Construction Certificate

After a development application is approved, a Construction Certificate is needed before building actually begins. A Construction Certificate is an approval that:

  • Makes sure that the detailed construction plans and specifications comply with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and any other relevant Australian standard.
  • Certifies that the detailed construction plans and specifications are consistent with the Development Consent.
  • Certifies that the relevant development consent conditions have been complied with.
  • Certifies that all necessary contributions and fees have been paid.

A Construction Certificate can be issued by Council or a private Accredited Certifier. If issued by a private Accredited Certifier, a copy of the certificate, associated plans and specifications must be forwarded to Council within two days after the date of determination.

Once you have development consent and have then obtained a Construction Certificate, you need to appoint a Principal Certifying Authority (PCA) before starting work. A PCA is either Council or a private Accredited Certifier who oversees the construction or subdivision process. Council must be told who has been appointed PCA at least two days before building starts.

The PCA will conduct an inspection of each required stage of construction and issue an Occupation Certificate (for any building work) when all the pre-conditions specified in the development consent have been met and the building is suitable for occupation or use in accordance with its classification under the Building Code of Australia.

A Construction Certificate is only valid while the Development Consent is still in date, so works must be commenced before the Development Consent lapses.

The questions below will help you to find relevant information about Construction Certificates and appointing Council as a Principal Certifying Authority.

What is a Construction Certificate?

A construction certificate is used to verify, before you begin any building work, that:

  • the work you intend to carry out complies with the Building Code of Australia (BCA)
  • the design and construction work as depicted in the plans and specification you submit is not inconsistent with the development consent
  • any conditions of development consent that must be complied with before a construction certificate is issued have been met
  • security deposits required as a condition of consent has been provided
  • any monetary contributions required as a condition of consent have been paid
  • structural strength and fire protection matters have been satisfied, in the case of a change of building use or alterations to an existing building

Note: A fire safety schedule is issued as part of the construction certificate in respect of class 2 to 9 buildings (residential units/commercial and the like). The schedule outlines your commitments for ongoing maintenance of essential fire safety measures.

When is a Construction Certificate required?

A construction certificate is required after development consent is issued and before any building work is carried out. Building work means any physical activity involved in the erection of a building, including alterations and additions. See section 81A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act).

How do I apply for a construction certificate?

You will need to complete an application form, provide owners consent and lodge all supporting documentation. Only the person having the benefit of the development consent is eligible to make an application for a construction certificate.

Can I apply for development consent and a construction certificate at the same time?

Yes. You can submit an application for a construction certificate at the same time as you apply for development consent.

What do I need to include when lodging a construction certificate application?

Please refer to Council’s construction certificate lodgement checklist for details on what to lodge with your application.

What fees are payable?

Upon the issue of development consent, Council will supply a fee proposal outlining the costs for using Council as an Accredited Certifier and/or Principal Certifying Authority. Written quotations can also be provided. Our rates are competitive and inspections can be done on minimal notice.

How does a construction certificate relate to development consent?

Under section 80(12) of the EP&A Act, once a construction certificate is issued it becomes part of the development consent. As a result notices and orders can be issued at any time if the building works do not meet the standards specified in the construction certificate.

How long does a construction certificate last?

A construction certificate lapses at the same time as the development consent issued for the proposal, that is after five years and there is no physical commencement of work.

What if all the detailed design work is not yet finished?

You may find that all information you need is not be available at the time you apply, e,g. structural, mechanical or hydraulic designs may not yet be finalised. Similarly, details on sprinkler systems, fire hydrant, fire hose reel systems and smoke hazard management systems are unlikely to be available when applying for the construction certificate. When the detail is not available, you can state in the specification your intent to comply with requirements by identifying the specific clauses in the BCA and Australian standards, codes or other documents, with a brief description of the how you propose to comply with each.

The EP&A Regulation 2000 does not require Council as the accredited certifier to check every detailed aspect of the design and construction of the building before issuing a construction certificate. Council as the accredited certifier must, however, be satisfied that the proposed building will comply with the BCA. In combination, the information in the plans and specification together with the statements of intent and proposed manner of compliance should be sufficient.

Once issued, can a construction certificate be altered?

Clause 79IA of the EP&A Regulation permits the person who has applied for a construction certificate to apply for it to be modified, or for a new construction certificate to be issued. The application and assessment process is the same as for the original application. Council as the accredited certifier will need to consider whether the nature and extent of the modification is inconsistent with the development consent. If it is, a request under section 96 of the EP&A Act to modify the consent would be required.

Can construction certificates be staged?

It is possible to issue construction certificates for various stages of the development. For example a construction certificate could be issued for works up to the ground floor slab and a second construction certificate could be issued for the remaining floors.

Can conditions be applied to a construction certificate?

No. Any conditions relating to site-management will be included on the development consent. For example, setting limits on construction hours, requirements for erosion and sediment control and measures for the protection of public places are usually imposed on the development consent.

What is a fire safety schedule?

A fire safety schedule is a list specifying the fire safety measures (both current and proposed) that should be implemented in the building premises. It is issued with construction certificates, complying development certificates, fire safety orders and development consents for a change of building use where no building work is proposed.

Is a fire safety schedule required to be attached?

A fire safety schedule is to be attached to all construction certificates for class 2 to 9 buildings identifying the fire safety measures that must be subject to the maintenance and certification requirements in Part 7B of the Regulation. An occupation certificate cannot be issued until all the fire safety measures have been installed, inspected and certified through a fire safety certificate.

My construction certificate has been issued what do I do next?

Once you have your development consent and a construction certificate and before you can start any work on the site, the owner, lessee or owners agent must appoint a Principal Certifying Authority to oversee the work.

How do I appoint Council as a PCA?

When Council issues the construction certificate a service agreement will also be provided with the documentation. This agreement specifies what inspections are required, what additional details are required to be lodged prior to commencement of works and what certificates will need to be submitted prior to occupation.

When can I start building work?

You may start building work once a construction certificate has been issued and once the PCA has been appointed.

Do I need to contact Council before I start work?

As part of the PCA service agreement with Council you will be required to nominate a date for commencement of work.

When is the PCA required to do inspections of the building?

The PCA is required to do inspections at the start of the project to ensure correct site management and sediment erosion controls are in place as well as waterproofing of wet areas, external balconies and planter boxes, framing, pool fencing, fire safety measures, hydraulic connections, and a final inspection. Other certification from suitably qualified persons such as structural engineers, fire safety consultants, hydraulic engineers, mechanical engineers, electricians, surveyors and other building professionals can also be requested. Council building surveyors will provide a written report following each inspection. Failing to have a mandatory inspection carried out will result in the PCA not being able to issue the required occupation certificate at the completion of work. For inspection bookings please call 02 9777 1000.

When is a Structural Engineer required to do inspections of the building?

A Structural Engineer is required to certify piers, foundations and footings, reinforcement steel prior to pouring of concrete, any suspended reinforced concrete slabs, steel beam, lintels and any other structural members where specified in the service agreement with Council or when there is a structural variation to the approved plans and details.

When can I move into my building?

Before you can move into your building the PCA must issue you with an Occupation Certificate. This can be done after a final inspection on the building has been carried out and Councils building surveyor is satisfied that the building is safe to be occupied and that the completed construction is consistent with the development consent.

When can I get my security deposit back from Council?

If you paid any damage deposits, for example, a footpath damage deposits, Council will arrange to have the deposit refunded provided there is no damage to Councils infrastructure and all work has been completed.

What are the benefits in using council as an accredited certifier and Principal Certifying Authority?

  • Council staff are truly independent.
  • Our offices are close and convenient. This also means that we are a short distance from your building site.
  • Every building surveyor at Willoughby Council has access to all relevant Australian Standards and the Building Code of Australia.
  • Willoughby Council staff have extensive knowledge of the local area.
  • Willoughby Council building surveyors have convenient access to planning and engineering staff thereby providing one point of contact for all necessary requirements from construction to completion.
  • Building staff have quick and easy access to the development application file, historical files and all Council data. The development application file is taken on inspections to enable the Willoughby Council building surveyors to make fully informed decisions.
  • The majority of development applications are dealt with by Building Surveyors meaning that you can deal with the one person throughout the assessment and construction process.
  • We do not provide certification services outside Willoughby Council area which allows Council staff to concentrate on the needs of the local area.
  • Council provides a 15% discount on Construction Certificate fees when a construction certificate application is lodged with your Development application.
  • Council does not close down when a staff member is on leave.
  • Currently Council staff have combined experience of 200 years in building surveying. All building surveying staff have suitable qualifications and experience.
  • Our fees contain no hidden costs. Once you engage Council as an accredited certifier or PCA we do not charge for phone calls, letters and other incidentals. Our fees are clearly identified on our fee proposal.