From April next year, all sanitary plumbers will need to have a licence to work, said the PUB yesterday.
The national water agency revealed the change in a press release announcing the Licensed Plumber (LP) scheme, which is an expansion of the Licensed Water Service Plumber (LWSP) scheme.
It said: "The new LP scheme aims to upgrade the industry's standards by streamlining the operations of water service and sanitary plumbing - through training, licensing of qualified plumbers and enforcement against non-compliance with PUB's rules and regulations."
Water service plumbers work on the drinking water supply system, including water pipes and taps, while sanitary plumbers work on the used water system, such as toilet bowls, urinals and sinks.
The change comes nearly 15 years after PUB removed regulations for sanitary plumbers in November 2002.
The move was intended to increase competition - leading to lower costs for consumers - and to remove administrative burdens for home owners, reported The New Paper in 2004 .
Complaints to the Consumers Association of Singapore against plumbers nearly tripled from 192 in 2001 to 534 in 2003, the year after deregulation.
PUB said yesterday that it hopes the revised scheme will raise the standards of Singapore's plumbing industry and that the licensing will provide more quality assurance to home owners.
Plumbers registered under the LWSP scheme and the Singapore Plumbing Society (SPS) will qualify automatically for the new licence.
The estimated 600 plumbers registered only under the LWSP and 22 registered only under SPS will have to obtain qualifications by Sept 30 next year.
SPS president Tan Wee Teck said some plumbers are concerned that there are too many regulations, but the SPS believes the move will provide clear standards for plumbers.
"It is good for the industry, in order to raise professionalism in the long term," he said.