Plumbing inspections and investigations
Plumbing compliance is monitored and enforced by the Plumbers Licensing Board (the Board) through the designation of plumbing compliance officers employed within the Plumbing Inspectorate for the Building and Energy division of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.
The Plumbing Inspectorate is responsible to carry out inspections and investigations pursuant to the provisions of the Plumbers Licensing and Plumbing Standards Regulations 2000 (the Regulations).
Inspections are both reactive and proactive, which are carried out in a compliance risk based and intelligence led approach.
Investigations are carried out following the submission of a complaint from internal or external sources.
Plumbing inspections and investigations
Receipt of a complaint
On receipt of a plumbing complaint form the form will be assessed by a plumbing inspector and you will be contacted within 7 days. You may be requested to provide additional information.
The Plumbing Complaint Form is provided to assist consumers lodge a complaint of unsatisfactory plumbing work. In the first instance complainants are encouraged to discuss matters directly with the responsible contractor prior to lodging a complaint with Building and Energy.
The Plumbing Complaint form may be submitted for workmanship related issues only and does not include complaints of a contractual nature such as monetary disputes. For contractual disputes please refer to Consumer Protection: https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/consumer-protection/making-complaint.
Building and Energy receives complaints from consumers about faulty building and plumbing work. These matters can be resolved quickly through discussion with the contractor and this must be considered in the first instance. If building work is affected by faulty plumbing work e.g. floor tiling over drainage plumbing then consumers will need to consider lodging a building service complaint. Such plumbing disputes involving other building work can be lodged at the following link: https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/building-and-energy/dispute-resolution.
If only plumbing work is in dispute, the plumbing work was completed within the last six years and the plumber has failed to rectify the plumbing work a complaint may be lodged using the Plumbing complaint form.
How long will an inspection or investigation take?
The Plumbing Inspectorate will endeavour to commence and complete all matters promptly; however, due to the priority of matters and resourcing available this may not always be possible. You will be notified of investigation outcomes upon completion.
Possible outcomes of inspections and investigations
An inspection or investigation may result in one, or a combination of, the following outcomes:
- No further action –
Where the inspection or investigation has resulted in the complaint not being substantiated, insufficient evidence is available to commence further action or other imposed restrictions exist such as being out of time to prosecute or being out of time to issue rectification notices.
- Educational notice –
Under this process the Plumbing Inspectorate will deem it appropriate to bring the matter to the respondent’s attention with the intent of deterring the respondent from further possible breaches of the Regulations, including plumbing standards.
- Verbal warning –
A plumbing compliance officer may issue a verbal warning taking into account the circumstances of the matter i.e. the seriousness of the breach and co-operation of the respondent.
- Rectification Notice –
A plumbing compliance officer may give a rectification notice in respect of plumbing work completed within six years if the officer is satisfied that the plumbing work was not carried out in accordance with the plumbing standards that applied to the work at the time it was carried out; or
the plumbing work was not carried out in accordance with the plumbing standards that applied to the work at the time it was carried out; or
the plumbing work –
did not comply with the deemed-to-satisfy provisions in the Plumbing Code as modified in accordance with regulation 49 at the time the work was carried out; and
a notice of intention to include a performance solution was not given under regulation 45A for the work;
the plumbing work included the installation of a pipe, fixture or fitting in respect of which regulation 52(1) applied and –
the installation specifications specified by the manufacturer of the pipe, fixture or fitting were not complied with; or
the operating conditions specified by the manufacturer of the pipe, fixture or fitting were exceeded; or
the plumbing work was not carried out in a tradesman like manner.
- Official warning – When the Plumbing Inspectorate has an appropriate level of evidence (or availability to the evidence) to formally warn the respondent regarding apparent breaches of the Regulations. If the respondent has previously been issued with an official warning regarding similar matters, a higher level of enforcement may be likely.
- Infringement notices – When sufficient evidence exists, and the use of education/warning is not sufficient to address non-compliance, infringement notices may be issued. A fixed modified penalty must be applied to infringement notices as set out in the Regulations.
- Prosecution – Proceedings are usually heard in a Magistrates Court and may result in the respondent being fined if convicted of the offence.
- Disciplinary action – A disciplinary complaint may be lodged to the Board in the approved form. Based on the type of disciplinary conduct and strength of the evidence, the Board may deal with the matter or make an allegation to the State Administrative Tribunal concerning the conduct of a licensed plumber. In the most serious of cases the plumber’s licence may be cancelled and fines up to $5,000 imposed.
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