What is a Form 4 1

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What is a Form 4

What is a Form 4

We are frequently asked by clients why we are charging them for a Form 4. The simple answer is because it’s the law.

The reality is the Form 4 system for plumbing and drainage work has existed for over 20 years.

Originally licenced plumbers were required to submit a Form 4 to the local authority plumbing inspectors. On the Gold Coast that meant we submitted them to City of Gold Coast’s Plumbing and Drainage section when undertaking replacement of part of the sewer house drain or water main or replacing a hot water service.

In 2012 legislative changes required that we lodge them with the Department of Housing and Public Works through the Plumbing Industry Council, (PIC) and for the first time we had to pay a fee for lodging a Form 4 of $25.90. In 2014 the QBCC took over the Form 4 process as part of their assuming responsibility for plumbing occupational licensing.

Once a Form 4 is lodged, then it is subject to a random compliance auditing process to ensure the work is compliant with the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 and the Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2019. This is undertaken to ensure the work is being conducted to the highest standards to protect everyone’s wellbeing, health and safety.

Whywait Plumbing has always supported the Form 4 process as it ensures that all work on your property is compliant and is registered with both QBCC and City of Gold Coast. If you have a significant insurance claim involving a plumbing failure, an accessor can quickly backtrack to ensure that the work was undertaken legally and compliantly.

Ultimately a Form 4 is there for the homeowner’s protection.

What is plumbing & drainage work notifiable work?

The definitions of notifiable work changed on 1 July 2019. These changes were to ensure clarity and usability, coupled with cost-effective plumbing laws and regulations for plumbers and property owners.

There are essentially twelve categories of notifiable plumbing and drainage work that require a Form 4 which are:

  1. Extending water supply pipes – this is any work on water reticulation pipes other than a fire service on an existing building
  2. Extending or removing a fire service – this applies to any class 2-9 building with a development approval as per schedule 2 of the Building Act 1975
  3. Existing sanitary plumbing – this any work on an existing building where sanitary plumbing is removed, replaced, altered or extended
  4. Existing sanitary drainage – this any work on an existing class 1 to class 10 building involving extending, replacing, altering or removing any part of the sanitary drain system apart from a combined sanitary drain plus it also applies to extensions or alterations to a class 1 building
  5. Temperature control devices – this is any work with a TMV or tempering valves in any existing building requiring installing, replacing or removing a valve plus it also applies to extensions or alterations to a class 1 building
  6. Water heaters – this is any work undertaken in any existing building requiring installing, replacing or removing a hot water heater plus it also applies to extensions or alterations to a class 1 building
  7. Backflow prevention devices – this is any work with a testable backflow device or dual check valve in any existing building requiring installing, replacing or removing a valve plus it also applies to extensions or alterations to a class 1 building
  8. Greywater treatment plants – this any work involving the installation of 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 building – this is any work required for installing a new fixture or relocating an existing fixture in an existing class 1 or class 10 building plus it also applies to extensions or alterations to a class 1 building
  10. Fixtures for class 2 to 9 buildings of 1 or 2 storeys – this is for 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 – this is any work undertaken to seal a sanitary drain after the connection point to the council sewer or a treatment plant
  12. Sealing supply pipes – this is any work undertaken 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 publish simple guides to what is notifiable work and the definitions of building classes as defined in the Building Code of Australia which you can download below:

Form 4 notifiable work compliance

Every reputable professional plumber, I know 100% supports the notifiable work system. It ensures for homeowners and property owners that all work undertaken on their property is performed to the standards required.

If you have had plumbing or drainage work undertaken that you have not been supplied with a Form 4 as per the form shown above and is covered in the categories listed then, you need to report it to the QBCC now or call them on 139333. Ultimately high-quality plumbing and drainage protects your health.

If you are uncertain or need assistance contact us on (07) 5580 4311 and we will give you our considered opinion. Ultimately all plumbing work is not about guesswork; it is about compliance with the law, and the law is the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018.

Its 99.9% certain that Plumbers don’t have Supermans X-ray Vision

Its 99.9% certain that Plumbers don’t have Supermans X-ray Vision

X-ray Vision Would Be a Plumbers Dream Come True

Anyone who knows me is aware I frequently state that when we get a plumbers licence, we didn’t also get given a pair of Superman’s glasses with X-ray vision.
Plumbing infrastructure is 90% concealed in walls, floors and underground. The ability for a plumber to transform into Superman and see-through physical objects would be an obvious solution when you have problems.

As Plumbers and Electricians are only too aware many people think we possess X-ray vision when it comes to solving their concealed infrastructure issues. There is always a sense of irony in the fact that people will make multiple visits to a doctor to get a diagnosis of a health problem. But believe we only need one visit to diagnose a complex issue in their plumbing, gas or electrical infrastructure.

Looking after your plumbing infrastructure can be challenging when most of the infrastructure is concealed. Most people are vaguely aware there are water pipes and drainage pipes somewhere that connects to their bathrooms, kitchen and laundry.
The vague awareness only transforms into reality when the infrastructure stops working. A leaking water pipe or a blocked toilet suddenly create a perception that something is wrong somewhere.

That’s when you call a plumber to investigate. Often this is where the “fun” starts as we arrive at your home to see exactly what you can see. This means we have to start investigating. Depending on the problem investigating is a process of elimination.

What is a Form 4 3This is why I say Superman’s X-ray vision would solve so many problems for us. Ultimately all we can call upon as Plumbers is our knowledge and experience to eliminate possibilities. Yes, there is the technology we can use. The limitations of the technology are endless with equipment such as a CCTV drain camera being useless to use on a blocked drain as ultimately all we can see is dirty water.

This is why I say Superman’s X-ray vision would solve so many problems for us. Ultimately all we can call upon as Plumbers is our knowledge and experience to eliminate possibilities. Yes, there is the technology we can use. The limitations of the technology are endless with equipment such as a CCTV drain camera being useless to use on a blocked drain as ultimately all we can see is dirty water.

Here at Whywait, I believe we have invested wisely over the years in technology and continue to do so. Equipment such as CCTV drain cameras, sonar locators, pipe tracers, gas detectors, leak detection equipment and much more. Much of the investigative technology we utilise derives from medical technology, so it is continuously evolving.

I’m looking forward to the day when we can access portable X-ray or sonar equipment that will allow us to see clearly the location of infrastructure in your walls, floors and underground.

Ultimately I still believe its the experience and patience of our Plumbers to investigate your problems and eliminate the possibilities before we jackhammer up your floor or smash open your walls.

Here at Whywait, I believe we have invested wisely over the years in technology and continue to do so. Equipment such as CCTV drain cameras, sonar locators, pipe tracers, gas detectors, leak detection equipment and much more. Much of the investigative technology we utilise derives from medical technology, so it is continuously evolving.

I’m looking forward to the day when we can access portable X-ray or sonar equipment that will allow us to see clearly the location of infrastructure in your walls, floors and underground. Ultimately I still believe its the experience and patience of our Plumbers to investigate your problems and eliminate the possibilities before we jackhammer up your floor or smash open your walls.

Your Average Gold Coast Water Bill is Always Out of Date

Your Average Gold Coast Water Bill is Always Out of Date

Most property owners on the Gold Coast have just received their City of Gold Coast Water and Sewerage Rate Notice for January. Under Queensland law, you must receive a quarterly water bill. The City of Gold Coast issues their water bills in January, April, July and October.

gold Coast water meterWhenever water bills arrive, we get clients asking us why their Gold Coast water bill is always out of date. From experience, we can guarantee the average Gold Coast Water bill is still out of date. For example, most water bills issued in January were for water that was used between July and October. This is due to the contractors who read each water meter having set routes and timelines to read your meter so yes your usage charges are always at least two months out of date. This is why we suggest you monitor your water meter weekly and read how to do it on our page “How To Read Your Water Meter”.

For most homeowners who use around the average daily water usage of 451 litres, the highest costs in the quarterly water bill are their sewerage and water services charges. If you look closely at your water bill you can see that you have the following charges:

  • Sewerage service charges – sewerage access                   $181.03 per quarter
  • Water service charges – water access                                  $53.02 per quarter
  • Gold Coast Water – water usage per kilolitre                          $1.09
  • Queensland Government – water usage per kilolitre              $2.91

In reality, even if you used no water, you would still pay for service charges of $234.05 every quarter or $936.20 every year.

Average water use of 451 litres or 0.451kL per property is not an accurate guide to your water use. In our experience, most homes with more than one occupant will use 1-2 kL every day. Remember your water usage will vary every day based on the number of occupants at home each day and their water use behaviours. That is why we recommend you read your water meter weekly as that will give you a better guide about your average consumption but will also alert you to a potential water leak.

If you suspect a water leak, call Whywait Plumbing and ask for our leak detection service.

3 Steps to Avoid Lead In Your Drinking Water

3 Steps to Avoid Lead In Your Drinking Water

3 simple steps to reduce exposure to lead in waterDissolved lead in your drinking water is a reality in Australia. Lead is used across a wide range of plumbing products that are installed in homes and buildings. The most common products lead is used in is brass fittings and taps.

Some brass plumbing fittings allow the lead to dissolve into the drinking water where the water has been unused for long periods. This process is more pronounced in your hot water system where the heating of the water to 70 degrees results in an increase in all dissolved metals in the water, particularly lead. This is why you should always use only cold water for drinking and cooking.

If your water supply is sourced from a rainwater tank, you should also be aware that the increased acidity of rainwater may also increase the level of dissolved metals and lead from brass plumbing fittings.

As we have virtually no lead pipes circulating water in Australia in homes and buildings, it is rare for Australians to have elevated blood lead levels that are related to dissolved lead exposure from drinking water. However, at home, you can reduce your exposure to lead in your drinking water by:

  • Always using the water from the cold tap for drinking and cooking
  • First thing every morning it’s good practice to flush the cold water taps used for drinking and cooking for 30 seconds to draw fresh water through the tap rather than using the water that has been sitting there all night
  • If a home or building has been unoccupied for an extended period, then it’s good practice to flush all cold water taps used for drinking and cooking for at least 3 minutes to flush out dissolved metals. If you are in public parks and use a water bubbler or tap it is good practice to flush the water for 30 seconds, especially if it’s not heavily used.

There is no need to have your water tested for lead. What we do recommend is that you follow the suggestions above to flush dissolved metals such as lead, copper and nickel from your drinking water.

Gold Coast Council Water Rates to Increase

Gold Coast Council Water Rates to Increase

Gold Coast council water rates are about to increase again. For both homeowners and business owners, this could be a double whammy when you couple this with the increases in power bills in recent years.

The Increases are likely to continue in coming years even though the City of Gold Coast has not increased its portion of your water bill at all for three years. Bulk water charges for the City of Gold Coast are recommended to increase by the Queensland Competition Authority a further $12 a year for the next two years.

The City of Gold Coast has now finalised the 2018-19 budget. Your Gold Coast council water rates charges will not increase on the retail and distribution component of the water and sewerage charges from the last financial year.

However, the significant portion of your water cost which is Queensland Government’s bulk water price will increase in line with the recommendations by the Queensland Competition Authority. The bulk water price will increase by 2.5% from $2.74 per kilolitre to $2.91 per kilolitre.

Contrary to some urban myths City of Gold Coast no longer owns Hinze Dam and the desalination plant. Gold Coast Water buys the water that you use through your meter from Seqwater owned by the Queensland Government. The price paid for the bulk water is itemised in your water bill.

Essentially the bulk water charges levied by the Queensland Government makes up the bulk of your water bill.

These charges are still reflecting the poor planning from 20 years ago that resulted in the multi-billion dollar water grid construction in 2007-08 which resulted in supply pipes connecting all of South-East Queensland being built. To a large extent, the pipe grid was constructed without dams being built and to lesser extent dams constructed without pipes which also resulted in the construction of the seldom-used Tugun desalination plant.

For 2018-19 your Gold Coast council water rates will increase on 1 July for your water and sewerage which will comprise of the following charges:

  • Queensland Government bulk water charge $2.91 per k/L
  • City of Gold Coast distribution           $1.09 per k/L
  • Total water consumption charge    $4.00 per k/L 

The water and sewerage access charges will remain the same as in previous years being:

  • water access charge of $212.08 per year
  • sewerage access charge of $724.12 per year.

Currently, water charges are relatively stable, but significant problems are looming. Long term planning is required to address the issues of aging infrastructure and their maintenance costs which will impact Gold Coast council water rates.

Infrastructure Australia in a major report has predicted water bills will go the way of power bills increasing by at least $50 every year. They predict today’s average annual water bill of $1200 will increase to $2500 within 20 years.

The report correctly says we need to start planning now as our dams are relatively full which gives us the rare opportunity of “….clear thinking and long-term planning to meet our future needs.”

As we all know from the water management supply crisis of 2007-09 South East Queensland can be adversely effected quickly with a combination of natural disasters, poor planning and below average rainfall.

Very simply if we don’t start long-term planning now for planning our future water needs the drastic increases in water bills will cripple family and business budgets in the same way power bills are now.

How To Check For a Hidden Water Pipe Leak

How To Check For a Hidden Water Pipe Leak

How to check if you have a water pipe leak

With a water pipe leak, it’s commonly said that prevention is the key. Positive preventive maintenance saves you thousands of dollars in hassles and water damage.

That’s why you want to follow the simple step by step check for a water pipe leak. This will prevent the hassles before they hit you where it hurts most – in your pocket!

Step by Step Instructions

Below we run through:

  1. Check your taps
  2. Check your toilets
  3. Turn the taps off
  4. Check your water meter
  5. Wait 15 minutes
  6. Compare water meter readings
  7. Turn the taps back on
  8. When to call a plumber
  9. When your good to go

 

At Whywait Plumbing, we have always preached that preventative maintenance policies and procedures will prevent many of the significant cost blowouts in plumbing maintenance.

As always, prevention on checking for a water leak is the best solution. An underground concealed water pipe leak is often impossible to see or hear. More so if your home is on sandy soil or has lots of garden vegetation.

The simplest way to check if you have a concealed water pipe leak is to follow the how-to steps below:

Step 1 – Check your taps

Check all taps both inside the house and outside the house are not dripping.

Step 2 – Check your toilets

Check the toilet cisterns are not overflowing or running into the toilet bowl by tipping a few drops of food dye into the cistern and if there is no colouring of the water in the toilet bowl you know there is no leak.

 

Step 3 – Turn the taps off

What is a Form 4 4Turn off all the taps that you normally leave turned on, such as the washing machine, dishwasher and the toilet cisterns.

 

Step 4 – Check your water meter

At the council water meter check the meter is not turning and write down the figures on the meter dial.

 

Step 5 – Wait 15 minutes

After 15 minutes recheck the water meter and write down the figures on the meter dial again.

 

Step 6 – Compare water meter readings

Compare the figures you have written down, and if the numbers have not changed at all, then you have no water pipe leak. If the numbers have changed very slightly repeat the test but do it for at least 1 hour.

 

Step 7 – Turn the taps back on

If you are satisfied there are no leaks remember to turn back on the taps you turned off at the washing machine, dishwasher and toilet cisterns.

 

Step 8 – When to call a plumber

What is a Form 4 5If the meter dial reading on the water meter has changed after 1 hour then in all likelihood you have an underground concealed water pipe leak, and you need to give Whywait a call to organise leak detection.

Step 9 – When your good to go

If the meter dial reading has not changed, that means your underground water reticulation piping is in good condition.

Prevention is the key

No matter what your results in the above step by step preventative maintenance suggestions, we recommend you repeat it monthly. We also recommend you record your water meter readings every month as any change in water use patterns will quickly indicate a possible leak.

As a rule of thumb, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE for any water leak after the council water meter that is on your property. Therefore we recommend that you at least check your water meter reading every month and seriously consider the installation of an AquaTrip water pipe leak detection and control system.

 

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