Councils crack down on approvals for temporary building site structures and amenities
Councils crack down on approvals for temporary building site structures and amenities

By Rory O’Malley – Hydraulic Principal

Recently we’ve been informed that Queensland Building & Construction Commission (QBCC) and local council authorities are cracking down in their enforcement of rules relating to the compliance of plumbing and hydraulic design for temporary building site amenities and temporary site sheds.

Under the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002, structures that are connected to plumbing and drainage systems require council assessment and approval, including compliance assessment by the local authorities.

Until recently, our experience is that this requirement has been irregularly applied. However, we’ve recently worked on two projects where fines were issued for non-compliance. We’ve also been advised that as of 1 July 2019 all plumbing services to temporary amenities and site sheds, including temporary structures for public and private events, must have local authority plumbing compliance prior to works commencing on construction sites.

This includes site sheds containing food and beverage preparation areas with sinks, as well as temporary structures with toilets, shower, drinking bubblers and any other sanitary fixtures.

Local plumbing authorities are now enforcing the rule that no work is to commence prior to temporary compliance permits being issued.

What about sites with an existing approvals?

Any site with an existing plumbing approval will need to either revise the existing approval or submit another/new plumbing application through a licenced QBCC Hydraulic consultant.

Many local authorities are currently offering a grace period of three inspections to allow the industry to get itself in order, but they are putting their foot down and fining individuals if they determine nothing is being done.

What’s the official word?

Unfortunately, the hydraulic industry is yet to be formally notified by the councils about how temporary structures designs are to be correctly submitted or what the associated fees are.

The only official word comes from this QBCC post about temporary building sites in September 2018. 

You can also find details of what is considered compliance assessable work that requires a Form 1 in this QBCC post..

What should you do if you’re currently managing a construction site?

If you are currently managing an active construction site, here is our suggested list of items to consider in order to meet the compliance requirements for temporary amenities and avoid a potential fine.

Note that there are also some potential workarounds that can be employed. For example, to avoid delays in the application process, we’ve worked with clients who have processed their toilets, lunchrooms etc into sewer holding/pumpout tanks which avoids the need for connections and therefore compliance approvals.

Items to consider:

  • Site managers should highlight on drawings the intended locations of connections for amenities etc and pass this on to the project hydraulic consultant to be lodged for approval. For example, a site toilet block with 3 sinks, 4 cubicles and 1 urinal is one connection. Note a pre plumbed ‘plug and play’ amenities block should have its own separate plumbing approval by local authority. Our advice would be to obtain the pre plumbed amenities block approval from the owner prior to site delivery.
  • Sheds cannot be plumbed to run onto the ground, including water coolers.
  • All water pipework must be protected – for example, with black blue lined poly and must not be layed on the surface of the ground. Any pipework not underground must be protected by being encased in another pipe or lagged, or similar.
  • Any water going up a building (inside or out) must be clipped at the required intervals and protected (the outside must be encased in another pipe or lagged) and labelled ‘Water’.
  • Any sewer going up a building must be clipped at the required intervals and labelled ‘Sewer’.
  • Services separation requirement for water and sewer applies as per Code.
  • Toilets can be placed on scaffold but water and sewer pipes must be secured to the scaffold with welded nut clips. This is similar to what is used for pipes under slab.
  • Any washdown from concrete pours cannot be connected to any sewer or stormwater systems. If this can’t be avoided, additives are to be added before going into an arrestor to balance out the discharge to the acceptable PH levels of the authority. Alternatively, arrange offsite washout for concrete pumps.
  • A separate application needs to be lodged for trade waste where the water run off enters the sewer. A permit is not required where washouts are diverted to an onsite holding tank where they are pumped into a tanker and removed from site – although note that this is not a cost-effective option.
  • Washing out wheelie bins with run off into the sewer is not acceptable. You can use the wheelie bin solution in multi-story but it must run into an approved holding tank to allow sediment to settle prior to entering the sewer. Washout onto the ground and/or into storm water is not accepted and will incur significant fines from the EPA.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive – we recommend you discuss these options in more detail with a QBCC hydraulic consultant or get in touch with us and we can work through with you what you need to do. Or if you’d like to ask me a quick question, email me on or pop over to my LinkedIn post and leave a comment.

Whatever solution you decide to adopt, be aware there is a high chance it will be inspected by your local council very soon.


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