Many issues can be resolved with clear and early communication. You may wish to call or email the property owner/developer, local council or the principal certifier.
This page explains how to resolve concerns about neighbouring development. If your concern is about your builder or tradesperson, go to the Resolving building disputes page.
What does the principal certifier do?
The principal certifier will be either the council or a private certifier.
The principal certifier is an independent authority that inspects the development at certain stages to ensure it meets legislative requirements and conditions of consent. They don't supervise or manage the work.
The principal certifier can take action (see below) if work does not meet requirements.
Read more about what certifiers do.
Powers of private certifiers
If a development is non-compliant, a private certifier may issue a written direction to the owner and/or builder, requiring certain action be taken.
If the non-compliance is not addressed in the given timeframe, the certifier must refer the matter to the council for appropriate enforcement.
Only the council can take further enforcement action.
Powers of local councils
To enforce development compliance, local councils have power to issue an order, stop work notice or a fine if building work breaches legislative requirements or conditions of consent.
Although a council may choose to exercise its powers even if a private certifier – not the council – is the ‘principal certifier’, in such circumstances the council will often refer the matter to the certifier in the first instance. The council still retains power to act if the certifier cannot resolve the matter (read about private certifier powers above).
Urgent non-compliance matters such as dangerous excavation should be directed to the council for immediate attention.
Responsibilities of property owners and builders
The property owner is responsible for meeting the conditions of the development approval.
The builder is responsible for supervising the site and the work of subcontractors.
The builder must make sure that work is done in accordance with the approved plans, the Building Code of Australia and Australian Standards.
Powers of Fair Trading
Fair Trading can investigate complaints against licensed builders and tradespeople, registered certifiers, and councils in their capacity as certifying authorities.
- Visit resolving building disputes if you’re concerned about a builder or tradesperson.
- Visit certifier complaints if you’re concerned about a certifier or council certification work.
- Visit the Office of Local Government’s website if your concern about a council is not about certification work.
Fair Trading has no power to:
- order building work to stop
- act on complaints against property owners, unless the owner is an owner-builder
- declare a development certificate invalid, even if it was issued improperly
- investigate general complaints against councils, including how a council exercises its enforcement powers
- investigate a council carrying out its functions under the Swimming Pools Act.
Important information about complying development
Complying development is a fast-track approval process for certain types of development.
It can be approved by a council or a private certifier. The same approval criteria apply.
Although neighbours must be notified of some proposed complying development, consultation isn't required, and neighbours aren't required to be given a copy of building plans.
- The Department of Planning and Environment Planning Portal has information about complying development and other development approval pathways and requirements.
- The Office of Local Government publishes contact details for all NSW councils.
- SafeWork NSW can be contacted about asbestos removal and unsafe building sites.
- A community justice centre or solicitor may be able to help if builder damages your property, or you can lodge a complaint with Fair Trading.
- The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal may hear building disputes.