Last Updated Sep 14, 2018 · Written by Rob Schneider
If you're renovating your bathroom, you may have to strip everything out and start from scratch. There are two reasons for this. In many older homes, you will need to waterproof the floors and parts of the walls to conform to updated Australian Standards. You may also need to move electrical outlets and appliances to adhere to Australian Standards for bathrooms. Water and electricity don't mix and you need to ensure the two can't come in contact in your bathroom.
Bathroom renovations often require a team of tradespersons. A typical renovation will require the services of a builder, a plumber, an electrician, a tiler and a waterproofing specialist. In many cases, you will also need to hire a cabinetmaker, a carpenter and a painter. A bathroom renovation company can provide you with all the services you need, but in many states you will need a building permit.
Waterproofing is an important part of a bathroom renovation. Australian Standard AS 3940-1994 was updated in 2004. The basic standards remain, but new standards stipulate the types of waterproofing materials you need to use. The waterproofing materials must be able to withstand movement and be able to withstand exposure to cleaning products and alkali present in cement mortar. Other changes include:
For more information about AS 3940, read Your Bathroom Waterproofing Checklist.
AS 3940 applies to all new bathrooms and bathroom renovations in Australia. Your waterproofer is required to issue a compliance certificate after completing the job. The compliance certificate is your assurance that the work complied with Australian Standards.
Regulations also exist regarding the placement of electrical outlets and appliances. In general, the regulations are meant to ensure that water cannot come in contact with an electrical outlet or appliance. Bathrooms are divided into four "zones" in compliance with Australia/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 3000-2007:
Regulations regarding who can carry out a bathroom renovation vary depending on where you live. In all states, only licensed plumbers and electricians can carry out work related to their fields. The tradie who is authorised to do bathroom renovations and supervise other workers and subcontractors varies from state to state.
In the ACT, any building work valued at over $5000 must be carried out by a licensed Building Practitioner. If no structural work is required, the practitioner can hold a Class D licence, but any structural work must be carried out by a builder with a Class A, B or C licence. Your tiler can hold a Class D licence, but plumbers and electricians must have appropriate licensing.
A waterproofing licence is not required in the ACT, but your waterproofer must issue a compliance certificate following the installation of the waterproofing. This is your proof that your bathroom has been waterproofed to Australian Standards.
In NSW, a builder's licence is required for all work exceeding $1000 (materials and labour). For bathroom renovations, your builder will need at least one qualification from two building groups:
For example, if you hire a carpenter to do some of your renovations, they will also need to hold a TAFE certificate in tiling if they include tiling in their work.
In New South Wales, waterproofing of bathrooms must be carried out by a licensed waterproofer.
In Victoria, the Building Practitioner's Board requires all building work valued at $5000 or more be carried out by a registered building practitioner (the Victorian equivalent to a trade licence). Your bathroom renovations will need to be done by a building practitioner who holds either a Domestic Builder: Unlimited (DBU) or Domestic Builder: Limited (DBL) registration. If they hold a DBL registration, it should be a DBL-L registration, which authorises them to carry out bathroom, kitchen and laundry renovations.
In Victoria, waterproofing does not have to be carried out by a registered specialist, but it must conform to AS-3740.
In Queensland, anyone carrying out building work exceeding $3,300 must hold a valid builder's licence. If they are bathroom renovations specialists, they may hold a restricted licence that authorises them to carry out kitchen, bathroom or laundry renovations. Their licence does not include plumbing or electrical work, but they are authorised to subcontract plumbing and electrical work.
Queensland requires a waterproofing licence for your waterproofing work. Your tiler may also hold a waterproofing licence, but check their licence before letting them do your waterproofing for you.
In South Australia, building work must be carried out by licensed Building Contractors. Your building contractor should also hold a Building Supervisor licence. The two licenses authorise your builder to enter into contracts and supervise building work. For bathroom renovations, your builder may hold "scope of work" licences that authorise them to carry out "Alterations and Renovations." This licence will cover all work except plumbing and electrical work, which must be carried out by licensed plumbers and electricians. Your bathroom renovation specialist should also provide you with a compliance certificate for waterproofing.
In Western Australia, a builder's licence is required for work exceeding $20,000. Not all bathroom renovations cost that much, so to protect yourself, choose a builder who belongs to a relevant trade association such as the Housing Industry Association (HIA) or the Cabinet Makers Association of Western Australia (CMAWA). They should also have a track record of successful bathroom installations and renovations. A waterproofing licence is not required in WA, but you should expect to be given a compliance certificate.
If you live in Tasmania, your bathroom renovations should be carried out by a Registered Building Practitioner with a "Builder: Low Rise" accreditation. As is true everywhere in Australia, their accreditation does not authorise them to do plumbing or electrical work, but they can subcontract work to plumbers and electricians and supervise their work.
In the NT, “renovations and alterations to existing buildings” do not require a licensed builder unless the work also includes increasing the overall floor area of your home or costs in excess of $12,000 (labour and materials). If your renovation does not exceed $12,000, choose a licensed builder to ensure your work is carried out by a professional.
Tilers do not have to be licensed in the NT. However, most reputable tilers belong to a trade association or are affiliated with the Contractor Accreditation Ltd (CAL) scheme. CAL is a non-profit organisation established by the Northern Territory Chamber of Commerce, the Master Builders Association NT and the NT Small Business Association. It is designed to help homeowners choose competent and reliable tradies. CAL accreditation is available for a variety of bathroom renovation jobs, including waterproofing and tiling.