If you're a residential pool owner, you need to have your pool inspected every three years to make sure it meets required standards.
The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is driving a number of changes to pool barrier requirements to improve safety and save lives by decreasing the risk of drowning, particularly for small children.
On 1 January 2017 the Government revoked the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 and introduced new requirements into the Building Act 2004 under the Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016. These changes will affect all pool owners, suppliers and councils.
All residential swimming pool barriers must now be inspected every three years, and Councils are responsible for making sure everyone is compliant through a new site inspection process. If you're a pool owner, we'll send you a letter or email when your inspection is due.
Changes to who can carry out inspections
The new regulations introduce ‘Independently qualified pool inspectors (IQPI)’. An IQPI is someone who’s been approved by MBIE to inspect and certify pools. MBIE has a list of IQPI’s available online and will add to it when more register.
Once you receive your reminder letter, you can choose to hire an IQPI in your area to inspect your pool, or to have Council carry out the inspection at a cost of $150 per hour.
We’ve introduced inspection fees to meet the new resourcing and administration costs associated with the change in legislation. Council now has a legal obligation to make sure all pool barriers comply with the Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016. Introducing new inspection fees is consistent with other councils across the country, with some other councils already charging fees prior to 1 July 2017.
Rules for construction of pool barriers
In April MBIE released its ‘acceptable solutions’ document, which focuses on restricting the unsupervised access to residential pools by children under five. It outlines the construction rules for pool barriers as well as the construction and operation of doors, gates and windows that provide access to a pool area.
Spas and small heated pools
If you have a spa or small heated pool and it meets the conditions below, then the three-yearly mandatory inspections won’t apply to it and you’ll be responsible for compliance going forward. We’ll need to sign if off though, so if our records show that you’re a spa or small heated pool owner, we’ll be in touch to arrange an inspection free of charge.
Spa pools can use lockable lids as a barrier if:
A safety cover must have signage indicating its child safety features, and must be able to:
Meeting your statutory obligations
If your inspection shows that your pool isn’t compliant, you’ll have time to get it up to standard and we’ll keep in touch to make sure we can help you get there. It’s now the law for pool owners to make sure their pool barriers comply, so owners who don’t can be issued with a ‘Notice to fix’ under the Building Act if action isn’t taken.
For more information, visit the websites listed below or come along to one of our Pool Owner Info Drop-Ins that we’re planning to hold. We’ll send dates and times out to you once they’re confirmed.
Updating your details
If you have any changes to your pool ownership status, including small heated pools, please email us. Alternatively you can call us on 0800 486 486 or write to the Kāpiti Coast District Council Compliance Team.
Why have you introduced an inspection fee?
The new swimming pool inspection fee has been introduced in response to legislation changes from central government, which aim to improve safety and save lives by decreasing the risk of drowning, particularly for small children. Pool owners now need to have their swimming pool barriers inspected every three years through a new site inspection process. We used to carry out inspections every five years and there was little incentive for owners to make sure their pools were compliant and up to safety standards.
The hourly rate that we’ve introduced is in line with other councils in the Greater Wellington Region and around the country, who are introducing similar inspection processes in response to the new legislation.
What's an IQPI and what do I do if I can't find any in my area?
The new regulations introduce ‘Independently qualified pool inspectors (IQPI)’. An IQPI is someone who’s been approved by MBIE to inspect and certify pools and from July MBIE hope to have a list of IQPI’s available online. Pool owners can choose to hire an IQPI in their area to inspect their pool, or to have Council carry out the inspection at the cost of $150 per hour. There's currently a limited number of IQPI’s available but we believe more will become available now that the changes have come into effect.
What does an inspection involve?
MBIE has outlined the requirements for pool barrier compliance and what an inspection needs to involve. Pool inspections will involve a range of activities carried out to make sure pool barriers meet these building code requirements. Specifics around what each inspection will cover depends on the type of pool and its surroundings.
How long will my inspection take?
If the pool is fully compliant and ready to inspect and certify, then we expect a standard inspection to take approximately 1.5hrs (including travel and administration). This varies depending on the complexity of the situation, the type of barrier (whether it is a single compliant fence or includes building walls with windows and doors etc).
We encourage pool owners to make sure their pools are compliant before booking in their three-yearly inspection so the process runs as smoothly as possible.
How do I know what I need to do to make my pool compliant?
We'll be holding some drop-in info sessions soon, as well as providing resources on our website to help pool owners understand how to make their pool compliant.
Why does my pool need to be fenced and lakes and ponds don’t?
The new amended act defines a pool as
pool— (a) means—
(i) any excavation or structure of a kind normally used for swimming, paddling, or bathing; or
(ii)any product (other than an ordinary home bath) that is designed or modified to be used for swimming, wading, paddling, or bathing; but
(b)does not include an artificial lake
And residential pool as
residential pool means a pool that is—
(a) in a place of abode; or
(b) in or on land that also contains an abode; or
(c) in or on land that is adjacent to other land that contains an abode if the pool is used in conjunction with that other land or abode
So basically the Act has been updated to only address the hazards of pools used in a residential sense and not to prevent drowning in all circumstances (rivers/lakes/sea).
Our Water Supply Bylaw requires a backflow prevention device is fitted into the pipe or hose system used to fill the pool that stops water from the pool being sucked back into the water supply (for example, in the event of a fall in the mains water pressure).
Four basic types of device can be used: air gaps, vacuum breakers (both atmospheric and pressure type), double check valve assemblies, and reduced pressure zone devices.
For hose-filled pools, the most common device is the hose connection vacuum breaker. These devices are a specialised version of the atmospheric vacuum breaker. They are usually attached to hose taps and in turn to outlets such as garden hoses.
When emptying the water from your pool, you must make sure it doesn't enter the waterways. This means it can't run down the stormwater drains because they discharge into streams and rivers. Residents connected to the Council sewage system can dispose of their pool water down the sewer via a gully trap. Owners with alternative sewage disposal systems (e.g. septic tanks) should talk to us about their situation.
Filtered backwash water could contain contaminants and must also be put via a gully trap into the sewer.
Note: It might be necessary to take precautionary measures before emptying in-ground pools where the ground water table is high or could be of concern, to prevent the pool lifting and causing structural damage.