Residential Pool Safety

Building Overview

Keeping Pools Safe

On 1st January 2017 the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 was revoked and now (via amendment) is part of the Building Act 2004. Included in this change was the creation of Building code clause which deals specifically with the provision of barriers to restrict access to all residential pools by unsupervised children under 5 years of age.

Specifics on this change can be found in Building code clause F9.

Overview of Changes

The requirements of how to restrict access to residential pools has largely remained the same from the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987.  One change is how small heated pools such as spa’s and hot tubs are dealt with.  As before, the Building Act requires access to be restricted to these types of pools by way of a fence or a lockable lid. However, if the small heated pool has a water area of 5 m2 (square meters) or less and the side of the pool is at least 760mm above the surrounding ground level, access can be restricted by way of a  lockable and load resistance lid and appropriate signage, without the need for a fence.

For the types of pools that do not require a building consent you can refer to Schedule one exempt building work.


Territorial Authority (Council)

Councils are now required to inspect all residential pools in their district at least once  every 3 years. This is to ensure that the pool barriers are compliant with the regulations. You will be contacted by council, advising that we will be conducting inspections in your area. All inspections by Council staff will be charged to the owner, therefore maintaining barrier compliance will reduce the need for any additional inspections. Alternatively, council may accept inspections from an Independent Qualified Pool Inspector (IQPI).

Note: Council is not required to inspect the types of pools that are exempt in terms of Schedule 1 of the Act. (See link above)


You, as the owner, are required to maintain the safety requirements associated with your pool to a level that meets compliance with the Building Act and Code. However,  if your pool meets the requirements for exempt building work, you can have this officially recorded on the register as being exempt from requiring a building consent and therefore the responsibility of maintaining compliance is yours (as the owners) and will not be inspected by council staff.

Some questions and answers

How is a swimming pool defined in the Act?

It is a structure or excavation normally used for swimming, paddling or bathing. Also, any product (but not a normal bath) designed or modified for swimming, wading, paddling or bathing.  The act covers pools in a normal residence or where people may stay such as, but not limited to; a motel, campground, hotel, or hostel.

If the swimming pool has up to 400mm of water in it, it needs to be fenced, or the pool drained.

Further information can be found within sections 162A-E Building Act 2004

Who is responsible for the fencing of a pool?

It can be the owner of the pool and the land where it is located, the person operating the pool, or a person hiring a pool out to others.

Do I need to get a Building Consent to build a swimming or install a spa pool and fencing?

Always for the fence and in some cases for the pool, certainly if it is for an in-ground pool.

To apply for your building consent to erect your pool fence this must be submitted via the Simpli portal along with all relevant documentation.

What if I have had a swimming pool on my property prior to the 1987 Fencing of Swimming Pools Act and have not advised Council of this? 

Legislation requires all pools in NZ, regardless of when they were built to meet current rules. The pool should be fenced and council requested to inspect the pool and record it on our register.

It should be appreciated that when you come to sell your property, the new owner will be under the same obligation to deal with any outstanding issues, the resolution of which could delay your sale.

If a registered pool fails to comply, this will be recorded on the LIM (Land Information Memorandum).

I have a lake/pond in my garden, which is deeper than the 400mm depth limit; do I have to fence it?

The Act excludes artificial lakes from fencing regulations, MBIE guidelines comment that garden ponds and similar water hazards are excluded as they were not intended to fall within the definition of a “pool”.

Do existing pools or portable/inflatable pools need a fence? 

Yes they do and need to meet current regulations to pass inspection.  Any swimming/paddling pool etc that has up to 400mm of water in it needs to meet the rules in the Act.

My pool is currently empty; do I still have to have a barrier/fence for it?

In this situation you are not required to have a barrier.  However, if a person could fall a metre or more into the pool, you may be required under other Building Act requirements and New Zealand Building Code F4, to create a barrier.

Fencing Guidelines

For guidelines on the requirements of how to fence your residential pool, please refer to Building Code clause Acceptable Solution F9.

Please note that the acceptable solutions are one way of achieving compliance with the building code, alternative solutions will be assessed by council on a case by case basis.

To apply for your building consent to erect your pool fence this must be submitted via the Simpli portal along with all relevant documentation.


You can, if you wish, request an inspection at any time by calling 027 444 3808 otherwise you can wait for council to contact you. If you are not home when we carry out the inspection, the inspector will leave a calling card. Inspection staff are warranted to allow entry onto your property for the purposes of carrying out a swimming pool/small heated pool inspection.

For further information you can contact us by email or calling 027 444 3808