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It can be an exciting and productive idea to launch your own plumbing business in New Zealand. Running your own business can be extremely rewarding and can help you tailor your plumbing practice how you like, compared to working for another plumbing business. However, starting a business can be challenging and doing so in the plumbing industry is no different. This article sets out three steps to starting your own plumbing business, including:

  • obtaining the necessary qualifications to work as a plumber;
  • working out what business structure best suits your business and your circumstances; and 
  • getting systems in place to quote and invoice your customers.  

Obtain the Necessary Qualifications as a Plumber

The first step to operating your own business as a plumber is making sure you have the necessary qualifications. Otherwise, you cannot operate as a registered plumber in New Zealand. Likewise, you will not be able to give your plumbing business the seal of credibility and competency that it needs to be a success. 

In New Zealand, the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board regulate plumbers, gasfitters, and drainlayers and provide guidance on qualifications and certification. In New Zealand, these key trades are closely interconnected. The Board advise that you should take the New Zealand Certificate in Plumbing in conjunction with the New Zealand Certificate in Drainlaying if you want to work as a plumber. Plumbing apprentices must now complete both the plumbing and drainlaying apprenticeship qualifications as the new industry standard. 

To obtain those qualifications, you will need to go through a 3-4 year program and apprenticeship (called a ‘managed apprenticeship’). Here you will get practical experience alongside key content and substantive knowledge in plumbing and drainlaying. After you complete that apprenticeship and get fully qualified as a plumber, you are in a great position to start a plumbing business.

Consider What Business Structure Is Right for You

You should consider how to structure your business as a very first step. There are three common ways of structuring your plumbing business. These are the sole trader, partnership or company business structure.

Sole Trader Setting up as a sole trader is fast and easy. Most plumbers can complete their work as a sole trader with ease. As a sole trader, you get all the profits and manage the business on your own. However, you are also responsible for the debts and liabilities you incur in the business. This is a good choice if you want to work as a plumber on your own account but are not too concerned about taking on other plumbers as employees.
Partnership A partnership structure is a good idea if you want to work with other plumbers and set up your own business together. You can share costs, like plumbing equipment, but you will also share debts and liabilities. Be careful about who you go into partnership with.
Company Companies are more difficult to set up. However, they are the best structure if you aim to grow your business and take on extra investment or financial support from banks. Most large plumbing businesses in New Zealand operate as companies. You can also transition from a sole trader or partnership structure to a company later if your vision for your plumbing business changes.

Kew Takeaways

Starting your own plumbing business in New Zealand is a great way to build a career in a trade that you can take ownership of and tailor to your preferences. A key first step is to ensure you are fully qualified to practice as a plumber in New Zealand. This will involve education and experience both as a plumber and drainlayer. Although this can take time, it will equip you for a variety of different work. You should also consider whether you want to set up as a sole trader, partnership, or company – it will depend on your business goals with your potential plumbing empire. If you want to know more about working as a plumber or setting up a plumbing business, contact LegalVision’s business lawyers on 0800 005 570 or complete the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you qualify to practice as a plumber in New Zealand?

In New Zealand, you will need to do an apprenticeship and pass the certification requirements to qualify to practice as a plumber. This will likely involve drainlaying; plumbing apprentices must now complete both the plumbing and drainlaying apprenticeship qualifications.

Do you need to be certified as a drainlayer to start a plumbing business in New Zealand?

Yes, as the trades cross over to some degree, the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board’s advice is that you will need certifications as a drainlayer to be qualified as a plumber in New Zealand.

Do you have to complete an apprenticeship before starting a plumbing business in New Zealand?

Yes, this is the common and established path for the trades and plumbing in particular. An apprenticeship gives you the experience, skills and mentoring opportunities you can put to good use in your own business.

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