Common questions asked by the general public

Common questions the Building Professionals Board receives from the public about building certification and development.

Read about having your swimming pool or spa pool barrier inspected and certified.

I received a notice about proposed 'complying development': what are my rights?

Contact the Department of Planning and Environment for specific advice about complying development. The Building Professionals Board does not administer this legislation and cannot provide case-by-case advice.

General advice

Discussing the proposal and viewing details

You may discuss the proposal with the applicant for a complying development, and ask to view the building plans, but the applicant is not obliged to provide the plans nor make any changes you request.

Also, the certifier does not have the authority to allow you to view the plans or require the applicant to make any changes you request.

You may view approved documents for a complying development at your local council's office, for free during business hours. Certifiers must send such documents to the council, which must in turn make them accessible to the public.

About complying development

Complying development must meet pre-determined standards set by State Environmental Planning Policies and local council planning controls. If an application meets these standards, it must be approved.

The standards cover matters such as privacy, setbacks, floor space ratio and building height. The same standards apply regardless of whether the application is determined by a council or by a non-council certifier.

Notification before the approved work starts

If the application is approved, the applicant must notify you in writing before building work starts. The certifier or council does not carry out this notification. You may be notified either two or seven days before work starts, depending on where you live in NSW.

What can I do if my neighbour’s development has damaged my property?

The principal certifying authority for the development has limited enforcement powers. Unlike a council, the principal certifying authority has no power to order unauthorised or non-complying building work to be rectified, or to issue penalty infringement notices.

Read about roles in enforcement to learn more about your options.

How do I lodge a complaint against a certifier?

In many cases, talking about the issue with the certifier or property owner is the best and quickest way to resolve concerns about development.

You should only lodge a complaint as a last resort when all other options to resolve the matter have been exhausted. It’s important to understand roles in enforcement to ensure your complaint, if necessary, is lodged with the appropriate authority (and will therefore be addressed as quickly as possible).

You can also read about how to lodge a complaint with the Building Professionals Board, and about the complaints process.

How do I lodge a complaint against a council?

The Office of Local Government has further information about complaints against your local council.

The Building Professionals Board has limited enforcement powers against councils, and only in relation to their role as certifying authority.

There is no provision in the Building Professionals Act 2005 to lodge a complaint with the Board against a council. However, a complaint may be lodged against an accredited certifier at the council, and the Board may investigate the activities of the council (in the council’s capacity as a certifying authority).

I lodged a complaint with the Board – what is the status of my complaint?

If the Board has decided to conduct a formal investigation in response to your complaint, this will be conducted by one of our senior investigators. Please contact the Board between 9:30am – 11:30am Monday to Friday to speak to an investigator.

Why can’t I appeal the Board's decision about a complaint I lodged against a certifier?

The Building Professionals Act 2005 does not allow complainants to appeal the Board’s decision to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

How do I obtain an owner-builder licence?

Apply to NSW Fair Trading for an owner-builder licence.

How do I become a builder?

Builders are licenced and regulated by NSW Fair Trading, not the Building Professionals Board. Contact NSW Fair Trading for more information.

Which swimming pools need to be certified and what does 'residential building' include?

Selling or leasing your property from 29 April 2016

From 29 April 2016, if you plan to sell or lease a residential property that has a swimming pool, you must have either a valid certificate of compliance or occupation certificate for the pool.

Alternatively, to sell the property you can have a certificate of non-compliance which will give the purchaser 90 days to make the pool compliant.

A valid occupation certificate is one that was issued within the past three years and authorises the use of the pool.

Multi-residential buildings excluded from sale and lease provisions

The above provisions don't apply to:

  • a lot that is part of a strata or community scheme of more than two lots
  • off-the-plan purchase of a lot that hasn’t been created when the contract is entered into (i.e. a lot within the meaning of section 66ZL of the Conveyancing Act 1919).

What is a residential building?

'Residential building' means a building (such as a dwelling house, residential flat building or boarding house) that is solely or principally used for residential purposes, and includes any structure (such as a garage or shed) that is ancillary to any such building. It does not include a movable dwelling or a tourist and visitor accommodation. It does not include a building or complex of buildings that are principally used for non-residential purposes, such as a school or recreational centre.