What you need to know before you hire a plumber, drainlayer or gasfitter, and what your rights are if you are not happy with any work done.

Check before you hire a tradesperson

When you hire a plumber, drainlayer or gasfitter, you need to check they are licensed and registered to do that particular sort of work. If you don’t check and your plumber, gasfitter or drainlayer causes damage through poor workmanship:

  • your insurance cover might be affected
  • you may not be able to get a Code Compliance Certificate to show the work meets minimum requirements
  • you may have problems when you want to sell your home.

It is illegal to do restricted sanitary plumbing, gasfitting or drainlaying work without being licensed and authorised.

Check the plumber, gasfitter or drainlayer is licensed by asking for their photo ID licence card and by checking their details against the public register (external link) . The Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board (PGDB) maintains the register.

Download the RAC (Report-A-Cowboy) app (external link) on the PGDB website to report an unlicensed tradesperson doing restricted sanitary plumbing, gasfitting or drainlaying work.


What is sanitary plumbing?

Sanitary plumbing is any work involved in fixing or unfixing any pipe, plumbing fixture or appliance, including any:

  • trap, waste or soil pipe
  • ventilation pipe
  • overflow pipe
  • pipe that supplies water (or is intended to supply it).

All sanitary plumbing must comply with the Building Code (external link) .


What is drainlaying?

Drainlaying is any work that involves installing, altering or repairing a drain, including fixing or unfixing a drain to an onsite wastewater system (septic tank) or gully trap.
All drainlaying work must comply with the Building Code (external link) .


What is gasfitting?

Gasfitting is any work that involves installing, altering or repairing gas appliances. This includes:

  • fixing or altering gas, ventilation or flue pipes
  • commissioning gas appliances and making sure they work safely.

You need to obtain a gas certificate or certificate of compliance after any gas appliances are installed.


DIY plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying

You can do some limited plumbing work as long as it is not sanitary plumbing. Work you can do includes:

  • installing appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines
  • replacing or repairing taps, ball valves and plugs.

You can also do some limited drainlaying and gasfitting work such as:

  • clearing blocked drains (as long as you don’t move, repair or alter the inspection or ventilation pipe)
  • work on portable gas appliances that have a gas bottle attached, such as a gas barbecue or patio heater.

For more information, see:

Know your rights

When you hire a plumber, gasfitter or drainlayer, you are covered by the guarantees for services and materials under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). Generally, you can expect that:

  • the work is done with reasonable care and skill
  • any materials used are new, of acceptable quality, and fit for purpose
  • the work is completed in a reasonable time
  • you will be charged a reasonable price (if not agreed beforehand).

If any of these guarantees are breached, you can claim under the CGA to get the problem remedied or a refund of your money.

Read Faulty products and Faulty or unsatisfactory services to find out more.

If you’re worried about the safety of any plumbing, drainlaying or gasfitting work, contact the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board (external link) (PGDB).


Plumbers, drainlayers and gasfitters must be registered and licensed

All plumbers, drainlayers and gasfitters must be registered and hold a practising licence to carry out that particular type of restricted sanitary plumbing, gasfitting or drainlaying work.

Registration and licensing is done by the PGDB.

There are three types of licensing:

Certifying plumber, gasfitter or drainlayer – highest licensing level. They can do their own work and supervise others competently.

Licensed plumber, gasfitter or drainlayer – qualified and licensed but must be supervised by a certifying person who is ultimately responsible for ensuring the work is done competently.

Limited certificate trainee – working towards becoming qualified. They can do the work, but a certifying person must ensure it is done competently.

Exempt worker – not registered or fully qualified. They can do plumbing work provided they are supervised by a certifying person, who must ensure that the work is done competently.

Check the details on their licence card against the public register (external link) on the PGDB website.

You can now check an electronic register online to see if your plumber, gasfitter or drainlayer is registered.


You must be given a copy of the certification document

You must be given a signed copy of the gasfitting certificate (also called an energy works certificate) once the gasfitting work is done. This certification shows that the work done complies with all legal requirements and compliance documents. Keep this copy, as it is a legal document and can be useful for buyers if you sell the house.

Read Gasfitting certificates (external link)  on the PGDB’s website to find out more.


Fair Trading Act protects you from misleading statements or behaviour

You also have rights to protect you from misleading statements or behaviour related to products or services by anyone in trade. You can claim for damages or other remedies under the Fair Trading Act for misleading conduct or claims made.

See False and misleading advertising or trading for more information. 

Contact the plumber, gasfitter or drainlayer first

If you have an issue with your tradesperson’s work or conduct, contact the tradesperson first to get repairs or claim compensation if:

  • you are unhappy about the work done
  • you are disputing an invoice or payment
  • you have been misled.

Read Resolve a problem to find out more.


Next steps

If you are unable to resolve your issue directly with the plumber, gasfitter or drainlayer, our Resolve It tool has information to help you take the next steps. These may include going to the Disputes Tribunal or District Court.

Resolve it: Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers


Need more help?

Contact us for more guidance.

 

Common situations

Specialist plumbing work

Jimmy buys his home, and after a couple of years he has a leak in the kitchen wall. He gets a plumber in to sort out the issue and finds out there is Dux Quest plumbing in the house (black plastic piping that is not durable). He should check the plumber’s licence before he gets him to do any repairs or replace the Dux Quest plumbing. He may be partially covered by his insurance for any damage done to the walls or kitchen cabinetry, but he won’t be covered for plumbing work done to replace the pipes.

No gasfitting certificate

Jan gets a new gasfire heater installed in her home. She doesn’t get a gasfitting certificate from the gasfitter after the work is done. A few months later, she smells gas and gets another gasfitter to check for a leak. He advises her that the work has not been done properly. Janet checks with the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board (PDGB) and finds out the first gasfitter was not licensed. She tells the first tradesperson that she is getting the work done by a licensed gasfitter. She makes a complaint to the Board to investigate. She gets the repairs done by a certified gasfitter and he gives her a copy of the gasfitting certificate. Under the Consumer Guarantees Act, she can also claim the cost of these repairs from the first tradesperson as the work was unsafe.