Boundary Barrier Fences - The Non Climbable Zone NCZ 5

The specific requirements for this NCZ

Boundary Barrier Fences – Non Climbable Zone NCZ 5

Under the current Standard a Non Climbable Zone is located in the upper 900mm quadrant of the fence height.  This is measured in a downward arc from the top of the fence.  Within any of the five Non Climbable Zones there shall be no handholds or footholds, objects or plants that will facilitate climbing.

The exception to this requirement is that NCZ 5 is not invalidated by the intersection of a compliant internal fence provided the width of the top rail or surface of the intersecting barrier is not more than 50mm at any point within the Non Climbable Zone.  

Let’s talk about how this impacts the compliance of many pool enclosures.   The ideal boundary barrier fence would have a smooth surface in the upper 900mm with no open apertures, climbable points or other objects.   Many pool owners are unaware of this basic requirement to remove any scalability from within this Non Climbable Zone.  Below we can see some examples of a failure to comply with this requirement.

Example 1 –  A product available from hardware stores is the fake vine.  This product is no more suitable in this location that a living vine.  Both create climbable points when placed in NCZ 5.

Example 2 – Horizontal rails.  We see them with large and small spacings, sturdy or flimsy however when your Certifier must determine whether they do create a handhold or foothold and these clearly do. 

Example 3 –  Brushwood fencing that has not been secretly wired.  This type of fencing is often seen in a deteriorated condition, not to correct height and with exposed wires that are spaced less than 900mm apart.  2 – 3 rows of wires are typically evident within NCZ 5.

Example 4 –  Another popular product that pool owners install, often at some expense, is a screen which owners attach onto the Boundary Fence.  Bamboo screens can be flimsy or substantial however they all have one feature in common – the wires or strings create a handhold or foothold within NCZ 5.  Additionally, a screen cannot be used to extend the height of a low Boundary Barrier.  As you can see this screen is flexible and flimsy and the boundary fence does not achieve 1200mm in height, let alone the required 1800mm for this enclosure.

Example 5 –  A structure such as a pool filter enclosure where its height does not match the height of the Boundary Barrier Fence.  The surface of this pool filter enclosure is clearly within NCZ 5 where it creates a large landing place that contravenes the requirements of this clause.

Example 6 – the 1200mm high pool barrier that has been constructed from a material that is wider than 50mm.  At the intersection in each of these photos, a landing place is created within NCZ5 since the height of the wide pool barrier does not match the height of the intersecting boundary barrier fence.

The resolution for each of these examples is essentially the same.  Remove the object or surface from within NCZ 5.  Remove the fake (or real) vines, remove the screening material and increase the height of the boundary fence accordingly, cover the wires of the brushwood fencing and increase the height of the 50mm+ wall for 900mm out from the intersection.

Example 1

Example 1 – screening easy to pull off









Example 1 – vines provide substantial footholds

Example 2 – These slats create climbable points in NCZ 5










Example 3 – Brushwood Fencing

Example 4 – Bamboo covering low fence ht











Example 5 – Structure in NCZ 5

Example 6 – Width of Barrier exceeds 50mm











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13 Responses

  1. Rob West

    Hi, I have a BBQ against our 1800 boundary fence internally (zone 5) within our pool enclosure. The difference between height internally to BBQ bench is 1000 (1 metre). Providing we have a 900 arc that does not touch the BBQ, is this compliant?

    1. Carol

      Hi Rob, There are three issues here:
      1) Sounds like the object is in the 500mm Exclusion zone and as such is reducing the Boundary fence height to 800mm.
      2) Yes that does mean its within NCZ5 as well.
      3) And the most important – the pool enclosure must not contain non-ancillary objects or structures.
      By putting something like a BBQ inside, that means you are using the pool enclosure for leisure activities that do not relate directly to the use of a pool.

      The solution is to remove the BBQ from within the bounds of the pool enclosure.

  2. Brett


    Thanks for your great website and information.

    I too have thick hedged Bamboo (to a height of roughly 2m) which is along boundary fence and are considering installing a pool and trying to keep the bamboo for screening and aesthetic purposes. The Bamboo is hedged to a height greater than the fence.

    I certainly understand with the current standard this would be non compliant but upon reviewing the proposed draft standard (DR_AS_1926.1_2023) it now has allowances under 2.2.6 plants within a NCZ, and clause b) ‘Foliage that is dense, rough, thorned, spiked or irritating’ would apply to this.

    Would you agree that once this standard is released this would now be compliant?


    1. Carol

      The draft Standard could take some months to go through any amendments that might have been taken into consideration during the public commenting process. We cannot second guess what the final version might include. With that said, bamboo has a high tensile strength and it can be held onto whereas leaves generally cannot. So the leaves would likely not be a consideration.

  3. Rebecca

    Hi, we’re in a position where a window ledge is within the 900mm claimable zone. Understandably we can just move/remove it.
    We can’t move the fence any further away from the window either. What do we do in this instance?

    1. Carol

      Hi Rebecca, in such a situation where you are unsure how to resolve, you would engage a good private certifier who is able to offer you at least one resolution. Every situation is individual and if you do not have a full understanding of the requirements of AS1926.1-2012, a professional will be able to help you.

  4. Vanessa

    Hi, thanks for all the information on your site, it’s very useful. I am building a pool and have some concerns over the boundary fence. We are putting in a 1.8m high timber fence and we are also building a feature wall infront of the boundary fence that is 600h. This wall sits perpendicular to the boundary fence at one point. I’ve been looking at NCZ5 but a little confused. Does the wall need to be 300mm from the boundary fence? Or can it sit up against the wall, because there is a gap of 1200mm between this wall and the top of the fence. Your help is appreciated.

    1. Carol

      Thanks for your feedback. Bear in mind that boundary fence height is measured from finished ground level within 500mm out from the fence. It sounds like your feature wall would be in that zone and as you have identified, you would have an effective boundary fence height of 1200mm. Just move it outside of that Zone.

    1. Carol

      Hi Lee, Have you been asked to fix on your neighbours side? Given that we cannot know what your fencing is like, always follow what your Certifier requires.
      Generally you would not touch the neighbours side, but there are certainly circumstances where you may be required to.

  5. Marissa Kinsele

    Hi there,

    We are planning a pool with 1x boundary fence at 1.8. We have gracilis bamboo in front of that as a privacy screen due to being overlooked.

    If we place the pool 2.5m from the boundary fence, will that be compliant or will we be required to place a fence in front of the bamboo? We are in Shoalhaven, NSW.

    Thank you.

    1. The Swimming Pools Act does not consider the owners desire to be screened from overlooking properties so unfortunately a 900mm Non Climbable Zone (NCZ5) exists against the boundary fence where it forms the pool enclosure. Therefore the bamboo will potentially be within the 900mm Non Climbable Zone. I would suggest to ensure your garden bed is deep enough to plant the bamboo a minimum of 900mm away from the boundary fencing and ensure this clearance is maintained. If the bamboo is already there, then you could consider using a 1200mm high pool barrier to form the enclosure, and eliminate the bamboo from within the enclosure. For this option, a minimum 300mm clearance is required between any fencing and the water’s edge. Council recommended clearance is 1250mm for safety reasons. You would then need a 900mm clearance between the pool fence and the bamboo. If the pool fence is 1800mm high, then only 500mm clearance is required.

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