Fire is a likely consequence of DIY electrical or gas fitting.
Voiding insurance coverage is the risk you take every time you decide you can undertake your own plumbing, gas fitting or electrical repairs or installation.
Sure the rules and regulations differ slightly between each state in Australia but essentially there are no grey areas in the laws in each state because its completely black and white legally that when it comes to working on the plumbing, gas or electrical systems in your home or business you must be licensed.
Here at Whywait Plumbing every week we deal with the consequences of the weekend warriors who go to Bunnings or Masters and are convinced they can do it themselves after getting advice from a shop assistant. Usually the consequences are that we have to rip everything out and start again.
Everyone in the plumbing industry be it plumbers, manufacturers or council inspectors do not need convincing that DIY plumbing is no good for anyone and most of all it is ultimately no good for the general public. Unless you have a licence you are not insured to undertake plumbing, gas or electrical work.
What they don’t tell you at Bunnings or Masters when selling you all the plumbing pipes and fittings is that it is illegal to undertake you own plumbing. Certainly they do not inform you that DIY plumbing, gas or electrical work will most likely void your home insurance policy in the event of a insurance claim.
There are some plumbing tasks you can legally undertaken without a plumbers licence in Queensland and they are limited to:
- Replacing a shower head or shower rose
- Replacing a tap washer or jumper valve
- Replacing a domestic water filter cartridge
- Replacing a washer in a toilet cistern inlet or outlet valve
- Installing, repairing or maintaining garden irrigation system
- Cleaning or repairing the grate to a drainage gully trap
- Replacing a cap on inspection opening to a drain
These plumbing tasks listed are all you can do without running the risk of voiding your insurance cover. More importantly there are no gas fitting or electrical tasks you can legally undertake that will not void your insurance cover. Listed below are links and warnings from Queensland Government and Allianz Insurance.
Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC)
|Using licensed plumbers and drainers is the simplest and most effective way of ensuring that plumbing work complies with regulations to minimise unnecessary risk to your family’s health and safety. Rectifying defective or non-compliant work can be far more expensive than the original cost. As a consumer, using an appropriately qualified plumber or drainer will help to protect you and your family as well as your bank account.
|Illegal DIY work can put you at risk of extra costs, injury or death. Leave electrical or plumbing work to qualified professionals. Some of us enjoy a spot of weekend DIY. Others are less enthusiastic but do the fix-ups anyway. And while there are many benefits of doing-it-yourself such as saving on labour costsi, there are safety and legal reasons why the majority of plumbing and electrical tasks need to be left to the professionals. DIY jobs can put you and other people at risk of injury or death. And if you don’t get something done right, you could end up putting people at risk and damaging property in the future.
We recommend that you should avoid DIY plumbing, gas or electrical as frequently you end up costing yourself more with the problems never being repaired.
By Gary Mays
Negligence causes plumbing emergencies as a fact I am becoming acutely aware of with over half of the plumbing emergencies we attend having been caused due to a plumbers negligence in the initial installation.
A large part of this negligence is driven by plumbing work being undertaken to a cost and not to the legislative requirements or standards that plumbers are legally obliged to comply with.
As I constantly have to remind clients who are victims of this negligence in near 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 is the reality in the construction industry.
The most common plumbing emergencies we see that are in most cases attributable to deliberate negligence by the plumber who did the initial work are:
- leaking water-mains laid in rock and backfilled with rock with no compliant bedding or backfill material
- broken house sewer drains once again laid in rock and backfilled with rock
- mixer taps installed without isolation valves
Negligence by a plumber in installing the examples above are just the tip of the iceberg that we see daily but all cause a great deal of damage and are frequently expensive to repair.
The pressure by builders on plumbers to reduce prices and take “shortcuts” increases daily but is not an excuse to ignore undertaking the work in as set out in AS3500 and called into law through the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002.
Under common law, the term “negligence” generally describes damage causing conduct that arises because of the defendant’s carelessness or failure to take reasonable care.
As an example, a plumber who installs a plastic polypipe water main straight onto the rocky ground and then backfills it with the same spoil he dug out has breached his duty of care. As a professional licensed plumber, he is fully aware that the job is not in accordance with clause 5.12 of AS3500 Part 1 for Water Services which states:
The water services shall be surrounded with not less than 75mm of compacted sand, or fine-grained soil, with no hard edged object permitted to come into contact with or resting against any pipe or fitting.
Material used for final backfill shall be free from rock, hard matter or organic material and be broken up to contain no soil larger than 75mm.
As you can see the wording and diagram in Australian Standards are quite specific on how your water main should be installed. They are specific requirements under law not options the plumber can choose to obey.
Very simply if your water main is not installed as above the licensed plumber installing it has done so knowing it is noncompliant and that it is reasonably foreseeable that failure and damage will occur.
In conclusion, I reiterate that most plumbing emergencies are caused by negligence and we are prepared to assist you if you have the willpower to legally seek compensation. It’s your choice but the industry will only be cleaned up when plumbers who continually break the law are hit in their hip pocket.
Not Compliant? It’ll Be Expensive!
Plumbing Costs for Correct and Compliant Work
Plumbing is expensive if not done correctly and compliantly. Quality plumbing is not a luxury but is a legal requirement under the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002.
Cheap, illegal plumbing repaired by Whywait Plumbing after sewer odours were escaping inside an office because there was a 35mm gap allowing the odours to escape where a 65mm pipe had been pushed inside a 100mm pipe
Not everyone can afford a Lexus GS450h at $130497 or a BMW 7 Series 760Li 4 door Sedan at $141,200, but everyone can afford and should ensure they use a quality plumbing company. So if price is your only consideration, PLEASE phone another plumber as there are plenty of “cheap”, “competitively priced”, “discount”, “budget priced” plumbers out there who will do your work to a price but for your own sake please make sure they are:
- licensed plumbers by the Plumbing Industry Council
- licensed plumbing contractors with Queensland Building and Construction Commission
- insured for your protection with at least $10 million of Public Liability
However if you have come to the conclusion that your home is your biggest investment and you want to maintain your home to peak value then please phone Whywait Plumbing provided you want the work undertaken legally and compliantly with Australian WaterMark approved materials and highly skilled licensed plumbers who guarantee their work.
Please don’t phone us and ask for free quotes or free advice over the phone as no professional plumber can give you a price over the phone without an on-site diagnosis. Believe me, every plumbing installation is a one-off no matter how similar they appear.
Just remember if you use the cheap meeting the standard market price plumber ask to visually to see their plumbing license and their contractor’s license as they are required to carry them with them by law. In the end, these licenses are put in place by the Queensland Government for your protection, not for the plumber’s protection.
If you want cheap plumbing or free plumbing estimates or discount to meet the market pricing please do both of us a favour and save each others time by calling someone else.
By Gary Mays
Fear of Bunnings and Masters getting too strong was brought home to me when attending the World Plumbing Council meetings and Singapore International Water Week in Singapore in July 2014. A question that many Australians are starting to ask is should we fear letting Bunnings and Masters getting too strong?
This was the first time I have attended a World Plumbing Council meeting and was doing so as an individual member plus as an observer from Master Plumbers & Mechanical Services Association of Australia, (MPMSAA).
For me personally, the overwhelming impression after two days was the commonality of issues worldwide. Countries such as India and China admire and would love to have:
- our professional plumbing standards and laws
- our training regime inclusive of apprenticeships
- our licensing of not only plumbing companies but individual plumbers
- our regulation of all things regarding plumbing, drainage and gas fitting
- our product regulation and safety whereas all plumbing products must be WaterMark certified
In an equally perverse way countries such as Australia, UK, USA and Canada are deeply concerned about a trend in all jurisdictions that are essentially dumbing down the plumbing industry with the common thread being:
- reducing training standards
- deregulating or removing licensing
- reducing downward regulation standards
- tolerating more and more DIY plumbing
- reducing or eliminating product regulation
Unfortunately, in Australia, we take plumbing for granted because our high standards, training, regulations and enforcement of laws mean that unlike many other developing countries people simply do not die from poorly installed plumbing in Australia.
In many countries, strong plumbing regulations have made the world a much safer place. But with that safe environment that plumbing has created has come complacency to the degree that we only appreciate plumbing when we don’t have it.
In the USA this complacency has been capitalised on by large corporations who have built large hardware box store warehouses importing product from all around the world. They have lead the charge to dumb down plumbing standards so they can sell more plumbing products to the public at a much higher profit.
In Australia, we see the emergence of this same pattern lead by Bunnings (Coles) and Masters (Woolworths).
In Australia, much of the reduction in standards is trumpeted by politicians as a reduction in red tape, but in reality, it’s removing public health standards that have protected the general population for 150 years.
Acutely merely reducing public health standards is not a reduction in red tape but the caving in of bureaucrats and politicians to lobbyists who convince them our laws and regulations are too strong and are too restrictive.
Already you see Bunnings adopting the American models of offering full supply and installation of product squeezing the margins of manufacturers and plumbers to the absolute limit and advertising the following ….”gas and electric hot water systems. From just $249* we will arrange your standard installation for you, and if you need an emergency replacement system, we will also organise that to be installed.”
It is utterly impossible to legally and compliantly replace an existing hot water system for $249 (or what is, in reality, $226 exclusive of GST), and Bunnings know it, which is why they have the asterisk after the price which states…. “*Additional costs do apply beyond standard installation. For information on licensing, please view details here.” If you click on those links, it leads you to download a three-page document which is full of exclusions. Very simply the $249 price is entirely false but is designed to get you to buy from Bunnings without checking the details.
After listening to the issues raised by delegates from USA and Canada, we have much to fear if we let Bunnings and Masters get too strong. Already we have seen the effects in the continuous limit of choice in supermarkets, and now we are on the verge of seeing it in the hardware industry. Imagine an Australia where Bunnings and Masters control the plumbing industry:
- DIY is rampant leading to lower house prices and higher insurance policy costs
- fewer skilled jobs leading to fewer apprenticeships
- licensed plumbers working at subsistence levels based on rates decided by Bunnings or Masters as occurs in the USA where a journeyman plumber in LA is paid $20000 a year
- limited choice of product
- no Australian manufacturing further decreasing career choice and leading to increasing unemployment
We need to ensure politicians understand the implications of dumbing down plumbing because the SARS outbreak and the current Ebola virus are a warning of what faulty plumbing can create. Virus’ are every changing, ever mutating and as Indian and China are only too well aware that strong plumbing regulations guard your health.
Free plumbing quotes or free estimates are not undertaken by Whywait Plumbing and have never done so on any service or maintenance plumbing works.
Yes, we will do free plumbing quotes if you bring into our office a set of design drawings such as hydraulic plans or architectural plans.
If we have to attend on-site at your home or business premises, there are significant costs involved for us. That is why we charge you a diagnostic fee.
Businesses who advertise that they undertake free quotes or no call out fee are devaluing their time and their expertise. I guarantee you will pay for their time, hidden somewhere in their charges because as the saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Think about it, would you go to work for free?
We learnt long ago offering free plumbing quotes or estimates is a waste of money and company resources. In our experience people who call Whywait Plumbing asking for free plumbing quotes or expecting us to come to the site and solve their problems for free fall into the following categories:
- dreamers who are toying with some vague idea of a plumbing installation such a third bathroom or outdoor kitchen who want us to design it all, solve all the problems but have little intention of using our services
- price checkers who just want us to give them a comparison price in the hope we come up with a cheaper alternative to undertake the work
- time wasting people who have a significant plumbing issue such as flooding in their backyard in heavy rainfall who want us to investigate and solve the problems and are absolutely insistent on picking our brains, getting all the information off us so they can then do it themselves or get a handyman to do it
- the DIY homeowner who wants to pick our brain so he can run to Bunnings and be a weekend warrior playing at being a plumber.
We learnt at Whywait a long ago to accept that we cannot compete with competitors who devalue their plumbing licenses by racing to the bottom with clients who are only interested in PRICE, a cheap price, a less expensive than reasonable price, an entirely unreasonably and pathetically inadequate price that does not even cover the plumbers wages.
As the owner of Whywait Plumbing, I was lucky enough to learn a long time ago that we always had to do our budgets and know where our break-even cost was so we know when to say no. This ensures that we don’t waiver from our commitment to providing outstanding customer service from well trained and professional plumbers who stand behind their work.
As I said previously, there is no such thing as a free lunch because Whywait Plumbing Pty Ltd is a business that is legally obligated to generate profits.
Without profit, any business is just an expensive hobby.
Pre-Purchase Plumbing Inspections Are An Investment By Themselves
With 90% of Plumbing & Drainage Infrastructure Hidden From View
We all know the excitement that comes with purchasing a new home but a pre-purchase plumbing inspection by Whywait Plumbing Services will reduce the nightmare of inheriting someone else’s plumbing nightmares.
A pre-purchase plumbing inspection potentially saves you not only money but the stress of finding the all too common occurrence of all your drains blocked a week after moving into your new home. Not every aspect of the plumbing, drainage or gas infrastructure of an existing house can easily be sighted but the experienced eyes of a licensed plumber undertaking a pre-purchase inspection will easily see signs such as:
- drain clearing equipment having been used in the past
- that a toilet has been removed to access the drains
- the hot water service has been relocated.
Consistently pre-purchase plumbing inspections by Whywait Plumbing Services show up plumbing problems 90% of the time, which no one else has identified. These problems range from:
- tree roots in the drains
- leaking water pipes
- water hammer
- leaking hot water tanks and so the list goes on
All of these problems have the potential to lead to major unexpected financial outlays when often you are stretched to the limit financially but also can create a great deal of stress and inconvenience for you and your family.
A comprehensive pre-purchase plumbing inspection and written report by Whywait Plumbing Services experienced licensed plumbers Gold Coast covers all the areas of plumbing, drainage and gas that are never covered in a standard building inspection. Your solicitor will usually recommend a building and pest inspection be undertaken. Inevitably these are an overview of the plumbing because they are undertaken by builders not plumbers and builders do not have the expertise or equipment to undertake a detailed inspection of the plumbing and drainage infrastructure.
The written report from Whywait Plumbing Services will enable you to make an informed decision on purchasing the property ensuring that all the plumbing infrastructure is compliant and functioning correctly. Any faults will be identified and detailed in the written report along with the cost to rectify so you can go back and renegotiate your purchase price with confidence.
A Whywait Plumbing Services pre-purchased plumbing inspection is fully detailed and easy to read being free of jargon and reports on the following:
- council as constructed drainage plan (if available)
- CCTV inspection of house sewer drains
- CCTV inspection of storm water drains
- surface storm water flow to determine if drainage is adequate
- water main pressure test to determine if pressure is compliant & to to determine any underlying issues
- water main leakage test
- condition report of gutters, downpipes and roof flashing’s
- condition report on all taps & connections
- condition report on bathroom fixtures
- condition report on laundry fixtures
- condition report on kitchen fixtures
- condition report on hot water service tank with working life report
- condition report on all hot water valves
- condition report on water reticulation system
To ensure your most important asset, your future home, is not going to become a nightmare due to defective plumbing and drainage infrastructure always get Whywait Plumbing Services to undertake a comprehensive pre-purchase plumbing inspection which will allow you to make an offer to purchase based on factual information. Call us now for more information.
By Gary Mays