Plumber Fined for Unauthorised, Defective Work
A Butler, WA, plumber has been fined $5,500 for working beyond the scope of his licence and not rectifying a defective water heater that could have scalded users.
At Armadale Magistrates Court on 29 September 2023, Julian Francis North (TL12335) pleaded guilty to two charges brought by the Plumbers Licensing Board.
Mr North holds a plumbing tradesperson’s licence, which means his work must be overseen by a licensed plumbing contractor.
The court was told that in October 2022, Mr North installed a continuous flow water heater at a Piara Waters home. This plumbing work was not carried out under the general direction and control of a licensed plumbing contractor as required.
Mr North also used a false name and ABN on the client’s invoice.
Following a complaint by the homeowner to Building and Energy about the defective water heater, Mr North was ordered to have the work rectified by a licensed plumbing contractor.
The rectification notice required the system to be fit for purpose and compatible with the home’s existing solar installation. Temperature controls needed to ensure the heated water delivered to sanitary fixtures did not exceed 50ºC, plus appropriate thermal insulation was required for the piping. Mr North did not comply with the notice.
A global fine of $5,500 was imposed for the unauthorised work and lack of rectification, which are both offences under the Plumbers Licensing and Plumbing Standards Regulations 2000. Costs of $272.70 were also awarded.
Magistrate Lynette Dias acknowledged Mr North’s early guilty plea but noted the conduct was in the “high range of seriousness” due to the defective and dangerous plumbing work, which put the property owner at risk of sustaining hot water burns.
Her Honour said the water heater installed by Mr North was not fit for purpose and his deception was deliberate when he provided a false identity.
All major plumbing work must be certified by a licensed plumbing contractor and a copy of this must be provided to the homeowner within five working days. In this case, Mr North could not provide certification or an official compliance notice because he is not a licensed plumbing contractor.