AUST – HENDRY building surveyors advise that building owners and managers should be aware that at the completion of any significant alteration or refurbishment work under the building regulations and Building Code of Australia requiring a building permit or building approval, still requires final sign off as part of the approval process, that is Certificate of Occupancy/Certificate of Classification. The absence of a statutory Certificate of Occupancy as a formal sign off leaves the property owner, tenant and facility manager exposed to the possibility of non compliant building works, an unsafe building and future fire safety audits and upgrades, as well as possible insurance implications, with the additional costs of these outcomes to be met by the owner or tenant.

Where building permits or building approvals by a building surveyor are issued in relation to building work within an existing building, generally a form of completion certificate or Certificate of Occupancy/Certificate of Classification needs to be issued to provide evidence that the works have been carried out to provide a safe and liveable building. These final documents (Certificate of Occupancy/Certificate of Classification) signify that a building surveyor is either satisfied that the building complies with the building permit, and has approved a building (or part of a building) as being suitable for occupation or that the works have been satisfactorily completed, and would then issue the Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Final Inspection depending on your State.

Moving into a recently built building (or part of a building under renovation) before a Certificate of Occupancy/Certificate of Classification is issued, is an offence in many states. Occupants needs to ensure they have the necessary Certificate of Occupancy/Certificate of Classification to occupy the building; otherwise they may risk their safety and risk being prosecuted by the Council under a building notice.

In addition to the responsibility of the building certifier ensuring that building permits are finalised, it is in the best interests of the owner and builder that building work has been satisfactorily completed and that final sign off has resulted in the Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Classification. As owner should complete the building work and obtain the required Certificate of Occupancy for the following reasons:

  • Where the building work is found to not comply with a building permit/construction certificate, the contractor can rectify issues while still on site and no additional interruptions or costs may be experienced later.
  • Generally where a building permit is required for the building, it is an offence for a person to occupy the building unless the Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Classification has been issued.
  • When an owner wishes to sell a property, prospective purchasers may want to know that any building permit issued in relation to the property has been formally finalised.
  • Some liability periods are triggered by the date of issue of the Certificate of Occupancy. This period maybe extended beyond the time necessary, through delaying the obtaining of the final sign off.
  • Owners if commercial buildings have a legal responsibility to ensure that maintenance of essential safety measures is carried out, and in some States, that an annual essential safety measures statement is completed.
  • Owners need to ensure that their interests are covered in the event of an insurance claim.

Building Legislation Table

For an overview of each State and Territory’s Building Control System, refer to our Australian Building Legislation Table including Building Certification and Building Modification.

Fire Safety Compliance: Essential Safety Measures

Refer to our Essential Safety Measures Identification Table for further information on individual Essential Safety Measures including the Compliance Certificate.

Further Advice

For safe occupation of a building advice please contact our closest Emergency Plan office by clicking here.