It's important for certifiers to make sure builders and property owners understand their obligations regarding critical stage inspections. Mandatory inspections, as set out in the Environmental Planning and Assessment (EP&A) Act 1979 and regulations, are important to help ensure an occupation certificate (OC) can be issued.
It is unacceptable to miss a critical stage inspection without good reason.
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.
The Board has provided examples of what may be 'unavoidable' reasons for a missed inspection. These examples are neither exhaustive nor definitive. As professionals, certifiers must base their decisions on careful consideration of the reasons and evidence for the missed inspection. They must also document any missed inspection with the detail required by the EP&A Regulation.
Certifiers should consider the following to reduce the chance of a missed inspection:
- Ensure the owner, to whom a certifier has both a statutory and contractual obligation, is fully aware of the inspection stages.
- Advise the builder of your PCA obligations and expectations, and his/her statutory duty to notify you at least 48 hours before an inspection is required.
- Make it clear that written, verbal or photographic evidence of building work does not set aside the requirement for a certifier to carry out a critical stage inspection.
- Provide a convenient way for the builder to contact you.
- Notify the builder in advance of dates when you will be unavailable or make alternative arrangements to facilitate an inspection.
Relevant legislative provisions
- Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 section 109E; 109P
- Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 clause 162A; 162C
- September 2016 advice: unavoidably missed inspections and examples
- October 2006 advice: unavoidably missed inspections and examples (from bottom of page 8)
- Dix v Building Professionals Board  NSWADT 160: paragraph 16 onwards comments on the level of scrutiny that can reasonably be expected of a certifier during a final inspection. This includes comment on scrutiny to be applied to an installer's certificate.