Everyone involved in a development should do all they can to ensure each mandatory critical stage inspection is completed.
If an inspection is missed, an occupation certificate can only be issued if the inspection was 'unavoidably missed' and the work is otherwise satisfactory. This decision is made by the principal certifying authority (PCA), based on evidence given by the builder or other party (refer to clause 162C of the EP&A Regulation).
- Contact the PCA when work reaches each stage – forgetting to book an inspection is not an acceptable reason to miss it. The legislation requires at least 48 hours notice for an inspection (refer to clause 163 of the EP&A Regulation).
- Give reasons and supporting evidence if an inspection is missed – the PCA may ask for extra information.
- If you can't give satisfactory reasons/ evidence, the PCA may refuse to issue an occupation certificate. This may affect your contract payment/s for the job.
- Use your professional judgement to determine if an inspection was unavoidably missed.
- Ask for as much detail/ evidence as needed to make an informed decision.
- Suddenly ill on the day of inspection, or planning a holiday? Arrange for another certifier to inspect the site and send the inspection record to you within two days (refer to clauses 162A and 162B of the EP&A Regulation).
Also, builders and certifiers should make sure the applicant understands that a missed inspection may jeopardise issue of an occupation certificate. The implications for owners (and builders where tied to payments) could be serious if an occupation certificate cannot be issued.
'Unavoidable circumstance' shouldn't be interpreted widely
- It should be such that alternative arrangements can't be made at very short notice.
- Not being able to agree on an inspection date or time is not 'unavoidable'.
- The fact that work is satisfactory doesn't make it acceptable to miss an inspection.
What might constitute 'unavoidably missed'? Two examples
- Due to a public safety risk, a builder quickly has to cover up the work to be inspected (there would need to be good reason why it couldn't later be uncovered for inspection).
- A certifier is suddenly unavailable through serious illness or misadventure (there would need to be good reason why the inspection couldn't be postponed).
The Board can't advise on specific developments
Recently, the Board was asked for advice on specific developments where the PCA refused to issue an occupation certificate after a missed inspection.
We can't give specific advice, because reasons for a missed inspection vary, and unlike those involved we won't know the full history and details of the development.