Private Swimming Pools
Swimming Pool Barrier Requirements and FAQs
This page is intended as a guide only. Please refer to the relevant legislation or contact Council for full definitions and guidelines.
The purpose of pool barriers is defined in Section 162A of the Building Act 2004 to prevent drowning of, and injury to, young children by restricting unsupervised access to residential pools by children under 5 years of age.
A pool is any structure or product containing water over 400mm deep that is used or capable of being used for swimming, wading, paddling, or bathing, and includes spa and inflatable pools. All pools must have appropriate barriers following the guidelines required under the Building Code clause F9.
A building consent from Council is required for the installation of pools that don’t meet the requirements of exempt work under Schedule 1 of the Building Act. Even though certain swimming pools don’t require a building consent the pool barrier will require building consent approval.
Please contact Council to find out whether you need a consent.
Swimming pool barriers/restriction guidelines
The Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 (FOSPA) has been repealed and barriers are now covered under the Building Act 2004, specifically Building Code clause F9.
Swimming and spa pools are part of our way of life in New Zealand. As the pool owner, you’re responsible for installing and maintaining pool barriers that are safe and effective.
Above-Ground Swimming Pools
No barrier for an above-ground pool is required if the sides of the pool can be an effective barrier. Barriers/restrictions are not required if:
- The minimum height of the walls of the pool are 1.2m from the ground/finished floor level;
- The sides of the pool are smooth, so there is nothing that can be used as a foot-hold to climb into the interior of the pool;
- There are no permanent projections or objects that can be climbed or stepped on to get into the interior of the pool; and
- The ladder or means of getting in the pool is removed when the pool is not in use.
NOTE: All in-ground swimming pools, and above-ground swimming pools with sides less than 1.2m high, need a complying barrier which requires Building Consent approval.
Swimming Pool Barriers and Restriction Information
The following is required to achieve a complying swimming pool fence/barrier (see Building Code clause F9 for more information)
- The door’s locking device or alarm deactivation switch is fitted at least 1.5m from floor level
- The barrier must not be less than 1.2m high measured from ground level.
- Gates must open outward with no means provided to hold the gate open.
- When lifted up or down the gate or door does not release the latch device or come off its hinges.
- Gates must automatically latch, with latch 1.5m above ground level on outside, or 1.2m above ground level on the inside of gate or door.
- Every gate or door in a pool barrier shall be fitted with a device that will automatically return it to a closed position and operate the latch device when the gate is held at not more than 150mm from the closed position.
- The barrier must be clear of any permanent projection, or object placed on the ground within 1.2m of the barrier on the outside, that can act as a step.
- No horizontal rails with less than 900mm gap between the rails on the outside of the barrier.
- No gaps between vertical cladding to be more than 100mm wide.
- No gaps under the fencing or gates to be more than 100mm wide.
- Gaps in any perforated material (trellis, mesh or netting) are no wider than 10mm if the barrier is 1.2m in height.
- Gaps in any perforated material (trellis, mesh or netting) are no wider than 50mm if the barrier is 1.8m in height.
- If the barrier is horizontally close boarded, the maximum gap between each board is 10mm.
- Any windows that open into the pool area, lower than 1.2m from the inside floor level, must have restrictors on them limiting the opening to 100mm.
- Any door in a building that provides direct access to the pool is self-closing and self-latching or has an audible alarm.
- A suitable backflow preventer (vacuum breaker) fitted to the tap used for filling the pool
MBIE has further information -Restricting access to residential pools
MBIE has further information Residential pool safety
The Building Pools Amendment Act 2016 is available on the Legislation website
If you have questions or need guidance about your pool, please contact us at the Rangitīkei District Council.
Small heated pools where the top surface of every wall of the pool is at all points not less than 760 mm above the adjacent floor or ground and the walls of the pool inhibit climbing. Where a cover is provided as a barrier to a small heated pool, it must:
- restrict the entry of children when closed,
- be able to withstand a reasonably foreseeable load,
- be able to be readily returned to the closed position, and
- have signage indicating its child safety features.
The land in or on which the pool is situated and the surrounding area as is used for activities carried out in relation to or involving the pool.
A heated pool (spa pool or hot tub) that has a water surface area of 5 m2 or less; and is designed for therapeutic or recreational use.
The responsibility of pool safety lies with:
- the owner of the pool,
- the pool operator,
- the owner of the land on which the pool is situated, and
- the occupier of the property in or on which the pool is situated.
Every territorial authority must ensure that residential pools within its jurisdiction are inspected once every three years to determine whether the pool has barriers that comply with the requirements.
- residential pools other than small heated pools:
- small heated pools that have barriers that are not exempt.
You can choose to have your territorial authority (Rangitīkei District Council) or an Independently Qualified Pool Inspector inspect any residential pool (of the immediate pool area).
For pools installed prior to 1 January 2017, the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 may still apply. If your pool was installed prior to this date, please contact the Council for clarification.
No, an authorised council officer is entitled, at all times, during normal working hours or while building work is being carried out, to inspect any residential pool (or the immediate pool area).
The pool barrier requirements apply regardless of whether any children are living on the property. Research shows that most homes with pools have young children among their visitors, and that young children are six times more likely to drown when they are visiting someone else’s home than when they are at their own home.