[Johannesburg, 8 November 2017]: The Institute for Timber Construction South Africa (ITC-SA) is South Africa’s professional body for the timber construction sector and has worked tirelessly in service of both the trade it represents and South African consumers for over 40 years.

As a professional body, the ITC-SA’s vision is to create and maintain the highest standards in the engineered timber construction industry by monitoring its membership, continuously improving standards, promoting and marketing engineered timber structures, and overseeing the training and development of its members.

What is a professional body?

In 2013, the ITC-SA became a South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) accredited professional body, holding professional membership. In this capacity, the Institute must comply with the requirements set out by the National Qualifications Framework Act (NQF Act 67 of 2008) as amended.

A SAQA-accredited professional body must be a legally constituted entity with the necessary human and financial resources to undertake its functions, governed either by a statute, charter or a constitution and be compliant with and adhere to good corporate governance practices.

The importance of the ITC-SA for the industry

It is essential that an accredited professional body like the ITC-SA regulate and monitor its members’ individual profiles and performance with regards to training undertaken and completed for professional recognition. This training is in line with the criteria set by the ITC-SA and is approved by SAQA, and is key for the promotion and monitoring of continuous professional development (CPD) for members to meet the relevant professional designation requirements.

All professional members recognised by the ITC-SA must abide by the Institute’s published Code of Conduct as well as its mechanism for reporting and investigating members who are alleged to have contravened this Code.

The ITC-SA works to ensure that the industry’s viewpoints are accommodated and protected in the compilation of all documents on grading specifications, design codes and matters affecting National Building Regulations. The Institute’s Timber Engineering Advisory Committee (TEAC) maintains its status as the official drafting committee for the code of practice for the Design of Timber Structures.

The ITC-SA ensures the continued existence of the Standards, Inspections and Audits Committee, in order to regulate and control safe and consistent standards within the industry. The Institute will pursue and assist in the enforcement of the ‘A19’ process of the National Building Regulations through all local authorities by offering the ITC-SA Accredited Engineers and appointed Inspectors to fulfil the role of Approved Members of the structural system in order to comply with statutory requirements.

The ITC-SA carries out random inspections of truss manufacturing plants to uplift and maintain desired quality standards in the industry. The Institute works to ensure close liaison with the education sector and training authorities in the development of unit standards for the manufacture of nail-plated timber roof trusses, for the erection of timber roof trusses, and to facilitate training in these disciplines, in compliance with the Skills Development Act.

The ITC-SA also works closely with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and particularly with the Disaster Prevention Department.

The ITC-SA works to establish a Certificate of Competence for truss estimators/designers, to promote a code of ethics for roof truss fabricators, to monitor the contractual obligations of systems and licensees and ensure adherence to agreed procedures, and to continuously update bracing and erection manuals in order to disseminate correct procedures to members and to the industry at large.

How does the ITC-SA protect the consumer?

A professional body like the ITC-SA has the intent to protect the public interest in relation to the services provided by its members and the associated risks. Recognised and accredited professional bodies like the ITC-SA are mandated to develop, award, monitor and revoke its professional designations in terms of its own rules, legislation and/or international conventions.

The role of the ITC-SA is to ensure consumer protection in the use of timber engineered products in contracts entered into with the ITC-SA membership and to regulate the professional conduct of its members. Where prima facie evidence confirms professional misconduct, in order to protect the consumer and the reputation of the industry, the ITC-SA shall apply proper sanctions.

How can consumers protect themselves against poor workmanship?

While many people try to save on the construction of their roof, timber home or deck, they often end up spending more remedying the problems that arise from using sub-standard materials and workmanship.

For a professional and long-lasting end result, it is essential to engage the services of a professional, knowledgeable and experienced individual. This will, no doubt, cost more initially than engaging the services of an unqualified individual, but will save a great deal of money and stress down the line.

Educate yourself as far as possible on the dos and don’ts of timber construction and whether you are a homeowner or property developer looking to have any type of timber structure built, do the right thing and enlist the services of an ITC-SA accredited member. Doing otherwise puts you at risk of having to accept poor quality materials and shoddy workmanship, and with little or no recourse to recover losses.

In short:

  • Cheaper is never better
  • Saving costs on a timber construction project will most likely cost you more down the line
  • Read up and learn as much as you can about timber construction before you get started
  • Hiring an unqualified builder puts you at risk of having no method of recourse should things go wrong
  • For complete peace of mind, hire an ITC-SA accredited professional to help you with your construction project

With the ITC-SA, both the trade and consumer can enjoy the peace of mind and protection that come with a safely erected and inspected timber frame home, roof or deck structure. The Institute encourages queries and engagement from both the trade and the public and will assist where possible to help inform and educate the market on timber construction best practice.

For more information, visit www.itc-sa.org.