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Thread: Help with possible invalid COC - what recourse?

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    Help with possible invalid COC - what recourse?

    I happened upon this interesting forum due to the fact that I'm one of the stupid people who allowed the seller to obtain an electrical compliance certificate on our recently purchased house!! (hey - I agree)

    I trusted the seller, as he is a lawywe (first mistake!!) Thinking that things are above board.

    I needed some advice, as I don't want to go the long drawn-out and costly legal route, if I'm barking up the wrong tree.

    long story short:

    We purchased a property, asked the seller for a copy of the compliance certificate when we moved in - prior to reg, as we found a few items concerning. Seller, only gave us the COC once registered, for us to find that some items had not been listed on the COC, which made us sceptical.

    We voiced this, and the electrician that issued the COC came out to see what the issue was. We pointed out our concerns, and have had the contractor out 4 times (he missed 3 other appointments without even cancelling - wasting our time), and has still not fixed everything, and refuses to give a new coc.

    We also asked him, in the second last appointment for his registration proof, as we were getting more concerned. And were told "Its got nothing to do with you"

    We're now in a position where we got another electrician out, who in 15 min had 2 pages of "problems" - OK - I know, many are out there to show others up on bad workmanship.

    I now have a choice - get an AIA out to issue me with a report, but whereto from there? Reading some of the initial posts, this seems to be a lack of repsonse from the DOL to any of these reports.

    Who is ultimately responsible for the cost of rectifying illegal/un-safe wiring/connections? is the seller responsible - do I go into a legal battle, or is it the contracter who's responsible, and with the history of his work, that's been drawn out for over a month, how long do I wait,?

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    Diamond Member AndyD's Avatar
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    The electricians registration number should be on the COC he issued. What was his name/ his company name? You can check if he's registered with the ECA, if by some chance he is they have a compensation scheme you could lodge a claim with. If the COC is a forgery or if the 'electrician' isn't legally allowed to issue it you could contact the department of labour.

    I'll warn you in advance the chances of a good outcome are slim. You're going to have to kick up a stink and even then it's doubtful you'll get any real assistance. Honestly you need to decide if you're prepared to throw money at the legal route with a farly low chance of a result or rather to take the knock and just pay for a proper report and the remedial work that might be required.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nelly1 View Post
    I trusted the seller, as he is a lawywe (first mistake!!) Thinking that things are above board.
    ....

    We purchased a property, asked the seller for a copy of the compliance certificate when we moved in - prior to reg, as we found a few items concerning. Seller, only gave us the COC once registered
    Did the seller/lawyer or his/her company also do the conveyancing?
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Thanks for the responses!

    @ AndyD - I did check - he is a registered electrician with the ECA, On his certificate he put an expiry of 2011. When I checked, he had re-newed his licence/registration, dated 29 March 2012 - 31 Dec 2012. (This is obviously why at the 2nd last appointment he refused to show us his certiicate, as between 1 Jan - 28 March - he didn't have one)

    We've subsequently called one of the bodies (I'm not sure if it was the ECB??) who advised that the seller/owner is obligated to provide a valid coc in terms of the OH & Safety Act - clause 22??

    The law seems so unclear on this, and I know that many people will do as little as possible to ensure their property passes in order to get a coc...whether its using a licenced electrician that then "passes" the COC with a "bottle of brandy", or is just uninformed of what is safe and what is not, or just gives the certificate cause they don't want to loose out on the business to another - who knows, and how do you prove that.


    @DaveA - Yes, they did do the conveyencing - and we made them aware that we were concerned with the validity of the certificate on the day we received the certificate (Registration), as there were 2 items that were not on the certificate, which we knew should have been shown. By the way - the two items also didn't appear on the DB board...and I'm not an electrician, and don't claim to know much, but i'm very sure that large items such as pums, geysers etc have to have their own switch on the DB board, and have to be listed on the COC surely?

    We had asked for a retainer of the proceeds to be withheld, as there were a few unresolved issues including the coco, to which they responded that they would only hold back a reduced amount and not our request for the specific sum of money, and have inevitably already released the remainder to the seller (probably on his instruction) but thats an entirely different case to be taken up with the legal firm.

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    one of the reasons i always make a comment about the seller getting his own coc...

    the buyer doesnt always get what he "expects"...the property i am busy working at...is a good example...the coc was done...but with a lot of short cuts..."legal"... but not what the new owner requires...one being...no earthing at any of the light points and switches...so they just put plastic 6 " plastic galleries and replaced all the switches with plastic switch covers and screws...etc...etc...now we are busy replacing all the galleries with 5 ft metal fittings...which means i have to earth all the fittings (extra costs)...yeah i know you gona say just put a screw into the metal box and walla i have an earth...not that simply some of the piping has been replaced with plastic piping...which has seperated the earth continuity...a lot more complicated but just giving you an example...the bottom line is the new owner is in for a few bob doing repairs...even though there has been a coc issued.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nelly1 View Post
    @DaveA - Yes, they did do the conveyencing
    If their conduct was questionable, there is the option of taking the issue to the Law Society.

    Murdock illustrates one of the problems in this area rather well, the difference in expectations between seller and purchaser.

    Personally I'd suggest you have your electrician meet the electrician who issued the COC to run over his list of faults - bearing in mind the standard is compliance and not best practice when it comes to holding the seller/COC issuing electrician accountable. If they're professional, this shouldn't pose a problem.

    If they won't meet, time to look around for third party assistance.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    The other route to go is phone the ECA. They will call the contractor in. Legally the seller must provide the coc. I would go as far to say that 7 out of 10 coc's are done suspectly.

    Coc's cover safety and not whether things, appliances, work or not. In your offer to purchase state that all electrical appliances must be in working order.

    Try the ECA first and then get ugly with the GEIA.

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    Thanks again for the replies.

    We've decided to get the GEIA out, as the electrician has had a full month, and in 4 appointments has not rectified much, and refuses to give us an updated COC. Each time he has come out there seems to be an excuse "i've not got enough money to buy XYZ, so I'll do it next time..."

    So based on their report, we'll see whether its worth it to take the matter up further with the seller, or to just fix ourselves. Because we're not experts, its difficult for us to determine what is "Safe" and considered "Acceptable" in terms of the Act and Electrical Standards.

    I don't want to drag someone through a whole legal battle if everything is reasonably safe, or if its going to cost a small sum to rectify. However If there are major issues, I do feel that it is the seller's responsibility to rectify. Things like no earth leakage on pool pumps etc do seem a bit suspect to me though? For example - the Extractor fan has a chocolate box connection that is open - there's about a 3cm space in the wall where i can see (and touch if I were stupid) the connection - that should surely either be covered, or have a plug point?

    And yes - I'd agree, i've heard of so many COC's being issued where it is blatantly clear that certain connections etc are not legal, even to the untrained eye.

    I'll keep you updated as to the progress & findings, as every bit of info helps someone in the future who is going through the same thing!

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    the eca has a R15000 workmanship guarantee for all its memebers shoudy workmanship...i would try that route...but have yet to hear of someone actually getting it right.

    when it comes to the electrical industry...you enter shark infested waters with more rouges and thieves than any other industry i know of...and why...because there is absolutely no control over the industry...right from the top...this industry is in a sad state of affairs...this thread is just another example.

    the only good coming of the coc to my knowledge is it is creating employment for ever tom, dick and harry or should i say smith, naidoo and zuma...and thats about where it ends...so long as only a few people are killed from electricution...it will stay that way for years to come.

    only the insurance companies can bring this industry back in line...by refusing to pay out for fires or other damage unless a valid coc is available...and another way would be to insist that every inspector attends refresher course to keep up to date...which will give them credits and once the credits fall below a certain level...their certification should be suspended...until the inspector is up to date with his credits...the problem in this country is trying to find suitably skilled tutors for the classes/seminars...and it all goes back to the key influence...policing...which this industry lacks.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by murdock View Post
    when it comes to the electrical industry...you enter shark infested waters with more rouges and thieves than any other industry i know of...
    You need to try buying a second hand car sometime, murdock

    Let's not sell the industry short. My experience is there are lots of honest electricians out there doing the best they can. They're just operating in a flawed environment.

    If we can improve support mechanisms for the industry
    If we can get DoL to do their job (and I'm talking about the part that's supposed to regulate the industry, not the bargaining council nonsense)
    And if we can get contractors to engage constructively

    This industry will do far better.

    ps. Funny you should suggest the insurance industry could force the industry into shape. If ever there was an industry full of sharks... Or is the idea based on the theory that it takes a shark to catch one?
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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