Swimming & Spa Pools
Why you need to restrict access to your pool
- The leading causes of children, five and younger, drowning or being injured in pools are:
- Unsupervised access to pools through faulty gates and barriers.
- Ladders, chairs, planter boxes etc being left against the pool and gates allowing them to be propped open.
- Small portable pools remaining full of water without supervision.
- Any portable or inflatable pool capable of holding 400mm of water is required to have a compliant barrier which must be constructed under a building consent.
- Other portable pools like paddling pools should be supervised at all times and emptied after use.
Swimming and Spa Pools
The Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016 came into effect on 1 January 2017 and requires all pools with a maximum depth of water of 400mm or more to:
Have a physical barrier that restricts access, and be inspected every three years.
The definition of a residential swimming pool is a pool in a place of abode and also includes pools which are, in, near or adjacent, to land that also contains an abode.
An abode not only includes a dwelling house but also includes a hotel, motel, inn, hostel, boarding house, a convalescent home, nursing home, hospice, rest home, retirement village, camping ground or any similar place.
Swimming pool owners can choose who undertakes the three-yearly inspection of their pool, either Council or an independently qualified pool inspector (IQPI).
Council has a legal obligation to make sure all pool barriers comply with the Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016. If you're a pool owner, we will send you a letter informing you when your pool inspection is due. You will be able to choose to hire an IQPI in your area to inspect your pool, or have Council carry out the inspection.
Legislation relating to pool barriers and pool fencing is now the Building Act 2004. See Building Code Clause F9 - Restricting access to residential pool and also see Acceptable solutions and verification methods for New Zealand Building Code Clause F9 Restricting access to residential pools.
If your pool barrier was constructed prior to 1st of January 2017 via a building consent or has either a code of compliance certificate or a certificate of acceptance and it continues to comply with the regulation under the Fencing of Swimming pools act 1987 , there is no requirements to upgrade the barrier to the current building code Clause F9.
Independent qualified pool inspectors.
You can use an independent qualified Pool inspector to carry out your biannual inspections of your pool. It is your responsibility to notify the Grey district council that you are going to use their services after being notified of an upcoming inspection. All cost related to the inspection will be at the owner’s expense and you must supply a copy of the report to the Grey district council. The Grey district council reserves the right to re inspect the pool even after obtaining a copy of the independent report.
At list of local independent qualified pool inspectors can be found at: https://poolinspectors.tradingstandards.govt.nz/pool-ins
Spas and small heated pools
If you have a spa or small heated pool, there is an exemption to having it fenced under schedule 1 (21A) of the building act 2004. However, there must be a safety cover installed as a means of restricting access and the spa or small heated pool must meet the conditions below, you will be responsible for its ongoing compliance.
Spa pools can use lockable lids as a barrier if:
- The pool has walls at least 760 mm high and cannot be climbed.
- The water surface area is 5sqm or less.
- The cover is capable of supporting a load of a least 20kg.
- There are no external objects or projections within 760 mm at the top edge.
- You can secure the cover with straps fitted with lockable snap fasteners or a fastener that is locked with a padlock.
- You have 2 x signs that states in black letters not less than 5 mm in height 'WARNING: This spa pool cover must be kept locked except when under adult supervision.
Pool owners' obligations
You need a Building Consent before constructing most types of pools, buildings, or altering a fence around a pool. If a pool is not fenced to legal standards, then it must be removed, repaired, or replaced.
There are exemptions under the building act 2004, Schedule 1 (23) which states that an in-ground pool up to 7 meters long, 5 meters wide and a meter deep doesn’t require a building consent. This exemption excludes building work in connection with a fence restricting access to the pool and a building consent is still required for the fence.
All pool owners must advise Council if they have a swimming pool or spa pool on their property.
If you rent or lease a house with an un-fenced pool (or one that has a sub-standard fence) you must either legalise it or remove it immediately.
If you use an un-fenced pool you are committing an offence. Prosecutions have been taken against owners of properties with inadequately fenced pools in which children have drowned.
All private swimming pools need to be fenced unless:
The maximum depth is 400 mm or less.
The walls of the pool are 1.2 metres or more above the ground with no steps, handholds or projections enabling a child to climb into the pool.
Standard of fencing
You will require Building Consent to build a swimming pool fence. All materials and components must be durable and the fence must be erected in a way that prevents young children from climbing over or crawling under or through the fence into the pool area.
Non-complying pools or pool barriers
Any person who owns or uses and unfenced pool commits an offence under the Act and may be prosecuted. Criminal charges can be brought against any person in control of a property where a child drowns due to an inadequately fenced or maintained pool fence, whether consented or not.
What happens if at the time of any inspection your pool or pool barrier is non-compliant
You are required to carry out the necessary work before the re-inspection, and you will also be invoiced for the initial inspection costs.
A re-inspection will be required, for which you will be charged.
Council may issue a 'Notice to fix' requiring you to drain the pool and keep it empty until the required work is complete and checked. There is a fee for the issuing of this notice.
You should know
If you do not comply with the 'Notice to fix'. You could receive an infringement of $500 and you could face prosecution, receive maximum fine of $5000, and a criminal conviction.
Persons responsible for ensuring a pool barrier complies
The following persons must ensure compliance of the pool barrier:
- Owner of the pool
- Pool operator
- Owner of the land on which the pool is located
- Occupier of the property in or on which the pool is located
- Purchaser of the pool, if the pool is subject to a hire purchase agreement (as defined in the Income Tax Act 2007)
- Lessee of the pool or the premises (if the pool is on premises that are not subject to a tenancy under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 but the pool is subject to a lease or is part of a premises subject to a lease).
Where can I go for further information?
Helpful information is available by visiting the following websites:
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
- Building Code Clause F9 Restricting access to residential pools
- Guidance for pool owners
- Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016
- Building (Pools) Regulations 2016
- Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 03 769 8600 for additional information.