Drainage inspections yield record penalties and infringement notices

Plumbing practitioners have been fined a record amount during the past year for failing to provide drainage inspections.

The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) issued 257 infringement notices, a total of $127,472 during the 2020-21 financial year, up from 252 infringement notices and $124,992 in penalties during the 2019-20 financial year.

Since the drainage infringements were introduced in 2019, the VBA has issued a total of $252,960 to plumbers doing the wrong thing.

Among the non-compliances identified were 27 infringements attributed to a single licensed plumber, who was penalised $13,392.

The VBA’s State Building Surveyor Andrew Cialini said the Plumbing Audit Program is catching practitioners who are taking shortcuts or skipping steps to fast track a building project.

“All below ground sanitary drains need a consent to connect number, are to be offered to the VBA for inspection and are to comply with the relevant standards prior to being backfilled by a licensed practitioner,” Mr Cialini said.

“While we know most practitioners do the right thing, we want to issue a reminder of the need to book a below ground sanitary drainage inspection in the VBA360 system.”

During a drainage inspection, the VBA requires all offered below-ground sanitary drainage work to be available and in its entirety for viewing prior to backfilling.

The VBA conducts random below-ground sanitary drainage inspections of plumbing work to ensure work complies with the relevant standards, regulations and local laws as part of the Plumbing Audit Program.

Mr Cialini said the record number of infringement notices and penalties issued during the past 12 months demonstrates the program’s effectiveness.

“We know the vast majority of plumbers do the right thing, but there is a small group who try to cut corners in the hope of getting jobs done quicker,” he said.

“There have been cases in recent times where plumbers have had to spend tens of thousands of dollars to cut open a slab and remove a building frame when it did not comply to the relevant standards.”

A penalty of $545.22 can be imposed when a plumber is late, the drain is not ready, the plumber does not attend a drainage inspection or cancel an inspection one hour prior to the nominated start time.

The VBA holds drainage inspections between 7am to 4pm Monday to Saturday, except public holidays, to ensure plumbers are following the rules.

Plumbers can book a drainage inspection with the VBA between 7am and 4pm Monday to Saturday.

Homeowners can find a registered or licensed plumber on the VBA website.

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