more information. 

Get in touch with Alcocks Service Group on 031 569 2996 or visit their website

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