The Queensland Government has announced plans to abolish laws that make it compulsory to install rainwater tanks and gas, solar or heat pump hot water systems in all new homes.  

Queensland Minister for Housing and Public Works Tim Mander said, “These requirements add an unnecessary cost to homeowners and place an unwanted drag on the construction industry.”  

“These changes will potentially reduce the cost of building a new home by more than $5000. Taken in conjunction with the $15,000 first home owner’s grant for new dwellings, that’s a massive saving for anyone planning on building a new home,” said Mr Mander. 

“People who want to install rainwater tanks or a particular type of hot water system can still do so. The difference is that the decision is now theirs to make.”  

Under the new laws, Councils will be able to opt to retain mandatory rainwater tank requirements where they can prove a net benefit to the community.  

Mr Mander said the changes would also allow existing home owners to replace a broken electric hot water system with a similar model.  

“Under existing laws, owners of homes in reticulated natural gas areas are restricted to gas, solar or heat pump hot water systems, which often cost thousands of dollars more than the electric model they’re replacing.” 

“Although solar or heat pump systems are more energy efficient, they are more expensive to buy and often require extra plumbing and electrical work to retrofit the existing property before they can be installed.  

“Replacing a broken hot water system is often a significant, not to mention unexpected, expense,” Mr Mander said.

“It’s not fair to force people to choose the more expensive product.”  

HIA Executive Director Warwick Temby applauded the moves to improve housing affordability.”

“These are very pragmatic decisions that will make a meaningful contribution to improving housing affordability, especially for first time buyers,” Mr Temby said. 

Master Builders Director of Housing Policy Paul Bidwell also welcomed the decision. 

“This is very positive news for our industry and for the broader Queensland community,” Mr Bidwell said. 

“The cost of a rainwater tank adds up to $6,000 to the cost of a new house and in some cases this can be even more on smaller lots.”

“These changes will significantly reduce the cost of housing. Our members advise the extra costs of tanks and energy efficient hot water systems will be removed from the cost of new homes if consumers choose not to install them.”    

Legislative amendments are required to implement both decisions and the changes are proposed to take effect early 2013 in Queensland.