The new rules for pools
The Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016 came into effect on 1 January 2017 and aims to reduce the number of children drowning in pools across New Zealand.
When the Act came into effect it repealed the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 and replaced it with specific safety clauses in the Building Act 2004 to help keep Kiwi kids safer around pools.
The key changes are:
- Swimming pools must be inspected every three years by Council or an independently qualified pool inspector
- Spa pools and hot tubs can use a lid or safety cover as a barrier, instead of a fence
- Council now has additional enforcement tools including the ability to issue a notice to fix.
Already have a swimming pool?
Council is checking all known swimming pools in the district to make sure they either comply with the new rules (or the rules that were in place at the time the pool was built).
Booking an inspection
To book a swimming pool inspection with Council, fill out the application form online. It's quick and easy!
Alternatively, you can fill out this form and drop it in to our offices with your inspection fee, or email it to email@example.com with the subject "Swimming pool inspection".
Download form: Swimming Pool Compliance - Request For Inspection [PDF]
The cost to have your pool inspected by Council is:
- Initial inspection fee: $100 incl GST
- Re-inspection due to an initial failed inspection: $57 incl GST
- An inspection time can be arranged when lodging the application or by phoning Council on 0800 WAIPADC (0800 924 723).
Guide to fencing your swimming pool
All swimming pools that can be filled to 400mm or deeper must be inspected every three years. You can choose to have your pool inspected by a swimming pool inspector or by Council. If your pool doesn't pass its first inspection, Council will issue a notice to fix. This gives you some time to fix the issue, then we'll come back for another inspection.
Does my pool need a barrier?
Any pool that can to be filled to a depth of 400mm or more must have a physical barrier like a fence, gate or door, regardless if they are empty, full, or have just a little bit of water in them.
Portable pools over 400mm deep now need to have the same standard of fencing that permanent swimming pools do. That means your portable pool that comes out every summer needs to have a proper fence around it. Paddling pools that have a maximum depth of less than 400mm are exempt from this rule.
You must get a building consent before installing a new pool and pool barrier. The only exception is a safety cover for a small heated pool.
So what sort of barrier do I need?
A barrier can include a fence, gate or even a door. The most important rule for your barrier is it must be able to restrict access to the pool for unsupervised kids under five years old.
If you are building a new barrier, it must follow these rules:
Gates and doors must:
- Open away from the pool
- Restrict access to young children when closed
- Close automatically or have a warning sound when open
- Be at least 1.2m high, measured from the ground or any object in the pool area
- Not be easily climbed by young children
Not sure if your barrier complies? Give us a call to discuss your options on 0800WAIPADC (0800 924 723).
Small heated pools
The exception to these barrier rules are some small heated pools like a spa. A lid or safety cover can be used as a barrier instead of a fence as long as:
- The water surface is 5m² or less
- The side walls of the pool are at least 760mm high and cannot be climbed
Your cover must:
- Include a sign that shows its safety features
- Restrict entry of children under 5 years old when closed
- Be able to hold a forseeable load
- Be closed easily
If a safety cover meets these requirements then you don’t need to get your spa or small heated pools inspected.
- Download:A guide to fencing your swimming pool [PDF]
- This website is also useful: MBIE - Safety guidance for pool owners
Building a new swimming pool?
If you're planning on building a new swimming pool, you will require a building consent and need to comply with rules set out in the building code.
To apply for a consent or find out more visit the Build Waikato website.
Frequently asked questions
I had my pool installed years ago, will I need to change my fence to fit the new rules?
No. Your swimming pool fence must comply with the new rules - or with the rules that were in place when your pool was built. You still need to get it inspected.
Do I need to get my swimming pool inspected?
If you have a swimming pool that can be filled to 400mm or deeper, then it needs to be inspected. This includes indoor swimming pools and portable pools. The rules apply whether the pool is empty, full or only filled a little bit.
How do I pay for a inspection?
In person at Council offices via cash, cheque, EFTPOS or credit card, or via internet banking.
Who will do the inspection?
A member of the Council enforcement team will visit your property to conduct your inspection.
Can I get someone else instead of Council?
Yes, your pool can be inspected by an independently qualified pool inspector or by Council. If you have your pool inspected by someone else, please get in touch to let us know and provide a copy of your inspection report.
What if my pool doesn’t pass the inspection?
If your pool does not meet the legal requirements, you will be advised of any issues and given time to make repairs or adjustments as necessary. In certain cases Council may issue a Notice to Fix, failing to comply with this notice can lead to an infringement notice being issued or prosecution.
Can I have my inspection during the evening?
No, all pool inspections will be done between offices hours of 8am-5pm.
Do I need to be there while my pool is being inspected?
No. As long as the inspector is able to access your swimming pool then you don't need to be present. If the inspector is unable to access your property by themselves, you'll need to make arrangements to give them access for the time of your appointment.
My home is rented - how can I check if the pool has passed inspection?
Get in touch with your landlord or give Council a call on 0800 WAIPADC (0800 924 723) to check that the pool is compliant.
Who is responsible for the pool compliance if I'm renting?
The responsibility is shared between the land/property owner and the tenant.