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Q&A with Handy Mac: Check City’s by-laws on stopcocks

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Brian is selling his home.

Q: I am in the process of moving and am getting all the paperwork together for selling my existing property. I have been informed that for a plumber to issue the necessary certificate, my home should have two stopcocks, one on the council side of the water meter and another internally. Can you comment?

A: This is a new one to me and I would appreciate any feedback from readers. I do know by-laws vary from council to council and that things are always changing.
As far as Cape Town is concerned, the Water Amendment By-Law of 2018 reads: “Transfer of ownership… The seller must, before transfer of a property, submit a certificate from an accredited plumber certifying that – 
(a) the water installation conforms to the National Building Regulations and this Bylaw;
(b) there are no defects;
(c) the water meter registers; and
(d) there is no discharge of storm water into the sewer system.”
During a fair amount of research, I could not find much detail on this. Reading the document is scary – I doubt if any of us is 100% compliant in terms of every nuance, especially in older houses. I know where my stopcock is inside my boundary, but can see nothing externally near my meter.
When we were living in Clanwilliam, there was a separate stopcock outside the boundary before the meter. This makes sense in the case of an emergency. With no accesses to your property, emergency services need to be able to switch off your water.
With water mains bursts, the council is able to switch off water to individual streets. On this subject, please check where your main stopcocks are so you can get to them easily in case of a burst pipe or geyser.
Also make sure they are working – they tend to seize up if they are underground. As I was writing, I worried what would happen if I could not turn my stopcock off or if the plumber needed to change it. I went outside again and cleaned out my meter box.
How the council managed to read it I don’t know. A pile of soil and a broken fingernail later, I found there is a valve in the box that can be used to switch off the water. Please check that you have one.
*If you have a question for Don, send it to don@macalister.co.za or SMS only to 0824463859.
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