The reforms under the Building Act 2011 and the
Building Services (Registration) Act 2011, which commenced
operation on 2 April 2012, have introduced a new certification
process, which is intended to streamline the building approval
process and which will apply to both residential and commercial
The new process means that those who obtain private
certification prior to submitting their application to the permit
authority (that is, the local government) can now expect a decision
within 10 business days. If the permit authority
does not make a decision within that time then the application is
deemed to be refused. This might seem odd, since the new default
position is that applications are deemed refused after that period,
not accepted. So, if an application is simply not considered by the
council within those 10 days, it is deemed refused and the rights
of applying to the State Administrative Tribunal are then
For uncertified applications, the permit authority has to
arrange for the building to be certified and will have 25 business
days within which to make the decision. However, uncertified
applications are only available to single residential buildings or
associated non-habitable buildings like garages or sheds. This
means that all applications for commercial buildings
must be privately certified.
Getting an application certified
To get an application certified, applicants will need to obtain
a signed certificate of design compliance from a registered
building surveyor, which certifies that the design is compliant
with the Building Code of Australia.
The permit authority should be able to rely on the certification
of the building surveyor and this should result in reduced delays
when a permit authority requires more information before making a
decision. This essentially means that the building surveyor
determines the application by issuing the certificate of design
compliance, and the permit authority will only have to check that
all relevant documentation had been lodged before making the
Not only is a certified application rewarded with reduced
approval times, but the fee for a certified application is less
than that for an uncertified application because the permit
authority would not have to arrange for the building to be
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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