Whether fixed, portable, or spa, Kiwi’s love their pools, especially in the Summer season. At the beginning of 2017, changes to the rules and regulations surrounding private pools in New Zealand were introduced, introducing residential pool regulations into the Building Act 2004 as the Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016, making the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act (1987) no longer applicable. The changes introduced to the building act 2004 are there to help further reduce our national drowning rate and decrease risk of harm at a private residential pool, so that all Kiwi’s can enjoy a safe swim all year round.

Building Act 2004 (Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016):

Changes from the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act (1987)

  • All pools must be inspected by your council every three years (previously was every five years). This ensures all areas of the country are regularly inspecting pool fencing, and that each council is working with the same standards and timeframes.

  • Any pool, fixed or portable, that is deeper than 400mm is now subject to safety provisions under the Building Act, including local council inspections.

  • Your council can inspect properties where it believes pools (including spa pools) may be non-compliant and issue warning and infringement notices.

  • Spas do not need to be fenced off if they are child-resistant (e.g. have locked lids), and will not need regular inspection from your council. This will mean spa owners will no longer need to apply for a costly exemption if their spa has a full lockable child-resistant lid and they do not want a fence.

Important legislation to be reminded of:

  • Fences shall extend a minimum of 1.2m above the ground around the pool and any pool projections, and must be made of a durable nature. Pool projections means objects permanently placed on the ground within 1.2 m of the fence, including trees.

  • Fences must also have a maximum clearance of 100mm (10cm) between the bottom of the fence/gate and ground level, and a maximum spacing of 100mm (10cm) between adjacent vertical poles, panels or other posts of the fence.

  • Gates shall not open into the pool area, and must have an automatic closer capable of returning the gate to the closed position and operate a child-proof latch device. The latching device should be mounted on the inside of the gate at a minimum height of 1.2m above ground level, or a height of 1.5m above ground level if the latch is mounted on the outside of the gate.

  • Rules around house doors opening directly into the pool area; Doors must still be self-closing or have an alarm if the door is opened, and be fitted with an adequate locking device, but the proposed changes should allow more flexibility where the house is intended to form part of the fence.

  • Obligations are placed on retailers to inform customers who purchase swimming pools and spa pools of their obligations.

Residential pool owners need to be aware of the regulations and requirements when building or even erecting portable pools on their properties. All pool owners, fixed, portable or spa, will need to comply with the changes, as they will get issued infringement notices if they do not. This could mean a $5000 fine if a council inspector finds an unsafe pool area, a $200,000 fine if the unsafe area does not get fixed after being ordered to, and an extra $20,000 per extra day that the unsafe area goes without being fixed.

So, if you’re keen for a dip in your own pool this Summer, or have been looking to add one to your property, make sure to read up on your pool regulations and check that your pool complies. Happy Swimming!