A specialised industry dealing in the installation and maintenance of drains, pipes, fittings and further equipment, plumbing is responsible for the distribution of water for a variety of purposes.
Plumbing systems help to positively impact the health and wellbeing of the community – if installed correctly. Any number of issues can arise from a poor plumbing job, which is why there are rules and regulations in place to ensure homes and businesses are safe from foul play.
Plumbing Code of Australia
The Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA) sits as Volume Three of the National Construction Code (NCC) – a Council of Australian Governments scheme – with Volume One and Two covering the Building Code of Australia (BCA).
The PCA outlines the requirements for design, installation, maintenance and other areas relating to:
- Water services
- Stormwater systems
- Management of wastewater systems
- Plumbing and drainage
Its main goal is to maintain uniform standards of health, safety, sustainability and amenity across the nation. Anyone can propose changes to the PCA, though approval is subject to Regulation Impact Analysis.
In 2002, a National Plumbing Regulators Forum was created to design a Plumbing Code of Australia. The PCA was published in 2004 and was implemented in Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT. It made its transition to Volume Three of the NCC in 2011.
Provisions within the PCA form part of the Plumbing Regulations 2008. These regulations stem from the Building Act 1993 and consist of items including:
- Licensing and registration eligibility requirements
- Licensing and registration application fees
- Compliance requirements
- Different classes of plumbing work
How We Compare to the UK and US
While there is a professional body in place for the plumbing industry in the United Kingdom – the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating – it’s practically unregulated. There’s no method to oversee the actions of unqualified plumbers, or home owners carrying out their own plumbing work.
Local and state governments in the United States usually control plumbing codes and regulations. On a national scale, guidelines have been set by the Environmental Protection Agency to conform to the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Victorian plumbers provide a compliance certificate to certify their work complies with applicable plumbing codes, regulations and standards; this is managed by the Victorian Building Authority (VBA). A compliance certificate must be issued for the following work:
- Under-ground sanitary drains
- Any work amounting to a total value of $750 or more
- Installation, relocation or conversion of any gas-operated equipment
- All work on cooling towers
- Consumer gas piping works.
Licensed plumbers must provide a compliance certificate to customers within five days of completing relevant work, and also lodge the certificate details with the VBA in the same time frame. Failure to do so is a major offense and can lead to hefty fines or even a licence suspension or cancellation.
Any audited work discovered to be non-compliant is to be rectified by the plumber – typically within 14 days – before being re-inspected.
It’s important, when hiring a plumber, to ensure they are fully licensed to protect against dishonest tradesmen. Licensed plumbers have higher qualifications than registered plumbers, can oversee other plumbers in their class or work, and have the power to issue compliance certificates.
All plumbers who are licensed or registered with the VBA will have been issued with a photo ID – so if they claim not to have one it’d be wise to search for a new plumber.
Hiring a licensed plumber ensures you’re covered by insurance, which is in place to protect customers from faulty plumbing work. Always keep your compliance certificate in the event of a dispute; paired with insurance cover, you will have complete peace of mind.
Express Plumbing provides professional, fully licensed plumbers with extensive industry knowledge. No job is too big or small – contact us today.