Before you can start work
While receiving your development consent is worth celebrating, it does not mean that you can start building work. Before you can start building you must do four things:
- Get a Construction Certificate – building approval from your council or a private certifier.
- Appoint a Principal Certifying Authority (PCA) to monitor construction – this can be your council or an accredited certifier.
- Give the council and the PCA two days’ notice before you start work.
- Complete any works listed in the ‘Prior to commencing work’ part of the consent.
Construction Certificate (CC)
The CC must be obtained from your council or an accredited certifier and includes your detailed building plans/engineering details and specifications. The plans will most likely contain a lot more information than your approved DA plans, to allow your builder to work directly from them.
The building must be consistent with them and the development consent.
Any plan changes that are inconsistent with the DA plans would need to be assessed as to whether an application to modify the development consent is required (see Modifications and Reviews).
In order to obtain the CC you may be required to first provide additional reports and pay refundable bonds or development contributions to the council. These details are covered in the conditions of your development consent.
You have the choice as to whom issues your Construction Certificate – the certifying authority can either be your council or an accredited certifier. The NSW Building Professionals Board (BPB) accredits all certifiers that are not employed by your council, and provides the information you need on the NSW Building Professionals Board (BPB) website.
The role of the Principal Certifying Authority (PCA)
The PCA must be appointed by the ‘person having the benefit of the development consent’ – this means you as the owner and not your builder. It would probably be the same person or firm that issued your CC, but does not have to be – as with your CC, it can be an accredited certifier or your council as PCA.
The PCA’s job is to work with you through the construction process and issue you with an Occupation Certificate (OC) when the work is completed. To make this decision, the PCA inspects the development at various points in the build and ultimately ensures that the building is safe and fit to occupy and in accordance with the development consent and CC.
As owner your role is to work with the PCA and the builder, keeping an eye on the work (and the terms of your development consent), managing the site and organising inspections. The PCA will brief the builder and you about the process. You have a role in ensuring that your team follows the procedures required for organising inspections – missing an inspection can lead to delays. Inspections required generally include:
- Wet area
You should also keep your neighbours informed and report any complaints to the builder and the PCA.
Keeping a close eye on the work and being sure it is consistent with the development consent and any conditions attached is very important. Orders can be issued by council to stop work and fix any errors. This can cost time and money or even lead to penalties. The EP&A Act specifies enforcement measures that can be applied if a development is not built in accordance with its consent.