Flushing out Uncertainties with the new Plumbing and Drainage Act and Regulation

The old Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002 was repealed and the new Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 (PDA) was passed on 11 September 2018 followed by the Regulation on 4 April 2019 . All provisions of the new PDA and Regulation kicked in as at 1 July 2019.

What are the changes?

The State Government plan is to have a consistent approach to building under the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act (QBCC) 1991 and the new Queensland Building Plan of which the new legislation and the new Queensland Plumbing and Wastewater Code form part to protect the public and the construction industry.

Firstly, the categories of plumbing and drainage work have been renamed into 4 categories as below:

  • Permit work – high risk, must be a licensed person, must have a permit, must comply with Code and inspection requirements
  • Notifiable work – defined in the Regulation, must be a licensed person, must comply with the Code; can require a permit and inspection
  • Minor work – defined in the Regulation, must be a licensed person, no permit required, must comply with the Code
  • Unregulated work – defined in the Regulation, can be an unlicensed person, no permit required, must comply with the Code, no inspections required

High-risk plumbing or drainage work can only be done by a licensed person who is required to obtain a permit.  All permit work must be inspected for compliance with the Code and the offences are now aligned with other building legislation. Penalties escalate for repeat offenders and can result in imprisonment where there is a high risk to public health and safety for failure to comply with the law.

Notifiable work is less risky and a permit is not necessarily required. However notifiable work must be done by a licensed person and comply with the Code although inspections are not mandatory unless permit work is also involved.  A local government is able to conduct inspections of notifiable work.

Minor work can include unblocking a pipe and while a person has to hold a licence and comply with the Code, no permit or inspection is required for minor work.

Unregulated work is just that e.g. change a washer in a tap and while it is prescribed in the Regulation, no formal qualifications are required to undertake unregulated work. However, the work must comply with the Code and if you are changing a tap washer, make sure it is a WaterMark product.

There are other changes under the new legislation which includes:

  • Stronger penalties for offences under the PDA
  • Shorter time frames for applications for permit work to be processed and there is an ability to fast track an application although local governments can decide not to implement a fast track process
  • Existing permits can be extended or amended
  • There are also new appeal rights which will allow a licensee to appeal a local government decision at the time of inspection
  • Investigation powers are now held in the QBCC Act
  • Amendments to the licensing regime
  • The Chief Executive can make guidelines which must also be complied with
  • Services Trade Council now part of the QBCC

In addition to the above, the new Code is aligned with the National Construction Code and it includes all the standards for plumbing and drainage work in the one Code which will make compliance so much easier.

How We Can Help?

While the PDA and Regulation have been redrafted to make the administration easier and to create some consistency in the building laws that apply in Queensland, at the end of the day it is legislation. Our lawyers can assist to interpret and clarify the new requirements under the PDA and Regulation and how the building laws will work together moving forward.

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