The Principal Certifier, Building Inspections and Occupation Certificates

Principal Certifier

To appoint a Principal Certifier (PC) and, or apply for a Construction Certificate, Occupation Certificate and/ or a Subdivision Certificate you must submit your application through the NSW Planning Portal. Where you want City of Newcastle (CN) to complete these tasks you need to apply for each 'Post Consent Certificate' and nominate 'Newcastle City Council' to complete the tasks.

When undertaking building and/or subdivision works you will require a PC to inspect the work during the course of construction to ensure it meets with regulatory requirements. The specific roles and responsibilities of the PC are set down in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

Only the PC can issue the Occupation Certificate and/ or Subdivision Certificate at the end of the work. In relation to building work, the PC must assess whether the building complies with approvals and is suitable for occupation or use in accordance with its classification under the Building Code of Australia before issuing an Occupation Certificate. In other words, the building generally complies with required building standards and is safe to occupy. The PC can also issue Subdivision Certificates where CN's Local Environmental Plan (LEP) allows. The PC needs to be appointed before building or subdivision work starts.

Frequently asked questions

Accredited certifiers and councils can undertake the functions of a PC for a development. Only the person with the benefit of the development consent (usually the owner of the land) can appoint a PC.

The person with the benefit of the development consent must appoint the PC. This is usually the owner of the land or someone authorised to act on their behalf. The builder cannot appoint the certifying authority unless they are the person with the benefit of the development consent – this is important because the certifying authority checks aspects of the builder’s work. If you are appointing an accredited certifier as the PC you must appoint an individual rather than any company for whom the individual works.

Remember that applying for a Construction Certificate is not the same as appointing a PC. The certifying authority who issues the Construction Certificate does not have to be the PC. The PC must be specifically appointed to undertake inspections and issue the Occupation Certificate. Appointments of a PC and associated applications must be made via the NSW Planning Portal.

When you have appointed a PC, you must notify CN of the appointment at least two days before building or subdivision work commences.

Building Inspections

If you have appointed CN as your PC you will be issued with a Contract for the engagement that you will to sign and return to CN, before any works can commence. The contract will outline the relevant inspections that are required for the development. You will need to book your inspections and submit all required mandatory data a minimum of one day before you want the inspection.

Frequently asked questions

To book an inspection, please contact our Customer Contact Centre on 02 4974 2000 between 8 am - 5 pm Monday to Friday or send an email to with the following information:

  • Date of inspection – you must call the day before you require an inspection
  • Type of inspection (see below)
  • Name and contact phone number
  • Address of property to be inspected
  • Development Application number.

You are advised:

  • Work must be ready at the time of the inspection, otherwise we may charge a re-inspection fee
  • Dogs must be tied up.

An email will be sent to you advising of the result of the inspection. If the inspection has failed, it will contain details of the required rectification work. You will be required to have the works re-inspected or provide any required documentation before you proceed with construction.

There are a number of mandatory inspections that must be carried out by your PC. If these inspections are not completed, you may not receive an Occupation Certificate. It is an offence to occupy a building without an Occupation Certificate and an Occupation Certificate may be requested when selling your property.

Your PC may also request additional inspections; these are usually nominated in your PC agreement. The mandatory inspections required by the legislation are listed below and are dependent on the type of building you are constructing.

Examples include dwellings, alterations and additions, garages, carports, swimming pools, etc. The mandatory inspections are:

  • Footing
  • Slab and other steel reinforcement
  • Frame (including floor)
  • Wet area waterproofing
  • Stormwater
  • Intent to fill pool
  • Final/ completion.

Examples include multi-unit developments, and residential components of commercial or industrial buildings. The mandatory inspections are:

  • First footing inspection
  • Wet area waterproofing
  • Stormwater
  • Final/ completion.
Examples include offices, shops, factories and commercial buildings. The mandatory inspections are:
  • First footing inspection
  • Stormwater
  • Final/ completion

When all building works have been completed, you will need to book a final inspection and apply for an Occupation Certificate via the NSW Planning Portal. Once the final inspection has been completed and passed, an Occupation Certificate may be issued. The Occupation Certificate authoris the occupation of the building and may be requested when you are selling your property.

Occupation Certificates

Applications for an Occupation Certificate (OC) must be submitted through the NSW Planning Portal. If you are applying for CN to provide you with an OC, you need to apply for a 'Post Consent Certificate', select 'Occupation Certificate' and nominate 'Newcastle City Council' to complete the task.

An OC certifies that the building or nominated part of the building is suitable and safe to be occupied, in accordance with the relevant requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

An OC must be obtained from the appointed PC before a new building or part of a building (e.g. additions to a building) can be occupied and before commencing any change in a building's use. Where CN has been appointed as the PC, applications for OC's should nominate "Newcastle City Council" to issue the OC.

Before issuing a certificate, key considerations are structural adequacy, fire safety and the health, safety and amenity of future occupants of the building. The PC must also ensure that relevant development consent conditions and requirements have been complied with.

Failure to obtain an OC is an offence which can result in substantial penalties or issue of notices and orders.

Once the application has been submitted and reviewed by CN you will be contacted to arrange payment of the required fees. CN's Contact Centre can be contacted to obtain a fee quote on (02) 4974 2000.