Builders, developers, real estate agents, plumbers and other trade professionals have important obligations under the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme.
There is a free 45 minute course designed to help those who have legal obligations understand the WELS scheme and how it is helping Australians save water and money.
If you are involved in supplying or installing regulated products in a new building or renovation, you must meet the same requirements as retailers selling products to consumers.
Regulated products include:
- taps (excluding over a bath)
- flow controllers
- washing machines
- combination washer-dryers.
Meet your legal obligations to avoid penalties and help inform your customers about the water efficiency of products you are including in a new development or renovation before they buy.
For building developments that include WELS products:
- where models have not been chosen for the build, you must commit to a star rating for each type of WELS product that will be included for each development. The star rating commitment for each product must be made available to buyers, for example, in the product inclusions list or in displays, so that buyers can consider the efficiency of products.
- When models and star ratings are known, buyers must be provided the model registration and water efficiency information for all available WELS products before they make their purchasing decision.
Builders and developers are considered suppliers under the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act 2005 (WELS Act) if they:
- include regulated products as a fixture or fitting in a new building or unit offered for sale
- include sales of regulated products as part of tendering or quoting in building, construction, refurbishment or renovation projects
- sell regulated products as part of installation or repair work.
Before you supply products, you are responsible for making sure you have met all product label and display requirements. This includes checking the registration status of products.
Plumbers and other trade professionals will also need to meet these requirements if you are supplying a product you are installing.
Supplying a product — who is responsible?
A developer contracts a plumber to install 40 dishwashers in a townhouse development. The dishwashers are not registered with WELS and the water rating information is not available.
The developer has supplied the dishwashers for the property development. This means the developer is legally responsible for making sure the:
- dishwashers are registered with WELS
- correct water rating information is provided to consumers or prospective buyers for the property development.
Plumbing products regulated under the WELS scheme must also have a valid WaterMark certification before you can include them in a property development or renovation. This includes:
- flow controllers
WaterMark is a mandatory certification scheme for plumbing and drainage materials and products that ensures they are fit for purpose and authorised for installation.
Displaying water rating information
Products that are offered for sale as part of a new building or unit must be registered and properly labelled with their water rating information, in accordance with Australian Standard 6400:2016.
This includes regulated products offered or displayed in:
- display homes or suites
- inclusions lists (online or in print).
All builders, property developers and real estate agents facilitating the sale of the new properties are responsible for meeting product labelling and display requirements.
You can meet labelling requirements in display units by providing water rating labels or text advice with the registered model name and/or WELS registration number for the product on an inclusion board located near the unit’s entrance. The WELS registration number is mandatory in text advice from 22 July 2023.
Plumbers are responsible for making sure products they supply and install are registered and providing the correct water rating information to the customer.
Products must also be installed so that they function as registered, and match the water efficiency performance detailed on the water rating label or text advice.
For example, showers and taps that were tested and registered with a flow controller must be supplied with that flow controller installed. Removing a flow controller will make the products no longer WaterMark compliant and will breach plumbing regulations.
Critical components detailed for each product in Australian Standard 6400:2016 cannot be altered. If any critical component changes, you will have to register this as a new version of the product before you can supply or install it.
Installing a product — who is responsible?
A plumber has a customer that would like a new toilet installed to replace a broken one. The plumber supplies and installs a toilet for the customer but the toilet is not registered with WELS.
Because the plumber has supplied the product, the plumber is responsible for making sure the product is registered with WELS and providing the correct water rating information to the customer. If this requirement is not met, the plumber can be subject to legal penalties or compliance and enforcement action.
Supplying, displaying or installing products that are not registered or correctly labelled can lead to penalties under the WELS Act, such as infringement notices or court action.
Infringement notice penalties can range from $939 up to $1,878 for an individual and $4,695 up to $9,390 for a body corporate, for each unregistered, unlabelled or incorrectly labelled product.
Civil penalties can range from $9,390 up to $18,780 for an individual and $46,950 up to $93,900 for a body corporate, for each unregistered, unlabelled or incorrectly labelled product.