Builder Disputes Part 2: Occupation Certificates

September 8, 2022

In the first part of this two-part series, we explored the obligation to pay a builder for additional work. Builder disputes part 1. In part 2 of Builder Disputes, we will be discussing the occupational certificate and what that means to you.

Now let’s take a look at the occupation certificate. 

An occupation certificate is a legal document that permits you, as the owner, to occupy and use a new building or part of a building.  It’s issued under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.   

In short, an occupation certificate means the building is compliant with the required regulatory standards and is in line with the development consent. It’s issued by a certifier, a professional who conducts inspections and checks. It’s a vital part of the process and not to be ignored because it offers you protection and peace of mind that your building is compliant. 

An occupation certificate must not be issued unless preconditions are specified in a development consent have been complied with.

If a builder does not produce an “occupational certificate”, what can you legally do?

Firstly, you can seek an order from WHICH Court for the builder to provide certificates for the work they’ve undertaken. This enables the certificate to consider whether they have all the necessary documentation to issue the occupation certificate. 

Tip: Certifiers are often appointed by the builder, so consider whether their choice would be in your best interest. 

Alternatively, you can appoint an expert to obtain the outstanding certificates that the builder is not willing to provide. For example, an independent electrician to inspect the build and provide the Certificate of Compliance for electrical work under the Gas and Electricity (Consumer Safety) Act 2017.  You would do this for all outstanding certificates. 

Once you have the certificates, you can appoint an independent certifier to provide you with an occupation certificate. An independent certifier can be a registered building surveyor, your local council, or a registered body corporate (certification company).

The Builder Can’t Influence Your Choice – The Decision Is Yours. 

Your Choice

It’s a time-consuming process but there are two things to consider. One, you want to make sure your building is safe and compliant. Two, time is money, so if the builder is not cooperating, you have to step in and take control of this situation to speed up and resolve the issue. 

Before appointing a certifier, be sure to do your homework – for example, check they have the right class of registration for the work, that their registration and insurance are current, and so on. 

At CM Law, we can help you with all legal aspects of the specialist property industry. This includes builder disputes with an occupational certificate. Contact us for advice you can rely on, knowing we will act to get the best outcome for you.    

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