In our experience, when tiled showers are installed as part of renovations of existing bathrooms, building consent is not usually obtained. This appears to be because either the homeowner’s minds is not turned to the question of whether building consent is required, or else the homeowner and/or builder mistakenly believe that the exemption in the Building Act applying to replacement of existing bathroom fixtures applies to replacing a liner style shower with a tiled shower. As a result, many unsuspecting vendors are leaving themselves wide open to breach of warranty claims by purchasers, regardless of whether the waterproofing behind the tiled shower fails or not.
The current edition of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Guidance to Building Work (“Ministry Guidance”) makes it clear that the Ministry considers that “installing a tiled wet area shower will require a building consent”. The reason given for this approach is that construction of a wet area shower generally includes critical building work that is not limited to sanitary plumbing, such as waterproof membranes and carpentry work for structural modifications to the floor. The Ministry’s advice is that this critical building work is outside of any of the stated exemptions in Schedule 1 of the Building Act. Enquiries we have made with major city councils confirm that most councils are following the Ministry Guidance and agree that building consent is required when replacing a tray and liner style shower with a tiled shower. While the Building Act itself does not explicitly state that tiled showers require building consent, it would be prudent for home owners to follow both Ministry Guidance and council policy.