Construction and Occupation certificates are required for all development that requires building work. Construction and Occupation Certificates essentially confirm that the development meets relevant technical criteria such as requirements of the Building Code of Australia, fire safety provisions, accessible access, occupational health and safety and conditions of development consent.
A Construction or Occupation Certificate may be issued by an accredited certifier, but it can only be issued following Development Consent. There are no requirements for a Construction Certificate or Occupation Certificate for development categorised as an Exempt Development.
A Construction Certificate is an approval that ensures that if a building is erected in accordance with the approved plans and specifications it will also comply with the technical requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and other relevant Australian standards.
It certifies that the detailed plans and specifications are consistent with the Development Consent and certifies that the relevant development consent conditions have been complied with. It certifies that other relevant legislative provisions have been met and that all required contributions and fees have been paid. Conditions of consent cannot be re-imposed on a construction certificate. Therefore, plans and specifications must be fully detailed.
A Construction Certificate (CC) can be obtained from a private Accredited Certifier. If the Construction Certificate is issued by a private Accredited Certifier, a copy of the certificate, associated plans and specifications must be forwarded to the Authority within seven (7) days of issue.
Building works can commence after the construction certificate has been obtained and a Principal Certifying Authority (PCA) has been appointed. Upon completion of the building work, an occupation certificate is obtained from the PCA.
Principal Certifying Authority
Having obtained development consent and then a Construction Certificate, the applicant is required to appoint a Principal Certifying Authority (PCA) before commencing any building work. A private Accredited Certifier may be appointed as the PCA.
The Authority must be notified of who has been appointed at least two days before building work commences.
What is the role of the PCA?
A PCA is the person responsible for ensuring compliance with the construction certificate, the BCA and other applicable requirements during the construction process. The PCA also checks compliance with the requirements of any development consent.
The PCA is required to:
- inspect each required critical stage of construction
- promptly advise the applicant, after any relevant inspection, of any outstanding work, issue the applicant an Occupation Certificate (see below) for any building work or change of building use when the relevant application has been lodged with the Authority, and all the required works and conditions of the Development Consent have been completed
- PCA cannot be replaced by another PCA on a development, except with the specific written consent of the relevant PCA accreditation body.
Where residential building work is concerned, the PCA must be provided with details of the licensed building contractor and copies of any required home warranty insurance details, per the requirements of the Home Building Act 1989 and Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979.
An Occupation Certificate certifies that the building or nominated part of the building is safe and suitable to be occupied. The Occupation Certificate must be obtained from the PCA before the occupation of a new building (or part of a building).
Before issuing an Occupation Certificate, the PCA must be satisfied that the construction works satisfy the:
- legislative requirements
- conditions of the development consent, and
- the building or nominated part of the building is safe and suitable for occupation under the requirements of the BCA.
The Building Certificate application identifies unapproved structures or works on the land that will need to be either demolished or the subject of additional information and reinspection. The Building Certificate is the Authority's formal agreement that at the time of issue of the Certificate, the Authority is satisfied with all the structures on the property to which the Certificate relates, or that where the Certificate relates only to a specific structure(s), the Authority is satisfied with the structure(s) referred to in the Certificate for 7 years from the date of issue.
All applications need to be accompanied by a current identification survey from a registered surveyor (or a certified copy of the same), works as executed plans and copies of all relevant certifications associated with the works.
Why may a building certificate be required?
Obtaining a Building Certificate for a property is a way an owner, potential purchaser, or a financial institution can be assured that the structural assets on the property are in reasonable repair, are safe, and have the approval of the Authority. A Building Certificate is a certificate that is issued by the Authority which states that the Authority will not take any action under the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 or the Local Government Act 1993, to order or take proceedings for an order to have the building (covered by the certificate) to be demolished, altered, added to or rebuilt, or to take proceedings in relation to any encroachment by the building onto land under the control of the Authority, for 7 years. A certificate is usually applied for when selling property.
A Building Certificate may be applied for by any of the following parties:
- The owner(s)
- Anyone having the owner(s) formal written approval
- A solicitor or conveyancing agent acting for a purchaser or the owner
Possible outcomes of a building certificate application
- The Authority issues a Building Certificate
- The Authority refuses the Building Certificate application, in which case it will also consider the issue of Orders.
- The Authority requests minor repairs to be carried out. If the works are satisfactorily completed, the Authority will reinspect the premises and issue the Certificate. If the works are not carried out within the specified time, the Authority may refuse the Building Certificate and consider issuing Orders.