Plumbing certification is unnecessary

The proposed new Cape Town City Council regulation, which could make it obligatory for home sellers to obtain a clearance certificate on all the plumbing installations in their home, is a useless and expensive addition to an already heavy list of approvals that the homeowner has to pen, says Tony Clarke, MD of Rawson Properties.

“It could,” he said, “be argued that the certificates required on electrical networks, gas installations and beetle proofing are necessary because these matters are often not understood by the homeowner or homebuyer, who may well not recognise the problems.

“Plumbing problems, however, are usually easily recognised. If they are in the structure they will probably leave a damp stain. If they are elsewhere, the water will probably be detected at some point, or the owner will notice a spike in consumption.”

Calling in a registered plumber to gain certification, said Clarke, will add a fairly large sum to the seller’s expenses and this is likely to be added to by “absolutely essential” repair work that the plumber will say is needed before he can sign the certificate.

Clarke added that any idea that this is what the public want is almost certainly false.

“From the council press release it appears that this proposal emanates from only one person. I am convinced the average seller or buyer would not see it as necessary.”

The proposed bill forms part of a larger body of legislation aimed at saving water.

“Long experience in property and the comments that I pick up on the radio and in the press indicate that the big water losses are not in houses but elsewhere such as reservoirs and pipelines. It is also clear that, whereas the Council’s electricity department has a fine reputation for responding to emergency calls, the water department all too often ignores warnings that a leak has been located.”

He himself, said Clarke, had over a period of four years regularly told the Council about a water leak on a vacant plot adjacent to his, but they have never taken action.

A water problem far more serious than that of household leaks, added Clarke, is that national water sources are increasingly polluted.

“No one underestimates the challenge faced here and there are huge difficulties caused both by informal settlements and agriculture which makes use of phosphate fertilisers – but both ecology and the public have to be protected. A more determined effort to clean SA’s rivers, reservoirs and pipelines is now necessary.”

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