Frequently Asked Questions

 

HOW DO I GET A BUILDING PROJECT APPROVED IN THE ACT?

The process for getting a building project approved in the ACT varies depending on the type of building work. There are, however, a number of basic steps you need to follow including getting plans drawn up, obtaining development application approval (or verification of exemption from DA for single residential building projects), appointing a certifier, obtaining building approval, construction, issue of certificate of occupancy and use on completion.   More information about these steps is provided in the building process section of this website and from the ACTPLA website. For more information on the building in the ACT and the role of the Certifier please click here for an ACT Planning and Land Authority information sheet

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HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO GET A BUILDING PROJECT APPROVED?

There are a number of ACT Government fees that you must pay in order to get a building approved. These include the Development Application fee, building levy and, depending on the value of the work, a construction industry training levy and ACT Workcover workplace safety fee. Click here for further information about government fees.

The fees charged by Certified Building Solutions vary depending on the type and complexity of the building work. The fee charged covers all services provided by CBS relating to your project including processing of building approvals, verification of DA exemption, liaison with relevant government agencies, inspections and document preparation. We can also provide consultancy services for an hourly rate.   Please contact us for further information about fees for your project.

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HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET A BUILDING PROJECT APPROVED?

There are two stages to the process of getting a building project approved. The first is the development approval provided by ACTPLA or the verification of DA exemption for single residential building projects provided by the building certifier. The second is the building approval provided by the building certifier, such as Certified Building Solutions.

The length of time that it takes to get a building project approved will vary depending on the complexity of the building project. For simple projects there may be no approvals required at all. For most building projects, however, it may take some weeks for plans to be assessed, appropriate clearances obtained from various agencies and public consultation processes completed*.  

You should contact ACTPLA to find out whether approvals are required for your project and how long it will take to get development approval. You can normally expect CBS to provide building approval (including verification of DA exemption where appropriate) within 4 weeks.

* Legislation provides for up to 15 working days for some agency approvals.

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WHAT DOCUMENTATION DO I NEED TO GET A BUILDING PROJECT APPROVED?

The documentation you need to get a building approved in the ACT depends on the class of occupancy ie. residential or commercial.

For commercial buildings the documentation you need to provide includes:

  • application by owners for building approval and appointment of a certifier
  • application for commencement notice
  • ACTPLA approved development plans
  • development application conditions (if specified by ACTPLA)
  • indemnity insurance or fidelity certificate (where required under the Building Act 2004)
  • energy rating (where required)
  • structural design information
  • Building Code of Australia Part J (energy efficiency) certifications

For some commercial buildings documentation relating to insurances and energy rating are not required. Please contact us for more information about whether these are needed for your building project.

For residential buildings NOT exempt from DA the documentation you need to provide includes:

  • application for commencement notice
  • application by owners for building approval and appointment of a certifier
  • ACTPLA approved development plans
  • development application conditions (if specified by ACTPLA)
  • indemnity insurance or fidelity certificate (where required under the Building Act 2004)
  • energy rating
  • site classification (usually by an appropriately qualified engineer)
  • footing slab detail
  • other structural information

For single residential building projects that are exempt from DA, the documentation you need to provide includes:

  • application for commencement notice
  • application by owners for approval and appointment of a certifier
  • plans stamped and approved by land developer when building in a new suburb (specific requirements are detailed below)
  • indemnity insurance or fidelity certificate (where required under the Building Act 2004)
  • energy rating report to a minimum of 5 stars
  • site classification (usually by an appropriately qualified engineer)
  • footing slab detail
  • other structural information
  • Forms 7A and 7B (for work in older suburbs) - Click here for more information

To verify that the development is exempt you will need to provide the site plan, floor plans, elevations, section, landscape plan, tree management plan if there is a protected tree on the block or on adjacent land, erosion and sediment control plan. It is important to note that:

  • materials for garages and carports within 15m of front boundary must match materials used for residence
  • the area between any courtyard walls and front boundary must be landscaped with shrubs
  • private open space (POS) and planting areas to be nominated on site plan
  • relevant-sized rainwater tanks (as specified in the EDP) and connections or alternative approved water consumption saving methods (eg. greywater system or NSW BASIX assessment), must be specified

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WHERE DO I GET THE REQUIRED FORMS FROM?

All the forms required to get a building approved may be downloaded from the ACTPLA website. Click here to access the full list of forms.

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WHO PROVIDES PLUMBING AND ELECTRICAL CLEARANCES FOR MY BUILDING PROJECT?

ACTPLA is responsible for providing plumbing and electrical clearances for your building. Your builder, plumber and/or electrician will arrange these clearances.

The process can be different for plumbing clearances depending on the type of building. For simple residential buildings ACTPLA will approve the plumbing plan. For commercial buildings (including large residential developments) a plumbing plan certifier will approve the plumbing plan. The ACTPLA website has a list of licensed plumbing plan certifiers.

You can check that the plumbing and electrical clearances have been obtained by contacting either the Mitchell or Dickson Customer Service Centres of ACTPLA.

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IS MY BUILDING PROJECT EXEMPT FROM DEVELOPMENT APPROVAL?

Only single residential building projects may be exempt from Development Approval (DA). For it to be exempt it must satisfy the Estate Development Plan (lease and development conditions) and ACTPLA’s Residential Zones – Single Dwelling Housing Development Code (Exempt Development Guide, March 2009). However, if your plans do satisfy the Estate Development Plan but not all of the Single Dwelling Housing Development Code it may still be exempt. Your architect can provide advice on whether the plans are exempt from DA. If your development is not exempt you need to obtain a DA from ACTPLA. More information is available from the ACTPLA website.

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WHAT IS A BUILDING CERTIFIER?

A building certifier is a construction practitioner who undertakes the work that was previously done by ACT Government building approval officers. This involves providing building approvals, verifying exemptions from DA for single residential projects, inspecting construction to ensure it is being built in accordance with approved plans and recommending the issue of a Certificate of Occupancy and Use by the ACT Registrar.

All construction practitioners undertaking this work in the ACT must be registered as a Building Surveyor. A full list of registered Building Surveyors (certifiers) is available on the ACTPLA website.

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WHO ARE THE CERTIFIERS IN CBS?

CBS has six registered Principal Building Surveyors licensed to perform the role of a certifier under the Building Act 2004; John Mihaljevic, Petri Laajoki, Craig Sharwood, Lindsay Garrick, Dave Delchau and Philip Jacey. They have a broad range of experience in the construction industry and can provide either individual or project-team based services. Click here for information on the backgrounds of our certifiers.

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WHO APPOINTS THE CERTIFIER FOR MY BUILDING PROJECT?

While some architects and builders will recommend certifiers, under the Building Act 2004 responsibility for appointing the certifier rests with the owner of the land. Accordingly, it is your decision who will act as certifier for your project. The ACTPLA website has a list of licensed certifiers in the ACT.

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HOW DO I BOOK INSPECTIONS?

Under the Building Act 2004, only the certifier appointed by the land owner can undertake inspections for a building project. If we are your appointed certifier, then all you need to do is contact us to book an inspection.

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WHO ISSUES THE FINAL CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY AND USE?

ACTPLA (ACT Registrar) issues the final Certificate of Occupancy and Use (COU) for your building. Before issuing the certificate ACTPLA will check that:

  • your certifier has issued a Certificate of Completion for the building work
  • the relevant plumbing and electrical clearances have been obtained

You will need to submit an Application for Certificate of Occupation and Use to CBS for the COU.

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WHERE DO I GET THE UNIT TITLE ASSESSMENT REPORT FOR MY MULTI-UNIT DEVELOPMENT?

ACTPLA introduced a system for Unit Titling, which took effect on 3 September 2010. Under the system a Unit Title Assessor prepares a Unit Title Assessment Report (UTAR) for the applicant to submit to ACTPLA with their application for unit titling. Certified Building Solutions (CBS) is a licensed Unit Title Assessor for this purpose. We can provide both the report and undertake the required site and landscape inspections. Further information on the new system is available from ACTPLA.

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I HAVE SOME UNAPPROVED BUILDINGS/WORK ON MY LAND. CAN YOU APPROVE THEM?

CBS does not currently provide this service. However, other licensed certifiers may be able to assist you.

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HOW DOES THE INTRODUCTION OF ACTPLA'S NEW e-DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM AFFECT ME?

e-Development is a file/project management system. It's introduction does not affect the processes for getting a building project approved in the ACT. However, all documents (plans, forms etc) that are submitted to ACPLA as part of the building process must be lodged electronically. Accordingly, you will need to have electronic versions of all documents required for your building project.

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REALLY?

Yes.

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