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Be sure that all necessary approvals have been obtained before work is commenced. Most building work needs the following approvals before work can start.

Development consent or Complying Development Certificate (CDC)

Your local council can issue a development consent. If a CDC is permitted for the type of development you propose under the council’s local plan, it can be issued by either your local council or an accredited certifier.

Construction approval

Approval for the work (a construction certificate) can be given by either your local council or an accredited certifier.

Note: You do not need a construction certificate if you have a CDC.

During construction, the building work must also be inspected by council or an accredited certifier to check that it meets national building standards (the Building Code of Australia).

A certificate to allow occupation or use of the completed building work (occupation certificate) can only be issued if the work generally meets these standards.

Commencement of building work requiring development consent

Building work requiring development consent cannot be commenced until:

  1. A construction certificate has been issued, either by an accredited certifier or the local council, for the plans and specifications. This certificate covers compliance with the Building Code of Australia and consistency with the council’s development consent.  Note: If a construction certificate is issued after the commencement of the work to which it relates, it will be invalid and will prevent an occupation certificate from being issued.
  2. You have appointed a Principal Certifying Authority (PCA) (either an accredited certifier or the local council) to undertake critical stage inspections of the building work during construction, and to issue an occupation certificate upon completion of the work. This certificate is to the effect that the building meets required standards, and is safe to occupy and use.
  3. You have notified the PCA of whether the work is being undertaken as an owner-builder, or by a contractor, and the name of that contractor.
  4. The PCA has notified the consent authority (who issued the development consent) and the local council of his/her appointment at least two days before that work commences.
  5. You have notified the contractor of any critical stage inspections and other inspections the PCA requires, that are to be carried out in respect of the work.
  6. You have notified council of the intended date for commencing the building work at least two days before the work commences.

You should therefore check to ensure that a construction certificate has been issued before your building contractor starts work under a development consent. If not, you will be unable to obtain an occupation certificate for the completed work, which will prevent occupation and use of the building work and may also have implications for the future sale of the property. It is an offence to occupy or use a building without an occupation certificate.

Choosing a certifying authority

Choosing a certifying authority (local council or an accredited certifier), is an important decision. Your builder, architect or draftsperson may recommend someone, but it is your decision as the land owner to choose who will certify your building plans and building work. They are not allowed to make the choice unless they are also the owner of the land.

Note: You can appoint one accredited certifier or the council to issue the construction certificate (or CDC) and a different accredited certifier or the council as the PCA.

Whether you choose council or an accredited certifier, they are working for you and the community to ensure that the building work is safe and meets relevant building standards.

Before choosing a certifying authority, you should:

  • obtain quotes from a number of certifiers, and your local council
  • check their references
  • make sure they hold current accreditation for the type of building work you want to do.

If in doubt, check with the Building Professionals Board. The Board has released some brochures to help home owners understand the requirements of the certifier, and how to choose one. The Board's website also lists accredited certifiers.