Swimming pools and spas
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.
- Pools within buildings now require barriers.
- A building consent is required to install or alter a pool barrier.
- All residential swimming pool barriers must now be inspected every three years, (except small heated pool with safety covers) and Councils are responsible for making sure pools are inspected as required and keeping the records.
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 IQPIs available online and will add to it when more register.
You can choose to hire an IQPI in your area to inspect your pool, or to have Council carry out the inspection. See Building consent fees for costs.
We’ve introduced inspection fees to meet the new resourcing, record keeping and administration costs associated with ensuring all pool barriers comply with the Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016.
Rules for construction of pool barriers
Pool barriers must comply with building code F9, restricting access to residential pools. MBIE has provided an acceptable solution (F9/AS1) as one means of complying. It outlines 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 (less than 5m2) 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, or you have a new spa installed, please advise council and we will arrange an inspection.
Spa pools can use lockable lids as a barrier if:
- the pool has walls at least 760 mm high which can’t be climbed
- the water surface area is 5 sq. m or less.
A safety cover must have signage indicating its child safety features, and must be able to:
- restrict entry of children under five years of age when closed
- withstand a foreseeable load
- be easily returned to the closed position.
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 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.
Filling your pool
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.
Emptying your pool
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.
Introduction of inspection fees
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. An administration fee is charged to cover administration of the process and keeping the records. Pool owners now need to have their swimming pool barriers inspected every three years through a new site inspection process. Pool owners can choose to have inspections undertaken by registered IQPIs rather than the council.
Independently qualified pool inspectors (IQPI)
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. Pool owners can choose to hire an IQPI in their area to inspect their pool, or to have Council carry out an inspection (see General compliance fees for charges). 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.
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.
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.
Making your pool compliant
Pools vs lakes and ponds
Why does your pool need to be fenced and lakes and ponds don’t? The 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