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Permit Me to Discuss... Plumbing Permits

All 13 municipalities in the Capital Regional District require irrigation contractors to obtain a plumbing permit before installing an irrigation system.  The process is simple: the contractor goes into the municipal office, requests a permit, pays for the permit (costs range from a low of $30 in Langford up to $75 in Sooke), and arranges a date and time for a plumbing inspector to visit the site.  When the inspector arrives at the site, they will check to see that a backflow preventer has been properly installed and tested, and the connection to the water main has been done correctly.  Once that's all done, they sign off on the inspection, and everyone goes away happy.

Sounds easy, right?  Well, it should be.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of irrigation contractors, including many of the largest local businesses, fail to see things this way.  Instead, they prefer in most cases to play a game of cat-and-mouse with inspectors and municipal employees, running for the backyard or playing dumb if anyone comes by to question whether they have a permit for their work.  In Oak Bay, some contractors got in the habit of taking out a permit in order to carry out an installation hassle-free, but then never "closed" the permit by arranging for an inspection.  Oak Bay ended up with so many permanently "open" permits that in 2010 they started charging a $200 deposit for all irrigation permits, with the $200 not being refunded until the inspector has signed off on the installation (and to my fellow contractors who caused this, I say thanks guys, I love loaning Oak Bay $200 every time we install a system there).

Pretty silly, isn't it.  And unfortunately, it tarnishes the reputation of the irrigation industry in the eyes of the municipalities (and leads to plumbing inspectors sometimes referring to the trade as "irritation").  It can also make things awkward for homeowners, who may find themselves caught up in their contractor's turf war with the municipality.  Homeowners can easily avoid all this, however.  When you are choosing an irrigation contractor, one of the first questions you should be asking is "will you be taking out a plumbing permit for the system?"  And you should get it in writing; talk is cheap, and some contractors have been known to "exaggerate the truth" on occasion.  Getting a permit will cost you a few dollars more, but not only is it the proper way to do things, but it can save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

Needless to say, Island Waterwise Irrigation ALWAYS takes out plumbing permits where required, and we take pride in the good relationships we have built in municipalities throughout the region.  It makes life a lot more enjoyable when you're sharing a laugh with somebody, rather than hiding from them in the backyard.

Note: Municipalities may also require a permit to either add a backflow preventer to or expand an existing system, if the expansion is onto municipal property, such as a boulevard.


Best regards,

Mike Isacson, CIC, CID, CIT, CLIA, CIS, CCCT (what do these letters mean? Click here to find out!)

Owner, Island Waterwise Irrigation Inc.



IIABC CIT Level 2 Course: The CRD is sponsoring an IIABC Certified Irrigation Technician Level 2 Course April 7-8 at the Cedar Hill Golf Course.  Click here for more information.

CRD Irrigation Workshops: Click here to see a full list of CRD irrigation workshops for the spring and summer.  These courses are free, and are targeted at homeowners, with local irrigation professionals providing a wealth of information.

ARCSA 100 and 200 Level Rainwater Harvesting Courses: The American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association is presenting 100 (Introductory) and 200 (Accreditation) Level Courses in Abbotsford March 28-30.  Click here for more information.


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