Roles in enforcement

The enforcement powers of accredited certifiers, local councils and the Building Professionals Board differ. Local councils have much wider enforcement powers and can issue a range of orders if there are serious concerns about a development.

What to do if you are concerned about a neighbouring development

1. First point of contact: property owner

Discuss your concerns with the property owner. Ask how long construction is likely to take and if you might have difficulty accessing your property at any stage.

The owner may ask the builder or tradespeople to do the noisiest jobs when you are out of the house, or to move vehicles blocking your driveway.

The property owner is ultimately responsible for ensuring the development complies with the consent and that all conditions of the development consent or complying development certificate are met.

Conditions of consent don't just require a building to be built in accordance with the approved plans. Conditions may limit hours of construction, prevent soil erosion or ensure neighbours can access their properties.

2. Second point of contact: principal certifying authority (certifier)

The principal certifying authority for the development has limited enforcement powers.

The certifier can issue a notice to the owner or builder to comply with the conditions of consent or rectify non-compliance.

The certifier must then give a copy to the council, which has legal power to enforce the notice if required.

What a certifier does describes the responsibilities of a certifier (principal certifying authority). For instance, certifiers are not responsible for supervising the day-to-day work of builders or tradespeople.

3. Third point of contact: local council

Contact your council if the matter is beyond the certifier's power, a danger to the public or a significant breach of the development consent or legislation.

Councils have wide enforcement powers even when they are not the principal certifying authority for the development.

A council may issue a range of orders if a development does not comply with the development consent or complying development certificate. For example, a council may order the property owner to comply with the consent or to rectify non-compliant work.

Councils can take action in relation to:

  • construction outside the approved hours
  • pollution incidents
  • poorly-maintained structures to prevent soil erosion
  • roads and paths blocked by trucks or skip bins
  • hoardings and cranes
  • development that does not comply with a consent
  • unauthorised development.
What the Building Professionals Board can and can't do
  • The Board can investigate and take disciplinary action against a certifier.
  • The Board can't order building work to stop.
  • The Board can't order unauthorised work to be rectified.
  • The Board can't take action against builders, tradespeople, property owners or councils.

Other agencies and organisations

  • NSW Fair Trading licenses builders and tradespeople to carry out residential building work, and offers a dispute resolution service.
  • SafeWork NSW may be contacted in regards to asbestos removal and storage, and unsafe building sites.
  • A community justice centre or solicitor may be able to help if a neighbouring development has damaged your property (including trees and fences).
  • The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal may hear building disputes.

Further information