What does a Certificate of Acceptance mean & how can I get one?

I’ll explain in detail what a Certificate of Acceptance (COA) is, who can apply, what the process is, what you need & what happens if you don’t get one

What is Certificate of Acceptance

What is a Certificate of Acceptance (COA)?

A Certificate of Acceptance, also referred to as a COA, is a document which states that unconsented building work complies, as near as practically possible, with the Building Code.

There may be a number of reasons why a COA has come about. For example, you have purchased a house and there are works that were effected by a previous owner without a building consent in place. Or urgent work was undertaken for health and safety reasons such as a landslip which potentially threatens the ongoing stability of houses in the short term.

Also, if a Code of Compliance Certificate is refused for, for example, timing issues, unacceptable materials, unapproved changes to construction or other reasons, a COA will fill in that gap.

Who can apply for a COA?

Anyone can apply for a COA but often a COA requires specialist advice. Further, you may have to produce plans, evidence of construction and create certificates for the work and, other than for very simple construction, this documentation is often beyond the expertise of most home owners.

A builder might be of some assistance but generally, you would require the services of an architectural designer and/or engineer to provide plans, certifications and advice on compliance. For most complex applications for a COA you will require the services of an engineer, architect or building surveyor as more complex applications will require a report from a specialist.

Certificate of Acceptance
The Process of Certificate of Acceptance

What is the process?

Some Councils have a COA pre-application process. This is not a compulsory requirement but it may help streamline more complex applications. Further, the Territorial Authority may deem that the work requires a building consent as opposed to a COA process. Also, certain works are subject to resource consent (planning) requirements.

To apply for a COA we suggest that you consult Council and request an inspection in the first instance. The inspector will then list a number of deficiencies in their report and this may result in either a fail – giving you a comprehensive list as a starting point for remedies – or be issued subject to you providing further information.

Often, where there are a number of issues and the build is reasonably complex, then the inspector will request a report by a Building Surveyor (a suitably qualified engineer or architect can also provide these reports).

The Territorial Authority will require:

  • An application form
  • Project information memorandum
  • Plans of the work undertaken
  • Specifications for the materials used in construction
  • Any warranties if relevant and if these can be obtained
  • Certificates from installers where available for Restricted Building Work (RBW)
  • Certificate from an engineer for work outside the Timber-framed Buildings Standard or if requested by the inspector
  • An electrical test (if electrical work was undertaken and no Electrical Safety Certificate was already provided)
  • A statement as to how B2 (durability) has been met (durability certificate), referred to by some Territorial Authorities as Application for Modification Relating to B2 Durability

Where the Territorial Authority has requested an independent report, then the Building Surveyor or suitably qualified engineer or architect will advise the building owner and Territorial Authority of non-compliances which will require remedial works. These repairs, once effected, would need to be inspected by a specialist and the inspector. Upon completion of all repairs to the satisfaction of Council then the Council will issue a COA.

What happens if I do not apply for a COA?

If you do not apply for a COA then this may affect the occupancy of the building (public buildings must be certified by the Territorial Authority for occupancy), the sale of the building and/or insurance of the building.

If you have any questions regarding a Certificate of Acceptance contact the staff at Proconsult Ltd.

Picture of Author: Stewart Hobbs - Principal Engineer at ProConsult

Author: Stewart Hobbs - Principal Engineer at ProConsult

Stewart is the journal editor for SESOC (Structural Engineering Society New Zealand (Inc.)

See all articles written by Stewart Hobbs

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