Substantial Completion Vs Certificate of Occupation

October 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

Question:

Can a contractor apply to the architect for substantial completion without
approval from the building department? Or without the Certification of
Occupation (C of O or CO) being issued?

Answer:

First let’s note that the Certificate of Substantial Completion and the
Certificate of Occupancy are different and unrelated.

The Certificate of Substantial Completion is issued by the architect.  It
establishes the date of substantial completion and, thus, the
responsibilities of the owner and contractor.  (See Article 9.8 and 9.9 of
AIA Document A 201 2007).  Substantial completion is determined by the
architect.

The Certificate of Occupancy (C of O or CO) is issued by the authority
having jurisdiction over the project (i.e. Building Department) and
establishes that final inspection was performed and the structure is safe to
occupy and utilize.

Yes, the contractor can apply for the Certificate of Substantial Completion
without having the Certificate of Occupancy.

When the contractor considers that the building or a portion of it is
substantially complete, he/she can submit a “punch list” (list of items to
be completed) to the architect and request that the architect inspect the
project in order to establish substantial completion.  The architect upon
receiving the contractor’s “punch list” inspects the building to ascertain
that the items included in the list comprise the full list of items needing
to be completed.  The architect can add any incomplete items to the
contractor’s “punch list” if his/her inspection reveals such items.  The
contractor does not need the approval of the inspector or the building
department to request substantial completion.

It is the responsibility of the owner to apply for the Certificate of
Occupancy after final inspection is performed by the authority having
jurisdiction over the project (e.g. building department).  It is issued
after the authority having jurisdiction over the project determines that the
structure is safe for occupation and use.

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