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Building Work and Private Certification

Complaints against private accredited certifiers can be made in writing to the Building Professionals Board.

Information prepared by the Building Professionals Board and Council

The Building Professionals Board and Council have published information brochures to provide consumers with greater information about how the NSW certification system works:

This information brochure informs consumers of the general approvals process involved when building or subdividing.

This information sheet answers common questions about the respective roles of Council and private certifiers.


Do I need a Development Application?

This will depend on the nature of your proposed development. Some minor development may fall within the definitions of “exempt” or “complying” development in which case a development application would not be necessary. If you do obtain development consent you must also obtain a Construction Certificate (CC) before undertaking building work. For “exempt” development there is no need for a CC and with “complying” development you need only obtain a Complying Development Certificate (CDC). If in doubt check with the Duty Planner on 9978-4172.

What is a Construction Certificate?

A Construction Certificate (CC) is a certificate verifying that relevant matters specified in a development consent and applicable legislation have been satisfied. A Construction Certificate will only be issued if:

  • The proposed building will comply with the requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA).
  • The design and construction is consistent with the plans approved for the development consent.
  • Any development consent conditions which must be met before issue of Construction Certificate have been met.
  • Conditions requiring payment of monetary contributions have been met.
  • A fire safety schedule is issued with the certificate (for applicable classes of buildings).
  • Structural strength and fire safety matters have been satisfied in the case of a change of building use or alterations to an existing building.

What is the role of a private certifier when they are appointed the PCA?

When a private certifier is appointed as the PCA they take responsibility for the development site and are required to fulfil all the roles of the PCA.

They have statutory responsibilities and authority, including the matters they are required to consider under Section 6.5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and the works they can approve in lieu of Council, as listed under Clause 161 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 (Regulation) including:

  • earthwork
  • stormwater drainage work
  • landscaping work
  • erosion and sediment control work
  • excavation work
  • mechanical work
  • structural work
  • hydraulic work
  • external finishes of a building.

Private certifiers have some enforcement powers as the PCA. They have the power to issue a ‘notice of intention to issue an order’ under Section 6.31 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 setting out the proposed terms of an order and the proposed period of compliance. A copy of any ‘notice of intention’ issued by a PCA must be provided to Council for it to decide whether it will issue the order.

What is Council’s role when a private certifier has been appointed the PCA?

When a private certifier has been appointed the PCA, the Council generally becomes the “keeper of the records”, but is not directly involved in the inspection of the development site.

By not being the PCA it means that Council does not have ready access to various professional reports that may be produced during the construction phase, including structural engineer’s certification and survey information. Such information and reports are not required to be submitted to Council until the final occupation certificate has been issued. This is a significant impediment to Council’s ability to respond to general enquiries on a development site.

Nevertheless, Council retains its regulatory role and enforcement powers and will take action if and when required; however, Council has a wide discretion as to what, if any, action to take.

What should I do if I have a complaint about a private certifier?

The Council is not the regulator of private certifiers. Any complaints about the conduct and actions of a private certifier must be directed to the Building Professionals Board (BPB). More information on lodging a complaint about a private certifier can be found on the Building Professionals Board website or by calling the BPB on 02 9860 1800. Building Professionals Board – Making a Complaint Against an Accredited Certifier

Can Council take on the role of the PCA?

Council can only take on the role of the PCA if Council is appointed by the owner.

An owner may replace their PCA, but in such circumstances Council only becomes the PCA if the owner nominates Council as the replacement PCA.

More information on the replacement of a PCA can be found on the Building Professionals Board website.

To assist you to understand the different roles of PCAs and Council in relation to Building Work and Development Sites Council has produced a Building Work and Private Certification (73.6KB) fact sheet.

Last updated Tuesday 22 June 2021
Last updated Tuesday 22 June 2021