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Thread: Issuing electrical COCs - On a hiding to nothing!

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Issuing electrical COCs - On a hiding to nothing!

    Having anything to do with the issue of an Electrical Certificate of Compliance when a property is sold can be an absolute nightmare at times. Here's one case that has me really scratching my head.

    We get a written instruction to test the electrical installation of a flat - which we duly do, issue faults report, which is authorised, carry out repairs and issue a COC on the electrical installation in the flat. To be specific, the COC sets out the rooms, number of various electrical points, DB, etc. Very specific. Sale goes through - everyone gets their money - purchaser moves in and things start getting exciting.

    We get called back because there are a number of problems.

    It transpires that we have not tested and issued a COC on all portions of the property that has been sold. There is a garage and flatlet at the bottom that forms part of the sale agreement. At no point was this indicated to us in any way, means or form, and ordinarily this would all be relatively simple to establish where responsibility for this tidy little mess would lie - but not so lucky in this instance.

    Now to give a better picture, this "block of flats" is really a house subdivided into residential units - and anyone who has seen such conversions will understand what I'm getting at here; it is quite often far from obvious just what parts make up a unit. With this one I still haven't managed to establish whether there are two or three residential units in the building. I haven't been out to take a look as yet. My partner has been dealing with it.

    And here is where things start to get really messy.

    All the garages, the flatlet in question, a pool, some of the buildings external lights and all the geysers are fed off a distribution board in one of the garages. This distribution board is fed off the distribution board in the flat we tested and issued a COC on. There is a redundant circuit breaker in the flat's DB marked sub-board - but no feed going off it. For some reason this sub-DB is being fed of a plug circuit breaker - along with a number of plugs in the flat.

    So based on this, we are expected to figure out that there was a lot more that should have been tested. But wait - there's more.

    Mrs. Purchaser is also the conveyancer for the transaction. Mr. Purchaser is an electrician.

    Mrs. Purchaser, as the conveyancor, received all our documentation (well before transfer) which, as pointed out earlier is rather specific about what we've issued a COC on.

    Mr. Purchaser is actually quite understanding of the difficulties of testing for COCs - that's why he doesn't do that particular line of business.

    The seller, who has not satisfied the sales agreement or the law (essentially sold "electrical machinery" without a COC as required), is not taking calls and is not returning messages.

    I'm still waiting on a ruling as to whether we're responsible for the subinstallation we did not issue a COC on.

    Mr. & Mrs. Purchaser just want their COC on the flatlet and garage like yesterday because they're in the middle of alterations and have already technically invalidated the COC we have issued. They've already managed to remove a wall and wreck a light circuit in the process, and the painters have all the plug point covers off.

    And I've got to make it happen!?
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    So many "cases" are decided on a "reasonable expectation" - This seems like an outright case of "deliberate concealment" of information, and any resulting dispute to your company, would surely be upheld by any fair legal process!.

    Yvonne

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yvonne View Post
    So many "cases" are decided on a "reasonable expectation"
    Scary, isn't it. This should be clear cut based on contract and regulations.

    I've got a clear understanding of where things stand in terms of contract law. At the moment I'm still waiting for someone to tell me if we are responsible by virtue of the installation regulations for parts of the electrical installation where we have neither done any work nor have issued the COC.

    I've also got every sympathy for the purchaser - they should simply not be sitting with this problem. But that doesn't mean it's my duty to resolve the problem merely because it's unfair on them.
    Last edited by Dave A; 02-Oct-07 at 11:21 AM.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    issuing electrical COCs

    this is the reason why i cannot do a COC for R450.00.

    if you do the COC correctly you should have opened all the plugs and light switces...not only to trace the wires but also to make sure that the correct size wiring has been used between the plugs and lights.

    but the reality of it is that you would be out of bussiness in a short period of time...you would be the most expensive tester in SA.

    the other problem is that there is nobody to enforce the law...i have contacted from the ECA to the department of labour and reported installations which have been tested and i have been told to contact the company responsible for the test and ask them to rectify the problem...what a joke.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    An update.

    I seem to have resolved whether we are responsible for the untested section by virtue of the regulations. As usual, it is the extreme example that gives the clue.

    The catch phrase goes "A COC covers from the point of supply to the point of consumption." I'd propose it should be the other way round - It covers from the point of consumption to the point of supply! And this is why.

    Current practice is that when you install a new point of consumption, for example a plug point, you are required to issue a COC for that new portion of the installation. And in so doing you are now responsible for the compliance from that point of consumption all the way back to the point of supply. But you are not responsible for other branches downstream of the installation elements that the power for your point passes through.

    Essentially, this means that any COC is a collection of points of consumption sharing a common point of supply, and covers all the elements of the electrical installation between those points of consumption and the point of supply.

    Any other interpretation means we are being inconsistent.

    In this instance then - no COC issued on the sub-board and its point of supply.
    Seller has failed to provide a COC on portions of the installation.
    If DoL should be acting against anybody - it should be the seller!

    Of course, the responsible person (wireman) is responsible for any non-compliance issues in the portions where a COC has been issued.

    I have to agree with murdock's post. There seems to be little doubt that when it comes to interpretation and application of the regulations, the powers that be seem to be unduly influenced by who is involved. And it was shown up in this case. At this point I'll just say there were conflicting opinions from the powers that be.

    So our position is defendable if taken to DoL, but given the low cost of the repairs involved and the hassle of the defence, we have resolved to carry out the repairs required on the sub-installation anyway.

    As I said - On a hiding to nothing!

    The seller is still not taking calls or returning messages BTW.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    issuing electrical COCs

    we have a whole lot of new problems with regards to COCs...the STANDBY GENERATOR...the so called experts suppling and installing them from lawn mover sales man to computor data cable installers...i am yet to find someone who understands all the legislation with regards to generators and installations ...i have found some documantation but it is vague.

    i wont even go into detail with regards to the other specialists who do electrical installations:

    gate installers...pool pump specialists...aircon specialists...builders...the list just goes on.

    what gets me are the customers who get unskilled or unqualified people to carry out electrical work...why because they are cheap...then when you have to repair the work dont understand why now after it has worked for 100 years you have to now replace and or repair it

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    dave
    what you should have done...what everyone else is doing is just fitted a plug top to the cable feeding the outbuiding and you are no longer responsible...it no longer forms part of the installation...time and money saved.

    what i find so amazing about this COC is the fact that anyone can do electrical work and get away with it until a licensed electrician comes along then suddenly all the blame lands on his shoulders...an example... a person can fit a tv aerial nobody puts an earth wire... its not a problem until the house is sold then the wireman must fit an earth and if he doesnt then he is responsible for not fitting the earth why is the aerial installer not bought to book.

    i did a COC a little while ago and the DB wasnt just covered by the kitchen cupboards there was no access i had to remove a shelf and cut just to get the cover off...the kitchen was revamped less than 2 years ago...the aircons were fitted with isolators outside which were not weather proof...the aerial had no earth...outside lights connected with cabtyre...geyser had been replaced and there was no bonding between hot and cold and no earth etc etc...the old exsisting installation was the only part legal and wired correctly...all the replacement and new parts of the installation were illegal...problem is there is no recourse on the people who created all the faults listed...because it is just to much of a hassle to track them down and prove they actually did it...so they get away with it...and just make it that much more difficult for people like myself to make an honest days living...having to pay all the levies...taxes...uif...workmans comp...etc...etc....etc.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by murdock View Post
    problem is there is no recourse on the people who created all the faults listed...because it is just to much of a hassle to track them down and prove they actually did it...so they get away with it...and just make it that much more difficult for people like myself to make an honest days living...
    Now that is a rather astute observation. This sounds like something that the authorities should be really focusing on!
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    surely your COC only cover the part of the installation which you fill in on in section 3 "description of installation covered by the this certificate" and not the entire installation and all additions done by other people...if you clearly state eg 5 plugs 2 light and 1 sub db what more could they ask for otherwise it becomes open book for all installation electricians to get NAILED... not that it will ever happen but rather be safe than sorry.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Thank you Murdock
    My understanding of this exactly!

    However, when the correct definition of the extent of responsibility doesn't suit, it's amazing how creative people can be to try to find alternative definitions.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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