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Swimming pools and spas

A private swimming pool or spa pool is a significant asset for your home, they are a great source of relaxation and entertainment. 

Sadly, pools can be incredibly dangerous for small children. Drowning is a major cause of accidental death or permanent injury in young children. Many of these drownings occur in private, unfenced or inadequately fenced pools.

The Building (Pools) Amendment Act took effect on 1 January 2017. It amended the Building Act 2004 and repealed the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 (FOSPA). The changes are to enhance child safety around residential pools.

Pool fencing rules will remain largely the same. However, the new Act requires Council to inspect pool fencing at least once every three years.

Key information

Before you can enjoy the big splash, have a read of key requirements that you need to consider when planning and owning a swimming pool.

Pool owners, and people, including tenants, with pools on their property, all have duties under the Act. Pool owners must tell the Council if they have a pool or are intending to get or build a pool. A building consent is required, and fencing around all pools must be fenced to the standard set out in the Act.

Residential pools that are filled or partly filled with water must have physical barriers that restrict access by unsupervised children under five years of age. This requirement applies to pools that can be filled with water to a depth of 400mm or more, and this includes portable pools.

There are some instances where a pool may be exempt from being fenced, so please consult your local Council before you begin the process of purchasing a pool.

Safety barriers can be the barrier that restricts access to typical residential pools, where:

  • Must be at least 1200mm in height above the ground or have any permanent projects or objects that can assist with climbing (including trees, steps, raised gardens, etc.)
  • Must not have any gaps that exceed 100mm (including pet doors
  • Trellis/mesh fencing around the pool higher than 1800mm can have openings of 35mm or less.
  • Trellis/mesh fencing around the pool higher than 1200mm – 1800mm can have openings of 10mm or less.  

You could use a building/boundary fence or other structures as a pool barrier, but certain aspects of the Building act must be met.

Safety covers can be the barrier that restricts access to a small, heated pool, such as a spa pool, where:

  • the water surface area is 5m² or less
  • the side walls of the pool are at least 760 mm high above the adjacent floor
  • the side walls cannot be easily climbed.
  • A safety cover must have signage indicating its child safety features, and must be able to:
    • restrict the entry of children under five years of age when closed
      withstand a foreseeable load
    • be readily returned to the closed position.
    • Acceptable Solution F9/AS2 has more information.

Read Buller District Council’s pre-inspection swimming pool pre inspection checklist

All residential swimming pools are required to be registered with Council and be inspected every three years. These mandatory inspections do not apply to small, heated pools, such as spa pools and hot tubs, where the barrier is a safety cover.

Council inspectors will check to see if your pool meets the Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2017 requirements. If you have any concerns with your pool not meeting the requirements – drain it immediately and give Council a call on 03 788 9111.

Inspections cost $150, and additional charges will be incurred if the pool is not compliant. If any faults are found, a fee will be charged on the same basis as for building consents.