Hot water installer Brett Hogan lost his business, had to sell the family home and his family has been split as a consequence of QBCC action against him.
Hot water installer Brett Hogan lost his business, had to sell the family home and his family has been split as a consequence of QBCC action against him.

Plumber devastated after state brands him public enemy

HOT water system installer Brett Hogan is battling to rebuild his life after losing his business, being forced to sell his home and having had his family torn apart in the fallout from action by the Queensland building industry regulator he remains at a loss to explain.

Mr Hogan has been infamous since a May 16 press conference called by Queensland Building and Construction Commissioner Brett Bassett named and shamed him and his business Hot Water One claiming the soft solder he had used as an external join on pipe fittings could potentially cause lead poisoning.

Subsequent water testing by the QBCC of some properties where Mr Hogan has done work has found none with lead levels in excess of Australian standards.

What Mr Hogan doesn't understand - and what the Commissioner has been asked to explain but failed to - is why the regulator waited until three and a half months after suspending Mr Hogan's licence for a year and fining him $7000, to raise safety concerns.

The May 16 press conference came after an internal QBCC review had rejected Mr Hogan's appeal against his February suspension and fine and before an appeal to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal could be progressed.

Mr Hogan, who is now living with his 93-year-old father in NSW where he is trying to restart a business, dropped the QCAT appeal as pointless after the press conference effectively killed a business that had serviced homes from the Sunshine Coast to Wide Bay.

He said his 14-year-old son would have to be relocated to a school in NSW, the family home had been placed on the market this week, and his daughters had moved in with the parents of their friends.

Mr Hogan was informed by the QBCC two hours before the Commissioner's press conference that destroyed him.

What followed was troubling. Two police officers and six other officials, one with a video recorder, arrived at his home in the early hours of the morning with a warrant to search the premises.

Mr Hogan said they went through his office and downloaded the hard drive from his computer, subsequently sending letters to his clients warning of a potential danger he says doesn't exist.

"Half of Queensland now think Brett Hogan, his family name and his business can't be trusted," he said.

Having lost the lot Mr Hogan now finds it galling to go to jobs in NSW to see the material widely used.

"Every job I go to down here there is soft solder," he said. "This has been an absolute stitch-up. I've been hung from a tree. They have absolutely destroyed one family in Queensland."

Mr Hogan is being supported by Mates in Construction

A spokesperson for Housing Minister Mick de Brenni said the Commission had acted when he became aware of the soft lead solder issue.

"The Commissioner has advised the Minister that officers of the QBCC handle the matter in a series of steps and dealt with the licence suspension and initial review separately to the health matters," the spokesperson said.

"The Commissioner has advised the Minister that he will ensure that these matters will be handled in parallel in the future.

"Soft lead solder has been confirmed to have been used inappropriately in a number of households. There is no health benefit to any level of lead in the human body.

"In any cases where lead is used unnecessarily, illegally or its use is preventable it should be stopped."  


"The well-being of Queenslanders is our first priority in this matter. There are no known health benefits to lead.  

"While the lead results are below allowable levels, we still need to inspect every single property which used Hot Water One.

"The Commissioner is pleased that through acting swiftly, the Commission is now able to protect home owners against the threat of future lead leaching. 

"The Queensland Building and Construction Commission has a duty of care to the public and the community expects the regulator to inform it of any potential health risks. The Commissioner acted quickly once he became aware of this situation, and the community was quickly informed. 

"The use of non-compliant products is a serious issue and can impact everyone. This is a challenge that affects not only Queensland but has become a national conversation within the building and construction industry.

"All contractors undertaking work in Queensland need to be aware of State laws and should always use compliant products that are fit-for-purpose. 

"Both soft-lead solder and brass tap fittings will be deemed non-compliant if they don't meet the Australian Standards. 

"Minister de Brenni recently introduced new laws to Parliament to strengthen the QBCC's powers around non-conforming building products. These legislative amendments will ensure Queensland has some of the most rigorous and proactive non-conforming building product laws in the country."

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