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Council Services

Private Certifiers in the Development Control process

 

The Community has raised concern over the confusion of the roles of Private Certifiers in the Development Control process. The following information outlines the roles of both Council and a Private Certifying Authority where appointed.

 

Background

 

In 1998 the NSW Government amended the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act to allow applicants to appoint persons other than the Council to certify the construction of their development. Previously only the Local Council had this responsibility.

 

Private Certifiers are accredited professionals who issue certificates for development under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. Accredited Private Sector Certifiers are able to check that development proposals comply with required technical standards and regulations. They are required to be accredited under a scheme managed by the Building Professionals Board which is part of the Department of Planning.

The power of a Private Certifier in general is as follows;

  • issue construction certificates, certifying (among other things) compliance with the Building Code of Australia (BCA);

  • issue compliance certificates specifying that conditions of consent have been satisfied or that work complies with the plan and specification, or nominating the classification of a building under the BCA;

  • issue complying development certificates, certifying that nominated development proposals comply with standards and criteria in Council's Local Environmental Plans and Development Control Plans; and

  • act as a Principal Certifying Authority (PCA), responsible for, among other things, issuing occupation certificates specifying that buildings are safe to occupy.

  • carry out mandatory building inspections

  • To be accredited, the certifier must demonstrate his/her qualifications and experience, agree to abide by the scheme's code of conduct and complaints handling mechanisms, undertake continuing professional development, and provide evidence of his/her public liability insurance.


When accredited, a certifier is given a unique number, which is used on all documents to identify the certifier. A certifier must be re-accredited each year by the Department of Planning.

 

The Process

When an applicant appoints a PCA they assume the role of Council and as such take responsibility for the site. They lodge with Council the Construction Certificate once they are satisfied that the applicant has met all the requirements of the Development Consent.

Council often receives complaints in relation to the conduct of a builder and/or compliance with Development Consent conditions. It is the role of the PCA to investigate and respond to these complaints.

Upon receipt of any complaint the Environmental Services Division follows this procedure ;

  • identify the PCA and advise them in writing of the nature of the complaint and the complainant's contact details.

  • the complainant is also advised in writing of the name and contact details of the PCA. Further to this they are advised of the contact details of the Building Professionals Board if they wish to lodge a complaint against the PCA.

In relation to better informing the Community of the roles of the PCA,  Council has implemented the following;

  • Will include a standard letter with the current documents that are forwarded to all objectors following the determination of an application. This letter will advise the following:

  • Outline the Construction Certificate and Building Inspection process

  • Advise of the role of a PCA if appointed and the authority of Council

  • Advise of the process if they have concerns regarding the conduct of a Builder and/or possible breaches of Development Consent conditions

  • Provide contact details to lodge a formal complaint in relation to the conduct of a PCA.

In summary if you have any concerns in relation to the conduct of a Private Certifying Authority {PCA} you should contact The Building Professionals Board (www.bpb.nsw.gov.au) or 9895-5950.