Swimming pools and fencing

The purpose of swimming pool legislation is to prevent young children from drowning in residential swimming pools. The solution is simple, fence it. This page includes all you need to know and how to go about making sure your pool is safe for everyone.


New legislation – new responsibilities


Did you know your responsibilities as a pool owner have changed?

Pool Safety Barriers are now regulated by the Building Act 2004 and the new Building Code Clause F9 – Restricting Access to Residential Pools, which took effect from 1 January 2017. 

The Act requires the Council to ensure all pool safety barriers within its jurisdiction are compliant, and requires scheduled inspections every three years. Therefore, we will need to inspect all pool safety barriers over a three year programme, even if they have been previously inspected and approved.

The new legislation also provides for pool safety barriers that were previously deemed compliant with the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987. As long as they remain compliant on inspection, they are deemed to meet the requirements of Section 162C of the Building Act.


Are only swimming pools covered by the Act?

No, the Act covers:  

  • Indoor pools
  • Outdoor pools
  • Spa pools
  • Hot tubs
  • Temporary pools (from your local retailer)


Do all pools need a barrier?

No. If your pool is within the following criteria, you do not need a pool safety barrier: 

  •  If the maximum depth of water in the pool is less than 400mm (such as a shallow paddling pool). Please note a responsible adult should supervise the use of paddling pools at all times.
  • If people are employed specifically to supervise the pool when it is in use, and the entire pool facility is locked at all other times.
  • If your pool has smooth vertical walls that are 1200mm or more high, and there is a 1.2m clear zone all around the pool, with no permanent steps or objects that would enable a small child to climb into the pool. Please note that any permanent steps would need to be fenced and gated in accordance with legislative requirements. 


What are the legal requirements of a pool barrier?

The legal requirements are: 

  • Barriers must restrict access by unsupervised children under five years.
  • Must have no permanent projections 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.


Do I need to fence my spa pool?

Fencing is no longer required for spa pools and other small heated pools if the following criteria are met:

  1. Surface water area of not more than 5m2, and
  2. Has sides at least 760mm above the ground/decking level, and
  3. The sides are non-climbable, and
  4. The spa pool has a cover that: 

                (a) Restricts entry of children when closed, and
                (b) Has lockable strap fasteners, and
                (c) Is able to withstand a reasonably foreseeable load, and
                (d) Is able to be readily returned to the closed position, and
                (e) Has signage indicating its child safety features.


Do I need a building consent to fence my pool?

Yes, pool fencing does require a building consent. Information about the building consent process can be found on our Building Consent pages.

If you install a pool fence without a building consent, it may not meet the requirements of the Act and you may be instructed to make the necessary alterations.

You will be required to apply for a Certificate of Acceptance with any non-compliant work requiring a building consent to rectify it. A building consent ensures it is done right the first time.


What if my pool was built before 1 January 2017?

Existing outdoor pools installed under a building consent before 1 January 2017 are deemed to comply with the residential pool barrier requirements if they complied with the Schedule to Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987.

Valid exemptions granted under the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act continue to apply, including the conditions of those exemptions.

Existing pools installed under a building consent before 1 January 2017 are deemed to comply. However, they also have to comply with new provisions relating to the side walls of the pool and the means of access into the pool.

  • The outside surface of the pool must not be climbable.
  • The top of any side wall must be more than 1.2m above the ground level or any other “step”, and 1.2m away from the side of the pool.
  • Ladders or similar types of access must be readily removable, made inoperable and must be removed when the pool is not in use.


Why does my pool need to be inspected?

It is now a legislative requirement under the Building Act 2004, for all residential pools to be inspected at least once every three years.

Components of pool fencing, such as self-closing and self-latching devices, can deteriorate over time and stop operating as required. The inspections will ensure these components continue to operate to the required level of compliance.


When will my pool be inspected? 

The Council is currently working on a three-yearly inspection regime determined by when you pool goes onto the register. A letter will be sent to property owners prior to the inspection to notify them of the upcoming inspection. 

An inspection of the pool will also be completed if we receive a complaint in relation to the pool.


Do I need to be present for the inspection?

No, as long as we can access the area where the pool is located. We will notify you of the outcome of the inspection.


What is the cost of a pool inspection?

Pool inspections cost $120 each time we have to visit, so make sure your pool is ready the first time to keep costs to a minimum.


Who is responsible for ensuring compliance?

Persons responsible for ensuring compliance are listed under section 162C (4) of the Building Act 2004 as listed below:

  • The owner of the pool.
  • The pool operator (a person who operates and maintains a pool on a day-to-day basis).
  • The owner of the land on which the pool is situated.
  • The occupier of the property in or on which the pool is situated.
  • If the pool is subject to a hire purchase agreement – the purchaser of the pool.
  • The lessee of the pool or the premises if a lease is in place.


What happens if I do not comply with good fencing legislation?

Failure to comply with the pool safety requirements of the Building Act 2004 may result in a notice to fix and/or an infringement notice being issued to ensure compliance is met.

We will work with pool owners to ensure compliance is met. A notice to fix and/or infringement notice will only be issued where the persons responsible refuse to take any steps to make their pool compliant or there is a clear pattern of continuous non-compliance or no effort made to ensure compliance.


If you have a pool and you think you aren’t on the register contact the compliance team at compliance@goredc.govt.nz or phone (03) 748-0101.


You will find more information about swimming pool safety on the MBIE website


Gore District Council 29 Bowler Avenue Gore P: 03 209 0330 E: info@goredc.govt.nz