If there is one single area that our owner builder course students in both NSW and QLD have in common, it is the difficulty many of them have in differentiating between an inspection and a certification.
This is understandable, and whilst it is confusing, there is a relatively simple way to determine the difference.
As a general rule, an inspection is generally conducted by an external third party who is independent of the supply or construction of the building element. This may or may not lead to a certification being issued.
A Certification, is a written declaration provided as proof of the conformance or compliance of a structural element (normally).
For the owner builder to understand this, it is best to illustrate by example.
The elements which require inspection, are underground drainage pipework installation (above ground is known as stack work and is also subject to inspection), installation of timber or steel roof trusses, wall framing and associated bracing, water reticulation pipework, strip footings including trench and steel fixing, slab reinforcement etc.
These inspections are normally carried out by the Principal Certifying Authority (Building Certifier or Local Council Building Department) and are documented as part of the building approval process and are required for the issue of the final building approval or Certificate of Occupancy.
In the case of plumbing, drainage and electrical, these trade contractors are now self certifying and their installation works are subject to random spot checks by the relevant authorities.
The owner builder needs to recognise the sometimes subtle difference between these inspections and the certifications required for elements such as glazing, waterproofing, termite barriers and pest treatments. These elements are covered by certification issued by the manufacturer or installer.
Roof trusses require a certification to acknowledge and document the adequacy and compliance of the fabricated structure as an acknowledgement or guarantee of their design and fitness for purpose. They also require an inspection to indicate the installation meets the applicable code and meets legislative and design requirements.
What is the expectations of the owner builder in respect to the recording and maintenance of these certifications?
In very broad terms the following is true.
Inspections are generally recorded by the Principal Certifying Authority and once all conditions of the building approval are satisfied, a completion, final or Certificate of Occupancy will be issued. This is evidence that all required inspections have taken place, the building conforms and is in accordance with the associated building approvals.
The owner builder may be required to collect and remit those inspections and associated compliance documents from electricians and plumbers/drainers.
In respect to certifications such as pest, glazing, waterproofing etc, it is ultimately the owner builders responsibility to collect, collate and retain the evidence and either remit as required to the Principal Certifying Authority or retain for future reference.
Future reference might be required if claiming against a defect for an element covered by a manufacturers certification such as the integrity of the waterproofing etc.
As always, the owner builder needs to ensure these important documents are maintained and made accessible for future use and can best facilitate this by being organised and disciplined in the record keeping and administrative functions of the project.
Abacus Training can provide our owner builder course students access to simple record keeping schedules and forms through our Owner Builder Project Management System.
I hope this post has been informative and as always,
Happy Building ....
Rick Heaton is a Building and Construction Industry professional with formal tertiary qualifications in management and training.