Building and renovating: permits and processes

Continuing certification after unexpected events

This page is for building project owners who are missing prescribed certification documents due to an unforeseen event and want to apply for an exemption certificate.

Using an exemption certificate for your missing documentation, your building certifier can issue an occupancy permit for your building work.

Decisions about applications for exemption certificates are made by the director of building control.

Before applying for an exemption certificate, discuss the situation with your building certifier. 

They may be able to grant a certificate of substantial compliance for the work, which is a lower level of occupancy certification, without an exemption certificate. 

Find out more about getting occupancy certification.

When you can apply

You can only apply for an exemption certificate if the unforeseen event that results in missing prescribed documentation is a prescribed event.  

Prescribed unforeseen events

Prescribed unforeseen events are prescribed by law and may relate to a building practitioner, including a building certifier, or a building document.

A prescribed unforeseen event includes any of the following events that may occur to the person providing building certification:

  • they can't be found
  • they are incapacitated
  • they become bankrupt or insolvent - except an owner builder
  • they cease to be registered, if they were a registered building practitioner
  • they die.

A prescribed unforeseen event may also be any of the following events:

  • the building contract is terminated
  • the building certification has been withheld due to the bankruptcy or insolvency of a building practitioner
  • building certification documents have been destroyed or can't be found.

Prescribed certification documents

See a list of prescribed certification documents on the getting occupancy certification page.

You can't get an exemption certificate for some documents, such as electrical certificates of compliance, planning approvals or consent reports. 

Speak to the relevant authority if you can't get any of those documents.

Before you apply

You can only apply for an exemption certificate as a last resort.

You must be able to show the following: 

  • that a prescribed unforeseen event has occurred
  • you have a current building permit, or if it is lapsed, it is only due to the prescribed unforeseen event
  • proof that building work has physically commenced on the property
  • that as the owner, you took reasonable steps within a reasonable time after the unforeseen event to apply for the exemption.

How to apply

Follow these steps to apply for an exemption certificate.

Step 1. Talk to your building certifier

Alternatively, if the prescribed unforeseen event involves your building certifier, contact Building Advisory Services for further advice.

Step 2. Stop work

You must stop all work until the Director of Building Control has made a decision on your application for an exemption certificate, or until the director advises that you may continue work.

Step 3. Get a detailed inspection

Ask your building certifier for a detailed inspection of the work that was carried out before the unforeseen event. 

It should be documented and inspected for compliance with the building permit.

Check with your building certifier if they will charge additional fees for extra reports or inspections outside the scope or your original agreement.

Any extra work carried out after the unforeseen event but before inspection or investigation will make it more difficult to assess the compliance of the earlier work against the building permit.

If you do extra work the director may ask for more information from you, or ask for investigations at your cost, to be able to make a decision.

Step 4. Submit an application

Fill in the certificate of exemption form and submit to any Building Advisory Services office in person, or by mail, email or fax.

Your application may be refused by the director if you do not make it within a reasonable time after the unforeseen event.

Outcomes of an application

If your application is approved, the Director of Building Control will issue an exemption certificate in place of the missing prescribed documentation.   

If all other matters are in order, a building certifier can then issue an occupancy certificate for your building work.

If you are unhappy with the decision of the director, go to the Building Appeals Board website to find out how you can appeal the decision.

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Last updated: 31 March 2016

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