There is little understanding of the statutory role and responsibilities of Registered Certifiers. This release by the Association of Australian Certifiers (AAC) addresses the major myths surrounding certification in NSW.

Myth 1 – Registered certifiers supervise building work and act as a clerk of works

Registered Certifiers do not check that tiles are laid square or that paint is applied properly or that doors swing without creaking or rubbing. Those tasks are the role of the site supervisor, foreman or clerk of works (depending on the size of the project). Registered Certifiers are only required to carry out mandatory critical stage inspections as set out in the relevant legislation. These inspections are very limited and rely on the work completed by the tradesperson in a professional manner and ensure that the conditions of the approval have been met.

Myth 2 – Registered Certifiers are appointed by builders

According to the legislation, Registered Certifiers are contracted and engaged only by the person with the benefit of the development consent, that is the owners.


  • It is the owner’s choice who they engage as a Principal Certifier
  • The builder is not allowed to appoint a Registered Certifier or the Principal Certifier
  • The builder cannot do this for the owner, unless the builder is also the owner
  • The owner is not obliged to engage a Registered Certifier suggested by the builder

It is important to note that the same rules apply to all Registered Certifiers, whether they are employed in a council or by a private company.

Myth 3 – Registered certifiers must sign off on work or they won’t be paid

In the same way that you can’t walk into a Council and say “here is a Development Application, I will pay you when it is approved”, you can’t pay a registered Certifier after the event either. Payment must be made at the time of making an application. This is required by law for the exact purpose of making sure Registered Certifiers don’t feel pressured to approve something or they won’t get paid.

Myth 4 – Registered Certifiers were responsible for the Opal Tower issues

There is no evidence of wrongdoing by the relevant Registered Certifier in the Opal Tower structural defect matter, as found in the Opal Tower Investigation Final Report which stated: “while it was not within the scope of our review to look closely at the certifications that took place on the Opal Tower, we found no evidence that the building certifiers had been deficient in regards to statutory expectations”.

Myth 5 – Registered Certifiers are responsible for self-certification

Registered Certifiers issuing building approvals are not responsible for self certification, or self regulation, and are prohibited by law to certify their own design work. Registered Certifiers are however entitled to rely on, in good faith, other building professional (such as Structural engineers when approving structural designs etc) and we are also entitled to rely on certification by the licensed people doing the physical work to verify their work complies and has met the statutory requirements.

Myth 6 – Registered Certifiers are self regulated

Unlike many building practitioners, including some builders, contractors, tradesmen, designers and installers, Registered Certifiers are registered by the NSW Government through the Department of Fair Trading (the Department).

The Department assess the competency of Registered Certifiers to issue construction, occupation, subdivision, strata, compliance and complying development certificates under the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act), Strata Schemes (Freehold Development) Act 1973 and Strata Schemes (Leasehold Development) Act 1986.


This release was first published by the AAC. The AAC represents the interests of professional participating in the certification of building and subdivision works in NSW South Wales. They represent Registered Certifiers employed in both local government and the private sector.