Swimming pools & the implications of the 2016 Amendment Act

Summer is fast approaching, and that only means one thing- swimming!  However, if you are lucky enough to have a pool or spa on your property then you need to be aware of the changes to requirements for pool compliancy.

The Building (Pools) Amendment Bill 2016 that came into effect on the  1st January 2017, repealed the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 and inserted provisions relating to residential pool safety in the Building Act 2004.


Inflatable pool pool Kids in pool

The implications of the new legislation:

  1. Inspections: Prior to the amendment bill, there was no requirement for regular inspections and of the councils who actually managed to carry out inspections, half of all pools were found to fail safety standards. Now, under the new legislation, swimming pools will be required to be inspected and certified every three years by the local council or other qualified organisation; including inspecting the gates, doors, fencing, surrounding site, and the general standard of maintenance.
  2. Compliancy: Under the amendment Act local councils have better tools to enforce pool barrier requirements including infringements, and ‘notices to fix’.
  3. Exemptions: Spa pools are now exempt from the regulations if they meet the following criteria:
  • Surface area must be less than 5m2
  • The top surface of the pool wall shall be at all points not less than 760 mm above the adjacent floor or ground.
  • Must have a lockable cover (clips engaged is acceptable)
  • Covers shall be capable of supporting a vertical point load of 200 N (20 kg)
  • The top surface of a cover shall be constructed with a slope from the centre to the outside edges
  • Hold-down straps and fasteners shall be capable of maintaining the cover in place so that there is no opening that a 100 mm sphere could pass through when a 100 N (10 kg) force is applied to the cover in any direction and at any location.
  • Signs containing the text below with black letters not less than 5 mm in height shall be fixed on two opposite sides of the cover: ‘This spa pool cover must be kept locked except when under adult supervision’.
  1. Fencing: If your fence complies with the 1987 Fencing of Pools Act, then it will comply with the new legislation, meaning the fence must:
  • Have a minimum height of 1.2 metres
  • Have no holes where a child could get through
  • No more than a 100mm gap between the bottom of the fence/gate and the ground
  • Use gates and doors which open away from the pool.
  • The gates need to be self-shutting and latching from 150mm when opened
  • Not have any objects within 1.2 metres from the swimming pool fence boundary, which a young child could use to gain access to the pool area e.g. overhanging trees
  • Windows which open within the pool fence or wall area and are less than 120mm from the ground, can only open a maximum of 100mm.
  1. Gates: Previously gates and doors were required to be automatically locking, however under the amendment bill, another option it the emittance of an audible warning when the door is open. It is worth noting that there are some conditions on this alarm option which include; producing an alarm tone of 75dBAL10 when measured at a distance of 3000 mm that commences 7 seconds after the door’s self-latching device is released, will automatically return to a state of readiness when the door is closed and latched, and will have a low battery charge warning that may be visual or audible.
  2. Full fencing: The Amendment Bill also allows homeowners more flexibility in their pool fencing. As long as a child could not access the pool area, a fully surrounding fence is no longer a necessity. Pools which are on the edge of a cliff, have an infinity pool feature, or a three-sided fence may now be approved by an inspector. 

Many of the other requirements for pool areas remain the same. Anything within the pool area which is not specifically related to use of the pool is still prohibited, including playground equipment, clotheslines, vehicle or pedestrian access paths, vegetable gardens and children’s sandpits.

To find out more information on the fencing requirements for pools, visit Legislation New Zealand’s website or contact your local council.


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