Working with a certifier

As the person with the benefit of development consent it’s your choice who you engage as a certifier. Your builder is not allowed to do this for you, and you are not obliged to engage a certifier suggested by the builder.

Before building or subdivision work starts

If you need a construction certificate or complying development certificate, you must engage a principal certifying authority (PCA) before work starts (check with your council if you’re not sure).

You must also have a written contract with your certifier before work starts. This includes work to assess an application for development, not just actual building and subdivision work.

Any certifier with the appropriate accreditation, or an accredited body corporate or council, can be the PCA for building work. Usually, only council can be the PCA for subdivision work.

During building and subdivision

Your certifier will only issue a development certificate if the work complies with the relevant conditions of consent, the approved plans and the legislative requirements. Important building elements such as fire safety systems must also be correctly installed and certified as required.

Your PCA will:

  • check the builder has the required licence
  • check that you have met all pre-commencement conditions of consent (including obtaining any required certificates or reports) before work starts
  • complete mandatory critical stage inspections
  • tell you and the builder if any changes are needed so the work is fit to use and occupy
  • issue an occupation certificate (for building work) or a subdivision certificate (for subdivision work) if you have applied for it and the work complies with the conditions of consent and legislative requirements.

Your builder will tell your PCA when work reaches each stage. At some stages, your PCA may ask for, and rely on, a compliance certificate or expert report (for example, a structural engineer's certificate for building footings).

However, your PCA (or another certifier approved by the PCA) must inspect the work in person and your PCA must carry out the final inspection to issue an occupation certificate.

Problems with your certifier?

Most concerns with development are not the certifier’s responsibility. Talking with your certifier greatly reduces the chance of a minor concern becoming a major hassle.

Ultimately it’s your responsibility, and not the builder’s or certifier’s responsibility, to comply with the conditions of your development consent or complying development certificate. Read the conditions carefully, note which conditions must be met at different stages, and talk regularly with your builder and PCA to ensure conditions are satisfied.

You can find out who can help with common development concerns, but if appropriate you may replace your certifier.