BPB practice advice 11-007 November 2011
Note to readers: practice advice relates to the legislation in force at the time, which may since have been amended. Also, names of organisations and weblinks were correct at time of writing and may have since changed.
We all want buildings that ensure the protection of public health and safety. The principal certifying authority (PCA) plays a crucial role in achieving this goal.
The PCA must ensure critical stage and other inspections are carried out, and obtain necessary certification in order to be satisfied the relevant building is suitable to occupy and use in accordance with its classification.
The EP&A Act and Regulation set out requirements for when a building is to be inspected by the PCA or another accredited certifier. They set mandatory critical stage inspections and give the PCA the power to require additional inspections to the critical stage inspections.
The Building Code of Australia (in Part A2.2) establishes the evidence certifiers need to support the use of a material, design or form of construction as meeting a performance requirement or a deemed-to-satisfy provision.
Certification from appropriately qualified persons is an example of such evidence, and can include compliance certificates issued under the EP&A Act or certificates from designers and installers.
As indicated in recent ADT decisions, the PCA cannot blindly accept a certificate that is not a compliance certificate. They need to scrutinise each certificate to ensure it contains the required information, including:
- identifying the person issuing the certificate
- being signed and dated
- indicating suitability of the signatory to sign off on the works
- showing the signatory's contact details
- indicating whether the certificate relates to the whole or part of the building
- describing the relevant work/ building component and how it relates to the property address
- referencing relevant BCA clauses and Australian Standards (year of adoption and relevant provisions).
In obtaining a certificate, the certifier should still be mindful to carry out simple independent checks of building work that is externally exposed. The public must be confident certifiers will rigorously enforce conditions of development consent.