Plumbing codes and standards
The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) regulates Victoria's plumbing practitioners and plumbing work.
The three key documents which form the plumbing regulatory framework in Victoria are:
- Building Act 1993 (the Act)
- Plumbing Regulations 2018 (the Regulations)
- National Construction Code, Volume 3 (Plumbing Code of Australia, PCA).
Building Act 1993
The Building Act 1993 sets out the requirements for building and plumbing work in Victoria.
Part 12A of the Act sets out the legal framework for the regulation of plumbing work and plumbers. This includes:
- licensing and registration of plumbers
- restrictions concerning the carrying out of plumbing work
- compliance certificates
- inspection requirements for sanitary drainage work
- insurance orders
- rectification of defective plumbing work
- modification of plumbing regulations
- powers of the VBA’s enforcement staff (plumbing inspectors and compliance auditors)
- plumbing infringement notices
- plumbing inquiries and disciplinary action
- incorporation of the Plumbing Code of Australia into the regulations.
Plumbing Regulations 2018
The Plumbing Regulations 2018 commenced on 18 November 2018, replacing the Plumbing Regulations 2008.
In Victoria, all regulations 'sunset’ (expire) after ten years and undergo a comprehensive review to ensure they remain fit for purpose and continue to meet their intended objectives.
The Regulations cover for the following aspects of plumbing work in Victoria:
- define the scope of work for all classes of plumbing work and specialised plumbing work
- set out the qualification and experience eligibility requirements for registration and licensing in each class of plumbing work and specialised plumbing work
- set fees payable for registration and licensing applications and the price of a compliance certificate
- set out additional technical requirements with which work performed in specified classes of plumbing must comply, including some variations from the requirements in the PCA.
Find out more about the Plumbing Regulations 2018 changes.
National Construction Code – Plumbing Code of Australia
The National Construction Code (NCC) combines building and plumbing construction requirements into a single code.
The NCC is produced and maintained by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB), which is a joint initiative of federal, state and local governments (the Council of Australian Government, or COAG).
The NCC consists of the Building Code of Australia (Volumes One and Two) and the Plumbing Code of Australia (Volume Three).
- Volume One: relates primarily to Class 2 to 9 buildings.
- Volume Two: relates primarily to Class 1 and 10 buildings.
- Volume Three: relates primarily to plumbing and drainage associated with all classes of buildings. Also known as the Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA).
The PCA contains the technical requirements for the design and construction of plumbing and drainage systems in new and existing buildings. Volume 3 applies to all classes of buildings whenever plumbing work is carried out. The PCA also applies to sites where water services are constructed independent of buildings.
The NCC is updated and re-published every three years. The PCA 2019 came into effect in Victoria on 1 May 2019.
You can download the PCA at the Australian Building Codes Board website.
National Construction Code 2022
The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) released NCC 2022 on 1 October 2022 to allow industry time to adjust to the new requirements and structure prior to it becoming mandatory. PDFs of all volumes are available for download. Printed copies will also become available for purchase from the ABCB’s commercial providers.
NCC 2022 will be adopted by states and territories on 1 May 2023.
Noting the pressures experienced in recent times by the construction industry, Building Ministers have also agreed to transitional arrangements for the following speciﬁc requirements:
- New livable housing requirements commence 1 October 2023
- New energy efﬁciency and condensation mitigation requirements become mandatory on 1 October 2023
- New lead-free plumbing product requirements commence 1 September 2025.
The transitional arrangements will allow practitioners to continue using the relevant provisions of NCC 2019 until the end of the relevant transition period.
AS/NZS 4234: 2021 Transition Period
The Plumbing Regulatory Amendment 2022 confirms that the 2008 edition of AS/NZS 4234: Heated Water Systems - Calculation of energy consumption continue to be used.
The transition period for AS/NZS 4234: 2021 will now align with the transition period for new energy efﬁciency requirements proposed for NCC 2022 and will commence on 1 October 2023.
AS/NZS 3500: 2021 Series Transition Period
The Plumbing Regulatory Amendment 2022 confirms that the 2018 version of the following plumbing standards continue to be used:
- AS/NZS 3500.1 Plumbing and Drainage Part 1: Water Services.
- AS/NZS 3500.2 Plumbing and Drainage Part 2: Sanitary Plumbing and Drainage.
- AS/NZS 3500.3 Plumbing and Drainage Part 3: Stormwater Drainage.
- AS/NZS 3500.4 Plumbing and Drainage Part 4: Heated Water.
This is in line with the recent announcement from Building Ministers to delay the adoption of NCC 2022. The VBA has extended the transition period for plumbers to familiarise themselves with the revised AS/NZS 3500 series standards.
Between now and 1 May 2023, plumbing practitioners should continue to use the 2018 editions of AS/NZS 3500 Parts 1 to 4. From 1 May 2023, plumbing practitioners must use the 2021 versions of these standards.
Plumbing Regulatory Amendment 2022
- Remove the need to hold a Restricted Electrical Worker’s Licence (Class 2) as a pre-requisite of gaining qualification in Type A appliance servicing work – practitioners applying for accreditation in the class of Type A Appliance Servicing Work will no longer be required to hold a Restricted Electrical Workers Licence (Class 2). All other registration and licensing requirements remain unchanged.
- Confirmed that the 2018 editions of AS/NZS 3500 Parts 1 to 4 and 2008 edition of AS/NZS 4234 must be used instead of the latest 2021 version. See above for more information.
- Corrected a number of minor referencing errors and other administrative changes.
Plumbing Amendment Regulations 2022 FAQs
On 18 October 2022, after the Plumbing Amendment Regulations 2022 were made by the Governor in Council.
There are three broad areas that are covered by the regulatory amendment. These are:
- a) Reducing the qualification requirements associated with Type A Appliance Servicing Work
- Practitioners applying for accreditation in the specialised class of Type A Appliance Servicing Work will no longer be required to hold a Restricted Electrical Workers Licence (Class 2). All other registration and licensing requirements remain unchanged.
- These changes were made when concerns were raised that the restricted electrical licence (REL) requirement has been a barrier to plumbers taking out this specialised class.
- Although the requirement to hold this REL reflects that some servicing jobs, like isolating and reconnecting the appliance from the mains supply, require interaction with the electrical componentry of the gas appliance, most servicing jobs do not require this skillset.
- Despite this change, the electrical safety requirements administered by Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) remain unchanged. This means that if a gas servicing job involves electrical work, the gasfitter must hold the ESV REL or other appropriate ESV licence, or alternatively an electrician needs to be engaged to assist with the electrical work involved in the service job.
- b) Confirming which version of plumbing standards to use
- The existing transitional arrangements for AS/NZS 3500 Parts 1 to 4 and AS/NZ 4234, communicated to plumbers in September 2022, remain unchanged.
- In September, following the decision to delay the adoption of the 2022 edition of the National Construction Code (NCC), the VBA extended the existing transition period for revised standards AS/NZS 3500 parts 1 to 4, before they need to be applied to plumbing practices on 1 May 2023.
- In addition, the extension period for AS/NZS 4234 was extended to align with the transition period for new energy efﬁciency requirements proposed in NCC 2022 and will commence on 1 October 2023.
- c) Minor administrative changes
- The following administrative changes have been made:
- Revoking the definitions of class 1, class 1a, class 10a and network utility operator as these are already defined in the Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA).
- Correcting a reference under Regulation 6 (7) of the Plumbing Regulations 2018.
- Correcting a reference under Clause 12 (2) of Schedule 2 of the Plumbing Regulations 2018 so that it references the right clause in the PCA.
- The following administrative changes have been made:
On 18 October 2022, the Restricted Electrical Worker’s Licence (REL) (Class 2) requirement for gaining qualification in Type A appliance servicing work will be revoked as part of the amendment to the Plumbing Regulations 2018.
This will apply to both licencing and registration in this specialised plumbing class. These changes were made when concerns were raised that the REL requirement was a barrier to plumbers taking out this specialised class. This change will make gaining entry into this specialised plumbing class easier, lower the costs of entry and reduce the timeframe for gaining competency.
A reimbursement will not be offered. The Restricted Electrical Workers Licence (REL) allows you to carry out “disconnect/reconnect” work which would normally require an electrician, therefore there is still value in having this qualification.
Note that the electrical safety requirements administered by Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) remain unchanged. This means that if a gas servicing job involves electrical work, the gasfitter must hold the ESV REL or other appropriate ESV licence, or an electrician needs to be engaged to assist with the electrical work involved in the service job.
You may elect to finish your course as there are still benefits to holding a Restricted Electrical Workers Licence (REL), such as being able to carry out “disconnect/reconnect” without having to engage an electrician (see previous answer in Q4).
No, it does not. You will need to hold an appropriate electrical licence, such as a Restricted Electrical Workers Licence (REL), when carrying out “disconnect/reconnect” work for appliances that are directly connected to mains power supply.
Many Type A gas appliances will still require the REL to be serviced. Please visit the Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) website for more information on when a REL is required.
Download the latest copy of the Plumbing Amendment Regulations 2022.
Gasfitters do not need to include a copy of the Restricted Electrical Worker’s Licence (REL) with their application.
You can carry out any service work on Type A gas appliances that do not require:
- Disconnection and reconnection from the power supply source.
- Electrical wiring and installation work at low voltage or above.
All fixed electrical installation work requires a licenced electrician.
Access more information on the Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) website.
Access information about Type A Appliance Servicing work and how to apply.