Principal Certifier and Building Inspections

Did you know from January 1 2021, all development applications and the majority of post consent certificates must be submitted through the NSW Planning Portal? Find out more about E-planning with City of Newcastle (CN).

When undertaking building and/or subdivision works you will require a Principal Certifier (PC) to inspect the work during the course of construction to ensure it meets with regulatory requirements. The specific roles and responsibilities of the PC are set down in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

Only a PC can issue the Occupation Certificate and/ or Subdivision Certificate at the end of the work. In relation to building work, the PC must assess whether the building complies with approvals and is suitable for occupation or use in accordance with its classification under the Building Code of Australia before issuing an Occupation Certificate. In other words, the building generally complies with required building standards and is safe to occupy. The PC can also issue Subdivision Certificates where CN's Local Environmental Plan (LEP) allows. The PC needs to be appointed before building or subdivision work starts.

Who can be a PC?

Accredited certifiers and councils can undertake the functions of a PC for a development. Only the person with the benefit of the development consent (usually the owner of the land) can appoint a PC.

How do I appoint a PC?

The person with the benefit of the development consent must appoint the PC. This is usually the owner of the land or someone authorised to act on their behalf. The builder cannot appoint the certifying authority unless they are the person with the benefit of the development consent – this is important because the certifying authority checks aspects of the builder’s work. If you are appointing an accredited certifier as the PC you must appoint an individual rather than any company for whom the individual works.

Remember that applying for a Construction Certificate is not the same as appointing a PC. The certifying authority who issues the Construction Certificate does not have to be the PC. The PC must be specifically appointed (preferably in writing) to undertake inspections and issue the Occupation Certificate.

When you have appointed a PC, you must notify CN of the appointment at least two days before building or subdivision work commences.

From January 1 2021, all development applications and the majority of post consent certificates must be submitted through the NSW Planning Portal. Find out more about E-planning with CN.

Building Inspections

If you have appointed CN as your PC you will need to book the relevant inspections. CN will have already notified you in writing of the mandatory and other inspections required for the development.

How do I book an inspection?

To book an inspection, please contact our Customer Contact Centre on (02) 4974 2000 with the following information:

  • Date of inspection – you must call the day before you require an inspection
  • Type of inspection (see below)
  • Name and contact phone number
  • Address of property to be inspected
  • Development Application number.

You are advised:

  • Work must be ready at the time of the inspection, otherwise we may charge a re-inspection fee
  • Dogs must be tied up.

How do I know the result of the inspection?

A written report will be left on site outlining the result of the inspection. If the inspection has failed, it will contain details of the required rectification work. You will be required to have the works re-inspected or provide any required documentation before you proceed with construction.

What must be inspected?

There are a number of mandatory inspections that must be carried out by your PC. If these inspections are not completed, you may not receive an Occupation Certificate. It is an offence to occupy a building without an Occupation Certificate and an Occupation Certificate may be requested when selling your property.

Your PC may also request additional inspections; these are usually nominated in your PC agreement. The mandatory inspections required by the legislation are listed below and are dependant on the type of building you are constructing.

Residential work - Class 1 and 10 buildings

Examples include dwellings, alterations and additions, garages, carports, swimming pools, etc. The mandatory inspections are:

  • Footing
  • Slab and other steel reinforcement
  • Frame (including floor)
  • Wet area waterproofing
  • Stormwater
  • Intent to fill pool
  • Final / completion.

Multiply dwellings - Class 2, 3 and 4 buildings

Examples include multi unit developments, and residential components of commercial or industrial buildings. The mandatory inspections are:

  • First footing inspection
  • Wet area waterproofing
  • Stormwater
  • Final / completion.

Commercial and Industrial Buildings Class 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 buildings

Examples include offices, shops, factories and commercial buildings. The mandatory inspections are:

  • First footing inspection
  • Stormwater
  • Final / completion

Final Inspection

When all building works have been completed, you will need to book a final inspection. Once the final inspection has been completed and passed, an Occupation Certificate will be issued. The Occupation Certificate authorises the occupation of the building and may be requested when you are selling your property.