Electrical Wires. Credit: Niamh Lowe Heritage NSW

Electrical Wires. Credit: Niamh Lowe Heritage NSW

5. Repair or replacement of non-significant services (mechanical, electrical and plumbing)

Repair or replacement of non-significant services (mechanical, electrical and plumbing)

This exemption is for the repair or replacement of services that are not of heritage significance.

 Examples of typical service repair or replacement activities/works include:

  • rewiring of electrical fittings
  • replace light fixtures and fittings with energy efficient alternatives
  • repair of broken water pipes
  • repair to mechanical parts of a boiler or engine.

For telecommunications and fire safety see Standard Exemptions 6 and 7 respectively.

For more information on significance see the Significance and Significant Fabric fact sheet .

Standard Exemption 5: Repair or replacement of non-significant services (mechanical, electrical and plumbing)

General conditions  apply to the use of all Standard Exemptions and must be complied with. 

The following specified activities/works to an item do not require approval under subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977 if the specified activities/works are undertaken in accordance with each of the relevant standards prescribed below.

 Specified activities/works:

  1. Repair or replacement of non-significant services on or in an item, such as cabling, plumbing and wiring (excluding telecommunications and fire safety systems).
  2. Activities/works necessary to upgrade or replace existing non-significant lighting fixtures and fittings within buildings/structures and/or affixed to buildings/structures.

Relevant standards:

  1. The specified activities/works must not involve alteration to, damage to, or the removal of, significant fabric. The specified activities/works must not impact significant views and landscape values.
  2. Any excavation must comply with Standard Exemption 8: Excavation relevant standards.
  3. Any new hardware must not be attached to the primary or significant façade(s) and must be discreetly located to reduce negative visual impact.
  4. Replacement fabric must appear the same, be sympathetic to the item’s fabric and unobtrusive.
  5. Activities/works must use existing service routes, cavities or voids or replace existing surface mounted services.
  6. Reuse of existing fixing points in significant fabric is permitted.
  7. Any new fabric must not obscure significant fabric or limit access to significant fabric for future maintenance.
  8. Any new fabric must not exacerbate the decay of existing fabric or risk the destruction of existing significant fabric due to chemical incompatibility, vibration, percussion or explosive flammability.
  9. Replacement surface mounted services must be the same or less intrusive than the surface mounted services they replace.
  10. Existing service routes and/or conduits may be deleted if the installation can be streamlined into one existing service route, cavity or void.



Energy efficiency includes a wide range of activities to reduce the amount of energy spent in a building for functions such as heating, cooling and lighting while still achieving a sustainably comfortable environment. The Building Code of Australia establishes performance requirements for energy efficiency in buildings. Optimising heritage building performance through energy efficiency measures contributes to the sustainability of the building.

Some energy efficiency activities can damage significant heritage fabric and the significance of the heritage item if not designed and undertaken properly. There are ways to design solutions for heritage buildings to satisfy the performance requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA). However, it is important to recognise that the BCA deemed to satisfy provisions may not be appropriate for heritage buildings.

You may be able to do some energy efficiency activities/works at an SHR or IHO without approval, under a Standard Exemption. For example:

  • upgrade (including replacement) of non-significant lighting with more energy efficient light fixtures; and
  • replacement of light globes in significant and non-significant light fittings with more energy efficient globes.

Most other energy efficiency activities to SHR and IHO items require assessment and approval prior to activities/works commencing, due to the risks to significant fabric and the item’s significance.

See further information: Heritage Buildings and Energy Efficiency Regulations