April 6, 2024

The Easy Guide to Occupation Certificates for Fitouts

Bringing your fitout vision to life is the fun part.

But then there’s the paperwork. Documentation and applications. Building surveyors and council authorities. For businesses—many of whom are fitout first-timers—these steps can feel overwhelming and exhausting. Where do you start? And how do you go about acquiring that all-important occupancy certificate? 

Every day we help our customers see their projects to completion, ensuring they acquire occupancy certificates with no headaches. Below we’ll explain in detail what this important document is all about, along with our streamlined process for acquiring a certificate of occupancy. Check it all out below.

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What is an Occupation Certificate?

An occupation certificate, also known as a certificate of occupancy, is an official document issued by either a privately contracted or municipal building surveyor. It signifies that a building or structure has been completed in accordance with approved plans, meets the necessary safety, compliance and building codes, and is suitable for occupation or use as intended.

Outside of granting a space as suitable for use, certificates of occupancy may also include specific restrictions or conditions that must be adhered to by occupants or property owners. These conditions may relate to occupancy levels, fire safety measures, or ongoing maintenance requirements.

When Do You Need a Certificate of Occupancy?

The need for a certificate of occupancy arises when a building or structure is newly constructed, altered, or refurbished. It serves as confirmation that the premises are safe and habitable, ensuring the protection of occupants and compliance with building codes and regulations. 

When altering an existing structure in Victoria, a Certificate of Final Inspection may be required to amend the current occupancy certificate. Examples of this would include:

  • An expansion of the lettable area on a property (e.g. turning public areas within a leasable property into private spaces for rent).
  • A change of use in the space (e.g. building a medical fitout in an office building).
  • Any significant alterations that might trigger town planning and further council involvement.
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Who Can Issue a Certificate?

Occupation certificates are typically issued by accredited building surveyors or certifiers authorised by the local council or regulatory authority. These professionals possess the expertise to assess compliance with building standards and regulations, conduct inspections, and issue certificates upon satisfactory completion of construction or fitout works.

Not sure if you’ll need to apply for a certificate of occupancy? Canopy can help. We complete hundreds of fitouts yearly in Melbourne, so we know the application process in and out. No matter your industry, we have a deep understanding of the key details a building surveyor will be looking out for in every inspection.

The Canopy Difference

  • If you choose to do your fitout with us, we’ll get the occupation certificate on your behalf. 
  • We prepare all the necessary documents. 
  • Regardless of industry, our fitouts are designed within exact approval specifications, making it easy for any building surveyor to sign off on your plans at every step of the way.
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Application Process

1. Submission of Documentation

The first step in obtaining an occupation certificate involves submitting relevant documentation to the regulatory authority or building surveyor. This may include architectural plans, engineering reports, and compliance certificates from tradespeople. Certificates from contractors are also issued at the end of a project to “certify” it was all built to code. 

2. Inspections and Compliance Checks

Once the documentation is received, the building surveyor conducts on-site inspections to verify that construction or fitout works comply with approved plans and regulatory requirements. Any deviations or non-compliance issues are addressed and rectified as necessary.

3. Issuance of Certificate

Upon completion of inspections and confirmation of compliance, the building surveyor issues the occupation certificate. This document signifies that the building or fitout project meets the necessary standards and is ready for occupation or use.

Surveyor’s Responsibilities to You

The building surveyor’s primary role is to enact a system of checks and balances, ensuring any issues are spotted and rectified long before they become a severe liability. It is up to you to rectify these issues so that your build can proceed. When we build fitouts for our clients, we also conduct our own set of quality assurance tests throughout the project. When the surveyor arrives on site, inspections usually are a breeze. We’re able to continue our builds with little to no delays. 

Kick off Your Build the Right Way With Canopy

There are always a lot of moving parts whenever starting a fitout project. You need permits, proper documentation, architects, designers, builders, and more. And on top of that, you need to make sure everything is built to code, all while running your business in the background. It can get overwhelming! This is why we’re here to help.

At Canopy Fitouts, we create workspaces that inspire, coordinating every moving part to make each build as simple and streamlined as possible. With decades of experience, we know exactly how to bring your vision to life and within building regulations, ensure there are no headaches when it’s time to apply for an occupancy certificate.

Speak to our team today and we’d be more than happy to give you advice on cost, budgets, requirements, and timeframes for your office or commercial fitout. Give us a call at 1800 434 868 or email info@canopyfitouts.com.au.