Trades disambiguation: Plumbers & Gas fitters

images2DCW4NKZCertain knowledge comes with experience. I received a call from my brother last week. He is sharing a flat with fellow students. They’ve noticed damp spot on the wall. Before they knew it, half of the floor was missing and the problem was still there?! “How do I manage it?” How do I know I have the right tradie? What are they supposed to do?” my brother was asking.

For all young people out there I’m starting a series of posts about various trades. In combination with tips in my other posts, this should help you identify the right tradie for the job.

So, plumbers &  gas fitters.

What do they do? Plumbers specialise in installing and maintaining systems used for water supply and discharge, weather sealing (roof & gutters) and building temperature control (cooling/heating). It is usual for plumbers to have gas fitter’s license.

As part of their usual services, plumbers lay out, test and install fixtures, fittings, metal roofing, gas meters, regulators, units and appliances. They install equipment such as boilers, pumps, heating and cooling systems, natural gas appliances, water tanks, water heaters and solar water heating systems. Plumbers may also install, maintain and repair pipes in storm water or sewerage systems and drains, septic tanks, holding wells, sullage pits and absorption tracks.plumber

Additionally, plumbers may also perform the following tasks

  • install domestic and residential safety sprinkler systems;
  • fabricate and install steel pressure piping;
  • cut and join sheet metal;
  • locate and clear blockages;
  • fabricate and install sanitary stacks;
  • connect irrigation systems from drinking water supply.

Some of these works, for instance pipe blockage, require special equipment. Make sure that your plumber of choice specialises in this service so they don’t have to specifically hire equipment for your job. This would mean extra cost for you.

If you are buying a new house or endeavouring on house remodelling involving kitchen, bathroom and/or laundry – it’s a good idea to get a plumber to do an inspection of existing systems. This might save you from few bad surprises.

All plumbers should be able to perform the following tasks. This is part of their standard training:

  • Reading drawings, and specifications to determine layout of water supply, waste, and venting systems.
  • Detecting faults in plumbing appliances and systems, and correctly diagnosing their causes.
  • Installing, repairing and maintaining domestic, commercial, and industrial plumbing fixtures and systems.
  • Locating and marking positions for pipe connections, passage holes, and fixtures in walls and floors.
  • Measuring, cutting, bending, and threading pipes using hand and power tools or machines.
  • Joining pipes and fittings together using soldering techniques, compression fittings, threaded fittings, and push-on fittings.
  • Testing pipes for leaks using air and water pressure gauges.
  • Awareness of legal regulations and safety issues.
  • Ensuring safety standards and build regulations are met.

Every plumber/gas fitter in Australia should be able to present you with:

  1. Valid business registration number: ABN.
  2. Valid plumber’s, gasfitter’s and backflow licences. You can check the validity and business name assigned to the licence here.
  3. Valid and sufficient for your job Insurance policy such as public liability.
  4. It is always a good sign when your plumber is a member of Master Plumbers Association.
  5. Any additional credentials especially in water saving and sustainable practices are a big plus.

Don’t be afraid or uncomfortable requesting this information. It is usual practice and if your tradie gives you grief at this stage they are not the right fit for your job.

If you have a doubt about your plumber’s recommendation or course of action, get the second opinion from another plumber. I find it is good to just show the problem and see what recommendation another plumber gives.

Good luck! 🙂

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Building or remodelling your home: be prepared to be prepared.

ImageImageYou can’t spend too much time on planning. Yet there is just not enough time to plan it all.  Here are some tips on what to consider when estimating your timeline.

Standard vs. Custom. How long does it take to ‘do’ a bathroom? A week?  In the ideal fantasy world – yes. In the real world – it depends. 

The more standard your project is the more accurately a builder can estimate the time it’ll take to complete it. Allow for custom made details delays as the production schedule of your suppliers might be put out by other commitments. Ensure all measurements are taken and recorded correctly by your suppliers. This will eliminate any installation dramas.

Any original design has to be meticulously thought through. Any change in utilities infrastructure means extra time and extra cost. The impact of this change on the rest of infrastructure and construction should be carefully considered.

But I want that bath… Source you suppliers and materiars before estimating the time for the project. Some of these stunning tiles, bathroom suites, floors and lights can take time to arrive. Schedule your jobs accordingly.

This means, every single design detail has to be set in stone before you can estimate how long a project can take.

State of the art. If you are going for unique design created by a professional, allow for going back-and-forwards. To settle on details can take up to 6 months.

Finishing touches. Unbelievable, but fact: finishing touches are often underestimated in the timelines. Be sure to understand the exact list and scope for these last touches of brilliance.

What rain? In general, it is worth while spending time understanding how many and what steps major jobs include. Demolition only looks like item in itself, but it might have a different meaning when that kitchen wall is out, and frames have not arrived, and it’s raining. Horizontally. Scheduling at the greater detail and incorporating external factors like weather and public holidays will spare you from few grey hairs.

Where is my plumber? Whenever multiple trades are involved allow for delays and schedule clashes. The way to mitigate this risk is to have couple of electrician, plumbers, etc. on a standby. It worked perfectly for me in the past.

The Big Day. If you can avoid it, do not renovate when pregnant! Don’t tie up the renovation end date to any significant event in your life. Unless you are in need for adrenaline.

Oh, yeah, permits.  Yep, bureaucracy. Has to happen before you do anything. Start the process the moment you had a construction/ renovation/ remodelling/ improvement thought. And don’t forget the community. It is a good idea to start talking to your neighbours about your ‘Dream Home’ from afar as soon as you had that vision.

Remember you. The main stakeholder in your project is you. Plan your life during the project ahead of the project so that the stress is minimum. It happens so often that the ‘saving money’ option can cost relationships. If heavy demolition/reconstruction is on the cards, consider moving out for the period. If you have a lot of items to protect from renovation damage, consider putting them in storage. Anything to keep peace and serenity in your home!