Mastering Building Codes: Tips from Experienced Certifiers

Building a new home is a huge task that involves many different tradespeople and professions. There is often a lot of confusion amongst first-time home buyers and people unfamiliar with the building process around who does what. Building certifiers and inspectors are two of the more confusing roles to understand.

A Building Certifier is trained to review and inspect documentation and building work and satisfy themselves that relevant building legislation is complied with. The word themselves is very important as the building certifier is not required to have knowledge in every area of design and construction, however they should have a broad understanding of all the professional disciplines and how they relate to the legislation.

Once you have submitted your plans to be approved through either a Complying Development or Construction Certificate, the Building Certification Group will carry out mandatory inspections at critical stages of the build. These inspections may include things like the footings inspection after excavation and before concrete placement, the steel reinforcement inspection in slabs prior to pouring of concrete and water proofing inspections in wet areas such as bathrooms and laundry rooms prior to tiling. The building certifier will make a record of inspection and notify the builder if the building works are satisfactory or if additional work is required. Once all the necessary inspections have been done and the builder has satisfied the building certifier that the works are suitable for occupation, a final inspection will be conducted and an occupation certificate will be issued.

It is very important to note that the building certifier cannot act as a site supervisor and they will not inspect your building daily. It is your responsibility to keep in contact with your building certifier and let them know when your building has reached an inspection stage. Failure to do this can lead to delays and problems with getting your occupancy certificate at the end of construction.

Green building certification is a great way to show your commitment to sustainable design and reduce your environmental impact. It can also help you to secure tax incentives, increase the visibility of your commitment, increase your sales and lease rates and even improve the air quality in your building.

There are a variety of green building certification programs that can be used in the building industry, from BREEAM to LEED. These certification programs assess buildings and projects on a number of factors including energy efficiency, material sourcing and usage, waste management, water usage and site characteristics.

Obtaining green certification on your commercial project can also help to increase the value of your property and attract tenants willing to pay premium rents for the opportunity to work in a sustainable environment. In fact, a 2018 report by JLL found that 7 out of 10 tenants are willing to pay higher market rents for sustainable office buildings.

It is important to discuss your green certification goals with your builder and your building certifier right from the beginning of your planning process. This will ensure that the design and construction of your project will be optimised for your goal. It will also help you to avoid costly mistakes in construction, such as excessive ventilation, over-insulation or thermal bridges, that can reduce your potential for achieving your desired level of green certification.