Licensed to leak - avoid plumbing nightmares with a licensed professional

Jason Advantage - Monday, April 08, 2013

It certainly takes more than a few tools and a little know-how to work as a plumber. When you are looking to hire a plumbing contractor, be it for planned building work or an emergency, such a burst water main or blocked toilet,always take the time to check who you are dealing with. A licensed plumber is the only option you should consider.

What should I choose a licensed plumber?

Licensing is about protecting consumer rights by ensuring the job is done right – first time. Shoddy workmanship and shonky operators are all too rife, particularly so when they come calling in the wake of natural disasters such as the Queensland floods. It's worth knowing that all licensed plumbers not only follow certain industry guidelines, they must legally abide by industry-related laws. That means that should anything go wrong, you'll be in the best position to have it sorted.

How do I know if my plumber is licensed?

Licensed plumbers should be upfront and clear about their licence status, qualifications and experience. Check on their website or advertising materials for a registration number. You can also confirm their status with the licensing body in your area.

Official organisations

There is no national licensing system for plumbing contractors, so each state and territory has an organisation that oversees plumber licensing.

These include:
  • ACT: ACT Planning and Land Authority
  • NSW: Department of Fair Trading
  • Northern Territory: Department of Lands, Planning and the
  • Environment (Land Services)
  • South Australia: Consumer and Business Services
  • Tasmania: Workplace Standards
  • Victoria: Plumbing Industry Commission
  • Western Australia: Plumbers Licensing Board

Don't be fooled

In deciding on a plumber, be careful where you source them. In one case recently, the Building Commission and the Plumbing Industry Commission advised consumers to be on the lookout for companies that were encouraging consumers to become owner-builders when applying for a building permit,and then arranging tradespeople that were unlicensed and unregistered. In this situation, you have no recourse should something go wrong.

When sourcing plumbers, and indeed any tradespeople, look for registered contractors with the relevant experience (residential and/or business plumbing), and good customer reviews.

A final word

Each organisation will have laws and guidelines for plumbers to follow. In general, on the completion of any job, customers must be provided with a Certificate of Compliance and a Sewer Service Diagram (if applicable) to confirm that a licensed plumber has undertaken the work, and that it complies with the Plumbing Code of Australia and relevant industry standards.