Plumbing modifications

If a plumber considers that the plumbing work they intend to carry out cannot comply with the requirements of the plumbing regulations, they can apply to the VBA for a modification of the regulations. The term plumbing regulations includes Plumbing Regulations 2018 (the Regulations), the Plumbing Code of Australia and the Australian technical standards.

The VBA has power under the Building Act 1993 to make a declaration modifying the application of the plumbing regulations to specified plumbing work (which is the subject of the modification application).

The VBA will only exercise this power if the application of the plumbing regulations to the specified plumbing work is not appropriate in the circumstances, and if it is reasonable and in the public interest to modify their application in the specified circumstances.

When a modification is granted, the declaration will usually include specific conditions that must be met to ensure the plumbing work is still safe and meets the performance criteria.

Modification application process

Modification applications may be made by a registered or licensed plumber, the property owner or occupier, a plumbing inspector, the Secretary of a government department and public authorities.

The applicant must identify the plumbing work for which the application is made and specify how they wish the plumbing regulations to be modified. They should also provide reasons why the plumbing work cannot comply with the plumbing regulations.

The applicant must apply, and have the modification approved by the VBA, before the work commences.

To apply for a modification, the applicant must complete and submit:

  1. the Plumbing modification application form (PDF, 213.83 KB) and any relevant supporting documentation, and
  2. the Plumbing modification payment authorisation form (PDF, 169.62 KB). The fee listed on the form is payable for each application, regardless of whether the modification is approved.

The application can be submitted by:

  • Email: modifications@vba.vic.gov.au
  • In person: Victorian Building Authority, 733 Bourke Street, Docklands 3008
  • By mail: Victorian Building Authority, PO Box 536, Melbourne 3001

What happens next

We will assess the modification application, and then either approve or reject the application. We may contact the applicant if we require further information to make a decision.

We will email the applicant with the outcome of the application once a decision has been made.

If the work is granted a modification, modification declaration details (including the modification number) must be included on the compliance certificate.

If the applicant is not satisfied with the VBA's decision on the modification application, they have the right to seek review of the decision with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

If your plumbing work is selected for an audit

If plumbing work that has been granted a modification is selected for audit, you should advise the VBA Booking Officer of the modification when booking the audit. You can take a copy of the plumbing modification declaration letter to the audit.

Modifications for laying of drains under a building

You may no longer need to apply for a modification if you are laying a sanitary drain under a building where the drain will service another building.

The Plumbing Regulations 2018 changed the requirements for the laying of a sanitary drain under a building in Victoria. The Regulations specify that work on a below-ground sanitary drain must comply with Clause 3.2 of AS/NZS 3500.2. However, you can get an exemption from Clause 3.2 if certain conditions are met.

You can find more information in our fact sheet Regulatory requirements for the laying of sanitary drains under buildings (PDF, 839.12 KB).

For more information

Refer to the Building Act 1993:

  • Section 221ZZO – Modification of plumbing regulations
  • Section 221ZZP – Matters that the VBA must consider before making a modification declaration
  • Section 221ZZQ – Procedure applying to hearings under this Part
  • Section 221ZZZP(3) – Review by VCAT