Benefits flow from new plumbing audits
In February 2014, the Plumbers Licensing Board (the Board), via the Building Commission, introduced a new audit process to complement its previous compliance monitoring activities. Key changes in the program include the joining of administrative compliance checks with technical inspections and a more robust examination of the system of self-certification.
So far a total of 86 audits have been carried out; 53 in the metropolitan area and 33 regionally. In addition to the audits, compliance officers have carried out a focused investigation in relation to the low number of certificates submitted in 2013.
Building Commission Director Compliance Sandy Randall said just six months into the new audit program, many licensed plumbing contractors had commented on the positive and improved levels of communication they had experienced with the plumbing inspectors.
"Plumbing contractors have been particularly complimentary of what they see as a move towards a level playing field," Ms Randall said. "Auditing efforts are confirming that the necessary certificates are being submitted, which is easing the frustration many contractors felt when they saw others cutting corners. The audit program, along with the other compliance activities, is exposing those who fail to submit the necessary documentation and ensuring the requisite fees are being paid retrospectively."
In addition to issuing fines, more serious cases have been referred to the Building Commission’s Enforcement Branch for commencement of disciplinary action.
Not only are benefits being seen from the new administrative side of the audit; the technical inspections are allowing inspectors greater exposure to different types of installations that may not have been available to them previously. For example, previously inspections have been focused in the new construction market whereas by working with the contractor inspectors are now able to gain access to sewer conversions, water heater replacements, kitchen and bathroom renovations and completed projects. As well as benefit of monitoring compliance of this type of plumbing work, there’s also been a positive effect for consumers who can see a more active plumbing regulator. This is lifting consumer confidence and reinforcing the benefits of using licensed contractors to perform plumbing work.
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