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New Zealand Plumbers, Drainlayers & Gasfitters Association Inc

New Zealand Plumbers, Drainlayers & Gasfitters
Association Inc



It is an increasing problem for Auckland Council (and other territorial authorities) where significant drainage and plumbing work is being undertaken without a building consent. Many fully qualified tradespeople are claiming they did not know consent was needed, claiming ignorance of the requirements. As a reminder, the definition of Building work in the Building Act includes both the design and installation of plumbing, drainlaying and gasfitting, except that gasfitting is exempted from the requirement to obtain a building consent provided an energy work certificate is issued. There are still two Building Code clauses covering gasfitting, which must be complied with under the Building Act, for which councils are responsible.

It is generally illegal to do building work without consent.

Certain (minor) works can be done without consent, but must be done by a qualified and licenced person, and must meet the requirements of the Building Code. This exempt work is detailed in Schedule 1 of the Building Act, and Part 2 spells out very clearly what plumbing and drainage (done by an authorised person) is permitted without consent.

I do not intend to use this article to explain what these exemptions entail. You should make yourself familiar with these details, it is your responsibility.  Instead I wish to give some advice, in the way of a warning.

Council is currently being almost overwhelmed by a continuous stream of illegal building conversions, where garages, basements or garden sheds from Mitre 10 or Bunnings are being let out to families as permanent accommodation. Most have some sort of plumbing, drainage or gasfitting installed, and only very rarely is a consent obtained for the work.

A great proportion of this work is substandard, and while some of it is obviously done by the owner or a friend, most would appear to be done on the cheap by qualified people. 

Strangely, when asked about who did this work, the owner suffers a terrible case of they can’t remember, and they have almost always lost the “cash” invoice. Until now very few people have been prosecuted for this illegal work due simply to the amount of work involved with uncooperative homeowners.  

I can advise that the days of tolerating this are about to end, an processes are being developed where an automatic prosecution will take place whenever unconsented building work is undertaken involving sanitary plumbing, drainlaying or gasfitting. If we can identify the person, a formal complaint will be laid with the PGDB, and if not section 125 of the PGD Act 2006 will be used to prosecute the owner.

125 Other offences

(1) Every person commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 who—
(b) Knowingly permits or pays any person to do any sanitary plumbing or drainlaying in breach of section 8 or 10;

(2) Every person commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $50,000 in the case of an individual, or
$250,000 in the case of a body corporate, who—
(b) Knowingly employs, permits, or pays any person to do any gasfitting in breach of section 9;
I would stress the requirement for licenced tradespeople to ensure that consent is obtained before starting work on any sanitary plumbing or drainlaying, and to ensure the appropriate gas certificates(s) are issued for gasfitting work.
Ignorance of the rules is no excuse for not following the rules, but is a very good argument that the person should not be registered.

Senior Specialist- Building

Targeted Initiatives Team
Licencing and Regulatory Compliance
Auckland Council
Garry Cruickshank

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