Many homes and buildings in Austin have suffered burst water pipes and leaks due to the unusually cold temperature experienced last week. Here's an update with information and resources to help both contractors and community members during this challenging time:
- The City of Austin has launched a comprehensive cold weather resources page available here with updated information on a variety of topics.
- The City of Austin Development Services Department (DSD) has an excellent online page with information about permitting and inspections related to emergency water and other repairs. The good news is that emergency work can begin immediately without a permit. Typically it is required within 1 day of the emergency repair, however the DSD is being flexible with that requirement given the current and very challenging circumstances. Also, the City Council is expected this week to approve a 5 day window for obtaining a permit. Again, there is substantial additional information related to permitting on that DSD page here.
- Regarding inspections, City staff has prioritized repair work at this time and that may impact inspection wait times for any new construction projects you have.
- We are hearing that plumbing materials, and not just plumbers, are in short supply at this time. For example, it is estimated that nearly 2,000 tankless water heaters - often installed outside a home - have broken this past week and to be replaced. If you have contacts with plumbing suppliers in other states, please reach out to them!
- The AGC and other industry trade associations have worked with the Downtown Austin Alliance (DAA) to compile plumbing firms open and available for repair help. That resource list is here, and if you would like to be added you can do so here.
- We are hearing of construction firms shifting workers from new construction to emergency repair help. Please consider this shift as well if you are able.
Also, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has waived certain regulations to allow more help for plumbing emergencies:
- Waiver of certain regulations for certain registered and qualified Plumber's Apprentices in Texas. These waivers allow a Plumber's Apprentice, who has met all other qualifications, to temporarily perform plumbing repairs without 'direct' supervision by a licensed plumber so long as the qualified Plumber's Apprentice works under the general supervision of a responsible master plumber.
- Waiving of certain fees and examination requirements for plumbers currently holding an expired license. Previously licensed plumbers who haven't completed continuing education in the last two years will be allowed to apply for Texas state plumbers license to assist those who have been affected by the winter storm.
Out of State Plumbers
- Additionally, the Texas Board of Plumbing Examiners is already able to give provisional licenses to out-of-state plumbers to increase the response to burst pipes and flooding.