The building is safe, and acceptable for occupation.
As such, it is the most crucial part to making your granny flat a building that is legally approved.
Once everything is checked off the OC is issued
After the SEPP was introduced, it is sad to say that many people forgot all about the OC. The pitfalls of this can be seen under the sub-headings, “What Happens if You Fail to Get an OC”, and “What Fines and Issues Can You Have Living in a Granny Flat Without an OC”.
So, it is important that you remember to attain your OC within 5 years after the date you get your granny flat gets approved through your Development Application (DA) or Complying Development(CDC).
Who Has the Rights to Give You One
As mentioned, the Occupation Certificate will be given to you by your certifier.
Now you have clued yourself up with all the information you need, you can start the approval procedure. You may be able to choose between applying for approval by one of two ways:
Development Application (DA) – You will be required to provide Council with various bits of information, in order for them to assess your application. It is a more flexible application than CDC.
Complying Development Certificate (CDC) – This is a streamlined process where your application is assessed against, and has to meet the regulations of the SEPP. It allows you to bypass Council, so is quicker and more simple.
This article may help you determine which approval pathway best suits you .
Every inspection is to make sure that your granny flat is built structurally safe, to high-quality standards, as per either the DA or the CDC – that is, the plans that first got you approval. You see, the Council gave you approval, and so a Construction Certificate, based off these plans. You are not allowed to change them.
So, to put it simply, every time the certifier comes out for an inspection, they are checking to make sure that you are building all things:
To the precise strength and specifications.
As per the instructions that the engineer gave you.
In the exact sequence.
Primarily, their focus is on safety. For example, making sure that an improperly constructed deck will not collapse.
So, when you have finished your granny flat, the certifiers last visit is important – they will again check you followed the plans that gained you approval at the start, ensuring your building is safe and legal. If they are happy with the way you have followed the plans and built your granny flat, they will give you the ultimate tick of approval – that is, hand you your OC.
Feel free to read up on what a certifier does and how you can find one as well.
What Happens if You Fail to Get an OC
If you fail to receive an Occupation Certificate, there can be serious complications as to the rights of the owner to occupy the granny flat. It is thought to be an offence to ‘occupy’ the building.
As, if you do not get this Certificate, you have not gained the proper approval for your granny flat, and so have not met all your legal requirements.
The pitfalls of this can be seen in the below sub-headings.
What Fines and Issues Can You Have Living in a Granny Flat Without an OC?
If you live in your granny flat, but have not gained approval in the form of an Occupation Certificate, this can cause you many problems.
Your Council has the right to:
Charge you with being a fraud, as you behaved dishonestly, and so issue you with large fines.
Command you to knock down the granny flat.
They will normally follow these steps:
Issue you with a “Notice of Intention to Serve” – This lets you have 21 days to sort out the issue (i.e. apply for retrospective planning approval). This is an expensive process, one that can cost you up to three times the normal price, as you may have to carry out specific works to make your granny flat compliant. But if necessary, you can read up on some tips about how to fix an illegal granny flat.
Issue you with a “Notice to Remedy” – If you did not follow the Intention to Serve within the timeframe you were given, the Council can now ask you to destruct your granny flat.
Court – If you still do not obey these orders, Council can now take you to Court. Here, you can be given fine after fine, until the granny flat is knocked down.
Another issue that not getting an Occupation Certificate will cause you is the possibility of problems with insurance coverage if an incident were to take place in or because of the granny flat. For example, there is a known case where insurance did not cover both the primary dwelling and the granny flat, as a fire started in a granny flat that did not have approval.
Insurance companies will simply not payout any damage caused due to an “illegal granny flat”.
Generally, this is when it is found that the building is being used for intentions other than those that were planned when it was approved to be occupied. If this change of use takes place, a new Occupation Certificate can be gained by modifications being made to the building.
All the steps must be done again – first, plans must be provided so they can be reviewed, and all inspections will be carried out along the way.
An Occupation Certificate is given to you after you pass four inspections performed by your certifier.
It is highly important you get this before anyone lives in your granny flat, as it says that:
The health and safety standards of your granny flat are to the levels of the Building Codes of Australia, and
Your building is safe enough to be occupied.
So, it is a piece of paper that makes your secondary dwelling a legally approved building.
Without this, you run the risk of Council charging you with being a fraud, issuing you with large fines, taking you to Court, and instructing you to demolish the granny flat.
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