Whywait Plumbing Services Logo

OFFICE HOURS

Mon to Fri 7.30am – 4pm
24-Hour EMERGENCY SERVICE

CALL 7 DAYS FOR SERVICE!

YOUR TRUSTED GOLD COAST PLUMBERS & GAS FITTERS

OFFICE HOURS
Mon – Sun 7.30am – 4pm
24 Hr Emergency Service

Why do Gold Coast Plumbers bury their mistakes?

Why do Gold Coast Plumbers bury their mistakes?

I recently had a client comment that Gold Coast Plumbers bury their mistakes far more than doctors bury their mistakes. It is a comment I cannot disagree with in any way. Increasingly we see underground plumbing work that is so non-compliant it’s confirming Gold Coast Plumbers bury their mistakes, knowingly and deliberately.

Whywait Plumbing do not accept that Gold Coast Plumbers bury their mistakes

Calling them mistakes is not being truthful because we all know it’s a deliberate act to cut costs. We all understand those plumbing companies that choose to undertake construction work are under enormous competitive pressure to reduce construction costs continually.

However, because of these plumbing companies buckling to pressure from project managers, builders and developers, they are in an ever downward spiral of negligently breaking the law. The reality is all of the parties involved in the lawbreaking know the chances of them getting caught are slim as the inspections by City of Gold Coast’s plumbing, and drainage inspectors are cursory at best.

Underground water pipes, house sewer drains and house stormwater drains are all buried underground. Unfortunately for property owners, it can take years before the problems become apparent and they investigate the issue. By this time the original construction job is out of warranty, and the QBCC will show little interest in any investigation of negligence.

Investigation and rectification of non-compliant installation of underground plumbing infrastructure fall onto the hapless property owner. Rectification bills can be enormous, and the likelihood is there is no insurance coverage or any desire by the council or state regulatory authorities to investigate.

I believe we have the best plumbing regulations and standards in the world. We used to have the best enforcement in the world to ensure our buildings met the high standards required. The enforcement of the Plumbing and Drainage Act of 2018 and the preceding laws have become so lax that most buildings constructed in the last twenty years have multiple underground plumbing defects. Disastrously for property owners, the majority of these defects are waiting to break down and cause havoc finally.

Gold Coast Plumbers bury their mistakes which causes water damage repaired by Whywait Plumbing

When these buried mistakes are covered by insurance and break down, causing water damage, every one of us bears a cost via ever-increasing property insurance premiums on all buildings. If enforcement had occurred at the construction stage, then this water damage would have never happened.

It is our experience as maintenance plumbers that builders and developers perceive they can reduce costs and increase profits by not complying with the Plumbing and Drainage act of 2018.

The legal obligations of complying with the Plumbing Code of Australia, which is Volume 3 of the National Construction Code, is not even a consideration.

I accept this lack of compliance has come about due to multiple factors and pressures. Nevertheless, this short-sighted attitude and systematic non-compliance with what is the law affects property owners with prodigious rectification costs. I believe that the project managers, builders, developers and plumbers involved in this ongoing fraud of property owners and insurance companies are well aware of what they are doing but blame it on:

  • Competitive pressures in the construction industry where the lowest price wins mentality rewards plumbers who take non-compliant short cuts to reduce costs to win jobs
  • All builders actively forcing cost-cutting on sub-contractors and suppliers
  • Time constraints on plumbers to complete the job and be paid
  • The reluctance of builders to inform clients that unforeseen issues have arisen which will increase the cost of construction
  • The failure of building certifiers and plumbing inspectors to defect non-compliant work and the turning of a blind eye to incorrectly graded trenches, lack of compaction and inappropriate backfilling of trenches
  • Continual lack of enforcement by the Queensland Government regulators

Every one of the above has in their view a justifiable excuse for what is occurring but all that is required is for the law to be obeyed. The Plumbing and Drainage Act of 2018 and the Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019 merely need to be enforced to stop Gold Coast Plumbers bury their mistakes attitude continuing.

By enforcing the law, everyone is a winner and will return us to the standards that previously existed where non-compliant work was defected without a second thought. Every plumber I discuss this with would be more than happy with this to occur as it would create a level playing field for the plumbing industry where efficiency was rewarded rather than non-compliant short cuts. It further protects property owners and the entire construction industry that is already under a cloud due to the cladding non-compliance in buildings throughout Australia.

Whywait Plumbing want to stop Gold Coast Plumbers bury their mistakes attitude continuing

As licensed plumbers, we are mindful that non-compliant plumbing is a public health risk. I reiterate most of the non-compliant work is knowingly and deliberate which is ultimately negligent behaviour. Sooner or later insurance companies and no-win no-pay lawyers will awaken to the fact that this non-compliance is negligence resulting in the plumbing industry as a whole is portrayed as cowboys with no integrity ripping off poor property owners.

This is a scenario where no one wins except the lawyers. As a critical industry plumbers cannot allow a perception that plumbers as a whole are unable to undertake legally compliant work. We certainly need no more regulation we just need the existing laws and regulations enforced to protect the community’s health as a whole.

What is a Form 4

What is a Form 4

QBCC Form 4 Plumbing Compliance Certificate

We often receive questions from clients regarding why we charge them for Form 4. The straightforward answer is that it is required by law.

The Form 4 system for plumbing and drainage work has existed for over two decades.

Initially, licensed plumbers had to submit Form 4 to local authority plumbing inspectors. For those on the Gold Coast, this meant submitting the form to the City of Gold Coast’s Plumbing and Drainage section when replacing part of the sewer house drain, water main, or hot water service.

In 2012, legislative changes mandated plumbers lodge Form 4 with the Department of Housing and Public Works through the Plumbing Industry Council (PIC). This was the first time a fee was introduced for lodging a Form 4, which amounted to $25.90. In 2014, the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) assumed responsibility for the Form 4 process as part of their role in overseeing occupational plumbing licensing.

Once Form 4 is submitted, it may be subject to a random compliance audit to ensure the work adheres to the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 and the Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019. This process guarantees that work is carried out to the highest standards, safeguarding everyone’s well-being, health, and safety.

Whywait Plumbing has always been a proponent of the Form 4 process, as it ensures that all work on your property is compliant and registered with both the QBCC and the City of Gold Coast. In the event of a significant insurance claim involving plumbing failure, an accessor can easily trace the work to confirm that it was performed legally and in compliance with regulations.

In essence, Form 4 serves to protect homeowners.

Which areas of plumbing & drainage work are classified as notifiable work?

The definitions of notifiable work were updated on 1 July 2019 to ensure clarity and usability and establish cost-effective plumbing laws and regulations for both plumbers and property owners.

Twelve primary categories of notifiable plumbing and drainage work necessitate a Form 4:

  1. Extending water supply pipes – involves work on water reticulation pipes other than fire services in existing buildings.
  2. Extending or removing a fire service – applies to class 2-9 buildings with development approval as per schedule 2 of the Building Act 1975.
  3. Existing sanitary plumbing – pertains to work in existing buildings where sanitary plumbing is removed, replaced, altered, or extended.
  4. Existing sanitary drainage – concerns work on existing class 1 to class 10 buildings involving extension, replacement, alteration, or removal of any part of the sanitary drain system (excluding a combined sanitary drain). This also applies to extensions or alterations to a class 1 building.
  5. Temperature control devices – includes work with thermostatic mixing valves (TMVs) or tempering valves in existing buildings that require installing, replacing, or removing a valve. This also applies to extensions or alterations to a class 1 building.
  6. Water heaters – involves work in existing buildings requiring installing, replacing, or removing a hot water heater. This also applies to extensions or alterations to a class 1 building.
  7. Backflow prevention devices – work with testable backflow devices or dual check valves in existing buildings that require installing, replacing, or removing a valve. This also applies to extensions or alterations to a class 1 building.
  8. Greywater treatment plants – pertains to work involving installing a greywater use system that includes a greywater treatment plant installed in a sewered area where the plant generates less than 3kL of greywater daily or for replacing a greywater plant.
  9. Fixtures in class 1 or class 10 buildings – include work required for installing a new fixture or relocating an existing fixture in class 1 or class 10 buildings. This also applies to extensions or alterations to a class 1 building.
  10. Fixtures for class 2 to 9 buildings of 1 or 2 storeys – applies to all work other than sanitary drainage required for installing or relocating a fixture, provided the work is for an existing class 2 to 9 building up to two storeys above ground.
  11. Sanitary drains – involves sealing a sanitary drain after the connection point to the council sewer or a treatment plant.
  12. Sealing supply pipes – includes work to seal a water supply pipe after the council water meter, provided the work is for an existing class 2 to class 9 building.

The QBCC provides easy-to-understand guides on notifiable work and the definitions of building classes as outlined in the Building Code of Australia, which can be downloaded below:

Form 4 notifiable work compliance

Every reputable professional plumber I know wholeheartedly supports the notifiable work system. This support ensures that homeowners and property owners can trust that all work carried out on their property adheres to the required standards.

If you have had plumbing or drainage work done and have not been provided with a Form 4, as shown above, and the work falls under the listed categories, you should report it to the QBCC immediately or call them at 139333. High-quality plumbing and drainage work is essential for protecting your health.

If you are uncertain or need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us at (07) 5580 4311; we will offer our opinion. Ultimately, all plumbing work is not about guesswork but compliance with the law, specifically the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018.

Are Cleaners Able to Legally Undertake Plumbing Work?

Are Cleaners Able to Legally Undertake Plumbing Work?

Cleaners are not plumbers.

A phone call I received last week from a cleaner asking me are cleaners able to legally undertake plumbing work alerted me to the pressures many cleaning contractors face from unscrupulous building owners and property managers. Increasingly there is a tendency by commercial building owners and their property managers to require their cleaning contractors to undertake work tasks that are legally plumbing. Cleaners undertaking plumbing tasks are quite merely breaking several laws as are their employers and supervisors.

are cleaners able to legally undertake plumbing work is no call Whywait PlumbingThe most common plumbing tasks that cleaners who are untrained, unskilled and unlicensed appear to be being required to undertake as part of their cleaning duties are:

  • unblocking of drains
  • unblocking of toilets
  • disconnecting and clearing of traps
  • servicing of urinals

What plumbing work can a cleaner perform

The only plumbing-related tasks a cleaner or any other person can legally undertake are:

  • cleaning or maintaining ground level grates to traps on sanitary drains
  • replacing caps to ground level inspection openings on sanitary drains
  • maintaining an above or below ground irrigation system for the disposal of effluent from an on-site sewerage facility
  • installing or maintaining an irrigation or lawn watering system downstream from an isolating valve, tap or backflow prevention device on the supply pipe for the irrigation or lawn watering system
  • replacing a jumper valve or washer in a tap
  • changing a showerhead
  • replacing, in a water closet (WC) cistern, a drop valve washer, float valve washer or suction cup rubber.

All other work must be undertaken by a licensed plumber and drainer – no ifs, no buts, no exceptions.

Laws that apply to who can do plumbing

Cleaners who are required and frequently forced by their supervisors and employers to undertake plumbing tasks usually at the behest of building owners and property managers are all breaking the following laws and regulations:

  • Building Services Authority Act 1991
  • Work Health and Safety Act 2011
  • Queensland Plumbing and Wastewater Code
  • Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002
  • Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2003
  • Standard Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2003

Plumbers and drainers, unlike cleaners, are trained to undertake tasks such as clearing of drains or working on toilets or urinals. All of these tasks require specialised training, diagnostic skills and an awareness of health and safety issues. Above all plumbers are licensed to undertake the work by the Queensland Government plumbing regulator, the Plumbing Industry Council. The latter are legally required to protect public health and safety through Queensland’s plumbing and drainage licensing system.

Standard Plumbing & Drainage Regulation 2003 requirements

Tasks such as unblocking of drains, unblocking of toilets, disconnecting and clearing of traps or servicing of urinals are covered explicitly by schedule 2 of Standard Plumbing & Drainage Regulation 2003 as detailed below:

  • work necessary for maintaining, repairing or replacing a fitting or fixture
  • work necessary for maintaining or repairing an apparatus other than a backflow prevention device or thermostatic mixing valve
  • work necessary for replacing apparatus other than a backflow prevention device, thermostatic mixing valve, tempering valve, water heater, cistern, pump or water meter
  • work necessary for maintaining, repairing or replacing fire hydrants or fire hose reels
  • unblocking a pipe that is sanitary plumbing or sanitary drainage
  • work necessary for maintaining or repairing a solar or heat pump hot water system in a building classified under BCA as a class 1, 2, 3 or 4 building

Work undertaken under schedule 2 does not require the lodgement of form 4 with the local government plumbing & drainage inspectors. Still, all work must be conducted by a licensed plumber or drainer.

A cleaner despite what they are told cannot undertake any of the above tasks. They and those that instruct them to do the work are breaking the law, and all are liable for fines plus leave themselves exposed to common law claims under the due diligence provisions of the new WHS Act 2011.

It is straightforward if there is general cleaning of a plumbing fixture then there is no issue its a cleaning task. Where a component part is replaced or disconnected from the plumbing or drainage system, fixture or fitting for maintenance or servicing it can only be legally undertaken by a licensed plumber.

I reiterate the answer to the question are cleaners able to legally undertake plumbing work is a resounding NO and if you are unsure call Whywait Plumbing any time of (07) 5580 4311 to get assistance.

Call Now ButtonCALL NOW