Building Certification, Private Certifiers and Council

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Once consent is granted the building and construction phase begins involving amongst other things construction certificates, certification and appointing a Principal Certifying Authority. Below is some information about the process and Council’s role.

What is a Construction Certificate? When do I obtain one?

Once development consent is granted, the applicant is required to apply for and receive a Construction Certificate before works or the use can commence. The certificate confirms that the construction plans and development specifications are consistent with the development consent, and comply with the National Construction Code and any other council requirements.

A Construction Certificate can be obtained either from Council or an Accredited Certifier (private certifier). A list of Accredited Certifiers can be obtained from the Building Professionals Board of NSW

What is a Principal Certifying Authority and what does a Principal Certifier do?

The Accredited Certifier or Principal Certifier (PC) as they are also known are persons who carry out certification work and are accredited by the NSW Building Professionals Board. The PC is appointed prior to the commencement of any building work and the owner of the development decides who the PC is. The PC can either be a private certifier or Council.

What does a PC do:

  • That a Construction Certificate has been issued before work commences on the site
  • Ensures that the principal contractor is covered by appropriate insurance
  • Ensure compliance with the development consent and the construction certificate or the complying development certificate
  • Ensure compliance with all conditions
  • Ensure compliance with the National Construction Code
  • Notify the neighbouring areas of the intent to start work and be the contact for community concerns regarding the works
  • To carry out all the required inspections associated with the building works or subdivision works
  • Ensure that all pre-conditions are met before the occupation certificate/subdivision certificate is issued.

They also have statutory responsibilities and authority including the matters they are required to consider under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 to approve works such as:

  • Earthwork
  • Stormwater drainage work
  • Landscaping work
  • Erosion and sediment control work
  • Excavation work
  • Structural work
  • External finishes of a building

If there are concerns in relation to how a development is proceeding, you should firstly find out who the PCA is (ie is it Council or a private certifier) and that body should be your first point of contact.

Appointing a Principal Certifier and Notification of Council

Prior to the commencement of works applicants must appoint a Principal Certifier (PC). This can be Council or a private certifier. Once a PC has been appointed Council must be notified in writing of who has been appointed if it is not Council.

All developments regardless of who is appointed the PC, must give two (2) days written notice to the neighbouring areas of the intention to start work.

What is Council’s role?

Council’s role in building and construction work varies depending on whether or not Council has been appointed as the Principal Certifier (PC). If Council is appointed the PC, Council becomes the building inspector and must carry out all the roles of the PC.

If a private certifier is appointed the PC, it is not Council’s responsibility to ensure building and construction compliance. Council generally becomes the “keeper of the records” and is not directly involved in the inspection of the development site. When Council is not the PC it does not have easy access to construction timeframes and schedules, and various professional reports that may be produced during the construction phase. However, Council retains its regulatory role and enforcement powers and can still become involved and will take action if and when it is required. Council has wide discretion as to what if any action to take if it finds the PC has not adequately met their inspection and compliance obligations.

What do I do if I have a complaint or concerns about building works or a development site?

Council understands that construction and development can sometimes cause concerns or inconvenience for those who live in close proximity to a building site.

The most common concerns about development can often be avoided through early and regular communication and co-operation. Discuss your concerns with the property owner and bring it to their attention. Sometimes they may be unaware that their activities are causing nuisance or are a breach of legislation.

If this is not an option or the issue can’t be resolved, any complaints in relation to the building works or a development site should be referred to the PC in the first instance. The PC will have the most association and familiarity with events occurring on the site and may be able to effectively resole the complaint without the need for enforcement. The details of the PC can usually be found on a sign at the front of the development site.

If you are still unsure who the PC is please contact Council’s Customer Service on 9879 9400. Any correspondence received by Council where Council is not the PC will be referred to the PC to investigate and respond to.

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Hunter’s Hill Council

22 Alexandra Street, Hunters Hill NSW 2110
PO Box 21, Hunters Hill NSW 2110
Tel: (02) 9879 9400
ABN: 75 570 316 011