Residential Swimming and Spa Pools

Residential Swimming & Spa Pools

The Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016 repealed the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 and inserted requirement for residential pools safety in the Building Act 2004

Some key changes were:

  • Residential swimming pool barriers must be inspected every three years
  • ‘Safety covers’ are now able to be used as a barrier for small heated pools (IF certain other criteria are met)
  • Territorial Authorities, like QLDC, have better tools to enforce pool barrier requirements, including Notices to Fix and Infringement Notices

1. Who must be notified?

All owners of pools that are not defined as ‘small heated pools’ are required to notify QLDC.

2. Does my pool need to be fenced?

Legislation wording changed; the term 'fencing' has been replaced with 'barriers'.

This allows owners of above-ground small (less than 5m2) heated pools (i.e. spa pools), or spa pools, that meet other criteria, to use lockable lids as a 'barrier' to prevent access, when not in use.

3. Who checks?

Owners must have their pool barrier inspected, to ensure continued compliance.

Inspections are required every three years.

4. Who has responsibility

In this legislation, even more responsibility for pool safety is put on the owner.

The responsibility depends on the type of pool and its location (e.g. home, rental, commercial).

Responsibilities sit 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

5. How to register a pool?

All pool owners must notify QLDC of the existence of a pool on their property, so pool inspections can be coordinated. Use this form:

Download: AF SPN Swimming Pool Notification

A fixed fee is payable for registration. This is a one-off fee required for administration costs associated with the inspection program and maintaining the pool register.

6. Requirements explained

Video to come.

7. More information

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has more guidance at https://www.building.govt.nz/building-code-compliance/f-safety-of-users/pool-safety/guidance-for-pool-owners/

8. How is a swimming pool defined

All pools at a home or accommodation location (e.g. campground, hotel, motel, hostel) are required to have a barrier that restricts access and be inspected.

A ‘pool’ is classified as any structure or excavation normally used for swimming, paddling or bathing.

It includes any product, that is not a normal bath, which is designed or modified for swimming, wading, paddling or bathing. This does not include an artificial lake.

What is not a swimming pool?

Spa pools and hot tubs are designed for therapeutic or recreational use. These are referred to as 'small heated pools' in legislation. Fencing and inspection requirements may apply to your spa pool depending on its size.

If a 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 a lockable safety cover (with safety signage) is permitted.

Otherwise an alternative barrier and periodic inspection requirements will apply.

9. How do pool inspections work?

Every residential pool must be inspected every 3 years, within 6 months before or after the pool’s anniversary date.

QLDC notifies you when an inspection is pending (excluding when the inspection is required as a condition of a historical exemption issued under the now repealed ‘Fencing of Swimming pools Act 1987’

Inspections are done by the local Territorial Authority (QLDC) or by an Independently Qualified Pool Inspector (IQPI) approved by the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE). The pool inspector public register is here.

If using an IQPI, they must submit to QLDC a Certificate of Periodic Inspection. If QLDC is not satisfied with the certificate, QLDC has 7 working days to notify MBIE giving reason(s) for not accepting the certificate. Both IQPI and Territorial Authorities charge for inspections.

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 inspection, a Notice To Fix will be issued. The Owner will have to address the compliance issues within the timeframe stated in the notice. Failure to comply with a Notice To Fix results in an Infringement Notice and fine, and potential prosecution.

Owners must ensure all compliance requirements are met. If not, the pool may not be filled with water.

QLDC encourages pool owners to regularly check pool barriers and surrounding areas to ensure continued compliance and to promptly do safety maintenance.

10. Where are the standards set?

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 Clause F9. Means can include:

If the Territorial Authority (TA) is not satisfied a design satisfies compliance with F9, the TA may insist you apply for and pay for a MBIE determination.

11. What is a backflow prevention device?

The Building Code 2004 and Local Government Act 2002 required the protection of public water supply from cross contamination between potable (drinkable) and non-potable supplies.

Pools may 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.