NSW Plumbing Reforms

From 1 January 2013 Fair Trading will become the state's single plumbing and drainage regulator for all on-site plumbing and drainage work.

NSW Fair Trading will be delegating inspection and enforcement powers to regional councils currently conducting plumbing and drainage inspections.

The 2012 plumbing reforms were part of a state-wide initiative by the NSW Government to provide a more consistent and effective approach to standard setting, on-site regulation and licensing in NSW.

As part of the plumbing regulatory framework, Fair Trading licenses plumbers and drainers under the Home Building Act 1989, and all plumbing and drainage work must be completed by a person who holds a license, qualified supervisor certificate or tradesperson certificate. In addition, a system of on-site regulation ensures that NSW plumbing and drainage work is monitored, so it complies with technical standards and regulations.

What does this mean for plumbers and drainers in regional NSW?

For plumbers and drainers working in the Upper Lachlan Shire Council area you continue to contact the Environment & Planning Department at the Crookwell Office to book inspections, pay inspection fees, submit documentation and for all other plumbing and drainage related enquires.

Documents and forms

As part of the reforms, plumbers and drainers are required to submit the following documents at certain stages of the work.

Sewerage Service Diagrams need to be provided by the licensed plumber and approved by a Building Surveyor either before or at the time of the final drainage inspection. Sewerage Service Diagrams are a requirement of the Plumbing & Drainage Act 2011 No. 59.

When must I book an inspection

You must book an inspection for the following prior to covering or backfilling:


  • All internal drainage
  • All external drainage including the point of connection to Councils sewer
  • Stack work
  • Alterations and additions to existing water and drainage
  • Connections to stormwater systems if Council is the Principal Certifying Authority (PCA)
  • Work that did not comply with an earlier inspection
  • Any work relating to an on-site sewage management system
  • Final inspection at the completion of work and prior to premises being occupied. All Activity Approvals require a Sewer Service Diagram to be submitted to Council at least 48 hours before a final plumbing inspection can be booked.


Codes and Standards

The Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA) is the new technical standard for all plumbing and drainage work in NSW. All plumbing and drainage work in NSW must comply with the PCA.

The new Code replaces the more prescriptive NSW Code of Practice for Plumbing and Drainage and other local requirements. This system means plumbers no longer need to remember a myriad of local variations to plumbing standards. Plumbers will be able to work more easily across different regions, without needing to know local variations.

The PCA sets out performance requirements for the design, construction, installation, replacement, repair, alteration and maintenance of plumbing and drainage installations.

The Code calls up AS/NZS 3500, and it has two provisions that plumbers and drainers can work to and achieve code compliance. One option is for the work to be done under the 'Deemed to Satisfy' provision which means that it has been done in accordance with AS/NZS 3500. The other is the performance based provision where work (usually designed by a hydraulic engineer or consultant) meets or exceeds the requirements of AS/NZS 3500.

Plumbers and drainers can get copies of the Plumbing Code of Australia from the Australian Building Codes Board.

For More information in relation to performance based provision, plumbers and drainers can download a copy of the Guideline for plumbing and drainage: Installing code compliant work and alternative solutions from the Fair Trading website.

For further information please see the Frequently Asked Questions on the Fair Trading web page.

Rainwater Tanks

Licensees connecting rainwater tanks independently of or to a potable water service are not required to book an inspection in the Upper Lachlan Shire Council if the work is carried out as Exempt Development under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt & Complying Development) Codes.

The plumbing work must be carried out by a licensed plumber and comply with the Plumbing Code of Australia and AS/NZS3500.

The licensee must issue a Certificate of Compliance to Upper Lachlan Shire Council and the owners of the land as required by the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2011. Failure to follow these requirements may result in non-compliance and/or penalty infringement notice.

Point of Connection

The term 'point of connection' is used to refer to a common identified point of a plumbing installation and/or sanitary drainage system.

The reference as described here is the point where the Network Utility Operator services end and the private service (owner) begins at or within the property boundary.

The importance of the 'point of connection' for Fair Trading is that it defines the scope of onsite plumbing and drainage works that the 'responsible person' may be held accountable for. Explanatory notes on the Point of Connection can be found on the department of Fair Trading website.

Subscribe to keep up to date

Subscribe to Foundations, Fair Trading home building enewsletter, to receive up-to-date information about the plumbing and drainage reforms and other home building matters.