The 17 Things

Rainwater tanks collect rainwater from roofs and reuse it for the garden or even for indoor uses such as toilet flushing and clothes washing. It’s important to choose an appropriate sized tank for your home and the local rainfall pattern to ensure it matches your needs.

No 16: Rainwater Tanks

The 17 Things

What Is It?

Rainwater tanks collect rainwater from roofs, and, generally speaking, the bigger they are the better. A typical way to use the water from rainwater tanks is in the garden or indoors for toilet flushing and clothes washing. Remember that rainwater tanks depend on rainfall to fill them and if there’s a long dry spell then they won’t be very much help. If you’re really looking for to save water it’s best to install water efficient showerheads and dual flush toilets, and establish a low water (water-wise garden).

How will it help me reduce my running costs and increase my comfort?

The ideal size of your rainwater tank will depend on what you want to use the water for, the number of people in the household, and also your budget, roof size and rainfall.  The Tankulator is a free online tool that calculate what size rainwater tank best suits your needs so you can get the most from your tank. You just need to enter in all your particular needs and situation and it figures it all out for you.

Round poly water tanks

Round poly water tanks.
Image credits to Mr Intelligence, www.mrintelligence.net

Depending on their size, and your rainfall, rainwater tanks can collect thousands of litres of water each year and no matter where you live in Australia, they can be used to provide a percentage of your water use, even if it’s just a small amount to at least water your garden.

“The best possible case for a tank that provides water for indoor use is in a high-rainfall suburb, for a house with a big roof, a big household (family of four), a high cost of water and a big tank. In this scenario, where the household has spent $1950 on the tank and fittings, there will be a six-year payback period on the cost of the tank” ATA

How much a water tank will save on your water costs depends on your rainfall and the comparative mains water prices. For instance, generally, where water prices are high, capturing around 85 kL (driven by rainfall, roof size and tank size) will produce a 10-year payback. Where water prices are moderate, being able to capture around 150 kL of water is required to become economic.

What professional should I talk to about this?

The Centre for Liveability Real Estate always recommends you consult further with any relevant specialist design or building consultants or assessors before making any decision regarding your specific property based on the Liveability Property Marketing Features™.

There are many landscape architects, licensed building designers, licensed plumbers and architects who are skilled in helping you answer questions about rainwater tanks. They include HIA GreenSmart builders and designersMaster Builders Green Living buildersBDA and BDAV (VIC only) building designers.

You can also ask your local retailer direct for any specific questions regarding the rainwater tank model.

Is there anything I need to know before I meet with them?

The first decision you have to make about a rainwater tank is what would like to use the water for.

External pumps can be installed to connect a rainwater tank to the toilet and laundry. Image credits Your Home www.yourhome.gov.au

External pumps can be installed to connect a rainwater tank to the toilet and laundry. Image credits Your Home www.yourhome.gov.au

Outdoor use: for watering the garden or washing the car. This is the easiest place to start and the tank supplier may be able to organise installation. Check if the installation and delivery are an extra cost.

Indoor use: for laundry or toilet use you will need a licensed plumber

The next decision is about location and accessibility.

Where you locate the tank (or tanks) will determine its size and shape, and possibly even its colour if it needs to blend into the surrounding vegetation or buildings.

If you have a large area with lots of space and easy access to get the tank in you will have a number of options. There may be extra costs such as a stand for your water tank; if it’s located directly on the ground then you may have the cost of preparing this area. To ensure your water supply isn’t contaminated from hazards you will need a backflow-prevention device, which stops water flowing back and contaminating the rainwater supply. Lastly unless you can use a nice slope to create water pressure you will need a pump.

You will also need to consider if there are any local regulations in place which govern water tank installation

Contact your local council to see if they have any local requirements you must comply with.

Your state government Housing Code will have information about any conditions you need to comply with. Generally speaking Tanks that can store a maximum of 10,000 litres of water don’t normally need council approval but you will need to comply with your council’s conditions.

Next you will need to consider what type of tank and the material it’s made from.

  • Metal tanks are made from corrugated or flat rolled metal, which may be galvanised or coated. They often come with a plastic inner lining (Aquaplate) that will increase the life of the tank and protect the water quality.
  • Polyethylene tanks are durable and, because rust isn’t an issue, tend to be recommended for people living near the ocean. Other synthetic materials, such as PVC and geotextile, are used for bladder storage.
  • Fibreglass tanks are rust and chemical resistant and designed to withstand extreme temperatures. They’re not the cheapest option, and more suitable for above-ground installation, while all other types can also be installed below ground.
  • Concrete tanks, more often used for agricultural and industrial purposes, won’t rust, burn, melt or blow away. They can be bought ready-made, or custom made onsite. (Choice magazine)

What is the price range I can expect?

Depending on the size and material used for the tank, prices range from around $1,200 to $8,000. See the price comparison on The Tankulator.

Where can I find more information?

For tips on using reducing water usage, check out our Liveability Tips for the BathroomTips for Outdoors and Tips for the Laundry.

Websites such as Savewater and Rainwater Harvesting Association of Australia are a great place to start to find out more about rainwater tanks.

The ATA offers great resources such as The Tankulator and the ReNew Rainwater tanks buyers guide which also offers a comprehensive overview of rainwater tanks.

The Your Home: Australia’s Guide to Environmentally Sustainable Homes has further details about rainwater tanks, including the different controllers, pumps and designs so that you can choose which one is right for your home.

If you already have a rainwater tank, the Australian Government Department of Health’s Guidance on use of rainwater tanks has information on how to maintain the quality of the rainwater in your tank system.

For information specific to your location, including where you can use the stored rainwater, you can see these links from each state and territory government where free downloadable guides are also available. Your local council may also have information:

If I already have this feature, is there anything I need to know about using it effectively?

The greatest risk of contamination comes from your roof and gutters. There are a number of tank accessories such as first flush devices, leaf guards and tank screens that can help avoid any contamination problems, as well as other accessories that can make owning a tank that much more useful.

A reasonably low level of management of the rainwater stored in your tank can ensure provision of good quality water. The Australian Government Department of Health’s Guidance on use of rainwater tanks has information on how to maintain the quality of the rainwater in your tank system. There may also be specific information available for your location. For links for each state or territory government where this information can be found, see above.

Water tanks can slowly build up a layer of sludge in the bottom. This is caused by dust and debris entering the tank, which will happen no matter how good your filtering is.

Check your tank for sludge every two to three years. If it becomes too much of a problem you may need to get into the tank (if it has an access hatch) and clean it out. You may want to consider installing a tank cleaning overflow system. These work by having an internal overflow pipe that draws water from the base rather than the top of the tank. They can be simply made using suitable lengths of downpipe and fittings.

Does this work better when combined with any of the other 17 Things™?

Rainwater tanks alone cannot significantly impact your water usage and lower the cost of using water in both the outdoor and indoor areas of your home (unless you are completely self-sufficient for water and therefore tank water is all you have access to and use). This is because rainwater tanks rely on rainfall and when you need to water the garden the most is in times of low rainfall. To receive real benefits you need to combine the rainwater tank with No. 15 Water Efficient Devices, and No. 14 Low Water Garden.

Will this feature be recognised when I sell my property?

Yes; Liveability Real Estate Specialist sales agents and property managers have been upskilled to identify an additional 17 Things™ on top of a standard property appraisal. So if you have invested in any of the 17 Things™ this means your property will be appraised and marketed with real skill and with the best marketing resources for online and print media.

You can book a free property appraisal with a Liveability Real Estate Specialist any time you’re ready to sell or even if you’re not planning to sell for a couple of years. Each of the 17 Things™ has appraisal benchmarks (relevant to existing and new homes) which have been set by relevant industry partners to make sure we deliver a high standard of property marketing. So your Liveability Real Estate Specialist will work through this appraisal checklist with you as they move through your home. It’s a great chance for you to let them know about all the property features you have invested in.


Any questions?

We’re here to help! Just send us your enquiry.

What Is It?

Rainwater tanks collect rainwater from roofs, and, generally speaking, the bigger they are the better. A typical way to use the water from rainwater tanks is in the garden or indoors for toilet flushing and clothes washing. Remember that rainwater tanks depend on rainfall to fill them and if there’s a long dry spell then they won’t be very much help. If you’re really looking for to save water it’s best to install water efficient showerheads and dual flush toilets, and establish a low water (water-wise garden).

How will it help me reduce my running costs and increase my comfort?

The ideal size of your rainwater tank will depend on what you want to use the water for, the number of people in the household, and also your budget, roof size and rainfall.  The Tankulator is a free online tool that calculate what size rainwater tank best suits your needs so you can get the most from your tank. You just need to enter in all your particular needs and situation and it figures it all out for you.

Round poly water tanks

Round poly water tanks.
Image credits to Tank Works www.tankworks.com.au.

Depending on their size, and your rainfall, rainwater tanks can collect thousands of litres of water each year and no matter where you live in Australia, they can be used to provide a percentage of your water use, even if it’s just a small amount to at least water your garden.

“The best possible case for a tank that provides water for indoor use is in a high-rainfall suburb, for a house with a big roof, a big household (family of four), a high cost of water and a big tank. In this scenario, where the household has spent $1950 on the tank and fittings, there will be a six-year payback period on the cost of the tank” ATA

How much a water tank will save on your water costs depends on your rainfall and the comparative mains water prices. For instance, generally, where water prices are high, capturing around 85 kL (driven by rainfall, roof size and tank size) will produce a 10-year payback. Where water prices are moderate, being able to capture around 150 kL of water is required to become economic.

What professional should I talk to about this?

The Centre for Liveability Real Estate always recommends you consult further with any relevant specialist design or building consultants or assessors before making any decision regarding your specific property based on the Liveability Property Marketing Features™.

There are many landscape architects, licensed building designers, licensed plumbers and architects who are skilled in helping you answer questions about rainwater tanks. They include HIA GreenSmart builders and designersMaster Builders Green Living builders, and BDA building designers.

You can also ask your local retailer direct for any specific questions regarding the rainwater tank model.

Is there anything I need to know before I meet with them?

The first decision you have to make about a rainwater tank is what would like to use the water for.

External pumps can be installed to connect a rainwater tank to the toilet and laundry. Image credits Your Home www.yourhome.gov.au

External pumps can be installed to connect a rainwater tank to the toilet and laundry. Image credits Your Home www.yourhome.gov.au

Outdoor use: for watering the garden or washing the car. This is the easiest place to start and the tank supplier may be able to organise installation. Check if the installation and delivery are an extra cost.

Indoor use: for laundry or toilet use you will need a licensed plumber

The next decision is about location and accessibility.

Where you locate the tank (or tanks) will determine its size and shape, and possibly even its colour if it needs to blend into the surrounding vegetation or buildings.

If you have a large area with lots of space and easy access to get the tank in you will have a number of options. There may be extra costs such as a stand for your water tank; if it’s located directly on the ground then you may have the cost of preparing this area. To ensure your water supply isn’t contaminated from hazards you will need a backflow-prevention device, which stops water flowing back and contaminating the rainwater supply. Lastly unless you can use a nice slope to create water pressure you will need a pump.

You will also need to consider if there are any local regulations in place which govern water tank installation

Contact your local council to see if they have any local requirements you must comply with.

Your state government Housing Code will have information about any conditions you need to comply with. Generally speaking Tanks that can store a maximum of 10,000 litres of water don’t normally need council approval but you will need to comply with your council’s conditions.

Next you will need to consider what type of tank and the material it’s made from.

  • Metal tanks are made from corrugated or flat rolled metal, which may be galvanised or coated. They often come with a plastic inner lining (Aquaplate) that will increase the life of the tank and protect the water quality.
  • Polyethylene tanks are durable and, because rust isn’t an issue, tend to be recommended for people living near the ocean. Other synthetic materials, such as PVC and geotextile, are used for bladder storage.
  • Fibreglass tanks are rust and chemical resistant and designed to withstand extreme temperatures. They’re not the cheapest option, and more suitable for above-ground installation, while all other types can also be installed below ground.
  • Concrete tanks, more often used for agricultural and industrial purposes, won’t rust, burn, melt or blow away. They can be bought ready-made, or custom made onsite. (Choice magazine)

What is the price range I can expect?

Depending on the size and material used for the tank, prices range from around $1,200 to $8,000. See the price comparison on The Tankulator.

Where can I find more information?

For tips on using reducing water usage, check out our Liveability Tips for the BathroomTips for Outdoors and Tips for the Laundry.

Websites such as Savewater and Rainwater Harvesting Association of Australia are a great place to start to find out more about rainwater tanks.

The ATA offers great resources such as The Tankulator and the ReNew Rainwater tanks buyers guide which also offers a comprehensive overview of rainwater tanks.

The Your Home: Australia’s Guide to Environmentally Sustainable Homes has further details about rainwater tanks, including the different controllers, pumps and designs so that you can choose which one is right for your home.

COOLmob also has information on designing for the tropics  that includes rainwater tanks.

If you already have a rainwater tank, the Australian Government Department of Health’s Guidance on use of rainwater tanks has information on how to maintain the quality of the rainwater in your tank system.

For information specific to your location, including where you can use the stored rainwater, you can see these links from each state and territory government where free downloadable guides are also available. Your local council may also have information:

If I already have this feature, is there anything I need to know about using it effectively?

The greatest risk of contamination comes from your roof and gutters. There are a number of tank accessories such as first flush devices, leaf guards and tank screens that can help avoid any contamination problems, as well as other accessories that can make owning a tank that much more useful.

A reasonably low level of management of the rainwater stored in your tank can ensure provision of good quality water. The Australian Government Department of Health’s Guidance on use of rainwater tanks has information on how to maintain the quality of the rainwater in your tank system. There may also be specific information available for your location. For links for each state or territory government where this information can be found, see above.

Water tanks can slowly build up a layer of sludge in the bottom. This is caused by dust and debris entering the tank, which will happen no matter how good your filtering is.

Check your tank for sludge every two to three years. If it becomes too much of a problem you may need to get into the tank (if it has an access hatch) and clean it out. You may want to consider installing a tank cleaning overflow system. These work by having an internal overflow pipe that draws water from the base rather than the top of the tank. They can be simply made using suitable lengths of downpipe and fittings.

Does this work better when combined with any of the other 17 Things™?

Rainwater tanks alone significantly impact your water usage and lower the cost of using water in both the outdoor and indoor areas of your home (unless you are completely self-sufficient for water and therefore tank water is all you have access to and use). This is because rainwater tanks rely on rainfall and when you need to water the garden the most is in times of low rainfall. To receive real benefits you need to combine the rainwater tank with No. 15 Water Efficiency Devices, and No. 14 Low Water Garden.

Will this feature be recognised when I sell my property?

Yes; Liveability Real Estate Specialist sales agents and property managers have been upskilled to identify an additional 17 Things™ on top of a standard property appraisal. So if you have invested in any of the 17 Things™ this means your property will be appraised and marketed with real skill and with the best marketing resources for online and print media.

You can book a free property appraisal with a Liveability Real Estate Specialist any time you’re ready to sell or even if you’re not planning to sell for a couple of years. Each of the 17 Things™ has appraisal benchmarks (relevant to existing and new homes) which have been set by relevant industry partners to make sure we deliver a high standard of property marketing. So your Liveability Real Estate Specialist will work through this appraisal checklist with you as they move through your home. It’s a great chance for you to let them know about all the property features you have invested in.


Any questions?

We’re here to help! Just send us your enquiry.

The 17 Things

The 17 Things

The 17 Things™ are property features that have the potential to reduce running costs and increase comfort if used correctly. You can discuss incorporating these into your renovation with with your architect, building designer or builder. The real estate industry is now identifying these Liveability Property Features™at point of sale or rent through agents that have completed additional training as Liveability Real Estate Specialists.