Are beetle and electrical certificates required or not? Here are some FAQs and answers provided by expert, Nicky Versveld.
I’ve heard that it is no longer necessary for the seller to supply a beetle certificate, only an electrical certificate – is this correct?
Whether these certificates are required or not is usually a stipulation in the Sale Agreement. While an Electrical Certificate is required in most cases, Beetle/Woodborer inspections depend on a number of factors.
For instance, it is usually not required in the case of a sectional title property, and neither where the property is situated far inland where beetle/woodborer problems are not as common as in coastal areas. And if a property is mortgaged, banks will often require a beetle clearance certificate before transfer can take place.
But whether it’s required or not, if you purchase in an area where woodborer is common, or an older property where the timber used may not have been pre-treated, you’ll be wise to insist on a thorough inspection to check for any possible wood destroying organisms or damage to the structure. After all, you do not want to land yourself with a beautiful old home with exquisite wooden floors, architraves, doors and skirting boards only to discover, much too late, that the place is infested with woodborer and that it would cost a fortune, out of your own pocket, to repair the damage.
I have recently signed an offer to purchase an existing property. On presentation of this offer-to-purchase document by the agent, I was told that I do not require a “Beetle (or Woodborer) Inspection and Certificate” because this is only really applicable to properties being sold in the coastal areas. Is this a relevant excuse not to have this inspection done?
If the property concerned is far inland where woodborer do not usually occur, then it should not be necessary for an inspection. But there might be other factors involved as explained above. For your own peace of mind make enquiries - check with the neighbours to establish whether there is a woodborer problem in the area and if there is, a Certificate of Clearance is of course non-negotiable.
You have suggested that a Beetle and Electrical inspection be carried out before placing a property on the market. How long are these Certificates valid for?
In the case of an Electrical Certificate of Compliance, there is no official period of validity except that it expires the minute any work is done on the installation, e.g. changing a light fitting, installing a ceiling fan or changing a plug. As this is very likely to happen during the time you own the property, the rule of thumb is that a new certificate must be obtained every time a property changes hands. Although a certificate can be transferred to the new owner if no installation work was carried out, it is advisable to have a new inspection done when you sell your house. This is to ensure there is no wear and tear on the installation and that it still complies with any new regulations.
Pestech does not recommend transferring certificates though as the buyer has no guarantee that all is still in order. It could lead to problems later on when non-compliant items have to be repaired at the new owner’s cost and at that stage neither the estate agent nor the attorney can come to the rescue.
As a seller, rather have the inspection done and the certificate issued prior to selling your home, and if it takes longer than anticipated to sell the property, Pestech (if we did the original inspection) will return, at no extra cost, for a further inspection to ensure that the installation is still compliant and re-date the certificate if necessary.
A Beetle/Woodborer Certificate of Clearance, on the other hand, is only valid for 3 - 6 months as woodborer can be dormant for a period of time, and then suddenly become active. As a service to our clients this inspection too will be repeated, at no cost, should the property take longer to sell than the validity of the Certificate.
So it makes sense to have both inspections done before you sell your home. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes - wouldn’t you be quicker to sign on the dotted line if you have proof that there are no nasties lurking in the woodwork and that your new home wouldn’t burst into flames when you switch on the TV?
Expert advice kindly provided by Nicky Versveld of Pestech.