Complaints about certifiers

Anyone can complain to the Building Professionals Board about an accredited certifier or about the building certification work of a local council.

Before you lodge a complaint, contact the certifier or council to try and address the matter, and keep a record of all correspondence. Go to the concerns with development page for a list of actions to take before making a complaint, or contact the Board to discuss your options.

Should I lodge a complaint?

Before you lodge a complaint, ask:

  • Is the certifier responsible? If a development is non-compliant, it doesn’t necessarily mean the certifier acted improperly. Another party may be responsible. Also, a certifier is not responsible for supervising building sites or ensuring the craftsmanship of building work.
  • Will it fix the matter? Even if a complaint is proven, the Building Professionals Board can only take action against certifiers. It has no power to stop building work or order unauthorised work to be rectified – only the council can order this action.
  • Do I have evidence? Keep copies of correspondence and document discussions.
  • Is there a better solution? Any complaints process takes time and can be difficult. Consider using the free mediation services offered by Community Justice Centres. If you are the property owner, you may be able to replace a certifier.

Building work can continue during an investigation. Only the local council can order building work to stop.

Potential outcomes if a complaint is proven

If a complaint is proven, the Board may take a number of <disciplinary actions> against a certifier, such as issuing a fine or ordering the completion of a specific education course.

The Board has no power to:

  • stop building work or rectify unauthorised work – only the council can order this
  • order property damage to be repaired. You may need to contact the council and/or take legal action
  • award compensation except in limited circumstances, and only up to $20,000. You may need to take legal action to seek compensation.

How to complain about a certifier

A complaint must be in writing and include:

  • a completed <complaints form>
  • a succinct and logical description of the matter including the sequence of events (times, dates and locations)
  • clear supporting evidence such as the development approval, certificates, construction plans, surveys, correspondence and photographs.

What happens after a complaint is lodged

  1. The Board will send the certifier a copy of the complaint and supporting documents, and invite a written response.
  2. The Board will decide whether the matter requires investigation and, if so, will send its investigation report to the certifier for comment before a decision is made.
  3. The Board will notify the complainant and certifier in writing of the outcome.

The time taken to determine a complaint depends on how complex the matter is and how soon all requested information is submitted to the Board.

Reasons why a complaint may be dismissed

The Board can dismiss a complaint under certain circumstances if:

  • further information about the complaint is not given upon request, or the complaint or further information are not verified
  • the complaint is trivial, lacking in substance or not made in good faith
  • there are alternative ways to address the matter, such as conciliation
  • the complaint is not about the conduct of a certifier
  • the complaint has been dealt with previously or another complaint has been lodged about the matter
  • the complaint relates to events that occurred more than three years before the complaint was made (unless the complaint is about serious health or safety matters).

Your privacy

The complaint and supporting documents will be sent to the certifier for response. You can ask to remain anonymous and for documents not to be shared. The Board may agree, but this could make allegations against the certifier harder to prove or disprove. Any document submitted or produced in relation to a complaint investigation may be subject to application for access under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009.

All disciplinary actions are listed in the <register of disciplinary decisions>. The register does not include any details of complainants.

Appeals

A certifier, but not a complainant, can appeal a disciplinary decision at the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

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