Two thirds of homeowners may be unlawfully installing water fittings in their home

  • WRAS is urging anyone planning plumbing work to check if they need permission from their water company, before installing certain plumbing fittings

Nearly two thirds of homeowners (60%) are unaware that they must inform their water company if installing specific water fixtures in their home, including large baths and some types of bidets.

To safe guard our drinking water, UK water regulations and byelaws require, for most types plumbing of work, the designer, installer, owner or occupier to obtain their local water supplier’s consent first. In much the same way you must notify building control if extending or altering your property, you also must send notice and details of the proposed work to the water company.

For example, 62% said they didn’t know whether they had to inform their water company if installing a large bath (one holding more than 230L) and a quarter(25%) believe they don’t need to tell their water company of this planned work.

60%of homeowners are also unaware that they are legally required to tell their water company if they are installing a bidet which features an ascending spray or flexible hose. Homeowners may not realise that, if these are installed incorrectly, they risk contaminating their drinking water, which is why it is so important to notify their water company.

The regulations apply to homeowners, businesses, landlords and tenants and apply to many types of domestic and commercial plumbing – from building new houses or extending business premises to everyday work.

Consent takes a maximum of ten working days and costs nothing. In many cases, the water supplier will simply need a description of the planned work and the contact details of those undertaking it.

Julie Spinks, Managing Director of WRAS, said: “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.”

“Getting permission is quick and free, but failure to notify your local water supplier could result in extra cost to put poor plumbing right, or worse, contamination  of water supplies and a court prosecution.

Following these regulations ensures that everyone continues to enjoy high-quality, safe drinking water.”

Types of plumbing work that must be notified to water suppliers include:

  • 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.

This list is not exhaustive and there are extra requirements in Scotland and Northern Ireland, full details are on the WRAS website

WaterSafe approved plumbers – ones already trained to meet the strict regulations for installing pipes and fittings which supply drinking water – are able to carryout some types of work without prior notification.

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