Voiding Insurance

Voiding Insurance

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.

 

Allianz Insurance
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

Asbestos In Your Bathroom

Asbestos In Your Bathroom

Asbestos in your bathroom is just one of the many issues that can confront you when undertaking a bathroom renovation. Until the early 1980’s the use of asbestos sheets in bathrooms was the norm and can be sitting beneath your bathroom tiles with potential deadly consequences.

Asbestos removal by specialist licensed contractors is only one of the issues you must be aware of when undertaking a DIY bathroom renovation. Despite what you get told in big box hardware outlets such as Bunnings or Masters there are a number of areas that must be undertaken by fully licensed and insured professional contractors being:

  • electrical
  • plumbing and gas fitting
  • asbestos removal
  • water proofing
  • pest control

In all of the above DIY is not an option to reduce costs as doing so has consequences because it is:

  • illegal
  • dangerous to the point of being life threatening
  • usually results in non compliant and sub standard installation
  • non insurable with it creating a situation where any future insurance claims will be denied and the policy null and void
  • removes all warranty protection from products that are defective

If you are confident and capable Whywait Plumbing fully endorse undertaking labouring work yourself, purchasing materials and running the project but remember short cuts and cheap non compliant products will always come back to haunt you.

By Gary Mays

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 have been, they are a compliance audit – nothing more, nothing less.

Recently Kelly from Hope Island sent me an email which began with the comment that, “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 everyday 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 the reality in the construction industry.

The pressure by builders on plumbers to reduce prices and take “SHORT CUTS” increases daily as I have stated previously and in fairness is frequently driven by the client demanding a cheaper price 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 not correct as the plumbing inspectors 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-
(a) the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002; or
(b) the Sustainable Planning Act 2009; or
(c) the Local Government Act 2009.

The important 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 who is responsible for the work you will only get a letter that says it is a PLUMBING AND DRAINAGE COMPLIANCE CERTIFICATE and it will state clearly that, “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 are 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 make sure that you are getting high standard, quality work by ensuring you are 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 contractors 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.

By Gary Mays

Plumbing Is Expensive

Plumbing Is Expensive

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

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.

What Plumbing Is Needed In An Outdoor Kitchen?

What plumbing is needed in an outdoor kitchen is a question that we are getting asked more frequently at Whywait Plumbing. To be honest an outdoor kitchen is exactly as the name says – a kitchen built in an outdoor living area so plumbing needs replicate those of inside your home.

As restaurants have increasingly focused on alfresco dining this has now flowed through to our homes. Landscaping design is now all about creating an elaborate outdoor entertaining area complete with alfresco dining where meals are served from an outdoor kitchen.

Outdoor kitchens have increasingly become more and more sophisticated to allow gourmet meals to be cooked and served so frequently include the following:

  • permanent storage cupboards
  • preparation and serving bench spaces
  • sink and prep sink
  • bar fridge
  • wine cooler
  • ovens and or stove top
  • range-hood
  • barbecue with wok burner
  • dishwasher
  • beer on tap
  • designer lighting
  • gas heating
  • coffee machines
  • ice machines
  • pizza ovens

From a plumbing perspective many of these appliances and fixtures need to be connected to water reticulation, sewer drains and gas reticulation. Ideally your outdoor kitchen should be located with easy access to your house to enable easy connection to existing water, drainage and gas lines. Building an outdoor kitchen without easy access to these existing connections will mean that you have to install extra services lines which will blow your budget costs upwards.

In an ideal world you should plan for your outdoor kitchen when building a new home so that you can ensure that the water, drainage and gas pipes are installed before the landscaping is undertaken. It is easy to plan ahead for the possibility that you may install an outdoor kitchen in the future even if your original design doesn’t include one by installing live capped off water connections, drainage connections and gas connections outside for potential use in future.  When you are building a new home the cost to install live capped off connections is usually under a $1000 compared to upwards of $10000 to install new connections at a later date.

By Gary Mays

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