Two-thirds of homeowners may be unlawfully installing water fittings

Anyone planning plumbing work has been advised to check if they need permission from their water company before installing some types of fittings.

A WRAS (Water Regulations Advisory Scheme) survey has found that nearly two-thirds of homeowners (60%) are unaware that they must inform their water company if installing a range of fixtures, such as large baths and some types of bidets.

The survey discovered that 62% of people did not know whether they had to inform their water company if installing a large bath (one holding more than 230 litres) while a quarter of respondents felt that they did not need to tell their water company about the work.

Homeowners are also legally required to tell their water company before installing a bidet that has an ascending spray or flexible hose but 60% of those surveyed did not know this.

Water contamination

WRAS advises that if these fixtures are installed incorrectly, they risk contaminating their drinking water, which is why it is important to notify the water company.

UK regulations and by-laws seek to protect drinking water supplies and require the designer, installer, owner or occupier to obtain their local water supplier’s consent first for a range of plumbing work. You also must send notice and details of the proposed work to the water company.

The regulations apply to homeowners, businesses, landlords and tenants. Consent takes a maximum of ten working days and costs nothing. In many cases, the water supplier just needs a description of the planned work and contact details of those doing it.

Approved plumbers

WaterSafe approved plumbers, trained to meet the strict regulations for installing pipes and fittings that supply drinking water, are able to carry out some types of work without prior notification.

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.

Full details are on the WRAS website – There are extra requirements in Scotland and Northern Ireland.