Plumbing and drainage inspections

Plumbers and drainers must notify Access Canberra:

There are different requirements for single residential and minor works.

Before beginning work

Submit a Plumbing and drainage start of work notice and pay the fee before beginning work. If plan approval is required for the work, the plans must already have been approved. For single residential work that does not require plan approval, the notice must also be accompanied by a site plan or an interim drainage plan.

When work is ready for inspection

Make an appointment for an inspection on 02 6207 6907 or 02 6207 1923. All work notified must be available to inspect. Once the system is fully in place, all drains will be inspected but inspections of other work will be targeted in audits. Where a site plan for residential work was submitted with the notification of intention to commence drainage work, the inspector and drainer will use the sketch and record details of the drainage as laid.

When work is completed

Notification of completion of work must be lodged when or before booking a final inspection. All fees, including reinspection fees, must have been paid. Certified final drainage and plumbing plans must be registered with us before booking a final inspection. These plans must include a certification that they are a true record of the work undertaken.

Plan approval

Where required, a plumbing plan certifier must ensure the proposed plumbing work and plan complies with the Plumbing Code of Australia and plumbing and drainage plan standards before they give plumbing plan approval.

In some cases, plumbing and drainage plans must be approved by a referral authority before a certifier can approve them.

Icon Water is the referral authority for plans involving:

The Health Protection Service is the referral authority for plans involving the disposal of radioactive materials.

Approval may be refused or subject to conditions.

Single residential work

Plan approval is not required for drainage of new single residential buildings before work commences. Single residential buildings are those that are a single detached building containing one or two residences and any other buildings, such as garages, associated with them. Dual occupancies are included.

Minor works

The plan approval system does not apply to minor plumbing or drainage work (replacement and repairs up to a value of $1000).

Minor works must be carried out by a licensed plumber and drainer and only a Hydraulic certificate of compliance is required.

Commercial work

Plan approval is required for all commercial plumbing and drainage work and for pipes linked to a water service of 50mm or greater in diameter. Commercial, industrial and public buildings and all housing (except single residential buildings) are considered to be commercial work.

For commercial work, any significant amendments to the design require a new plan approval. This means anything that impacts on the design intent, like creating a new stack or a change in the number of fixture or drainage points, will require new approval.

Minor amendments include deviations in the path of the pipe work or connecting a branch a short distance upstream or downstream from where it was shown on the plan. A copy of the latest amended plans must be kept on site as an up-to-date record of work.

The installer must keep a record of the parts of the work that have been notified as ready for inspection and the date when that notice was given. The plans must also indicate any minor variations to the approved plans.

Backflow prevention devices

Where a testable backflow prevention device is installed, the specific testing and reporting requirements also have to be met before booking a final inspection. These devices need to be tested annually to ensure they continue to operate as required.

Only plumbers who have successfully completed a backflow prevention course and had their licences endorsed can commission and test these devices, then submit a Backflow device report.

Sanitary drainage plans

If you plan to modify the sanitary drainage system on a residential property, you will need to purchase a Sanitary drainage plan for that property. Fees apply.


Access Canberra audits plumber and drainer work, including records of minor variations and records kept on the site. Poor performers are inspected regularly and good performers are inspected less regularly. Disciplinary action may result for practitioners found in breach of legislation.

More information

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