How building control officers can avoid conflict of interest

The South African Council for the Architectural Profession’s (SACAP) registrar/CEO Marella O’Reilly, together with her Legal and Compliance Unit, has embarked on a campaign to clarify historic misunderstandings of the law and to educate municipalities and their building control officers (BCOs) on ways to avoid conflict of interest.
How building control officers can avoid conflict of interestParliament has given SACAP the authority and duty to regulate and guide the architectural profession with the Architectural Profession Act (No 44 of 2000).

Some BCOs are engineers and others come from within the architectural profession itself; including professional architects, senior architectural technologists, architectural technologists and architectural draughtspersons.

Registering with SACAP

A steadily growing number of BCOs and indeed all architectural professionals are placing themselves into good standing with the law by formally registering with SACAP and receiving their registration number.

O’Reilly says this is good news for keeping the built environment safe and the level of professionalism high. “To register and maintain their registration with SACAP, architectural professionals must complete continuing professional development activities throughout their career to make sure they maintain, improve and broaden their knowledge, skills and technical duties.

The registrar is educating municipalities, as well as home owners who use architectural professionals that BCOs are indeed entitled to draw plans themselves; however, municipalities need to ensure that all conflict of interest is avoided when these plans get submitted for local authority approval.

SACAP Code of Conduct

“Any plans drawn by a BCO needs to get submitted for approval to a municipality outside of the jurisdiction of that BCO,” she says. “The very same BCO cannot draw plans and have them approved in the same municipal jurisdiction where they work because no BCO must be in a position to derive personal benefit from the actions or decisions they make in their official municipal capacity.”

In her educational campaign she highlights the fact that any home owners and commercial property owners who commission an SACAP-registered professionals and feels wronged by them can ask SACAP to investigate whether that professional has acted against SACAP’s Code of Conduct and needs disciplinary action. An online copy of the code can be found on, saved under the “Who we are” section.