[Pretoria, 30 September 2016]: In an innovative move to offer clients an even better timber roof truss supply and erection service, and to help elevate industry standards, LCP Roofing, South African leaders in roof truss technology, have developed an integrated mobile application for enhanced, more secure completion and processing of the SANS10400 A19 certificate for a building’s structural components.
As a crucial certification in the roofing industry, the A19 certificate is underpinned by the regulation A19, which forms part of SANS10400, which covers all regulations pertaining to the building industry. Regulation A19’s parent category is Part A, which covers general regulations and governs principles of requirements. The A19 certificate, which is a pivotal support document in the issuance of a completion certificate for a structure, is issued by an engineer and confirms that the structure in question has been correctly completed in line with the original design intent and in accordance with national building standards.
“That said, when it comes to roof inspections, the reality is that for the most part, your roof inspector, who works for an engineer, declares that he is satisfied with the structure to said engineer, who then signs off the form for the A19 certificate,” says Lyndsay Cotton, LCP Roofing General Manager. “While this is common practice and, by most accounts, completely above board, the problem arises when the engineers that sign off on these forms are not experts in the roofing field.”
What is a competent person?
SANS10400 Part A defines a competent person as one that is “qualified by virtue of his education, training, experience and contextual knowledge to make a determination regarding the performance of a building or part thereof in relation to a functional regulation or to undertake such duties as may be assigned to him in terms of these regulations.” (SANS)
SANS10400 Part L, which governs roofing in particular, provides a clear, though not often correctly interpreted, definition of a competent person in the built environment as one who:
- is registered in terms of the Engineering Profession Act, 2000 (Act No. 46 of 2000), as either a Professional Engineer or a Professional Engineering Technologist, or
- is registered in terms of the Architectural Profession Act, 2000 (Act No. 44 of 2000), as a Professional Architect or a Professional Senior Architectural Technologist, and
- is generally recognized as having the necessary experience and training to undertake rational assessments or rational designs in the field of roofs and roofing
“What seems to get lost in translation at times – and with dire consequences – is the ‘and’ at the end of point b in Part L’s definition of a competent person. The competent person could be any four of the professionals listed in points a and b, but they must, in addition, be considered to be a roofing expert with the right training and experience, and be able to do calculations to work out if the trusses designed by a truss plant will be able to withstand a given load,” says Cotton.
“The inspector should have sufficient contextual knowledge of the Institute for Timber Construction South Africa’s (ITC-SA) Roof Erector’s Handbook – Volume 2 and be au fait with both SANS and ITC-SA erection principles. The inspector should not inspect buildings if they know nothing about roofing,” Cotton points out. “This can lead to misunderstandings and large anomalies in the certification process, and the banks or insurers could well challenge the issued A19 certificate. Sadly, the homeowner will ultimately bear the consequences of a wrongly certified roof structure and is the first in line to accept liability. While a large percentage of this is as a result of ignorance, the consequences for the homeowner amount to the same as a fraudulently issued certificate,” he says.
What does regulation A19 cover?
Regulation A19 governs the appointment of persons responsible for the design, inspection and assessment duties for any structural component in a building – not just roofs. Forms 3 and 4, which fall under SANS10400 Part A, and which bear reference to timber and wood trusses as a structural system, must both be completed in order for a building to be signed off per National Building Regulations.
Form 3 is the declaration of a competent person that he has been appointed to design a component or an element of a system – or roof structure in this case – in line with the National Building Regulations. In terms of the Act, the homeowner or building owner must appoint the engineer or responsible person, who knows roofing, who will then declare his professional status, accept the appointment and responsibility for certain design components, and sign the form along with his registration number. Form 4 is a certificate of completion of the structural, fire protection and fire insulation system in terms of the Act, through which the engineer declares that the component for which he is responsible has ‘to the best of [his] knowledge, been designed and constructed/erected/installed in accordance with the application in respect of which approval was granted in terms of section 7 of the Act and that it satisfies the requirements of the National Building Regulations.’ (NBR)
“But completion and submission of these forms in support of the A19 certificate (and subsequent issuing of a completion certificate) does not necessarily mean that the design is correct or that the structure is safe to occupy, which could put banks, insurance companies, property developers and homeowners – current and future – at tremendous risk. An engineer’s certificate might secure a bond payment, but could potentially offer no structural protection,” cautions Cotton. “The implications of not ticking off items on the roof inspector checklist amounts to negligence, in my opinion, and while most roof inspections are above board, ‘drive-by’ inspections, where engineer’s certificates are issued without the inspector even visiting the site or literally just driving past, do take place. Whether it happens because of incompetence, ignorance, negligence or plain fraud, this phenomenon is unacceptable; the inspector must physically go to the site to inspect the structure.”
What should a roof inspection entail?
Once the timber trusses have been fabricated according to design specifications, they will be sent to the site along with an erection drawing, which clearly illustrates to the erector the truss marks, names and where and how the trusses should be erected. Some companies offer a full fabrication and erection service and other times, supply and erection are done by two separate parties according to the design intent; in both cases the erection drawing is paramount.
The inspector should also have a copy of the erection drawing in his possession when he goes to inspect the structure, so that he can assess the building against the original design intent. The roof inspector should inspect the building before the ceiling has been installed and the roof tiles are in place, because he is assessing the structural components of the roof, which include the roof trusses, battens, purlins, bracing and ceiling battens. It is at this juncture that the roofing inspection checklist and forms 3 and 4 are completed by the inspector or engineer for final issuance of an A19 or engineer’s certificate. Only once the inspector has given the go-ahead, can the tiling, which adds a significant load to the roof, and ceiling installation, commence.
Note: Category A buildings
If the structure is a Category A building according to ITC-SA regulations and if it is a public building (not the same as defined by SANS), then the design must also be signed off by the system engineer (currently MiTek, International Truss Systems or Multinail). If the structure is considered a normal and not a complex structure, the design need not be signed off by the system engineer if it has been executed according to the software employed.
While public buildings likes hospitals and schools, or those with very complex details, may only be designed and installed by a Category A fabricator and erector under the current ITC-SA rules, a Category B, C, or D fabricator and erector may design or erect such a building with direct input and supervision from the system – or a highly competent – engineer who can do a rational design.
Introducing LCP Inspecta
Taking a proactive stance against ‘drive-by’ inspections and the consequences of signing off on roofing structures not designed or erected according to National Building Regulations, LCP Roofing have developed LCP Inspecta, a mobile application digitally integrated with a digital signature platform for a watertight, digitally encrypted paper trail that brings the A19 certificate into the future.
“We developed LCP Inspecta with the hope to eradicate illegal inspections, not only to ensure the safety and security of our clients and theirs, but to play our part in making our industry better by making sure that what has been designed and erected has been done so correctly. This is also about making inspections cheaper and easier to do; it’s about shaking up the status quo, innovating, doing things differently, better,” says Cotton.
LCP Inspecta offers the user a three-part digital form that confirms the inspector, system supplier, and truss fabricator’s undertaking from design to inspection of a given structure, with all parties’ signatures, unique submission identification and a 256 bit encryption date and paper trail stamp. This system confirms by whom and according to what codes the roof structure was designed, whether it has been designed according to SANS codes, that the values of the plates have been manufactured correctly from a design perspective, that the roof trusses have been manufactured to standard and that the erected structure has been properly inspected. All LCP Inspecta submissions have ID certificates with unique encryption codes for ultimate security.
How it works
The roofing inspector uses the mobile app to complete the compulsory roofing checklist per the ITC-SA’s Roof Erector’s Handbook – Volume 2. “At this point, the app requests the user geo-tags himself on site to prove that he was there and uploads images pertaining to the site, the layout drawings, as well as pertinent details of the structure, before the form is signed digitally, including the date and inspection number,” remarks Cotton. “The geo-tagging on the platform has been set up as unchangeable, so the location cannot be resolved after inspection or without the inspector physically having been to site,” he says.
While LCP Inspecta users will not encounter forms 3 and 4 through the app, the system is set up so that the forms are automatically populated once imported. Forms are imported by the fabricator/designer in PDF format and via email, after which a signing order with a digital signature, COC number and fabricator/designer number are included. The form is then sent to and digitally signed by the engineer, who includes a certificate number, which is based on the date of inspection. The form is then saved and printed out for the client, who will use this to gain a certificate of completion and resultant finance and/or insurance for the structure, and for company records.
“LCP Inspecta is a product of LCP Roofing’s mission to put a stop to illegal roof inspections, to protect our customers and their customers, and to elevate not only the standards, but the standing of the local timber construction industry by making roofing inspections easier, better and faster,” says Cotton. “That said we are also driven to help educate and inform our customers on what to look out for when investing in a roof, both safeguarding and empowering them in navigating and protecting their investments, large and small. We believe that clients, both in and outside of the building trade must insist on a proper inspection of their roof structure, in so doing, creating an informed demand for better quality roofing downstream as well as upstream in our sector. With that, LCP Inspecta is poised to change the face of roof inspections in South Africa – one screen tap at a time,” Cotton concludes.