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Find a local plumber for contract work on a new home or for repair and maintenance. Whether you need to fix a simple leaking tap or a repair of the hot water system, or need to fit out your new home with complete washroom and laundry facilities, you can find the right tradesmen in the Specifier Residential plumber directory.
- What is a plumber?
- What does a plumber do?
- When should I consider hiring a plumber?
- Can I do the work myself, instead of hiring a plumber?
FINDING AND HIRING A PLUMBER
- What type of plumber do I need?
- How do I find a plumber?
- What questions should I ask before hiring a plumber?
- Should I get a quote?
- How much should I pay for a plumber?
WHAT TO EXPECT
- What sort of skills should I expect from a plumber?
- Should a plumber offer service guarantees?
- Should a plumber be insured?
LEGISLATION AND LICENSING
- What is the relevant state/national legislation?
- Which bodies oversee plumbers?
- What qualifications and accreditation should I expect a plumber to have?
What is a plumber?
A plumber is a tradesperson who specialises in installing, repairing and maintaining water, sewerage, drainage and pipe systems.
What does a plumber do?
Plumbers install and maintain piping systems that allow water and gas to reach all parts of the building and sewerage systems for dealing with waste. They are also responsible for the installation and maintenance of all hardware, fixtures and piping relating to these services.
When should I consider hiring a plumber?
Plumbing installations, fixtures and systems are essential components of all residential, commercial, institutional and industrial developments. It is crucial that water supply, sanitary and drainage plumbing meet high standards on an ongoing basis to ensure there is no risk of contamination. That said, if you are building, renovating or extending your home, it is vital that you hire a plumber to install the appropriate plumbing system. Plumbers are required in any renovation or installation of wet areas like laundries, kitchens and bathrooms. They are also required to install gas systems like cooking or hot water systems. Even if you are not building or renovating, you may experience common problems like a leaking tap or ruptured pipe in which case a plumber will need to be hired.A plumber can:
- install plumbing and sewerage systems;
- connect your plumbing systems to the mains water supply;
- install fixtures or appliances – such as toilets, taps, sinks, gas appliances and so on – that will be connected to plumbing or gas systems;
- fix problems with your piping, gutters, drainpipes, sewerage system, hot water system, air conditioning unit or other devices related to your plumbing system;
- install and repair water filters and anti-scalding devices; and
- unblock drains, replace old plumbing, and detect leaks in water and gas systems.
Can I do the work myself, instead of hiring a plumber?
Most jurisdictions require that you hire a licensed plumber to install plumbing and related services. This is intended to protect you and to guarantee that the water supply does not get contaminated by waste.
FINDING AND HIRING A PLUMBER
What type of plumber do I need?
In general, most plumbers perform either maintenance jobs such as emergency callouts, broken pipes and blocked toilets; or larger renovation and building plumbing work. If you are hiring a plumber to install pipes or make large changes, ensure that you have hired the latter sort.
In addition, plumbers may specialise in one or more areas. Note that even ‘general’ plumbers may not be skilled or legally able to work in all these areas, so you should always check that your plumber has relevant skills and experience before hiring him or her. Some of the main plumbing specialists are:
- water supply plumbers, who install and maintain piping for hot and cold water systems
- sanitary plumbers, who install and maintain sewerage systems (often only those parts of the systems that are above ground)
- drainers or drainage plumbers, who install and maintain underground pipes and fittings for stormwater, waste or sewerage
- gasfitters, who install and maintain gas lines and meters, as well as gas hot-water systems
- heating and ventilation plumbers, who install and maintain heating and cooling systems, such as air conditioning units
- roofing plumbers, who install and maintain downpipes, gutters and associated roofing fixtures
Other plumbers may work with fire services and sprinkler systems, irrigation, boilers, ducting and so on. Plumbers may also deal with the installation, repair and maintenance of water saving devices like rainwater tanks, solar hot water systems and greywater diverters. This kind of plumbing is commonly referred to as ‘green plumbing’ and its aim is to conserve water and reduce the dependence on public water supply.
How do I find a plumber?
It’s always helpful to ask people you know for recommendations of plumbers they’ve hired in the past. You can also ask contractors and even your local plumbing supply store. Specifier.com.au has a comprehensive database of Australian plumbers. You can search your local area and come out with a list of names and contact details.
What questions should I ask before hiring a plumber?
If someone has referred a plumber to you, be sure to check the type of job the plumber was called in for, and if the plumber specialises in residential or commercial work. Ask people who can vouch for the quality of their work and whether they completed the job on time and within budget. When you’ve found a prospective plumber, ask how long they’ve been in the business – more often than not it’s a case of the more experience, the better. Other questions to ask your plumber include if they provide 24-hour emergency service. Emergencies could include blockages and burst pipes, and you’ll want to make sure that you’re covered for these.
Should I get a quote?
Yes. If you’ve narrowed your choice down to a few plumbers, it helps to ask two or three of them to inspect the job and provide a written estimate that includes a materials list. Not only should the quote outline the prospective payment due, but it should identify the scope of the project and the payment terms. When seeking a quote, it is important to ask the plumber about the type of materials that will be used. After all, a plumbing part defect has the potential to cause a lot of water damage. Look for quality materials with recognisable brand names that offer manufacturers’ guarantees and warranties.
How much should I pay for a plumber?
The sum of payment will obviously depend on the scope of the work, but a fee for new installations applies to all plumbing work carried out on new developments or extensions to existing buildings. The fee is based on the number of fixtures to be installed.
Always compare the prices from your quotes, but keep in mind that the cheapest quote isn’t necessarily your best option. It is normal for an experienced, qualified and licensed plumber to charge more, but any initial expenses could save you money in the long run because the risk of repair work may be reduced.
WHAT TO EXPECT
What sort of skills should I expect from a plumber?
Apart from the obvious skills of installing, repairing and maintaining fixtures and systems, depending on the type of project plumbers may be required to read blueprints, drawings and specifications to determine the layout of water supply, waste and venting systems. Plumbers should be able to locate and mark positions for pipe connections, passage holes and fixtures in walls and floors. Plumbing professionals can measure, bend, cut and connect pipes using hand and power tools/machines, and can test pipes for leaks using air and water pressure gauges. It is very important that plumbers are aware of the relevant legal regulations and ensure safety standards and building regulations are met.
Should a plumber offer service guarantees?
Yes. This is important if there are any problems that need fixing after initial installation or repair.
Should a plumber be insured?
Yes. Your plumber should be fully insured, and have workers’ compensation and liability insurance. On request, your plumber should be able to provide you with a copy of their insurance policy. Remember, accidents can happen, so make sure to ask your plumber what steps they will take to prevent injuries and possible damage to your property.
LEGISLATION AND LICENSING
What is the relevant state/national legislation?
Plumbers must conform to a range of standards and codes, including the Building Code of Australia as well as state and local regulations covering plumbing, water supply, draining, sewerage and so on.
The laws governing registration and licensing of plumbers are state-specific. Legislation such as the Home Building Act 1989 in New South Wales, the Building Act 1993 in Victoria and similar acts in other states regulate the plumbing industry. The 2003 edition of the Australian/New Zealand Standard 3500 (AS/NSW 3500:2003) applies to all plumbing carried out in all parts of Australia.
Which bodies oversee plumbers?
Each state has its own Master Plumbers Association which represents the interests of plumbers and associated professions in their state.
In addition, the Office of Fair Trading in each state is the consumer watchdog responsible for overseeing the plumbing industry. In many states, however, there are specialist bodies such as the Plumbing Industry Commission in Victoria, the Plumbers Licensing Board in Western Australia or the Plumbers and Drainers Board in Queensland who focus more specifically on plumbers and associated professions.
What qualifications and accreditation should I expect a plumber to have?
Years of training and experience are needed to become a professional plumber. Plumbing codes are strict and differ in each part of Australia. State Licences and Certifications are required and in Australia, an Apprenticeship in Plumbing also provides a national qualification. All licensed plumbing contractors, tradesperson, and restricted plumbing permit holders are required to carry their identity card – you should ask to look at this and check the expiry date to make sure the licence is valid. This card indicates what type of plumbing working he or she is permitted to perform. Currently, the types of plumbing contractor’s licence available are:
- water supply, sanitary and drainage
- water supply and sanitary
- water supply and drainage
- water supply
- sanitary and drainage plumbing