Frequently Asked Questions2021-03-01T21:11:17+11:00

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about Development Planning, Building Approvals & Certification

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions from our customers relating to development planning, building approvals and building certification. If you can’t find an answer to your question, please call us on 1300 457 400 or send an email to and one of our friendly staff will be able to help.

What is Building Certification?2022-11-03T15:20:50+11:00

Building certification is the process of engaging accredited certifiers to independently check and approve building works to ensure they comply with the safety, health, amenity and sustainability standards specified in legislation and building codes.

The main role of certifiers is to determine applications for Construction Certificates and Complying Development Certificates. Accredited certifiers may also be appointed as the Principal Certifier for the development. The Principal Certifier issues the Occupation Certificate at the completion of the development.

The Principal Certifier carries out critical stage inspections during construction to ensure the building work is in accordance with the development consent and legislative requirements.

At the completion of construction, the property owner must apply to the Principal Certifier for an Occupation Certificate. The Principal Certifier will conduct a final inspection and issue this certificate if they are satisfied that the building is suitable for occupation or use. A building must not be occupied or used without an Occupation Certificate.

What is a Development Application (DA)?2022-11-28T15:38:54+11:00

A Development Application (DA) is a formal application for development that requires assessment and development consent under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. It is usually submitted to your local council and consists of standard application forms, supporting technical reports and plans.

The NSW government and local Councils have comprehensive and complex requirements for the lodgement of Development Applications. Buildcert can assist you to assess your plans and advise if your project requires a DA or if you may be eligible to proceed with a Complying Development Certificate (CDC).

Prior to lodging a development application (DA) with Council, you need to review planning policies that apply to your land, in order to prepare your plans and supporting documentation. To see what local environmental planning constraints, applicable planning policies and permissible uses apply to your land or property, you can use the New South Wales Government Planning Portal.

If consent is granted for your development, a schedule of conditions will be issued with the notice of determination. The development consent is structured to assist in the project management of the development, and these conditions must be complied with. The conditions should be read in conjunction with the stamped approved plans.

Once a DA has been granted, a Construction Certificate is required to begin construction.

What is Development Planning?2019-05-01T09:09:10+10:00

Development planning is the process of researching the development application requirements for a development proposal. If you are planning to construct something on your property – from fences, carports, sheds to a new residential, industrial or commercial building – you need to know whether you are required to obtain an approval and what development controls apply. Development planning should identify the relevant requirements from Council’s Local Environmental Plan (LEP) and Development Control Plan (DCP).

I’m unsure what I can and can’t do on my property. How can I find out?2023-07-11T16:02:59+10:00

Town Planners offer a services to provide preliminary advice in regards to your property, and can advise on any property or design constraints. They can provide advice on concept or preliminary plans, as well as property constraints that may affect your future proposed development or purchase of a property. Buildcert can advise if your current plan can be completed under a Complying Development Certificate and issue the approval to build.

Does all building work require a council development consent?2018-12-07T14:49:05+11:00

No. Some building works fall within the definitions of “Exempt” or “Complying Development”, as defined within a number of State Environmental Planning Policies. Exempt Development requires no approval from any authority. Complying Development is a fast-track approval which can be assessed by a private Accredited Certifier, who has the same authority as Council for Complying Development assessment. New Dwellings, Additions & Alterations, Granny Flats and Swimming Pools are common examples of developments that may only require a Complying Development Certificate.

What if I am not doing physical building works, do I require an approval?2018-12-07T14:49:32+11:00

In some instances a development, such as a subdivision or change of use, may not require any physical building works to be carried out, but it may require an approval. Such development may not need a Development Approval from Council, but could possibly be approved as Complying Development. Buildcert can help to determine the type of approval required, and can assist with the lodgement process.

What needs to happen if approval is required for building work?2022-11-03T15:32:06+11:00

If building work is to be carried out as complying development, no building work is to commence until a Complying Development Certificate has been issued and a Principal Certifier (PC) has been appointed. Council must be given at least two days’ notice of the commencement of the building work, which will be completed by Buildcert on your behalf. Council does not require any notification when “exempt” work is carried out.

Where development consent (Council DA) is required for building work, no work can commence until Council has granted consent, a construction certificate has been issued and a Principal Certifier (PC) has been appointed. Council must be given at least two days’ notice of the commencement of the building work, which will be completed by Buildcert on your behalf.

Buildcert can approve Complying Development Certificates, Construction Certificates and provide Principal Certifier (PC) services for your development.

What is a Complying Development Certificate?2019-08-27T16:16:21+10:00

A Complying Development Certificate is a combined planning and construction approval available for clients who want to build a commercial/industrial development, new single or two storey home, renovate your existing home, add a granny flat, garage or a swimming pool. The Complying Development approval is fast tracked approval which does not require a development application at your local council. The Complying Development approval is issued from our office when the proposed development meets the NSW Government’s Housing Code criteria and complies with the Building Code of Australia. If you require further information, please visit State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Codes) 2008.

So I need a Development Application (DA). What happens next?2018-12-07T14:54:58+11:00

Where a Development Application (DA) is required, the usual steps in the process are:

  • Buildcert can assist in undertaking appropriate site analysis and assessments to understand any site constraints, such as flooding, bushfire risk or soil/slope constraints for example.
  • Completion of appropriate plans/drawings for your development proposal to accommodate site constraints, as best as practical, is the next step in the process.
  • Once plans are complete, Buildcert organises the appropriate review and endorsement from government authorities, such as the Water Authority, which is usually required prior to the lodgement of your DA.
  • At the same time your plans are being endorsed by other authorities, Buildcert prepares the application in readiness for lodging with Council. This would normally include preparation of a Statement of Environmental Effects (SoEE) to support your development, which addresses the potential impacts your development may have on the environment and surrounding neighbours.
  • Buildcert will regularly communicate with Council to track the progress of the application, in an effort to ensure Council has sufficient information to allow a timely assessment. Buildcert will update clients regularly throughout this process.
  • Should Council require any additional information throughout the assessment process, Buildcert will liaise with you to work on providing a rapid response and solution to Council’s request.
  • Once the DA is approved by Council, no works can commence until a Construction Certificate is obtained.
Is my development guaranteed to be approved?2018-12-07T14:54:07+11:00

No. Buildcert cannot guarantee that Council will issue a Development Consent once an application is lodged. Prior to an application being lodged with Council, and based on our experience and knowledge of Council and their individual planning controls, we will discuss with you if we feel that the proposal is outside of Council’s requirements. We can discuss the different options with you.

What if council don’t like what I am proposing in my application?2018-12-17T14:45:00+11:00

Council will normally advise in writing if they are not completely satisfied with what is being proposed. This gives Buildcert and the client a chance to either make changes to the proposal or talk to the Assessing Officer about how to make the proposal work. If Buildcert feels that the amendments being requested are not consistent with Council’s planning controls, we will negotiate this with the Assessing Officer.

What is a Construction Certificate?2019-04-04T12:47:16+11:00

Once development consent is granted, a Construction Certificate is required to be obtained prior to the commencement of building works. Buildcert can issue a Construction Certificate after plans and specifications of the proposed works have been assessed to comply with Building Code of Australia and conditions of the development consent have been satisfied.

Should I apply for a Construction Certificate or a Complying Development Certificate?2022-11-03T15:29:11+11:00

Contact our office by phoning 1300 457 400 or you can Request a Quote for a free competitive service proposal. For Construction Certification we will require a copy of the proposed Architectural Plans and a copy of the Development Consent. For a Complying Development Certification, we will require a copy of the proposed Architectural Plans and a copy of the Council Section 149(2) Planning Certificate of the property.

If you are happy to proceed with our quote please view our Application Forms to download the relevant application form and a checklist of the documentation we require for lodgement.

Are inspections mandatory?2022-11-03T15:28:04+11:00

Yes. The Environmental Panning & Assessment Regulation (EP&A Reg) sets out the number of mandatory inspections for all types of buildings.

The Principal Certifier (PC) must advise the owner on what inspections are required to be carried out by the PC. Where an inspection by a third party, such as an engineer, is required, the PC will request written confirmation in the form of a report or certificate to verify that the inspection was carried out, and that work satisfies any applicable standards.

How do I arrange a critical stage inspection?2019-08-27T16:37:15+10:00

To arrange a critical stage inspection you can Book an Inspection using our online form, call us on 1300 457 400 or email us at

We recommend you liaise with your builder to ensure the works to be inspected are complete prior to contacting the office to book the inspection. Our accredited certifiers will provide a written report following each inspection to confirm the compliance or the requirements to achieve compliance.

Who may be appointed Principal Certifier (PC)?2022-11-03T15:27:00+11:00

Our experienced Accredited Certifiers may be the appointed Principal Certifier (PC). Our appointed PC will work efficiently with the builder/developer and will undertake mandatory critical stage inspections at different stages during construction to ensure that the proposed building works comply with the building regulations and are generally consistent with the approved plans. At the completion of the project, the PC will confirm the building is fit to occupy and will be responsible to issue the Occupation Certificate.

What is the role of the PC?2022-11-03T15:26:07+11:00

The main roles of the PC are to:

  1. Ensure compliance with the development consent and the construction certificate or the complying development certificate;
  2. Ensure compliance with all development conditions;
  3. Ensure compliance with the Building Code of Australia;
  4. Carry out all the required inspections associated with the building works;
  5. Issue the occupation certificate when all works are completed.
Do I need a Principal Certifier (PC)?2022-11-28T15:44:36+11:00

If you are planning to complete building works in NSW, you may need a Principal Certifier. Without a Principal Certifier (PC) you will be deemed to be carrying out unauthorised building work, and your local Council can stop work on the building. If work is stopped you will need to apply to Council for a Building Certificate to authorise the completed building work. You may also be required to modify your development consent and Construction Certificate. You may also be liable to a large fine under the EP&A Act.

Can I replace a Principal Certifier?2022-11-03T15:24:08+11:00

Yes, you can replace your existing Principal Certifier (PC) by completing an application form Transfer of Principal Certifying Authority (PCA) Application, this form must be signed by your current PC. Alternatively, should your current PC be unavailable or unwilling to sign you may apply through the Building Professionals Board by completing an Application to replace a principal certifying authority (PCA).

What is a Long Service Levy?2019-06-04T09:16:47+10:00

Long Service Levy is a NSW Government fee, payable for building and construction projects costing $25,000 and above (inclusive of GST) and is payable online at . The levy is paid into a fund administered by the Long Service Corporation, and from this fund, the Corporation makes long service payments to building and construction workers. For owner builders you may be entitled to a refund up to 50% after the levy is paid in full.  Download the LSL Exemption application form.

What is the Building Approval Process?2022-11-28T15:41:43+11:00

The Building Approval Process differs depending on your project. Buildcert has created a simple diagram to explain the overarching process below. If you intend to do any building work including new builds, renovations, demolition, development or change of use, please contact a Buildcert office, and our experienced team will guide you through each stage of the building approval process.

The Building Approval Process
If you have any questions about the Building Approval process, call us on 1300 457 400.
How do I get an Owner Builder Permit for Complying Development Applications?2022-11-28T15:50:46+11:00

An application for an Owner Builder Permit may only be submitted to the Office of Fair Trading once the Complying Development Certificate has been issued. You are required to provide the Principal Certifier with a copy of the Permit at least 2 days prior to commencing works.

For further information relating to Owner Builder Permits, visit

Buildcert can assist with providing a Complying Development Approval.

Have any questions? Call the Buildcert team now on

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