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New NMIT Waterproofing Course for the Building Industry

22 Mar 2007

Thirty years ago, waterproofing of bathrooms was not a major focus in the building industry.

But with the boom in residential housing construction over the past decade, internal waterproofing in modern bathrooms has taken on a new and critical importance.

However, it is not mandatory that registered building practitioners have a formal professional qualification in waterproofing; indeed, insurance companies are paying out millions of dollars for remedial work to buildings caused by the ingress of water into buildings resulting in substantial damage to the property.

Now, in response to a move to improve the quality of waterproofing for the building industry by the Master Builders Association of NSW and Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT), NMIT has introduced a new national Certificate III in Waterproofing (Internal Wet Areas) at its Heidelberg campus.

NMIT Head of the Department of Building Structures & Services, Charlie Robins, said there had been a continual problem with the correct procedure in the installation of waterproofing for shower and bath facilities and the new course was designed as skills gap training to meet the need in the building industry.

The course runs for four weekdays full-time for people with a minimum of two years waterproofing experience such as wall and floor tilers, builders, plasterers and painters who will obtain a nationally recognised qualification to meet the formal learning requirements for internal waterproofing in Victoria.

With 15 competencies in total in the Certificate course, industry participants receive credits with Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for 11 of these competencies through their particular trade qualification.

Four other study competencies are taught in the four-day course including to prepare surfaces for waterproofing application, handle and prepare bricklaying/blocklaying materials, carry out basic demolition and apply waterproofing process to internal wet area.

Charlie said NMIT was responding to the high incidence of waterproofing failures in the building and construction industry by offering this course using best practice in waterproofing.

Correct waterproofing installation involved placing a membrane barrier, made of acrylic, fibre glass or polyurethane, between the tile and the floor to ensure water did not leak out to seep into other structural components of the house such as frames, walls, floors and ceilings.

Charlie added the cost difference between performing a good job and a failure could be as little as seventy dollars. If (and when) the wet area became a problem, the cost of repair could be more than seven thousand dollars.

The Chairman of the Australian Institute of Waterproofing, Barry Tanner said NMIT's course was 'absolutely, indeed timely for people to become professional waterproofers.

'It's critical to the building industry, but not just for builders and other tradespeople, but also architects, surveyors and inspectors who need to know what is required to make a building correctly waterproofed.'

Barry added while there was now a Building Practitioner Waterproofing Category, it was not mandatory for builders to belong to this category, but it was the first step for waterproofers in Victoria to have to obtain a licence which already existed in NSW, Queensland and South Australia.

There was a minimum Australian Standard, but this did not cover best practice.

Wall and floor tiler, Robert Frendo, 25, who completed a four-year wall and floor tiling apprenticeship at NMIT in 2005, now runs his own business called City Wide Tiling Services, and attended the NMIT course in waterproofing earlier this year.

He said best practice waterproofing was fundamental to his trade and it was greatly important for his business.

'Insurance companies are currently lobbying for waterproofers to be licensed and when that comes in, I want the formal qualification that the course gave me to be ready for that when it comes,' Robert said.

'While I was confident with waterproofing, the course taught me about new products as well as gaining more first-hand experience from other course participants. It was good to be able to share stories of our problems and how they were solved.

'I found out about compatibility between products and what products were suitable in specific circumstances and could ask the right people the right questions. Waterproofing is not that difficult, but it has to be done 100 per cent right, not 80 per cent or 90 per cent because that's when you get water leakage down the track.'

The next course starts at NMIT on Monday 30 July. Inquiries Tel: NMIT (03) 9269-8609

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Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on 03 9269 1579, 0413 483 182 or jamesgardener@nmit.edu.au

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) – Situated on six campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne’s north plus a regional campus at Ararat, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce.  NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.