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5 Important questions you should ask before engaging your Building Certifier

What is the role of a Building Certifier on your construction team and what do you need to know before engaging one?

A building certifier will form an integral part of your construction team. They are highly qualified professionals who have undertaken years of study and practical experience.  They must adhere to a government code of conduct.  It is important that they have the experience to answer any questions your builder or design team may have and the ability to provide solutions.

Does the Building Certifier have a formal record of Complaints and Orders?

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission are responsible for the licensing and auditing of building certifiers in Queensland. Anyone can lodge a complaint with the Commission against the action of a building certifier. If your certifier has a complaint record, it is publicly available.

You can search your certifiers record by visiting the Queensland Building and Construction Commission website.

What is the Building Certifier licensed to approve and are there any QBCC imposed conditions on their licence?

There are 3 grades of licence for building certifiers, each with a different set of responsibilities:

Building Certifier Level 1: performs building certifying functions on all classes of buildings and structures.

Building Certifier Level 2: performs building certifying functions on buildings and structures having a rise of no more than 3 storeys and a total floor area of no more than 2000m², or, under the supervision of a Building Certifier Level 1, helps assess and inspect all classes of buildings and structures.

Building Certifier Level 3: performs building certifying functions on class 1 buildings and class 10 buildings and structures. Certifiers at this level are generally less qualified or experienced.

Does the Building Certifier hold Professional Indemnity Insurance for the work you propose? And do their exclusions affect my project?

A Building Certifier must carry professional indemnity insurance to be licensed in Queensland. The minimum levels of insurance in many cases is insufficient to cover you as the builder or developer.

As a guide, when building a shed your certifier should have PI insurance for at least $1M, if building a house or medium size commercial building – they should be covered for $5M and $10M for larger commercial projects.

Remember the more coverage your certifier has, the less risk you carry.

Will you be dealing with the Building Certifier or their cadet?

It’s important to know who you’ll be actually dealing with, because poor decision making by your certifier can cost you a lot of unnecessary expense – particularly if they are inexperienced and over-committed.

Some certifiers try to keep their costs down by employing less experienced cadets to do the work that they sign off on. This is a risky strategy and will cost you in the long run. Nothing worse than working to an approved set of drawings to be told at the final inspection that it doesn’t comply.

Remember the extra expense at the approval stage will often save you at the end of the project.

Does your Building Certifier use certified quality systems?

Everybody says they have quality systems – but do they really?

Certified quality systems are independently audited to ensure the client experience is continually improving. Ask for a copy of their quality assurance certificate. It’s in your interests to check that they have systems that will protect you from future litigation.

If your certifier only competes on price, you will pay in the long run.