Skip to content

Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions! We believe in keeping our clients well-informed and supported at every step of their journey. We understand that building projects can be complex, which is why we have created this resource to address your questions and provide the guidance you need.

The Certification world is jam-packed full of technical terms and acronyms. DA, CC, CDC, OC, LSL, HBCF - what do they all mean?! 

At CertOne, our commitment is to ensure that you have a clear understanding of our services, processes, and requirements. We want you to feel confident and empowered throughout your building experience. That's why we have gathered a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions to provide you with accurate and valuable information.

Whether you are a homeowner, developer, or contractor, our FAQ page covers a wide range of topics related to our services. From building regulations and permits to project timelines and inspections, we have compiled the most common inquiries to assist you in making informed decisions.

Terms & Definitions


What is a Principal Certifier (PC)?

A Principal Certifier (PC) is a qualified professional appointed by the property owner or developer to oversee and administer the certification process for a construction project. The PC plays a crucial role in ensuring that the building work complies with relevant laws, regulations, and approved plans. They act as an independent authority responsible for conducting inspections, issuing permits and certificates, and verifying compliance throughout the construction process.

The responsibilities of a Principal Certifier may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the type of project. However, some common tasks include:

  1. Reviewing and assessing development applications or construction plans to ensure compliance with building codes and regulations.
  2. Conducting inspections at critical stages of the construction process to ensure compliance with approved plans and standards.
  3. Issuing construction certificates or permits, indicating that the proposed work meets the necessary requirements.
  4. Monitoring the construction progress to ensure compliance with conditions of approval and relevant regulations.
  5. Undertaking final inspections and issuing occupation certificates, confirming that the completed building is safe for occupancy.
  6. Enforcing compliance through issuing notices, orders, or taking appropriate regulatory actions in case of non-compliance.

The Principal Certifier acts as a point of contact and reference for the property owner, contractors, and regulatory authorities, providing guidance and advice throughout the certification process.

Their role is crucial in ensuring that buildings are constructed safely and in accordance with applicable regulations, protecting the interests of both the property owner and the public.

What is a Development Application (DA)?

A Development Application (DA) is a formal request submitted to the local government or planning authority, in accordance with relevant legislation such as the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (1979), for permission to carry out a proposed development project. It is an integral part of the planning and approval process for construction, renovation, or change of land use.

The DA includes comprehensive plans, drawings, and supporting documents that provide details about the proposed development's design, environmental impact, and compliance with applicable legislation, including zoning regulations, building codes, and other planning requirements.

The purpose of a development application is to seek approval and ensure that the proposed development aligns with the relevant legislative framework. It allows the planning authority to assess the potential impact of the development on the surrounding area, considering factors such as traffic, noise, environmental considerations, and community amenities, as outlined in the legislation.

Once the development application is submitted, it undergoes a rigorous review process by the planning authority, guided by the provisions of the legislation. This process may involve consultations with stakeholders, including neighboring property owners, community groups, and government agencies. The application is evaluated based on its compliance with the legislation's planning policies and regulations. Subsequently, a decision is made to approve, refuse, or request modifications to the proposal, in accordance with the legislative requirements.

Acquiring approval through the development application process is crucial for obtaining the necessary permits and permissions to proceed with the proposed development project. It ensures that the development adheres to the legislative objectives, contributes positively to the community, and meets the required standards for safety, sustainability, and functionality, as stipulated in the relevant legislation

What is a Complying Development Certificate (CDC)?

A Complying Development Certificate (CDC) is an official document issued by a certifying authority in accordance with relevant legislation, such as the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (1979), to authorize certain types of development projects. A CDC streamlines the approval process by combining both planning and construction approval into a single certificate.

A CDC can be obtained for specific types of developments that meet pre-determined criteria and standards set out in the legislation and relevant planning instruments. These criteria include specific requirements related to land use, size, location, and environmental considerations. 

The advantage of a CDC is that it offers a fast-track approval process, as the development is deemed to comply with the predetermined standards. It eliminates the need for a separate development application and provides certainty to the property owner that the proposed development complies with the legislative requirements.

To obtain a CDC, the applicant must engage a qualified certifier who assesses the proposed development plans and ensures they meet the prescribed standards. The certifier confirms that the development complies with the relevant legislation, including zoning regulations, building codes, and other applicable requirements.

Once the certifier is satisfied that all criteria have been met, they issue the complying development certificate. This certificate serves as the official approval for the proposed development, allowing construction work to commence without the need for a separate development application.

It is important to note that while a CDC expedites the approval process for qualifying developments, it is not applicable to all types of projects. More complex or high-risk developments may still require a traditional Development Application (DA) and assessment process.

What is a Construction Certificate (CC)?

A Construction Certificate (CC) is an official document required before starting construction on a development project. It ensures that the detailed construction plans comply with approved permits, building codes, and regulations.

The CC verifies the safety, structural integrity, and environmental aspects of the proposed construction. It involves a thorough review of architectural plans, engineering details, and compliance reports. To obtain a CC, applicants submit their plans to a certifying authority that evaluates them for compliance.

Once satisfied, the authority issues the construction certificate, granting permission to commence construction. The CC confirms that the project meets regulatory standards and is legally approved for construction. It is important to note that the CC is separate from other permits or approvals needed for development.

What is an Occupation Certificate (OC)?

An Occupation Certificate (OC) is a document issued by the relevant regulatory authority or certifying authority upon completion of a building project. It certifies that the building or structure is suitable and safe for occupation in accordance with the approved plans, building codes, and regulations.

The OC signifies that the construction work has been completed to the required standards and complies with all necessary requirements, including fire safety measures, structural integrity, and essential services. It confirms that the building is ready for occupancy and use by its intended occupants.

An occupation certificate is typically required before a building can be legally occupied or utilized for its intended purpose, such as residential, commercial, or public use. It provides assurance to the building owner, tenants, and relevant authorities that the building has undergone the necessary inspections and meets all the necessary criteria for safe occupancy.

It is important to note that an Occupation Certificate is required for every approval, not just buildings that will be 'occupied'. This includes projects such as pools, retaining walls and ancillary structures. 

What is a State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP)?

A State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) is a legal instrument in Australia that is enacted by state or territory governments to guide land use planning and development. It is designed to provide a consistent framework for decision-making and regulate specific aspects of development within a particular jurisdiction.

SEPPs are created under the authority of planning legislation and are used to address a range of planning matters, such as land use zoning, environmental protection, heritage conservation, urban design, infrastructure planning, and affordable housing. Each SEPP focuses on a specific planning issue or set of issues and outlines policies, standards, and guidelines that must be followed when making planning decisions.

SEPPs can apply at the state level or be specific to a particular region or locality within a state. They typically outline objectives, development standards, and assessment criteria that must be considered when assessing development proposals. SEPPs may also include provisions for exemptions, transitional arrangements, and dispute resolution processes.

The purpose of a SEPP is to promote sustainable development, protect the environment, and facilitate efficient land use planning. It provides a consistent set of rules and guidelines that local councils, planning authorities, and developers must adhere to when undertaking development activities. SEPPs play a significant role in shaping the built environment, ensuring that development occurs in a manner that aligns with the overall planning goals and objectives of a state or territory.

What is a Long Service Levy (LSL)?

A Long Service Levy (LSL) is a financial contribution or fee that is levied on certain construction projects or building works in order to fund long service benefits for eligible workers in the building and construction industry. It is a statutory requirement in some jurisdictions, aimed at providing financial support to workers who have accrued a significant period of service in the industry.

The LSL is typically calculated as a percentage of the total cost of the construction project or building works, and it is payable by the person or entity undertaking the development. The funds collected through the levy are used to finance long service benefits, such as paid leave or other entitlements, for eligible workers who have met the required length of service.

The specific regulations and procedures regarding the LSL vary between different jurisdictions, as it is governed by state or territory legislation. The levy rates, thresholds, and collection mechanisms can differ, so it is important for developers and construction industry stakeholders to familiarize themselves with the requirements specific to their location.

The purpose of the Long Service Levy is to recognize and reward the contribution of long-serving workers in the building and construction industry by providing them with financial benefits for their dedication and loyalty. It helps to promote a stable workforce, encourage employee retention, and support the welfare of workers who have devoted a significant portion of their careers to the industry.

What is Home Owners Warranty (HOW/HBCF)

A Homeowners Warranty, also known as a Home Warranty or Home Building Compensation Fund, is a type of insurance or warranty scheme designed to protect homeowners against defects or structural issues in newly constructed or renovated residential buildings. It provides coverage for a specified period, typically ranging from a few months to several years, depending on the jurisdiction.

The purpose of a Homeowners Warranty is to provide financial protection and peace of mind to homeowners by ensuring that they have recourse and assistance in the event of building defects. It safeguards homeowners against potential financial losses and costly repairs that may arise from structural defects, faulty workmanship, or non-compliance with building standards.

Under a Homeowners Warranty, if defects or issues are discovered within the coverage period, homeowners can typically make a claim to have the problems rectified or receive compensation for the necessary repairs. The specific coverage, claim process, and eligibility criteria may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the terms of the warranty provider.

In many jurisdictions, Homeowners Warranty insurance is mandatory for residential building projects above a certain value or involving licensed builders. It helps to ensure that builders adhere to quality standards and provides homeowners with recourse if they encounter problems with their newly constructed or renovated homes.

It is important for homeowners and builders alike to understand the details and requirements of the Homeowners Warranty scheme applicable in their jurisdiction to ensure compliance, protect their interests, and address any potential building defects effectively.

What is a Development Control Plan (DCP)?

A Development Control Plan (DCP) is a planning instrument or document that provides detailed guidelines and requirements for the development of land within a specific area or local government jurisdiction. It works in conjunction with the overarching planning legislation and policies, such as the Local Environmental Plan (LEP), to guide the development process and ensure that new developments align with the desired planning outcomes and objectives.

A DCP contains specific development standards, design guidelines, and criteria that address various aspects of development, including but not limited to building design, setbacks, landscaping, heritage conservation, environmental sustainability, parking, and infrastructure requirements. It provides additional details and specifications to supplement the broader provisions set out in the LEP.

The purpose of a Development Control Plan is to provide more specific and tailored guidance to developers, architects, planners, and other stakeholders involved in the development process. It helps to ensure that proposed developments are consistent with the local planning objectives, contribute positively to the surrounding environment, and meet the needs of the community.

DCPs are typically prepared by local councils or planning authorities and undergo a public consultation process before being adopted. They are intended to promote good urban design principles, ensure high-quality developments, and maintain the desired character and amenity of the local area.

Developers and applicants are required to comply with the provisions outlined in the applicable DCP when submitting development applications. The DCP acts as a practical tool to guide decision-making and assessment by the planning authority, enabling consistent and transparent evaluation of proposed developments in accordance with the local planning framework.

What is a Local Environmental Plan (LEP)?

A Local Environmental Plan (LEP) is a legal instrument that sets out the land use planning rules and regulations for a specific local government area (LGA) or region. It is prepared by the local council or planning authority in accordance with the state or territory planning legislation.

The primary purpose of an LEP is to guide and regulate the use and development of land within a defined geographic area. It establishes zoning provisions that determine the permissible land uses, such as residential, commercial, industrial, or recreational, and sets out the development standards and controls associated with each zone.

An LEP contains a range of provisions and maps that outline the land use objectives, development standards, heritage considerations, environmental protection measures, and other planning requirements. It provides a framework for assessing development proposals and helps to ensure that new developments align with the strategic planning goals, community aspirations, and environmental considerations of the area.

The LEP also includes provisions related to building heights, floor space ratios, setbacks, heritage preservation, biodiversity, and other relevant planning matters. It serves as a key reference document for developers, planners, and other stakeholders involved in the development process.

When submitting a development application, the proposed development must comply with the provisions outlined in the applicable LEP. Planning authorities and decision-makers use the LEP to assess development proposals, determine their compatibility with the zoning and development controls, and make informed decisions about the suitability and impact of the proposed development on the local area.

LEPs are periodically reviewed and updated to reflect changing planning priorities, community needs, and legislative requirements. The process of amending an LEP involves community consultation and input from various stakeholders to ensure that it remains relevant and responsive to the evolving planning context.


What are the mandatory critical stage inspections?

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 mandates inspections throughout a building project to ensure compliance with development consent, the Building Code of Australia (NCC), and health and safety regulations. These inspections are conducted by the Principal Certifier. For Class 1 and 10 developments, there are several critical stage inspections that are mandatory, including:

  1. Excavation inspection before placing any footings.
  2. Inspection before pouring any in-situ reinforced concrete elements.
  3. Framework inspection before covering floors, walls, roofs, or other building elements.
  4. Waterproofing inspection before covering wet areas.
  5. Inspection before pouring in-situ reinforced concrete for swimming pools.
  6. Swimming pool inspection after erecting the pool fence.
  7. Inspection before covering stormwater drainage connections.
  8. Final inspection after completing the building work, before issuing an occupation certificate.

These inspections ensure that the construction aligns with approved plans, regulations, and compliance standards. Compliance with these mandatory inspections is crucial for maintaining the integrity of the building project.

What happens if I forget to book the certifier and/or miss an inspection?

In the words of Fair Trading, it is unacceptable to miss a critical stage inspection without good reason.

Below is an excerpt from Fair Trading's website:

If an inspection is missed, evidence must be submitted to the principal certifying authority (PCA) to demonstrate that:

  • the circumstances for the missed inspection were unavoidable, and
  • the work to have been inspected is satisfactory.

If the PCA isn't satisfied on these points, the inspection cannot be considered 'unavoidably missed' and an OC cannot be issued. This may have significant implications for the owner.

How can we avoid missing an inspection?

There are a number of ways to avoid missing an inspection. Firstly, being familiar with what the critical stage inspections are will reduce the chance of a missed inspection.

Additionally, our focus on technology means that when you book an inspection using our Online Booking System, you get both text and email reminders about your upcoming inspections. 

What should I expect during a critical stage inspection?

During a critical stage inspection, the inspector will visit the construction site to assess the specific stage of the project. They will examine the work completed, check for compliance with building codes and approved plans, and may conduct tests or measurements if required. The inspector will document their findings and provide a report outlining any issues or areas of non-compliance.

What happens if non-compliance is found during a critical stage inspection?

If non-compliance is identified during a critical stage inspection, the inspector will notify the relevant parties, such as the builder or project manager. They will outline the specific issues that need to be addressed and may provide recommendations or requirements for rectification. The builder will be responsible for resolving the non-compliance before proceeding to the next stage.

Support & Guidance

What Projects can CertOne Certify?

CertOne currently can certify any Class 1&10 Building Projects. We also offer BCA Compliance reports for obtaining a Building Information Certificate (BIC)

Will the CertOne team be available to answer my questions and address my concerns?

Absolutely. We are here to support clients throughout the building process. We are available to answer questions, clarify requirements, address concerns, and ensure a smooth and successful project.

Does the Certifier work for the Builder?

No. The certifier is engaged by the client and has no affiliations with builders' or developers' interests. 

Below is an excerpt from Fair Tradings website:
Certifiers are public officials and independent regulators of development. They are required to uphold the public interest. They don't work for builders or developers. A certifier can only issue a development certificate if all legislative requirements are met

Can I choose my own Certifier?

Yes, you have the option to choose your own certifier instead of relying on the council or a recommended certifier. Private certifiers offer their services independently, allowing you to select a certifier of your choice.

Choosing your own certifier can offer certain advantages. You have the opportunity to find a certifier who aligns with your project's specific needs, timeline, and budget. You can also look for a certifier with expertise in the type of development you are undertaking, ensuring that they have the necessary knowledge and experience to guide you through the process.

Can I change/replace Certifiers?

See the below excerpt from Fair Tradings website:

In certain circumstances, property owners can replace the principal certifier of a development.

There are two options to replace a principal certifier:

Option one:

The fastest and easier way is to reach agreement between you, the current principal certifier, and proposed new principal certifier.

The new certifier notifies the council and the existing principal certifier, using the Replace Principal Certifier notification form.

You can only appoint the replacement principal certifier once notice is given to the council (and the consent authority where this isn't the council).

Option two:

If all three parties can't agree, submit a replace principal certifier application to Fair Trading providing a good reason to replace your certifier.

The application must be from you or someone with your written authorisation.

You can’t appoint a new certifier unless Fair Trading approves, and the council and former certifier have been notified.

Certifiers whose accreditation is expired, suspended or cancelled:

Your certifier must tell you immediately if their registration is expired, suspended or cancelled.

If this happens, submit a replace principal certifier form to Fair Trading. The application fee is waived in these circumstances.

Does the process differ if a Private Certifier is involved rather than the council?

No, it doesn't. The same standards apply regardless of whether the application is determined by a private certifier or a council.

When working with a private certifier, you have the flexibility to select and engage them directly based on their qualifications, expertise, and availability. This allows for potentially faster processing times and more personalized service. Private certifiers may also offer additional services such as conducting inspections, issuing certificates, and providing guidance throughout the construction process.

How long does the CDC Process take?

CertOne prides itself on fast turnarounds and exceptional customer service. 

Most development is affected by the requirements of Notify Neighbouring Properties. 

This consists of a 14 day pre-approval notification period, as well as a 7 day post approval, pre commencement period.

It is important to use this period to the best of your ability to get the relevant documentation and information in order with your certifier. 

Ready to get Started?

Fill out our Free Fee Proposal form now to receive a customised quote for your project. Our experienced team at CertOne is here to answer any remaining questions you may have and guide you through the certification process. Take the first step towards a smooth and compliant certification by submitting the form today. We look forward to assisting you with your certification needs.