Unplanned bathroom redesigns risk breaking the law

Over half of us are unaware we need to notify our water suppliers before making changes to our bathrooms – and other work inside and out involving water supplies

Peter Grech transformed his bathroom into a stylish sanctuary, and won our 2018 Real Homes award for best bathroom
(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Imagine: you've finally got the budget for a bathroom redesign, or for a costly addition, such as a luxurious freestanding tub. You own your home, so it's no one's business what you do with your bathroom other than yours, right? Well, actually, wrong. Research by the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) shows that 60 per cent of home owners are unaware of the fact that they have to notify their water supplier of any plumbing changes in their bathroom under the Water Supply Regulations or Byelaws (in Scotland). 

Getting permission is free and in most cases only requires a description of the proposed works. However, failure to notify your water supplier of plumbing works could result in further work being required if the installation is incorrect, or, in more serious cases of water contamination, in a court prosecution. 

 Julie Spinks, Managing Director of WRAS, says, 'If you’re planning any type of new plumbing installation, it’s well worth taking a few minutes to seek professional advice from your local water supplier, or a WaterSafe-approved plumber who is familiar with the regulations.'

So, what are some of the examples of plumbing works you need to notify your water supplier about?

  • Building a house or other property/structure;
  • Extending or altering the water system on a non-household building;
  • A material change of use of a building, which includes installing a rainwater harvesting or other water reuse systems;
  • Installing a swimming pool or pond over 10,000 litres;
  • A garden watering system (unless operated by hand);
  • A bath which holds more than 230 litres of water;
  • A bidet with an upward spray or flexible hose;
  • A pump or booster that delivers more than 12 litres of water per minute;
  • A reverse osmosis unit (for cleaning water);
  • A water treatment unit which produces waste water;
  • A reduced pressure zone (RPZ) valve assembly or similar;
  • Any water system outside a building that is either less than 750mm (0.75 metres) or more than 1350mm (1.35 metres) below ground.

Need more advice? Head to our dedicated bathroom pages.