Swimming Pools & Spa Pools
The Building(Pools) Amendment Act 2016
The Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016 came into effect on 1st January 2017. The key changes included within this legislation were:
- residential swimming pool barriers must be inspected every three years
- safety covers will be able to be used as barriers for spa pools and hot tubs
- territorial authorities will have better tools to enforce pool barrier requirements, including notices to fix and infringement notices.
The new rules place more emphasis on the pool owner being responsible for safety. The responsibility does depend on the type of pool you have and where it is (e.g. home, rental, commercial).
More specifically, responsibility sits with:
- the owner of the pool
- the pool operator
- the owner of the land the pool is on
- the occupier of the property the pool is on
- if the pool is available for hire, the person who is hiring the pool
- 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 premises subject to a lease, the lessee of the pool or the premises.
How do I know if my swimming and/or spa pool is affected by these rules?
A pool is classified as any structure or excavation normally used for swimming, paddling or bathing. It also includes any product (that isn’t a normal bath) designed or modified for swimming, wading, paddling or bathing. This does not include an artificial lake.
All swimming pools that are at a home or an accommodation location (e.g. campground, hotel, motel, hostel) are required to have fencing and be inspected under the new legislation.
A spa pool or hot tub is designed for therapeutic or recreational use and is commonly referred to as "small heated pools" in legislation. Fencing and inspection requirements may apply to your spa pool depending on its size. If your spa pool's water surface area is less than 5m2 and its sides are higher than 760mm above the adjacent floor or ground, and the walls of the pool inhibit climbing, then you can have a lockable safety cover. Otherwise fencing and inspection requirements will apply. For further information please see F9/AS1 and F9/AS2 information below.
Pool Manufacturer and Retailer Responsibilities
Manufacturers and retailers of pools must supply notices warning owners of the requirements to have pool barriers that will prevent young children accessing the pool. This came into force on 1 September 2017. The notice content, placement, and typography must meet the requirements of the Gazette Notice number 2017–go984, Building (Pool Manufacturers and Retailers) Notice 2017.
Pool Owner Responsibilities
All pool owners must notify the local Council of the existence of a pool on their property. The below form has been developed to assist you with lodging this notification:
Download: AF SPN Swimming Pool Notification (198 KB) (NEW)
Owners must ensure all compliance requirements are met. If these are not met, the pool may not be filled with water. Council encourages pool owners to regularly inspect pools and surrounding areas to ensure continued compliance and to promptly attend to any safety maintenance.
For further guidance on frequently asked questions please download the below guidance document:
Download: IS SPG- Swimming Pool Guidance (126 KB) (NEW)
Swimming Pool Inspections
As of 1 January 2017, every residential pool must be inspected every 3 years, within 6 months either side of the anniversary of the pool’s completion. Your Council will notify you when an inspection is pending. The inspection can be carried out by your local Territorial Authority (Council) or by an independently qualified pool inspector (IQPI) who has been approved by the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE). A register of IQPIs will be available on the MBIE website in 2017.
If you choose to use an IQPI, the IQPI must supply the council with a Certificate of Periodic Inspection. If the Council is not satisfied with the certificate they must notify MBIE within 7 working days giving their reasons for not accepting the certificate. Both IQPI and Councils can charge for the work that they carry out. The Council is required to notify the pool owner of an upcoming inspection regardless of who carries out the inspection and is required to hold the inspection records. The person carrying out the inspection has the authority to read the previous pool records prior to the inspection.
If the pool does not pass the inspection the inspector will issue a Notice To Fix. The Owner will have to address the compliance issues within the timeframe stated in the notice. Failure to comply with the Notice To Fix could result in an Infringement Notice and fine, or prosecution.
NZ Building Code: F9 (Means of Restricting Access to Residential Pools)
Access barriers such as pool fencing, boundary fencing or the wall of a building must comply with New Zealand Building Code, clause F9 (Means of Restricting Access to Residential Pools). Means of compliance can include:
- Acceptable Solutions F9/AS1 and F9/AS2 Means of Restricting Access to Residential Pools.
- Alternative Solution If you intend to use an alternative solution, we advise that you talk to your Council before making a building consent application, so that you clearly understand the consequences of the choices you are making.
If the Council is not satisfied that the designer has demonstrated compliance with clause F9 of the Building Code, they may insist that you apply for a Determination from MBIE before they will approve the building consent.
The Building Code and the Local Government Act have the requirement that the public water supply is protected from the likelihood of cross contamination between potable (drinkable) and non-potable supplies. Therefore some of the Councils will require the installation of a backflow prevention device; the minimum requirement being an atmospheric vacuum breaker fitted to the hose tap used to fill the pool.
Home Pool Drowning Statistics
See Statistics and Research. Statistics for 2016 as at 27 May shows an average of 42 people died – against 61 the same time last year.