In the era of “doing it yourself” (DIY), where an abundance of how-to guides and YouTube tutorials are at your fingertips, it’s tempting to undertake home improvement tasks yourself, including plumbing. But should you plunge into plumbing jobs on your own, or should you call a professional plumber, particularly if you are in Queensland, Australia?
In Queensland, as with anywhere else, the crucial aspects to consider are the tasks you are legally allowed to perform, the complexity of the job, the risks involved, and the potential benefits of DIY or hiring a professional.
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What Plumbing Tasks Are You Allowed to Do in Queensland?
Under Queensland law, there are very few plumbing jobs that you, as a homeowner, can legally do yourself. According to the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018, the majority of plumbing and drainage work must be conducted by a licensed professional. However, there are some tasks that you can legally undertake without a license, such as:
- Changing a showerhead: You are permitted to remove an existing showerhead and replace it with a new one.
- Replacing a jumper valve or washer in a tap: This is a common repair for a dripping tap.
- Installing a washing machine or dishwasher: You can install these appliances yourself as long as it doesn’t involve altering the existing plumbing system, which would then require a licensed plumber.
- Replacing a domestic water filter cartridge: This can be done without a license, as it typically involves a simple unscrew and replace process.
- Replacing caps to ground-level inspection openings on a sanitary drain: This is permitted as long as it does not involve altering the drain.
- Cleaning or maintaining a ground-level grate for a trap on a sanitary drain: This routine task can be done by a homeowner.
- Installing an irrigation system from a tap: This is legal as long as it’s connected to a tap that’s been installed by a licensed plumber.
Remember, any plumbing work that goes beyond these tasks and into more complex areas (e.g., installing new pipes, relocating existing plumbing, fixing blocked drains, repairing hot water systems, or work on gas appliances) must be completed by a licensed professional.
What Are the Benefits of DIY Plumbing?
Embarking on a DIY plumbing venture can offer several advantages. The most obvious is the potential to save money. A typical call-out fee for a professional plumber in Queensland can range anywhere from $60 to $140, not including the cost of parts or the hourly rate, which may be between $100 and $150.
Another benefit of DIY is the sense of accomplishment and the acquisition of new skills. In an era where self-sufficiency is highly valued, learning how to fix a leaky faucet or replace a showerhead can be satisfying.
The Impact of DIY Plumbing on Your Home Insurance
When undertaking any DIY home improvement task, it’s essential to understand how this can potentially affect your home insurance. The alluring prospect of saving money by handling plumbing work yourself can quickly become costly if things go wrong.
Potential Issues with Insurance Claims
Insurance companies have specific requirements and standards when it comes to home repairs and modifications, including plumbing. For instance, many insurers stipulate that plumbing work must be carried out by a licensed professional. Should something go wrong with your DIY attempt, you may find your insurance company unwilling to cover the costs of the resulting damage, arguing that the work was not completed to professional standards or even that you’ve voided your warranty .
Indirect Damage Can Be Costly
A significant factor to consider is that incorrect plumbing work can cause extensive water damage over time, not just to your home’s structure but potentially to your belongings too. This damage can include rot, mold, and structural instability. Some insurance policies may not cover these ‘gradual damage’ costs if they can be traced back to poor workmanship on your part as a homeowner .
Potential for Personal Liability
Additionally, if your DIY plumbing job leads to a problem that causes damage to a neighbour’s property, you could find yourself financially liable. Insurers might deny a claim related to damage caused by unlicensed work.
When Should You Call a Professional?
The flip side of the DIY coin is that plumbing can be complicated and risky if not done correctly. Even small mistakes can lead to significant water damage, costing you much more than the initial outlay for a plumber.
For more complex tasks, such as installing new pipes, fixing blocked drains, or repairing hot water systems, professional plumbers have the necessary training, tools, and expertise. Besides, professionals understand the local codes and regulations that you may not be familiar with. Neglecting these regulations can result in penalties or worse, invalidated insurance claims in case of an accident.
Moreover, professional plumbers offer a guarantee for their work, providing you with peace of mind. If something goes wrong, they will be responsible for fixing it, often at no additional cost.
What Does the Data Say?
Statistics have shown that DIY plumbing mistakes can lead to costly repairs. In a recent survey, over 70% of plumbers reported that they were regularly called out to fix DIY errors, with the average repair cost estimated at $1,500 – significantly more than the cost of initial professional installation or repair.
What Are the Regulations and Requirements in Queensland?
As mentioned earlier, the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 requires most plumbing work in Queensland to be performed by a licensed professional . Furthermore, specific tasks, such as work on gas appliances, need a gas work license under the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004.
So, To DIY or Not?
It all comes down to the nature of the task, your skill level, and your willingness to take on risk. For minor tasks such as replacing a tap washer or a showerhead, a DIY approach can save money and provide satisfaction. However, for more complex tasks or anything beyond what the law permits, hiring a professional is the safer and potentially more cost-effective choice in the long run.
The bottom line is, when in doubt, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and call in a professional. It may cost you more upfront, but it could save you a significant amount of money, stress, and time in the long run.