Rainwater tanks with a capacity of at least 1000 litres are required under the SA Planning Regulations  on all new housing as a means of improving water supply in drought ridden South Australia.

As a building inspector carrying out Staged Construction Inspections or Hand Over Building Inspections I must make observation if rainwater tanks have been provided or not, or whether provision has been made. The builder has an obligation to make provision for the tank.

They are not compelled to provide or connect rainwater tanks however. That responsibility has been placed by regulation on the home owner. My reports will reflect accordingly and remind the home owner if not supplied or connected they have an obligation so to do.

What happens if when houses are sold a while later and the rainwater tanks have not been supplied or connected. Once again, in a pre purchase building inspection, I will report the absence and indicate that the original home owner had an obligation to provide one. That is my job done.

You then have the challenge as a purchaser to decide to pursue the Vendor (who may not be the original home owner) to provide the tank prior to handover. You can take the risk that your Council will not find out it has not been provided. You would be extremely unlucky if that happened but it could happen.

Here’s the rub however.

As the legislation calls the rainwater tanks need only be  1000 litres in capacity the cost of supply of the tank, the cost of the plumbing and electrical services required to connect it to say your toilet; and the cost to maintain the pump  (replacing it say every 3 to 5 years) make the cost of providing water through this method and for the amount of water you will get (1000 litre capacity tank) costly by comparison with water supplied by SA Water.

So as desirable as rainwater tanks may sound the necessity to connect them into your house is an expense that cannot be justified, even though the Government sees otherwise.

Is it any wonder therefore that when this building inspector checks a home in a pre-purchase situation I regularly see the tap on the tank turned off. Yes Mr Government, turned off, rendering it useless.