Housebuilders could have to spend £37m to fit hot water safety devices in new and converted homes from 2006.
Phil Hope, junior minister in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, has ordered a review of the Building Regulations governing hygiene and safety – part G – which will start in February.

This may lead to all new and converted properties being fitted with thermostatic mixing valves to control water temperature for showers, basins and baths.

Hope said: "Safe water temperatures are essential since most accidents occur with the young, elderly or infirm either getting or falling into baths that are too hot."

Scalding from hot bath water leads to 20 deaths and 570 injuries every year.

The safety devices cost about £50 each and may have to be fitted to each hot water tap to ensure the bacteria causing legionnaire's disease does not build up in pipes between the valve and the tap or shower.

The House Builders Federation was critical of the proposals. "It's not a great cost but along with all the other tweaks in regulations it all adds up," said an HBF spokesperson.

Dr Howard Porter, director of the Thermostatic Mixing Valve Manufacturers Association, claimed the measure would add only £150 maximum to the cost of a home.