Council’s role in building and construction work varies depending on whether or not Council has been appointed the Principal Certifying Authority (PCA) for a development. If Council is appointed the PCA, Council becomes the building inspector and must carrying out all the roles of the PCA.
If a private certifier is appointed the PCA, it is not Council’s responsibility to ensure building and construction compliance but Council still may get involved in response to complaints and in cases where private certifiers do not adequately meet their inspection and compliance obligations.
In all cases Council maintains a regulatory role.
When a private certifier is appointed the PCA they take responsibility for the development site and are required to fulfill all the roles of the PCA.
They have statutory responsibilities and authority, including the matters they are required to consider under Section 109E of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) and the works they can approve in lieu of Council, as listed under Clause 161 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 (Regulation) including;
Private certifiers have some enforcement powers as the PCA. They have the power to issue a 'notice of intention to issue an order' under Section 109L of the EP&A Act setting out the proposed terms of an order and the proposed period of compliance. A copy of any 'notice of intention' issued by a PCA must be provided to Council for the Council to decide whether it will issue the order.
When a private certifier has been appointed the PCA, the Council generally becomes the “keeper of the records”, but is not directly involved in the inspection of the development site.
By not being the PCA it means that Council does not have ready access to various professional reports that may be produced during the construction phase, including structural engineer’s certification and survey information. Such information and reports are not required to be submitted to Council until the final occupation certificate has been issued. This is a significant impediment to Council’s ability to respond to general enquiries on a development site.
Nevertheless, Council retains its regulatory role and enforcement powers and will take action if and when required.
The Council is not the regulator of private certifiers. Any complaints about the conduct and actions of a private certifier must be directed to the Building Professionals Board (BPB). More information on lodging a complaint about a private certifier can be found on the Building Professionals Board website or by calling the BPB on 02 9895 5950.
Council can only take on the role of the PCA if Council is appointed by the owner.
An owner may replace their PCA, but in such circumstances Council only becomes the PCA if the owner nominates Council as the replacement PCA.
More information on the replacement of a PCA can be found on the Building Professionals Board website.
To assist you to understand the different roles of PCAs and Council in relation to Building Work and Development Sites Council has produced a PCAs and Council (PDF) brochure.