Principle Certifier services

After you have been issued with an approval (either CC or CDC) and before you start any building work, a Registered Certifier or your local Council must be appointed as the Principal Certifier (PC).

The PC oversees aspects of the development’s construction phase and completes critical stage building inspections to ensure the construction is carried out in accordance with relevant building standards. Once building work is complete, the PC will undertake a final inspection and issue an Occupation Certificate if all compulsory requirements are met.

The PC must be appointed by the ‘person having the benefit of the development consent’ – meaning the owner of the land. The PC does not manage or supervise builders or tradespeople or certify that the builder has met all requirements of the applicant’s contract with the builder. Supervising the construction and the quality of the work is the responsibility of the project manager or Principal Contractor/Builder.

 

As your PC, South Coast Certifiers are required to inspect various stages of construction.

These staged inspections are called critical stage inspections. The inspections allow work to be assessed for compliance with the Development Consent/CDC and the Building Code of Australia (BCA). Failure to carry out these inspections can result in the application for an Occupation Certificate being refused.

The inspections to be undertaken will be listed with your building approval and may include:

  1. Initial site inspection (prior to any works starting)
  2. Piers and footings (prior to pouring concrete)
  3. Steel reinforcement for slabs (prior to pouring concrete)
  4. Stormwater (prior to covering connections)
  5. Floor joists (prior to laying floor – generally for first floor additions)
  6. Framework (once rough ins completed but before walls/ceiling insulated)
  7. Wet areas (prior to covering waterproofing)
  8. Pool fencing (as soon as possible after it is installed)
  9. Final inspection (upon completion of all works)

 

If during the inspection process defective work is identified, a detailed inspection report will be forwarded to the Principal Contractor to ensure the required works are carried out. A re-inspection of the defective works will be required prior to moving on with the construction. It is important to ensure that South Coast Certifiers are contacted to carry out the re-inspection as failure to do this may result in the application for an Occupation Certificate being refused.

 

Only the PC can issue an Occupation Certificate (OC) for that development.

An OC allows a person to occupy and use a new building or change the use of an existing building. Generally, a building cannot be occupied or used (or the use changed) without an OC. An OC confirms the Principal Certifier is satisfied that the building is suitable to occupy and satisfies the applicable requirements of the relevant approval and the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

Only the Principal Certifier can issue an OC for that particular development. The completed building (or part of the building) must be suitable for occupation or use in accordance with its classification under the BCA. For staged works, a part OC may be issued which allows you to occupy the completed part of the building as long as the building does not constitute a hazard to the health or safety of the occupants of the building.

Occupation Certificate Checklist

FAQs

Who or what is the Principal Certifier and are they the same as a Registered Certifier?

The Principal Certifier (formally known as the PCA) is generally the Registered Certifier who issues your building approval. It is up to the ‘person having the benefit of the development consent’ (this means you as the owner and not your builder) to appoint who they want as the Principal Certifier. This does not necessarily have to be the Registered Certifier who issued your building approval. It is important to note that two business days prior to the building work starting, the local Council must be advised of the appointment.

Certifiers are public officials and independent regulators of development. They are required to uphold the public interest and do not work for builders or developers. Most certifiers are qualified building surveyors who can issue development certificates for building work, be appointed as the principal certifier, and carry out inspections.

The Principal Certifier oversees the development’s construction phase and completes mandatory building inspections, known as critical stage inspections, to make sure that the construction is carried out in accordance with the development consent and building standards. Once building work has finished, the Principal Certifier will complete a final inspection and is the only authority that can issue the occupation certificate when all requirements have been satisfied.

What services does the Principal Certifier provide?

If your development needs approval, you must appoint a Principal Certifier. The Principal Certifier oversees the development’s construction phase and completes mandatory building inspections to make sure that the construction is carried out in accordance with the development consent and relevant building standards. The Principal Certifier isn’t a project manager or site supervisor. The builder is responsible for building in accordance with the approved plans and for the work of subcontractors. The applicant is responsible for meeting the conditions of development consent.

Once building work has finished and all requirements met, the Principal Certifier will complete a final inspection and is the only authority that can issue an Occupation Certificate.

Who is responsible for appointing the Principal Certifier?

The Principal Certifier must be appointed by the ‘person having the benefit of the development consent’ – this means you as the owner and not your builder. Generally, it is the same person or firm that issued your development approval but does not have to be. You can appoint one registered certifier or the council to issue a construction certificate (or CDC) and you can appoint the same or different person as the principal certifier. Your builder, architect or draftsperson may recommend someone, however it’s your decision, and the contract must be between you and the certifier. The builder is not allowed to sign the contract on your behalf. It’s illegal for a builder to influence your choice of certifier.

What am I (the owner) responsible for during the construction?

As the owner your role is to work with the Principal Certifier and the Principal Contractor (builder), keeping an eye on the work (and the terms of your development consent), managing the site and organising inspections (depending on your contractual obligations with your builder, if any). The Principal Certifier will brief the builder and you about the process.

You should also keep your neighbours informed and report any complaints to the builder and the Principal Certifier. Keeping a close eye on the work and being sure it is consistent with the development consent and any conditions attached is crucial. Orders can be issued by council to stop work and fix any errors. This can cost time and money or even lead to penalties. The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 specifies enforcement measures that can be applied if a development is not built in accordance with its consent.

How do I complete applications for building approvals through the N.S.W planning portal?

It is now mandatory (as of 1st Jan 2021) to lodge all Complying Development, Construction and Occupation certificate applications through the NSW Planning Portal.

The NSW Planning Portal is an online environment where community, industry and government can work together to better understand and meet their obligations under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. It hosts a range of digital planning services, mapping tools and reporting tools to assist everyone involved in a proposed development.

Applicants/Developers are now able to submit applications for Occupation Certificates (OC) to the certifier through the NSW Planning Portal. Applicants and certifiers have access to digital dashboards which helps them manage and keep track of applications.

Below are a number of guides put together by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to help you through the application process.

Applications for OC – Guides
Registering for the NSW Planning Portal
Submitting an application for an Occupation Certificate

South Coast Certifiers principle certifier
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South Coast Certifiers

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Contact us

02 4244 3511
info@sccert.com.au
P.O Box 4010 Shellharbour NSW 2529
ABN. 67 642 394 947

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