Homeowner » Tips and Advice » Proper plumber or cowboy?

Proper plumber or cowboy?

16 May 2018
hiring a qualified tradesperson

Whether you’re renovating your home, have an emergency or are looking to book a plumber for maintenance work, the last thing you want is to find that the person on your doorstep is not authorised to carry out the work you need doing. 

So how can you make sure the work is being carried out legally by someone who is experienced and competent?

Ask to see their card

Everyone authorised to undertake restricted sanitary plumbing, gasfitting or drainlaying work must carry their NZ practising licence card and produce it when asked. Check the expiry date on the card to ensure it is current.

Only tradespeople who are registered and authorised by the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board (PGDB) can hold a practising licence.


Authorised plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers are trained in their trades and also attend annual continuing professional development training to maintain their licences. They are up to date with relevant health and safety standards, codes, laws and product installation requirements. 

You can check a person’s current registration status online by searching the public register on the PGDB website.

Certifying, Tradesman, Journeyman, Trainee and Exempt – what does it all mean?

There are different classes of registration available to plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers.

A Certifying plumber, gasfitter or drainlayer holds the highest qualification available, which takes a minimum of six years to complete. These tradespeople are responsible for ensuring both their own work and the work of anyone they supervise is done competently.

A Tradesman plumber, gasfitter or drainlayer is qualified and registered and usually works independently. However, the work they do must be supervised and signed off by a Certifying tradesperson.

A Journeyman plumber, gasfitter or drainlayer has completed a trade qualification, but not passed the relevant theory exam. They are registered and authorised to work, but must be supervised by a Certifying tradesperson.

You may also find Trainees and Exempt workers on your job. Trainees are working towards becoming qualified and registered, while Exempt workers do not have a full qualification but can work under the supervision of a Certifying tradesperson.

The registration class of the tradesperson is clearly displayed on their card. Check it to ensure they’re authorised to carry out the type of work you need them to do.

What is a Master Plumber?

Businesses that belong to the Master Plumbers membership organisation must have a Certifying Plumber, Gasfitter or Drainlayer on their team—so you can be confident that all their work will be supervised and signed off by an expert.

Master Plumbers also has an ongoing Quality Assurance process to ensure members deliver business excellence.

For residential customers, the 12-month Master Plumbers Guarantee protects against substandard workmanship.

Find a Master Plumber, Gasfitter or Drainlayer near you with our online search tool.

Don’t put your property and the health and safety of your family at risk

The PGDB and The Insurance Council NZ warn consumers that work carried out by anyone who does not hold an NZ practising licence can void your insurance policy.

Kiwis love having a go, but most sanitary plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying work is restricted and illegal to do yourself. That’s because there are health and safety risks, mistakes are costly, and of course, your insurance probably won’t cover the work of an unauthorised tradesperson.

The PGDB's website is full of helpful information regarding which work is restricted and which isn’t.

You can also get the R.A.C (Report-A-Cowboy) app on your mobile phone, making it easy to notify the PGDB investigation team about unlicensed tradespeople doing illegal work.

So, hire a professional and make sure they really are one by asking to see their card. 

For peace of mind, make a good call and hire a Master Plumber!

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