Certificate of Acceptance - Explained
What is a Certificate of Acceptance?
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What is the Certificate of Acceptance?
A certificate of acceptance (COA) refers to certificates that are issued by a local authority for non-consented building-related work. Basically, it is acceptance by the building authority of work that was done without the required permit. The COA requirement is as per the Building Act 2004, section 96-99A, which allows any individual to apply for a COA to their Building Consent Authority for any non-consented work that was done after 1 July 1992.
How is a Certificate of Acceptance Used?
The council may issue the COA only if they are satisfied that the work is as per the existing building code at the time of application. What does this mean? If you are making an application today, it means that your work has to comply with the present building code for you to receive the certificate. Note that this does not apply to the works that are complete. It is worth noting that a COA is inferior to a code compliance certificate. So, the COA may only apply to a certain extent. For instance, lets assume that the council inspector was not able to fully inspect all the aspects pertaining to the completed unconsented building works. In this case, the COA will only qualify up to there. If this is the case, then it means that a COA does not give sufficient assurance that building works are completely compliant. So, there is a possibility that some potential insurance companies or property mortgagee may not accept it. Generally, the COA provides limited assurance since the councils evidence is based on the evidence given by third parties to provide evidence of compliance to the building code. Also, the COA does not change the requirements you need in order to obtain a building consent works you wish you would have done in the future.
Where does Certificate of Acceptance Apply?
A certificate of acceptance is not as inclusive like the code of compliance. For this reason, it only applies to work that can be inspected. COA applies to the following:
- Work completed in the absence of a building consent while one was required
- When a building certifier refuses to issue a code of compliance certificate
- When there is urgent work that was executed under section 42 of the Building Act
Note that the issuing of a COA does not relieve a person from obtaining a building consent for his or her building work. The territorial authority can still issue a notice to fix as well as prosecute.
How to Apply for a Certificate of Acceptance
When applying for a certificate of acceptance, you have to give a plan and specifications with full details. It is the same way you would do when applying for building consent. Below are some of the things that should accompany your COA application:
- A plan as well as specifications including photographs, drawings, and producer statements from engineers or builders who took part in the building work
- Any other information that which may be required by the council or regulatory body
- Certificate of acceptance fee including any other charges or levies that apply to this memorandum of project information for the building work in case one has already been issued
- Attach a list of all specified systems for the building in case compliance schedule is needed
Generally, for a quick and successful application, you may want to engage some building professionals to assist in the application process. The professional may include the following:
- A licensed building practitioner
- An engineer
- An architect
- Certified plumber
- A registered electrician
- Certified plumber
- IQP for specified safety systems
- Drain layer
The Application Review Process
If your application is accepted, the council is supposed to process it within 20 days. There are three stages involved when reviewing a COA. They are as follows:
- First Stage: Initial Review
At this stage, the submitted documents go through a review, including the relevant council property file. The officer in charge checks the documents to verify if there are any other related works connected to the site in question.
- Second Stage: Inspection
In this stage, an officer will organize for a date to conduct an inspection of the building. The inspection involves generally checking out the site to see if there are any hazards. The state of the building, as well as the distance between the buildings boundaries, is also checked.
- Third Stage: Final Review
At this stage, the officer in charge may seek clarification or more information regarding the submitted information. He or she will then put into consideration all the information given to him or her to make decisions on what the council can certify. Depending on the building type, it may go through a process known as a peer review. Note that in case there is an addition of more information on the application, the council pauses the statutory clock until they get all the information. During the review of the application, there is also checking of other requirements that apply to the application. They may include things such as the development contributions, need for resource consent, among others. The council will communicate these requirements to the applicant in case they need it.
When to Grant or Refuse to Issue the Certificate of Acceptance
A council issues a COA only if it is satisfied that the building works comply with the Building Act 2004 - section 96. In case a council does not grant the application, it must give the applicant a written notice explaining reasons for the refusal. The council cannot issue a COA under the following circumstances:
- If the work completed was without a building consent, meaning that the process did not go through the council for approval and acceptance first.
- When a building consent is already obtained, and the owner has to complete the building consent process.
- When the council is convinced that the building work does not comply with the building code. In other words, the council can refuse the COA application if they are not satisfied with the building works
If the applicant has not made payment for the development contributions, the certificate is usually withheld until the applicant makes the payments. Withholding of the certificate is per section 99AA, as well as section 208.
Certificate of Acceptance Charges/Fees
There are charges that apply when one applies for a COA such as a lodgment fee. Another fee is charged after the COA process and site inspection has been finalized. The applicant is usually given an invoice stating all the costs incurred during inspection and processing. The administration charges including any other levies are also stated in the invoice.
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