Building inspections and approvals
There are lots of checks and balances involved in building work, and various milestones that need to be reached before progressing from one stage to the next. The person who plays a very important part in making sure that all the boxes are ticked is the building certifier.
The building certifier is a highly qualified building industry professional whose role is to check that your builder has complied with the approved building plans and appropriate building provisions.
Certifiers can work for local government, or in a private practice as a private certifier.
- assess and approve plans relating to new or altered buildings
- inspect construction work at mandatory stages, aspects of stages or aspects of assessable work
- provide certificates of inspection to the homeowner, builder and local authority
- issue enforcement notices where required
- give final approval for a building to be occupied.
A building certifier’s primary duty is to always act in the public interest when performing building certifying functions – failure to do so may result in disciplinary action being taken by the QBCC. Private certifiers may also be fined up to 1,665 penalty units ($222,194 as at 1 October 2020).
Examples of a building certifier failing to act in the public interest include:
- seeking or accepting a benefit for themselves or others by acting contrary to their statutory functions
- acting contrary to their statutory functions
- falsely claiming to hold the appropriate licence needed to carry out building assessments of a particular type
- acting outside the scope of their legislated powers
- contravening the Code of Conduct for Building Certifiers
- acting in a grossly negligent or incompetent way.
Appointing a private certifier
In most cases, your builder will be responsible for engaging the private certifier on your behalf. However, you can directly appoint a private certifier. Regardless of who engaged the private certifier, all relevant parties must be aware of the certifier’s engagement, role and responsibilities, including if:
- the person engaging the certifier (the client) is not the owner – the client must give the private certifier the name and contact details of the owner within 10 business days after their engagement starts
- the private certifier must give the owner their contact details and details of their responsibilities in the approved Form 18 Notice to the Owner that a Private Certifier (PDF) has been Engaged within 15 days of their engagement
- the person engaging the certifier (the client) is not the owner, and the owner changes their name or contact details – the client must give the private certifier notice of the change within 5 business days after becoming aware of the change.
Note that the information on this page does not apply to owner-builders. Owner-builders should instead apply the information available for contractors.
Can the owner request additional certifying functions and documents?
If you are the owner of the property, you can obtain inspection documents relating to the stages of work prior to the final stage using a Form 35 Owner Request for a Copy of Inspection Documentation (PDF).
As a property owner, in certain circumstances you can also request the building certifier to perform inspections and other certifying functions, additional to the standard stage inspections already required to be carried out under the building development approval. These requests can be made using a Form 33 Additional Certification Notice (PDF).
When is the building certifier not responsible?
Even though certifiers inspect building work on your project, it is not their job to supervise. Similarly, they can’t intervene to make sure that your builder complies with the contract. Their role is to check that your house or renovations meet the right building standards.