Building & Certification
- Written by Adam Gatt Penrith City Council (02) 4732 7777 (02) 4732 7958 firstname.lastname@example.org https://www.penrithcity.nsw.gov.au 601 High St Penrith NSW 2750 Australia
Book an inspection
Council accepts online bookings until 3pm or until 4pm if booked by phone on 4732 7991 for inspections the following day. We don't inspect on weekends or public holidays. Extra notice is needed for older files, which may be archived.
Essential services are safety installations in a building that assist in reducing risk to life and property in the event of an emergency; such as fire. They include equipment and protective devices such as fire hose reels and fire doors. Following is a list of essential services:
- Access Panels
- Automatic Sprinkler Systems
- Emergency Lifts
- Emergency Lighting
- Emergency Warning and Intercommunication Systems
- Exit Signs
- External Wall Wetting Sprinklers
- Fire and Smoke Alarms
- Fire Dampers
- Fire Doors
- Fire Hydrants
- Fire Mains and Water Supply Services
- Fire Shutters
- Fire Windows
- Hose Reels
- Lightweight Construction
- Mechanical Ventilation Systems
- Portable Fire Extinguishers
- Pressurising Systems
- Required Exit Doors (Automatic)
- Self-Closing Fire Hoppers
- Smoke and Heat Vents
- Smoke Control Systems
- Smoke Dampers
- Smoke Doors
- Solid Core Doors
- Stand-by Power Systems
In most cases the installation of essential services is required by building regulations, which Council enforces. In certain circumstances Council may also request other items of equipment or forms of construction not listed above, to protect the safety of people in a building in the event of fire.
Council will require the installation of essential services in 3 instances:
- Building applications - when a building application is submitted to Council for approval, it will be assessed for compliance with current building regulations. Council will nominate the essential services to be installed as required by the regulations and will inform the applicant via the conditions on the building permit.
- Change of use - where the use of a building is changed such as from an office to a factory, Council will nominate the essential services which are required to be installed as a condition of the change.
- Fire Safety Orders - Council may at any time assess the state of an existing building and if it is considered necessary, order the owner to carry out upgrading works which may include installing essential services.
What am I required to do?
Upon installation of any essential services the owner or agent must issue an Installation Certificate stating that the services have been inspected by a competent person and installed to the relevant standards. Blank Installation and Maintenance Certificates are available at Council's offices.
The Certificate is to be forwarded to Council. In the case of a Fire Safety Order a copy must also be forwarded to the NSW Fire Brigades, and another copy kept on site for inspection.
Every 12 months after the Installation Certificate is issued, a Maintenance Certificate indicating that the particular essential service is being maintained must be prepared and forwarded to Council. In the case of a Fire Safety Order a copy must also be forwarded to the NSW Fire Brigades, and another copy kept on site for inspection.
The Installation and Maintenance Certificates can only be signed by the owner or their agent and not by the "competent" person.
If you have existing essential services in your building and:
- intend to carry out work for which building approval is required or
- intend to change the use of the building for which Council approval is required or
- have been issued with a Fire Safety Order,
you will be required to engage a competent person to check the design standards to which those services were installed.
You will need to get an Installation Certificate, signed by you and forwarded to Council. When approval is issued, Council will nominate the additional (if any) essential services required and the appropriate design standard to which they must be installed.
If you intend to construct a new building, approval is required from Council. In the building permit Council will nominate the essential services required and the Australian Standards to which they must be installed.
It is an offence to make a false statement or to fail to submit the Certificates within the prescribed time. Further, you may be liable under common law if you do not ensure that the person/s you rely on for inspecting the services are acting within their level of competency or if you fail to maintain the services and it can be shown that this has led to an injury, death or loss.
BASIX - the Building Sustainability Index, introduced by the NSW Government - is a web-based planning tool designed to assess the potential performance of residential developments against a range of sustainability indices. A BASIX certificate identifies the sustainability features required to be incorporated in a development's design. These may include sustainable design elements such as rainwater tanks; water efficient showerheads, taps and toilets; native landscaping; heat pump or solar hot water heaters; roof eaves/awnings and wall/ceiling insulation.
You need a BASIX certificate for:
- all new residential dwellings (including dual occupancies, townhouses, villas, units)
- alterations or additions to existing dwellings (with estimated construction cost of $50,000 or more) and
- swimming pools and/or spas (with a combined capacity of 40,000 litres or more).
Council will not accept an application for a BASIX affected development without a current BASIX certificate and all commitments shown on the plan.The applicant is required to submit the BASIX certificate with the Development Application, Construction Certificate application or Complying Development Certificate application. The plans and specifications must also identify the BASIX commitments which will be checked by a professional building certifier during construction.
Applicants can generate the BASIX certificate only on the NSW Department of Planning & Environment BASIX website.
Principal Certifying Authority (PCA)
The role of the PCA
Qualified professionals need to oversee any development, and certify that the work is safe and compliant with relevant standards and conditions at various stages. You can choose council or a private certifier as your PCA. See our PCA fact sheet for more information on appointing a PCA.