Common questions asked by property owners

Common questions received at the Building Professionals Board, asked by property owners and others seeking to apply for development consent or a complying development certificate.

Questions about swimming pools

How can I obtain a certificate of compliance for my swimming pool or spa pool?

Ask your local council or an A1, A2, A3 or E1 certifier. The Office of Local Government has a list of certifiers who are registered with the NSW Swimming Pool Register.

A certifier with A1, A2, A3 or E1 accreditation, or an authorised council officer can inspect your swimming pool or spa and issue a certificate of compliance.

More information about having your swimming pool or spa pool barrier inspected and certified.

What is expected and how are pool owners involved in the process?

Pool owners are responsible for:

Pool owners must also:

  • maintain the pool barrier
  • prevent climbable objects from being placed anywhere near the pool barrier
  • ensure adult supervision of children in and around the pool.
How many pool inspections are required?

Only one inspection will be needed if your pool barrier is compliant.

If the barrier is not compliant, your certifier will issue a notice and certificate of non-compliance. You will have six weeks to rectify the non-compliance before your certifier is obliged to notify the local council.

Some swimming pool certifiers can also carry out minor repairs to make a swimming pool comply with the Swimming Pools Act 1992. To carry out minor repairs, they must be authorised under the Home Building Act to carry out swimming pool building or structural landscaping. Where minor works costing up to $1,000 are required to make the pool compliant, the owner is under no obligation to engage the certifier who inspected their pool. The owner is free to engage others to do the work or do the work themselves.

Your certifier will charge a fee for each inspection needed to achieve compliance.

Where can pool owners seek advice?

Your certifier has a responsibility to give you advice about the changes required to make your pool barrier compliant.

You can also visit other NSW Government websites to:

Selling or leasing your property from 29 April 2016

From 29 April 2016, if you plan to sell or lease a residential property that has a swimming pool, you must have either a valid certificate of compliance or occupation certificate for the pool.

Alternatively, to sell the property you can have a certificate of non-compliance which will give the purchaser 90 days to make the pool compliant.

A valid occupation certificate is one that was issued within the past three years and authorises the use of the pool.

Multi-residential buildings excluded from sale and lease provisions

The above provisions don’t apply to:

  • a lot that is part of a strata or community scheme of more than two lots
  • off-the-plan purchase of a lot that hasn’t been created when the contract is entered into (i.e. a lot within the meaning of section 66ZL of the Conveyancing Act 1919).

What is a residential building?

'Residential building' means a building (such as a dwelling house, residential flat building or boarding house) that is solely or principally used for residential purposes, and includes any structure (such as a garage or shed) that is ancillary to any such building. It does not include a movable dwelling or a tourist and visitor accommodation. It does not include a building or complex of buildings that are principally used for non-residential purposes, such as a school or recreational centre.

Swimming pools - minor pool barrier repairs by certifiers

What are minor pool barrier repairs (minor works)?

These are works to rectify defects that are identified during the inspection and which prevent a certificate of compliance being issued. The work is limited to a maximum value of $1,000, including materials and labour. It could include repairs to gates, latches, resuscitation (CPR) signs or the trimming of vegetation, etc.

Which certifiers can carry out minor repairs?

Certifiers from categories E1, A1, A2 and A3 can carry out minor repairs to the swimming pool barrier if they hold an endorsed contractor's licence or a qualified supervisor's certificate issued under the Home Building Act 1989, that authorises or includes the authority to construct a swimming pool or construct structural landscaping. 

How do I check if the certifier’s NSW Fair Trading licence is current?

Visit the ServiceNSW website and enter the contractor's licence number.

What if the works will cost more than $1,000 in labour and materials?

Any works costing more than $1,000 in labour and materials are not considered minor work and the swimming pool certifier is not permitted to carry them out.

Depending on the works required, you will need to engage a suitably qualified tradesperson to complete the work, or you may do it yourself. You will then need to contact your certifier to arrange for your pool to be reinspected.

Are the minor works fees required to be paid upfront?

No, this may be negotiated between the certifier and the owner.

Questions about certification and development

What is a ‘certifying authority’?

A certifying authority may be a local council, an accredited certifier, or a consent authority, which includes the Minister for Planning.

What is a development certificate?

A development certificate is defined in the Building Professionals Act 2005 as a:

  • construction certificate
  • complying development certificate
  • occupation certificate
  • compliance certificate, or
  • strata certificate issued under the Strata Schemes (Freehold Development) Act 1973 or the Strata Schemes (Leasehold Development) Act 1986.

See when you need a certifier for more information about types of development certificate.

'Building approval' may be a more familiar term to you than 'development certificate'.

How do I find a certifier for my development?

You can either ask your local council, or use the online register to find a certifier with the appropriate category of accreditation to certify your development.

Find out more about the different categories of accredited certifiers.

What type of certifier do I need?

There are many different categories of accredited certifiers, covering a range of professions related building, development, construction and subdivision. Read more about each category of accreditation.

You can also contact your local council for further advice.

How can I confirm my certifier’s accreditation status, insurance and past conduct?

The online register provides the accreditation and insurance status of a certifier. However, you should always double-check this information before you engage a certifier. You can do this by asking to see a certifier’s certificate of accreditation and insurance certificate of currency.

You can also view past disciplinary decisions by the Board to find out if we have taken disciplinary action against a particular certifier.

Do I have to appoint my local council as my certifier or my principal certifying authority?

No – any certifier with the appropriate category/ level of accreditation can be appointed as your principal certifying authority. Read more about working with your principal certifying authority.

What enforcement powers do my certifier and/or principal certifying authority have?

Certifiers have limited enforcement powers compared with your local council. The powers of individual certifiers are limited even when appointed as the principal certifying authority for a development.

Read about roles in enforcement to understand the enforcement powers of certifiers, the Building Professionals Board, councils and other Government agencies.

How do I lodge a complaint against my certifier?

Read about how to lodge a complaint with the Building Professionals Board, and the complaints process.

Keep in mind that you should only lodge a complaint when all other options to resolve the matter have been exhausted. It’s important to understand roles in enforcement to ensure your complaint is lodged with the appropriate authority (and will therefore be addressed as quickly as possible).

How do I lodge a complaint against a council?

The Office of Local Government has further information about complaints against your local council.

The Building Professionals Board has limited enforcement powers against councils, and only in relation to their role as a certifying authority.

There is no provision in the Building Professionals Act 2005 to lodge a complaint with the Board against a council. However, a complaint may be lodged against an accredited certifier at the council, and the Board may investigate the activities of the council (in the council’s capacity as a certifying authority).

I lodged a complaint with the Board – what is the status of my complaint?

If the Board has decided to conduct a formal investigation in response to your complaint, this will be conducted by one of our senior investigators. Please contact the Board between 9:30am – 11:30am Monday to Friday to speak to an investigator.

Why can’t I appeal the Board’s decision about a complaint I lodged against a certifier?

The Building Professionals Act 2005 does not allow complainants to appeal the Board’s decision to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

How can I lodge a complaint about my builder or tradesperson?

The Building Professionals Board has no regulatory authority over builders or tradespeople who are licenced and regulated by NSW Fair Trading to carry out residential building work.

How do I obtain an owner-builder licence?

Apply to NSW Fair Trading for an owner-builder licence.

What sign/s about my development do I need on my property?