Thinking About Building?

To check if your development is classified as either 'exempt' or 'complying' - go to our 'Find Out' page for more information.

If your building work is not classed as Exempt or Complying Development, you will need to follow this step-by-step approvals and certification process:

There are 6 steps in the construction process:

Also on this Page:

Step 1 - Submit a Development Application to Council

Your DA will be assessed against relevant building, planning and environmental criteria and if suitable, a development consent is issued, usually subject to certain conditions being met.

See also -"What is a D.A?" and D.A Application

Step 2 - Construction Certificate - Application and Issue

What is a Construction Certificate?

The construction certificate is a certificate proving that the matters specified in a development consent and applicable legislation have been satisfied. It is needed after the development consent is issued and before work is carried out. The certificate can be issued by either Council or an accredited Private Certifier. If you would like Council to issue the construction certificate, you will need to complete the Construction Certificate Application Form below and lodge the form with Council. 

Council or the accredited Private Certifier will issue a construction certificate after they are satisfied that:

  • The construction certificate plans and specifications are the same as on the development consent.
  • The development complies with the Building Code of Australia and all relevant technical standards.
  • All required conditions of development consent have been complied with.
  • All fees and contributions have been paid.
How do I get a construction certificate?

A construction certificate, and the Agreement for the Performance of Certification Work, can be obtained from Council. To apply for a construction certificate from Council, complete the construction certificate application form and Agreement for the Performance of Certification Work and lodge the forms at any one of Council's offices at Forster, Stroud or Tea Gardens with the required documentation and fees.  A guide to Lodging a Construction Certificate is available.

When should I apply for a construction certificate?

You can submit a construction certificate application at the same time as the development application, but we can't finalise your construction certificate application until after your D.A has been determined.

An amendment to your construction certificate application may be needed if changes occur during the assessment process. A construction certificate can't be issued unless it is consistent with the development consent.

Step 3 - Appointing a Principal Certifying Authority

A Principal Certifying Authority (PCA) is required to inspect the building work during the course of construction to ensure compliance with the relevant standards. 

This PCA may be the Council or an accredited Private Certifier.  If you do not appoint Council as the PCA, you must notify Council of the appointment of the accredited Certifier at least 2 days prior to the commencement of any building work.   

Prior to any building or subdivision work being carried out, a construction certificate must be approved and a PCA must be appointed for the development.  If you decide to appoint Council as your PCA please complete Council's Principal Certifying Authority Service Appointment form and submit to Council.

We recommend appointing our Building Approvals Team as your PCA.  This has many advantages for you. With the long-standing security of being part of Local Government, Council's Building Approvals Team offers quality, impartial and timely assessment, inspection and certification services.  Our local knowledge can save you time and money. Working only within the Great Lakes Local Government area, we are never far away from your development if required for assistance. 

PCA Roles and Responsibilities
  • Conduct a proper inspection of each required stage of construction.
  • Certify at each stage of inspection that the works are being carried out according to the development consent.
  • Advise the applicant if any works have been carried out that are inconsistent with the development consent.
  • Serve notices under s121 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act if any non-compliances are identified with the terms of the Development Consent.
  • Issue an occupation certificate for any building work or change of use of a building when the relevant application has been lodged with Council and when all the required works and conditions have been satisfied.
  • Advise the applicant after each inspection of any outstanding work.
  • Consider if a building is suitable for occupation or use in accordance with its classification under the Building Code of Australia prior to the determination of the occupation certificate.
  • Oversee the entire construction process from commencement to completion.

Stage 4 - Critical Stage Inspections

Your PCA will give you a list of the mandatory critical stage inspections, and any other inspections that the PCA decides are required during the construction of the building. You need to be aware of these inspections, as they are required to be carried out at the appropriate time.

Inspections can be arranged by contacting Council's customer service centre on (02) 6591 7222.

Stage 5 - Issue the Occupation Certificate

Before moving in or using any building, an occupation certificate must be issued by the PCA.  The occupation certificate proves that the PCA is satisfied that the building is suitable to occupy or use. An occupation certificate is needed for any new building work, or change of use of a building, that has development consent and a construction certificate or a complying development certificate. Occupation certificates are not required for buildings which are considered exempt development.

In the case of buildings other than single dwellings, dual occupancies and related development, the application must be accompanied by a fire safety certificate.  The certificate may be an interim or a final certificate and may be issued for the whole or any part of the building. 

There are 2 different types of occupation certificate, "final" or "interim". An interim occupation certificate allows you to start living in or using a partially completed building, or to begin a new use of part of an existing building.

If an interim certificate is issued, a final occupation certificate is still required when all building work or the change of use is complete.

Step 6 - Refund of Damage Bond

A final inspection will be carried out by Council's responsible officer and the bond (minus the administration fee) will be considered for refund. To get the refund, all works need to be finished and the occupation certificate issued, (or upon the application for release in the case of a subdivision).

If the final inspection is deemed unsatisfactory, an additional inspection fee applies, and will be deducted from the damage bond refund.

What if the work carried out is different from the Development Consent, or is not approved?

This would be a serious issue, and the building work would be illegal.

Builders/owners or developers found to be carrying out construction works without the required consent will be issued a penalty infringement notice, be prosecuted in the Local Court, or in more serious cases, taken to the Land and Environment Court.

Without a construction certificate, building works are illegal.  It also includes building work that does not conform to an approved construction certificate, or where a construction certificate has been issued and certain conditions under the development consent have not been met.

The Courts will impose hefty fines or order the demolition of the illegal building works.

If we identify illegal building works we can either issue the owner or builder with a penalty infringement and issue a 'Stop Work' notice or we can order the work to be demolished.

If illegal building work is identified and is under the control of a Private Certifying Authority, the matter will be referred to the private certifier for action.

If we find that illegal works are in fact acceptable after a merit assessment, we can recommend approval of these illegal works by submitting the details to a Council meeting for consideration and determination.

Making a Complaint against a Certifier

Any concerns with construction works, including a belief that works are not proceeding in accordance with the approval, are to be discussed with the PCA in the first instance. A sign on the work site will show the name, address and telephone number of the chosen PCA.

 If you remain unsatisfied with the response of the PCA, complaints against accredited Certifiers can be made in writing to the Building Professionals Board (Department of Planning).

How do I make changes to the approved plans?

Before or during the building process, you may choose or need to alter your proposal from that which was approved by Council.  If this happens, you MUST contact Council before you undertake the works. You might need to make an application to amend your original development consent or construction certificate.

Unless the changes are extremely minor, have little or no external effect to the approved building form, and Council has formally advised you in writing, you will need to submit an application under section 96 of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act to modify your original consent.

Section 96 applications are considered in a similar way to the original development application, including the notification process.  For further details on the submission of a section 96 application please contact Council.  A section 96 application to modify the development consent will also require the submission of an application to Council to modify the construction certificate.

Withdrawal of the Construction Certificate application

The application can be withdrawn at any time before its determination. You will need to notify the certifying authority (Council or Accredited Private Certifier) in writing (signed by the applicant). Some or all of the application fee may be refunded.