Renovating a kitchen, bathroom, laundry – anywhere plumbing is involved – can be tricky for the novice. Homeowners who dive unprepared into complex projects such as bathroom and kitchen renovations can soon find themselves in hot water.
Beyond the technical nature of plumbing work, there are planning and regulatory requirements, environmental considerations, fixture and fitting decisions, and budget and project constraints that need careful deliberation.
Here are some tips for anyone planning a renovation relating to plumbing work.
1. Know your limits and legal obligations
It is tempting to try and install plumbing fixtures and equipment yourself by jumping in and getting it done. Just don’t. There are legislative requirements and planning regulations that need to be adhered to. DIY renovating can result in serious damage, expensive repair bills and potential health risks.
2. Allow time
Good work and quality outcomes take time. Go slowly when planning your project, and make it fit your life – not the other way around – and get professional upfront advice.
3. Use a licensed plumbing practitioner
Apart from the common sense in using a professional, there is another good reason for using a licensed or registered plumber: it’s required by law. They are also not only skilled, but have mandatory insurance and abide by strict regulatory requirements that include health, safety and environmental provisions.
4. Get competitive quotes
Ask for a full written quote from (at least) three licensed or registered plumbing practitioners, based on a standard specification outlining what you require. Insist the people providing quotes give a full description of inclusions, total cost, and the time estimated to complete the project.
5. Follow planning and building regulations
Local and state planning and building regulations can be a minefield for the uninitiated. Ask for help from your plumber from the outset to ensure the work complies with all applicable regulations. A good starting point is the Building Code of Australia’s website, www.abcb.gov.au.
6. Get expert advice on design and fit-out
Only approved or authorised plumbing products can be installed in most states. Every part of a plumbing installation must be built in an appropriate manner using materials that are fit for the purpose.
Should you choose to source your own products, your plumber will need to check to see they meet regulatory standards. If the product is not suitable, a replacement might be required, adding to your costs.
7. Consider sustainable options
Use your renovation as an opportunity to make your home more sustainable.
Water efficient tapware and dual flush toilets are now mandatory and water pressure reduction equipment is compulsory in many cases. Consumers can also invest in rainwater or solar hot water systems, as well as greywater systems.
8. Get a Compliance Certificate
Plumbers are required to provide a Compliance Certificate for any work completed to the value of $500 or more – including parts and labour, most gas fitting work (regardless of value) and any job with an underground drain (regardless of value). Compliance Certificates protect consumers against faulty work and ensure warranties on products used.
9. Resolve disputes effectively
If you’re dissatisfied with the standard of work, the first step is to seek direct resolution of the matter with the practitioner involved. Failing that, your local state or territory consumer protection agency will provide you with information about your rights and options, and may be able to help negotiate a resolution.
If you’re still not satisfied with the outcome, you can take your complaint to the tribunal or court, such as NCAT in NSW, QBCC in Queensland, VCAT in Victoria or the WA Building Commissioner.