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Swimming pool consents

This page includes all you need to know to make sure your pool and pool barrier is compliant with relevant legislation, and safe for your family and friends to enjoy. Find out about the rules for residential swimming pools, including the three-yearly inspection process.

The 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When the Act came into effect it repealed the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 and added specific safety clauses in the Building Act 2004 to help keep Kiwi kids safer around pools.

Building a new swimming pool?

If you're planning on building a new swimming pool, you may* require a building consent and need to comply with rules set out in the building code. A pool barrier needs a building consent.

To apply for a consent, or find out more visit the Nelson City Council building consents page.

*Pools under 35,000 litres are exempt from needing a building consent

Already have a swimming pool?

All pools must be registered with Council, even those that are only used in the summer months. If you don’t know if your pool is registered, or haven’t been contacted by our inspections team for more than three years you can check by emailing pools@ncc.govt.nz

Inspections

All swimming pools that can hold more than 400mm of water must be inspected every three years as a legislative requirement under the Building Act 2004.

Once your pool is registered with us you won’t need to keep track of your inspections – Council will contact you when it’s time for your next inspection. You can choose to have your pool inspected by a Nelson City Council Officer, or an independently qualified pool inspector (IQPI).

Council will advise you in advance that an officer is coming to do the inspection. You can schedule a time if you’d prefer to be there, or if not, you just need to ensure the inspector can access the pool area.

The cost to have your pool inspected by Council from 1 July 2021:

  • Initial inspection fee: $180.00 incl GST
  • Re-inspection due to an initial failed inspection: $164.00 incl GST

What happens if my pool fails the inspection?

If your pool doesn’t pass the inspection, Council will work with you to get the pool compliant and give you time to address any issues.

If we can’t resolve the issues together, Council can issue a "notice to fix". People who fail to comply with the notice to fix could receive an infringement notice or face prosecution. This is rare and most issues are solved by working together.

Guide to fencing your swimming pool 

Does my pool need a barrier?

Yes, it’s the law. Any pool or structure that can hold more than 400mm of water must have a physical barrier to comply with the rules designed to keep Kiwi kids safe around water.

Portable pools need to have the same standard of fencing that permanent swimming pools do. That means even your portable pool that comes out of the garage every summer, it needs to have a compliant barrier, unless it meets the exemption criteria below.

What are the legal requirements for a pool barrier?

  • Barriers must be the right height (no less than 1.2m high), rigidity and strength to prevent any child under 5 years old from climbing over, under, or through it from the outside
  • Pool barriers must have no permanent projections or additions that could assist climbing
  • Gates should be self-closing and open away from the pool area
  • Doors must be self-closing or emit an audible warning when open
  • The latch must not be readily accessible by children under five years
  • Any windows must not be able to open wider than 100mm

If you need more information about Building Code Clause F9 – Restricting Access to Residential Pools ­– go to MBIEs website by clicking here.

Are any pools exempt from having a barrier? 

Above-ground pools are exempt if the walls are 1.2 metres or higher, however any ladder or other means of providing access to the pool must have an enclosing barrier and gate (F9 AS1 2.3.1).

Small heated pools and spa pools can be exempt as long as they meet the criteria listed under spa pools below

If you are unsure, please check with us by emailing pools@ncc.govt.nz.

Small heated pools and spas

Some small heated pools and spas are exempt from having a barrier, because their lid or safety cover can act as an adequate barrier. To be exempt, small heated pools and spas must meet all of the following criteria:

  • The water surface is 5m² or less
  • The side walls of the pool are at least 760mm high and cannot be climbed
  • Must have covers that are held in place with straps fitted with lockable snap fasteners, and these must be well maintained.

The cover itself must:

  • Restrict entry of children under 5 years old when closed
  • Have no external objects on all sides, and not be climbable, including by steps
  • Have a hard, lockable lid, capable of supporting a 20kg load

If a safety cover meets all these requirements, then you don’t need to get your spa or small heated pools inspected.

Please note: any spa pools that are sunken into decks or have climbable objects beside them are required to have a pool barrier and will be placed on the register for three-yearly inspections. If you are unsure, please email pools.ncc.govt.nz to check.

More resources:

Downloadable self-audit checksheets

Council has developed the following check sheets which enable you to complete a self-audit to check the compliance of your pool barrier.

Filling your pool

When filling your pool, it's really important you don't contaminate our water supply.

Contamination from backflow is one of the biggest risks to our public water supply and can seriously affect the quality and safety of our drinking water. Backflow is when water flows backward into the water supply network. This can happen when water pressure drops in the distribution system causing water to flow in the opposite direction, from residential or commercial premises, back into the public water supply network.

As a property owner or occupier, you are legally responsible for making sure you don’t contaminate the public water supply.

Swimming and spa pools are considered contamination hazards under the New Zealand Building Code.

The hazards normally associated with swimming pools are cross-connections between the public water supply and:

  • Hoses left running and dropped into spas or pools.
  • Direct connections at chlorination equipment.

To prevent water contamination from your spa or pool:

  • Install a hose-tap vacuum breaker in the hose that feeds the pool.

or

  • Install a backflow prevention device at the property’s boundary, where the water meter is located.

Emptying your pool

Water emptied from a pool must be discharged into the Council sewage system via a gully trap. Never empty your water into stormwater drains.

Frequently asked questions

Does the portable pool I purchased from a retail store need a fence/barrier?

Yes, unless the sides are at least 1.2m high and are non-climbable. Remember you are required to apply for a building consent for this barrier and the pool must be registered.

I had my pool installed years ago – will I need to change my fence to fit with the newer rules?

No. Your swimming pool fence must comply with the newer rules – OR with the rules that were in place when your pool was built (FOSPA 1987). You still need to get it inspected.

Do I need to get my swimming pool inspected?

Yes. 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 an 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 Building Compliance 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. If you are unsure about the status of your pool since its last inspection please contact us by emailing: pools@ncc.govt.nz and please advise your address, and pool reference if you have it available. 

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 email Council on pools@ncc.govt.nz 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.