About occupancy certification

Certification of older building work

This page has information about occupancy certification requirements for owners of building work completed before 1 September 1993.

History of occupancy certification 

The history of occupancy certification requirements in the Northern Territory (NT) can be broken up into three time periods:

  • since the commencement of the Building Act 1993
  • from 1 June 1984 to the commencement of the Building Act 1993 on 1 September 1993
  • before the commencement of the Building Act 1983 on 1 June 1984.

The Building Act 1993 established the private certification building control system that currently exists in the NT.

Before the commencement of Building Act 1993 on 1 September 1993, building approvals and occupancy permits were granted by the Director of Building Control. There was no private sector participation in the certification of building work under the Building Act 1983.

The introduction of the Building Act 1993 preserved the operation of the 1983 Act, but did not preserve the occupancy certification requirements of any building legislation that was in place before the Building Act 1983.

Before 1 May 2016, only the Director of Building Control was able to finalise occupancy certification for work carried out under the Building Act 1983.

The Building Amendment (Occupancy Certification) Act 2016 enables building certifiers to finalise occupancy certification for work that had been carried out under a building approval granted under the Building Act 1983.

The granting of any occupancy certification, no matter the age of the work, is dependent on demonstrated compliance with the relevant technical standards and legislative requirements.

Building work completed between 1 June 1984 and 1 September 1993

Building certifiers can grant occupancy permits and certificates of substantial compliance for work completed under a building approval under the Building Act 1983.

For a building certifier to grant occupancy certification in relation to a building with a building approval issued between 1 June 1984 and 30 August 1993 all of the following conditions must be met:

  • the building work must have been carried out under a valid building permit
  • the building work must meet the technical standards and codes that applied at the time the building permit was issued
  • the building work at the current time must be in a safe and healthy condition, suitable for occupancy.

If all of the conditions above are not met, the highest level of occupancy certification that would be available, if it met the requirements for that level, is a certificate of existence.

Building work completed before 1 June 1984

Owners with incomplete occupancy certification for work completed before 1 June 1984 are not required to finalise certification as occupancy certification requirements of earlier legislation are no longer relevant.

All building work, however, is subject to the provisions in the current Building Act relating to safety, health and amenity.

From 1 May 2016, occupancy certification is not required for building work completed before 1 June 1984. If an owner wants to finalise certification of building work, they have the opportunity to apply for a certificate of existence.

Certificates of existence can be granted by the Director of Building Control on the recommendation of a building certifier for building work of any age where building approval was required at the time it was built, provided that:

  • the buildings are not classified by the National Construction Code as ‘Importance Levels 3 and 4’ e.g. hospitals, schools, emergency shelters, buildings that accommodate a large number of people, and other high risk buildings and essential facilities or
  • the building works are not associated with fire safety systems.

Read more about certificates of existence.

To read historical Building Acts (or Ordinances) and Building Regulations go to the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics website.

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Last updated: 07 March 2019


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