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A Plumbing Inspection Is Not A Guarantee

A Plumbing Inspection Is Not A Guarantee

A plumbing inspection by the council is not a guarantee and never has been. They are a compliance audit – nothing more, nothing less.

Recently Kelly from Hope Island sent me an email that began with the comment, “builders are liars, plumbers are incompetent, and the Gold Coast plumbing inspectors are frauds who take no responsibility…..”

I can only repeat to Kelly what many of us know and see every day in new or recently renovated buildings – “everyone who worked on your home did so because they were the cheapest, not because they were the best qualified and skilled to undertake the work.” Sadly that has become a reality in the construction industry.

The pressure by builders on plumbers to reduce prices and take “SHORTCUTS” increases daily, as I have stated previously, and in fairness, is frequently driven by the client demanding a “LOWER PRICE” and looking for the “BEST DEAL”.

In respect to Kelly’s comment about the Gold Coast plumbing inspectors, I understand the remark as there is a common urban myth that once your home or building has had a final inspection that it has been certified by the council and that the plumbing is perfect and that they are guaranteeing it.

This is incorrect as the plumbing inspector’s functions are set out in the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002. A plumbing inspector’s functions are to conduct investigations and inspections for monitoring and enforcing compliance with-

  • the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002; or
  • the Sustainable Planning Act 2009; or
  • the Local Government Act 2009.

The critical word in the legislation is COMPLIANCE. When the council inspector signs off the plumbing and drainage work on your home after being requested to undertake a final inspection by the licensed plumber responsible, you will only get a letter that says it is a PLUMBING AND DRAINAGE COMPLIANCE CERTIFICATE. It will state clearly, “This Compliance Certificate approves the regulated work or on-site sewerage work for the above property in respect of Compliance Permit number…..”

A compliance certificate from the plumbing inspectors is not a guarantee in any way, shape or form and should not be construed as such.

Unfortunately and sadly but these days, it is ultimately up to you to ensure that you are getting high-standard, quality work by dealing with reputable, experienced licensed contractors who perform work to the standards set out in the Plumbing Code of Australia.

Always ask to see the plumber’s contractor’s license, and always ensure for insurance purposes, you get a copy of either the council compliance certificate or the QBCC Form 4 compliance certificate, depending upon the work you have had undertaken.

What Value Is There In An Audit By Gold Coast City Council Plumbing Inspectors?

What Value Is There In An Audit By Gold Coast City Council Plumbing Inspectors?

Gold Coast homeowners are increasingly subjected to allegedly “free compliance audits” by Gold Coast City Council plumbing inspectors. To justify their jobs in a depressed market with almost nil construction activity, Gold Coast City Council plumbing inspectors act like desperate door-to-door salesmen knocking on the doors of homeowners who have upgraded hot water systems. There is no legislative requirement for these audits to occur, and the homeowner does not need to allow them to enter their home.

To fill in time and justify their jobs, Gold Coast City Council plumbing inspectors are undertaking “audits” that are not requested and are unannounced. The plumbing inspectors are knocking on the door and stating they are there to inspect the hot water service.   Legally they can assess the work if invited to do so by you. No Gold Coast plumber is asking them to evaluate the work, as none of us sees any value in doing so. Neither Gold Coast City Council nor its plumbing inspectors take any risk or responsibility, so their inspection is of no real value except to justify their jobs.

If Gold Coast City Council plumbing inspectors arrive unannounced at your door, he has no right of entry. He may request access by your invitation to inspect work that pertains to the form 4 plumbing contractors are legally obliged to lodge, but that is the absolute limit. If you refuse him entry, then he must immediately depart.

Unfortunately, the plumbing inspectors are loose with the truth and make out that they are legally obligated to undertake this audit. They do not inform homeowners that it is optional and not a legislative requirement.

The individual plumbing inspectors are not to blame for these events but are forced to do so as they work in an appalling atmosphere at Gold Coast City Council. It has been common knowledge within the plumbing industry for many years that the Gold Coast City Council plumbing inspectors are a deeply troubled organisation with bullying, abuse of power, nepotism, cronyism and double standards a daily occurrence.

Several clients of Whywait Plumbing that have received these unexpected visits were shocked when we phoned to say their hot water service we installed six months ago has had a defect notice issued. In every instant, as long as Whywait Plumbing receives the defect notice, we undertake the “repairs”, which invariably are that the tempering valve legally required to deliver hot water at 50 degrees is over temperature. To date, every home we have returned to is between 1-3 degrees over temperature. To see more information on the requirements of tempering valves and your obligations, click here.

Many of our clients have told us that they do not want the plumbing inspectors returning to their homes to re-audit. This we have conveyed via email to Gold Coast City Council plumbing inspectors on behalf of our clients. As a result, we had a phone call from the Gold Coast City Council Plumbing & Drainage Supervisor, Brian Till, recently, who informed us we should be encouraging our clients to have the re-audit undertaken; otherwise, we will remain responsible for the defects despite our notifying Gold Coast City Council that rectification work has been conducted.

Furthermore, Brian Till advised that the property will have registered against the title that there are outstanding plumbing defects which can have severe financial repercussions if you wish to sell your home.

If you get an unexpected knock on the door from a Gold Coast City Council plumbing inspector, we recommend you decline to allow them entry to your home. However, declining access does not affect you as they walk away, and the file is closed.

However, suppose you have had a defect notice issued. In that case, we recommend allowing a re-audit at a time that is suitable for you to ensure no defects are registered against your property. If you desire, we will attend at no cost to reassure you and ensure that due process is complied with.

Council Plumbing Boss Fined For Illegal Contracting

Council Plumbing Boss Fined For Illegal Contracting

The City of Gold Coast plumbing boss didn’t know he needed a plumbing contractor licence

 

“Council plumbing boss in hot water” and fined for illegal contracting is a headline that was hardly surprising for many Gold Coast plumbers who have had to deal with Keith Farrelly and were aware of the nepotism that has gone unchecked for over 20 years.

For years now, if you had dealings with the City of Gold Coast’s council plumbing and drainage department, you would become aware of what has been common knowledge within the plumbing industry.

The City of Gold Coast’s, Plumbing & Drainage department and, in particular, the plumbing inspectors are a deeply troubled organisation. Bullying, abuse of power, nepotism, cronyism and double standards are a daily occurrence.

keith Farrelly

“The man in charge of the Gold Coast City Council’s plumbing department has been fined $2000 for carrying out unlawful building work. Keith Farrelly, the plumbing and drainage coordinator, was caught installing a hot-water system without a contractor licence.

While the department can be responsible for issuing infringement notices, Mr Farrelly claims he did not know he needed a licence to do the work.

A council spokesman said it would not take action against him because it did not relate to his role with the organisation. Mr Farrelly is appealing the fine. 

Building Services Authority general manager Ian Jennings confirmed Mr Farrelly had installed a solar hot water system without holding the appropriate class contractor licence.

The council spokesman said Mr Farrelly was doing the work free for his nephew. “(He was) unaware he needed a contractors’ licence to do this work which, under the Plumbing and Drainage Act, is regarded as minor work,” he said.

The spokesman said Mr Farrelly’s role involved dealing with requirements under the Plumbing and Drainage Act, not the Queensland building services contractors’ requirements.”

Matthew Killoran

"Plumbing boss in hot water", Gold Coast Bulletin

For struggling Gold Coast building and plumbing companies to discover that Keith Farrelly, the coordinator of Council’s Plumbing Department, was fined $2000 by the Building Services Authority (BSA) but now renamed the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) for carrying out unlicensed plumbing work is bad enough. Finding out he is still working for the city is an absolute disgrace.

An implausible excuse is acceptable at The City of Gold Coast

Farrelly’s implausible excuse? “was doing the work free for his nephew.”

The City of Gold Coast’s Integrity and Ethical Standards Unit and senior bureaucrats have found this implausible excuse acceptable. Farrelly is a senior council officer with more than 20 years of employment at the City of Gold Coast council. Farrelly hands out fines for breaches of the plumbing regulations and building codes daily, yet we are expected to accept that he did not know his legal obligation under that same code. The reality is everyone in the council and the local plumbing industry knows the real reason why he was taking out permits for his nephew.

Again, those senior bureaucrats and the Integrity and Ethical Standards Unit knew of this and chose to take no action. This raises the question of how much more remains hidden as their duty is clear.

Many within the council are asking why the apparent protection of an officer who should have been immediately dismissed or at least suspended to enable an independent investigation to occur.

Many plumbers and former council inspectors on the Gold Coast will happily give the Integrity and Ethical Standards Unit plenty of evidence.

The City of Gold Coast needs to get to the bottom of this and investigate if this apparent protectionist attitude is endemic throughout the council and what else they are hiding. There should be no tolerance for this kind of cronyism in the council, and those responsible should be entertaining the prospect of joining the unemployment line, which they have had a large part in creating on the Gold Coast.

The City of Gold Coast investigating their plumbing boss Keith Farrelly

Gold Coast Water Revived But At What Cost

Gold Coast Water Revived But At What Cost

Currently receiving publicity is the Mayan calendar which predicts the world’s end in December 2012. The actual translation is “A time of great change.” Not so much the end but more the beginning of a new era.  It is a time of significant change for Gold Coast ratepayers, who will receive what is possibly their last Allconnex water bill in the next week. Unless there is a change of government on 24 March, the ratepayers of the City of Gold Coast have been duped by misguided media and activists from Disconnex into reviving Gold Coast Water.

Gold Coast Water may come to life on 1 July but is only a water retailer. Therefore, it will not lead to reductions in the cost of water simply because the Queensland Government controls the price of water sold to retailers.

As a result, the wholesale cost of water is the bulk of a water bill because someone has to pay for the reckless spending by the Beattie-Bligh governments on projects that include the $7 billion water grid that may never be used and the troubled desalination plant at Tugun plus the $500 million for Traveston Dam, which wasn’t built despite costly planning and land resumptions.

Gold Coast City Council is not responsible for the originally highly respected water utility being taken over by the Queensland Government. It was legislated that way. The spin by Anna Bligh and Andrew Fraser into making Gold Coast ratepayers believe the high water bills are all the councils’ fault is bizarre because they control the wholesale cost price. The government spin campaign caused a misguided people-power revolt on the Gold Coast, with Allconnex Water workers even having their cars attacked. Allconnex has to collect rates to a prescribed formula set by the State Government.

Gold Coast ratepayers should direct their anger at the Queensland Labor MP’s who voted to destroy Gold Coast Water, not at the Gold Coast City Councillors who were forced to vote to disband Gold Coast Water in accordance with law changes enacted by the Queensland Government. The new Gold Coast Water will only be a shadow of its former self but will still have to generate income to fund more than $1 billion in new water and sewerage plants over the next decade. The Queensland Labor Government has removed all subsidies, so Gold Coast Water revived will be looking for new revenue. Unfortunately, it means ratepayers will pick up the tab in raised rates and water charges – or Gold Coast Water will go broke.

Current Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clark has consistently spoken against the Queensland Government takeover of water in South East Queensland. Even the Council of Mayors warned in 2007 that the proposed takeover of water was simply cost-shifting by the state. If the Gold Coast Water revival proceeds, we may not have to wait two years before understanding the negative impact of Labor’s reforms. In the meantime, Gold Coast ratepayers will continue to pay and pay and pay. Even the Queensland Government’s water commissioner, Elizabeth Nosworthy, in 2007 released the pricing for water in southeast Queensland, said that “by 2012-13, a typical household’s annual cost would increase from $355 to $876, an increase of 147 per cent”. This was ignored at the time, but she was on the money.

So when Gold Coast voters receive their Allconnex water bills next week, remember when you go to the polls on 24 March, it was local Labor MP’s Peta-Kaye Croft, Peter Lawler, Christine Smith and Margaret Keech who destroyed Gold Coast Water and drove water prices up 147% in 4 years.

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