There are around 400,000 private swimming pools in NSW and many families enjoy spending quality time in their pools with family and friends. In 2022 all new pools must meet the minimum requirements of the current Standard AS1926.1-2012 and the Swimming Pools Regulation 2018 and be surrounded by a compliant pool barrier that separates the Residence, neighbouring properties and public area from the swimming pool.
Many pool owners ask me what is required to meet compliance and that is a difficult question to answer without gathering certain facts. When was the pool built? What is the property type? Have you maintained the right to apply the Saving Clauses and have you made changes to the means of access to the pool enclosure? Do you have evidence to support that the pool Barrier surrounding the Pool was ever compliant ? Has compliance been maintained as is required by the Swimming Pools Regulation 2018 Clause 30 & 31? For all properties including rental properties what evidence been recorded to show that at no stage was a non-compliance certificate issued for the property.
Once a Certifier attends your property he must assess the pool enclosure under the Standard that is applicable to the stated age of the pool, as well as considering what & when any modifications were made after the Pool was constructed.
The Saving Clauses – Pools Built prior to 2008
In some cases, the swimming pool itself is not required to be surrounded by a pool fence and a portion of the Residence can form a part of the barrier. However certain restrictions are placed on the means of access from the Residence and to retain the Saving Clauses, the home owner must have maintained these as they relate to the doors and windows of the Residence. They must also have maintained compliance for the pool fencing, be able to provide evidence of this and not have made any recent modifications or replacement. The release of the Swimming Pools Regulations 2018 does mean that most swimming pools will be required to be assessed under AS1926.1-2012.
If this relates to you, seek advice from a professional Certifier if you are thinking of selling or leasing your property.
These are some common issues we regularly see
- Gates propped, opening inwards, gate that won’t self-latch.
- Please don’t tell the inspector that he needs to slam the gate as it needs to self-close without manual force.
- Gaps below or within a barrier exceeding the maximum permissible gap of 100mm.
- Gaps covered with loose materials or overgrown grass.
- Garden beds installed next to the pool barriers or barriers installed low to the ground.
- Barriers barely held together and rusted through; missing screws and brackets.
- Boundary Barrier height reduced by the installation of pool decking or raised garden beds.
- The height of the Boundary fence from the neighbours side is irrelevant to the compliance of your pool enclosure under AS1926.1-2012.
- A barrier incorrectly installed on sloping or stepped ground, incorrect design where the perpendicular height & NCZ’s have not been correctly observed.
- Pool barriers that cannot fundamentally comply with the Standard applicable to the stated age of the pool are required to be upgraded to the current Standard.
- No CPR signage installed, sign lying on the ground or the sign installed outside the enclosure.
Objects Placed Too Close to the NCZ
The Regulations state that you must maintain a Non-Climbable Zone (NCZ) around your pool Barrier fence. The actual clearance to objects or structures depends the type of fence. For pool barrier, a clearance of 900mm (outside) & 300mm (Poolside) is required. For a Boundary Barrier (Pool side) a clearance of 900mm is required in order to comply with NCZ5.
Essentially you need to keep objects away from your fence which reduce barrier height or may aid or facilitate a child scaling the Barrier. Objects we often find too close to the NCZ include potted plants, tree branches and vegetation, barbecues and outdoor furniture however these are easily fixed with their removal from the NCZ. More of a problem are structures like the pool filter enclosure, built-in BBQ’s, posts to shade structures and handrails to staircases to name just a few common mistakes.
We find this issue relates to newly built pool enclosures and those built prior to 2008. For the newly built we are seeing full kitchen & dining facilities, wet bars and bathroom, and big screen TV’s all fully within the pool enclosure. These facilities are a part of the Residence, the result of which is inadequate separation from the Residence and a requirement to resolve.
The only structures that can be located within the bounds of a pool enclosure are pool filter enclosures, shade structures and structures such as slides for the pool – these directly relate to the use of the pool. Non ancillary structures such as Garden and tool sheds, clothes-lines, BBQ’s, kiddie cubby houses and trampolines cannot be located within the bounds of a pool enclosure. Why? They are all household items/objects that are a part of the Residence and have no place within a pool enclosure. Their presence distracts from the active supervision of children & can encourage the propping the gate; many older pools do have this problem where the entire back-yard is the pool enclosure.
If you recognise this scenario, and you are planning to sell or lease your home, or have been contacted by the authorities, you need to contact a professional Certifier so they can explain how to resolve this common problem.
You’ve changed your Fencing
Many owners of older pools may have a 1200mm – 1500mm high Boundary Fence and a rusted, incorrectly designed or ugly pool barrier. A common mistake made by pool owners is to go ahead and replace the rusted pool barrier with a new glass or metal pool barrier for example, yet not be aware of the impact of these changes to the whole pool enclosure.
Substantial changes to your pool enclosure could also include renovations to the Residence can impact the pool fencing and render it non-compliant. Changes trigger an upgrade to a later Standard. Changes could include the construction of decking or an outdoor entertaining area, or the installation of a granny flat near to an existing swimming pool.