If you’re an education provider you need to be aware that new legislation means your premises must comply with specific building requirements for you to be able to operate. All education and training institutions must now have a new certificate of approval under the Building Code of Australia (BCA) – a Class 9b certificate.
You need to comply with all relevant planning and building codes. Different standards apply to Vocational Education & Training (VET), English Language (ELICOS) and Higher Education, with national standards in place for each (plus Victoria-only standards for VET providers). You now also need to obtain a Class 9b certificate for your premises.
The very thought may have you immediately reaching for the headache pills (or something stronger), but it needn’t be a drama.
Talk with your fitout partner to work out what’s required and what actions you’ll need to take to obtain your certificate. They’ll be able to help you move through each step of the process and make it as painless as possible.
The first question to ask is: Do you have approval to deliver classes on your premises for the purpose of education or training?
If not, you need to make an application to your planning body for a “change of use”. You’ll need to provide:
- floor plans of the building envelope and existing condition
- streetscape information
- your design for the premises
- a case for the change of use/zoning
Once all that’s been approved you’ll receive a “fit for purpose” letter.
The next step is to have a building surveyor inspect your premises. They’ll survey all aspects of the site, paying particular attention to:
- Air Flow
- Entries and Exits
- Electrical Load
- Student Capacity
- Purpose of Use
You may get the building surveyor’s tick of approval straight away. Or, upgrades and/or alterations may be needed to ensure that you’re code compliant. You’ll need to identify exactly what’s required, get designs drawn up and apply for a building permit. All building work will need to be completed and a return inspection carried out.
Once all is signed off by the building surveyor, and they’re comfortable that your premises are compliant with all the relevant building codes, they’ll issue a Class 9b certificate of occupancy, and you’re all set. The very last step is to send a copy to your regulatory body and you’re done.
It may feel like a nuisance, but it needs to be taken care of. And once it is you can file your certificate away secure in the knowledge that everything’s set up as it should be. Then you can get back to the business of doing what you set out to do in the first place – education and training.