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Kitchen and bathroom home renovations

If you are doing plumbing and drainage work as part of a kitchen or bathroom home renovation, you may not need a building consent for certain projects if an authorised person completes the work.

Work by an authorised person

An authorised person must be employed to carry out the plumbing and drainage building work for it to have building consent exemption.

If an authorised person does not complete the work, then it is not exempt.

The term "authorised person" covers:

  • registered certifying plumbers and drainlayers
  • plumbers and drainlayers with a provisional licence working under supervision
  • trainee plumbers and drainlayers working under supervision.

You must make sure the plumber or drainlayer you are using for your building work has current authorisation from the Plumbers, Gasfitters, and Drainlayers Board.

Work by an owner-builder

If you are an owner-builder, you can carry out the low-risk work on a kitchen or bathroom renovation if you:

  • meet the requirements of the Building Code
  • obtain any necessary building consent or permits before starting work.

Owner-builder exemptions do not cover electrical, gas, plumbing or drainage work unless the owner-builder holds the appropriate license.

Plumbing and drainage work exemptions

You are unlikely to need a building consent for plumbing and drainage work involving the repair, replacement of an existing sanitary fixture such as a sink or toilet pan.

You are required to obtain a building consent if the work involves adding an additional sanitary fixture to your house - for example, a new bath – where there was not one previously.

A building consent is not required to repair or maintain an existing water heater, if it is carried out by an authorised person.

More information on work that is exempted under the Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004 is available on the MBIE Building Performance website.

Check if you need a consent

You don't need a building consent for work listed if it is listed as exempted under Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004.

You are unlikely to require a building consent to:

  • re-position or replace sanitary fixtures (e.g. a bath, bidet, wash hand basin, shower or toilet pan) within an existing home bathroom
  • move a toilet pan from a toilet compartment into an adjacent existing bathroom
  • remodel an existing kitchen within the same space, leaving the kitchen sink in the same position
  • move an existing home laundry tub to a new location to an adjacent room
  • relocate or remove an existing hose tap
  • remove a bath with a shower over it, and replace it with a new proprietary shower enclosure and a new bath within the existing bathroom space.

You will need a building consent to:

  • install a tiled wet area shower - as it involves critical building work that is not sanitary plumbing, such as carpentry and installing waterproof membranes
  • move a vanity, bath, and shower within an apartment of a multi-level building – as it may involve new penetrations through a fire separation
  • add a shower, hand basin, and toilet to an ensuite – as these sanitary fixtures are additional to those already existing in the building.

Where sanitary plumbing work could adversely affect the performance of structural elements, such as floor joists or wall framing, this work may require a building consent.

All work must comply with the Building Code.

If you are not sure, get professional advice.

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