Drain inspection bookings
The VBA conducts random below-ground sanitary drainage inspections of plumbing work to ensure the work complies with the relevant standards, regulations and local laws.
The inspections are carried out by VBA’s Plumbing Inspector Compliance Auditors, and consider the design, construction, installation, replacement, repair, alteration and maintenance of sanitary drainage systems. Relined below-ground sanitary drains are also inspected.
Drainage inspection process
Before certifying below-ground sanitary drainage work, you must apply for a consent of connect number through the relevant water authority. After that, you need to book a below ground sanitary drainage inspection in the VBA360 system. You’ll need to nominate a future date and time and length for the offered booking.
At the nominated booking time, you will have to be on-site with a copy of the Conditions of Consent to Connect, the As-laid Drainage Plan and, if applicable, a relevant emergency repair document. You will also require a copy of the soil classification report. If the soil classification is identified as highly or extremely reactive, you will require a recognised experts report advising any additional installation requirements due to the site classification. Your installation must be installed in accordance with relevant standards, regulations and local laws including any additional recognised expert’s requirements.
All offered below-ground sanitary drainage work must be available and in its entirety for viewing prior to backfilling. Trenches or excavations must not be backfilled for 30 minutes after the initial booking time. The offered drainage must be on test as per the current standard at the nominated booking time ready for any drainage inspection.
Not all bookings will result in a drainage inspection. If a Plumbing Inspector Compliance Auditor does not attend your site within 30 minutes from the nominated booking time, you may backfill the offered section(s) of below ground drainage.
Relined below-ground sanitary drains also require a consent of connect and a drainage inspection booking. The licensed plumber or a representative needs to be onsite with a CCTV camera system or camera device that will enable the Inspector to view the completed works.
Inspection booking times can be offered from 7 am to 4 pm on the half hour, Monday to Saturday (excluding public holidays). All bookings must be made before 4 pm the day before the inspection.
Failure to attend
Failure to attend or have a representative present at the offered booking time may result in the licensed plumber being issued with an infringement under The Building Act 1993 Part 12A, Section 221ZP (3) (a).
Not ready drains
If your drain is not ready at the nominated booking time when a Plumbing Inspector Compliance Auditor attends, the drain booking will be resulted as Not Ready. You will need to re-book the same plumbing work again in VBA360 using the reinspection button.
The licenced plumber may receive an infringement under The Building Act 1993 Part 12A, Section 221ZP (3) (b).
If your drain is identified as being non-compliant, the licensed plumber will receive a rectification notice advising of all work requiring rectification. The rectification notice will allow 14 days for the non-compliance to be rectified and re-booked with the VBA for re-inspection.
When the work is rectified the licensed plumber will need to contact the Plumbing Audit Department on (9618 9030) to coordinate a re-inspection date and time and to provide relevant documentation relating to the site and drainage system.
If you need to cancel a below-ground sanitary drainage inspection booking, you need to do this in VBA360 before 4:00pm the day before the inspection.
Under reasonable circumstances, you may cancel a below-ground sanitary drainage inspection booking on the same day by contacting the VBA Audit Department up until one hour prior to the booking time. Call (03) 9618 9030 (Monday to Friday, from 7.30am - 4.15pm).
To cancel any nominated booking due to take place on a Saturday, email drain cancellations.
Urgent repairs to below-ground sanitary drains
In some cases, you may be called out to perform emergency below-ground sanitary drainage work where it is necessary to backfill the completed works due. This may include work that is required to be performed outside of normal operational hours, or work that may impact public health and safety or affect public thoroughfares.
You must obtain consent using an Urgent Repair Notice with the relevant water corporation before commencing any works.
This does not remove the responsibility to make a drain inspection booking after the works are completed. You must contact the VBA to report the emergency sanitary drainage work as soon as possible during operational hours. Call (03) 9618 9030 (Monday to Friday, from 7.30am – 4.15pm).
You need to make a booking using VBA360 for an inspection for the next available day. The licensed plumber or a representative must be present at the booking time. You are expected to provide photos of the completed works as evidence of the works undertaken. If a Plumbing Inspector Compliance Auditor attends, photos and all relevant documentation will be requested.
If a Conditions of Consent to Connect Approval can't be provided by a water corporation due to the unavailability of services at the early stage of new land development, you may be granted permission to proceed with regulated plumbing drainage work at the site. This consent is given via a Test Prior advice form.
The water corporation will email the VBA advising of the Test Prior application if approval has been granted. You need to contact the VBA Audit Department on (03) 9618 9030 to book the Test Prior inspection.
You must allocate a compliance certificate before the booking can be made. A Plumbing Inspector Compliance Auditor may attend the offered booking and you must have all work available for viewing and have a test applied at this time.
If a Plumbing Inspector Compliance Auditor does not attend the booking, the trenches or excavations may be backfilled 30 minutes after the nominated booking time.
All below-ground sanitary drainage work must be advised on a compliance certificate and must indicate the class of plumbing and the work performed. All details on compliance certificates need to be accurate.
Compliance certificates must be lodged within five days of completion. A copy must be provided to the person for whom the works were carried, also within five days of lodgement.
Drain readiness inspection
A drain readiness inspection is carried out by the Plumbing Investigations team. The plumbing investigations team is made up of specialist plumbing inspectors/compliance auditors (Investigators) who may attend a drainage inspection to ensure the drain is ready for inspection at the nominated time.
They are not there to inspect the drain – the drain may still be inspected by the audits team. If the drain is not ready you may be issued with an infringement under, The Building Act 1993 Part 12A, Section 221ZP(3)(b).
The Investigator will also ensure that who ever is onsite carrying out plumbing work has the appropriate qualifications to carry out that work.
Frequently asked questions
Below-ground drainage work that requires a drainage inspection includes:
- connections of previously on-site sewerage treatment systems (primarily septic tanks) to reticulated sewerage systems
- new below-ground sanitary drainage connections to the relevant sewerage authority's sewer connection point.
- sewerage connections on redeveloped sites to the relevant sewerage authority's sewer connection point
- all pre-slab drainage work and alterations on both new and renovation work
- alterations to existing below-ground sanitary drains
- cut and seals of disused below-ground sanitary drains or branches
- urgent repairs to existing below-ground sanitary drains (either where drain sections are replaced or where below-ground sanitary drains are opened for maintenance, other than the removal of a PVC inspection opening cap or cast-iron inspection opening insert).
Licensed plumbers or drainers are required to book inspections for below-ground sanitary drains that are connected to the inlet of a septic tank or AWTS. However, septic tank or AWTS installations require a preliminary inspection and a final inspection prior to backfilling by the council's Environmental Health Officer to ensure the installation complies with AS/NZS 1547 On-site domestic wastewater management, the Code of Practice Onsite Wastewater Management and the provisions of the permit to install.
The council may need a minimum notice time to book a final inspection. Once the installation has been inspected and approved, the council will issue a ‘permit to use’ and the system can be commissioned to the manufacturer's installation instructions.
Below-ground stormwater drainage work does not need a drainage inspection.
This regulated work must be indicated/selected on a compliance certificate and mentioned in the installation details on the certificate.
The inspections are carried out once the below-ground sanitary drainage work is complete and before the drain is backfilled. The inspection parameters normally include an examination of:
- drain ventilation
- property sewer connection point
- Boundary Trap (BT) or Inspection Shaft (IS)
- approved materials and fittings
- bedding and bedding materials – gradient
- minimum cover requirements – backfill material
- infiltration protection – integrity of cut and seal
- surcharge protection – Overflow Relief Gully (ORG) or Reflux Valve (RV)
- drains under buildings that only serve fixtures within that building
- concrete supports
- any additional requirements of a suitably qualified expert
- documentation outlining the installation requirements
- photos (emergency repairs).