NCZ5, the 900mm Non Climbable Zone of a Boundary Fence

What can be located in this Zone

What is NCZ5 and what objects can be located in this zone

How are assessments carried out after the release of the Swimming Pools Regulations 2018

Your Swimming Pool Inspector will assess your Pool Enclosure using AS1926.1-2012.

In the example above, the vertical palings provide a smooth surface within NCZ 5 and because of that this pool enclosure complied.

  • When your pool enclosure has been assessed under the current AS1926.1-2012, a 900mm Non Climbable Zone NCZ5 exists at the top of your Boundary Fence and is measured out and in a downward arc.
  • When there is any object located within this zone, whether it be a part of the fence, or near to the fence, that object needs to be removed or resolved.

Many pool owners do not understand why this is the case and ask for a reference to the Legislation. The Clauses within AS1926.1-2012 – 2.2.1 and 2.2.4.

  • Clause 2.2.1 states that it also applies to NCZ 1, 2 & 3 (these are located on or near a pool barrier, rather than a Boundary fence)
  • In any case, the Clause states that “Within an NCZ, there shall be no handholds or footholds, objects or plants that can facilitate climbing.”
  • There is no leeway here – nothing can be in the zone that can be used to climb down into the pool enclosure from the neighbouring property.

Below are some images of the most common intrusions.

    • Vegetation and trees,
    • horizontal rails,
    • decorative screens and lattice,
    • objects such as washing lines,
    • light fittings and ornaments,
    • trellising and vines,
    • structures such as the pool filter enclosure, garden shed or shade structure,
    • posts to shade sails and
    • intersecting barriers that have a width that exceeds 50mm.

Of course, we all love to see vegetation in the garden, however when its growing within a Non Climbable Zone  that presents a problem.

For pool owners who want to dispute the scalability of their vegetation within an NCZ, I would refer you to the above clauses.  Are you able to justify why the vegetation is not scalable? Remember there is no standardised test.  An inspector not only has to justify every non-compliance but also every compliance in order to meet Fair Trading’s requirements.  So if you are seeking an exemption that permits vegetation with branches and trunks to remain against the boundary fence, best to engage your local Council Inspector.  You may not be aware that they can make discretionary decisions and are not answerable to Fair Trading. That does not mean that your vegetation will be permitted.

Your assessor will likely ask you to remove or resolve these intrusions and this is the reason.  The Standard requires a smooth surfaces in this Non Climbable zone.

  • Typical fixes are:
    • Vertical palings can be used to cover the horizontal rails,
    • screens can be removed,
    • trees will need to be trimmed back / removed (over 4 metres in height may require Council permission) and
    • low structures need to be increased in height or removed.











Reach out to our Pool Compliance Inspector at Pool Certify

The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only. While we strive to offer accurate and up-to-date content, it is not intended to replace professional advice. The publisher of this article cannot be held liable for the creation of any new non-compliances. Acting without professional advice could result in a failure to comply. Acting on the general information contained herein may not achieve your desired outcome without prior on site advice.

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33 Responses

  1. Troy Barr

    I have just bought a property with a non-compliant pool. Apparently one of the non-compliances relates to posts to the shade sail being in NCZ5.
    What I don’t understand is why this is a problem with there is no horizontal component to a post. Would your Certifier allow a post in NCZ5?

    1. Carol

      Hi Troy, you will see that Clause 2.2.1 clearly states that there can be no handholds, footholds, objects or plants that will facilitate climbing within an NCZ. Clearly the round post of the shade sail acts like a fireman’s pole so can potentially be used to shimmy down in the pool enclosure. The whole point of keeping NCZ5 clear of climbable objects is that the writers of the Standard believe that a child could have climbed up onto the Boundary Fence using say a set of ladders, a chair or other object that is on their side. Once they are sitting on top of the 1800mm high fence, they would not make the jump. However if there is an object such as this within reach, they would use it to get down into the pool enclosure and potentially be attracted to the water, and either fall in or in some cases, jump into the water, not realising they cannot swim. That is the concept, whether it is feasible is another topic of discussion however any Certifier allowing such object in NCZ5 would not be able to justify their decision.
      As for how to resolve this, either move the post a minimum of 900mm away or if that is not possible, move it hard against the fence so that the pole cannot be grasped by a child’s hand, or remove it altogether.

  2. Peter Byrne

    Thanks for the info Carol.
    How about a pool filter/pump cover that is outside the NCZ, but the gates (for the pool filter cover) when opened, ARE inside the NCZ ? Oh boy…. Is that a no no full stop?, or if they are locked gates it’s OK or ?????

    1. Carol

      Hi Peter, If any objects intrude into an NCZ, a resolution would be required to remove them. But its not so much that the open door might create a surface, its more the way the door is fitted into the structure. Some structures have horizontal surfaces, then the door sits under that moulding. If that is the case, the surface would need to be splayed or somehow covered.

  3. Steve

    Thanks Carol, It still doesn’t make sense. Most pergola posts are at least 100mm wide so For example If there is a pergola post that is say 100-200mm wide there is no way child could grab it, they couldn’t get their hand around it, and if they they used the top of the fence and the post to push themselves up how is that different than the pool fence that terminates at 90 degrees of a brick wall? That would be far easier to use to as leverage to push up. At the end of the day its a barrier to keep children out of the pool. They must be some superhuman children if they can do that. Also looking at the standard it says “there shall be no handholds or footholds, objects or plants that will facilitate climbing.” A brick wall would be far easier to use to get a a foothold onto than a thick round or square post with no footholds. No wonder people get frustrated, it seems it comes dowe to interpretation, and the interpretation is not consistent between certifiers.

    1. Carol

      Hi Steve, your original query was about a post like a ‘firemans’ pole. You’ve answered your own question -its an object. It no longer has to have a horizontal surface, as was the case in AS1926.1-2007. It can be used to shimmy up a fence in the opinion of the writers of the Standard. Whether a child is able to actually do that is irrelevant at this time as the only way to eliminate your liability as a pool owner is to own a compliant pool enclosure. As for the details of the Standard this is best brought up to the Regulatory Body Fair Trading or your local Member. We have no information that there is any inconsistency amongst Certifiers and for a Certifier to allow an object in a Non Climbable Zone means he has made an error essentially and that is at his own risk and as such leaves himself exposed. In our experience pool owners are frustrated because the reasons why something is an issue are not explained when your inspector only offers a “no frills” service. Hence the creation of our Blog posts and our Premium Service.

  4. Steve

    I’m reading a lot on here about pergola or shade sail posts being located within the 900mm NCZ on the outside being “climbable”. but if they are made part of the pool fence they are deemed not climbable? That doesn’t make sense. If the posts “are round like a fireman’s pole = a perfect size to grip.” but is now forming part of the fence how are they suddenly not climbable?

    1. Carol

      Good question Steve and I see your point. It could be grabbed however so could the upper rail of the fence itself, to pull yourself up and over. The fact is that when made a part of the fence itself its an acceptable fix as the post is no longer in a non climbable zone because it is a part of the barrier. It is not in NCZ1 which terminates at the top horizontal rail. These are the requirements of the current Standard, which is a change from the 2007 Standard where posts were acceptable, hence the reason why many pool enclosures now have issues that require a fix.

    1. Carol

      The current Standard requires objects in this Zone to be Non Climbable. If the tree or shrub is climbable, then it is required to be trimmed down or removed from the Zone.

  5. Owen

    Look at a Spa installation and have some space limitations. Spa will be 1240 high so can be effectively a pool fence (need a gated and compliant fenced entrance). But the carport has 5cm x 5cm square posts over 2m high to carport roof that would be next to the Spa (almost touching). From above comments these may be climbable objects, but they are similar in size to what a a pool fence would be, so unsure how they could be classed a climbable objects.

    1. Carol

      In NSW you cannot use the side wall of any pool including a spa pool as the fence. Typically the lid would form the fence as long as it is compliant itself. Therefore the Spa would have no non climbable zones, unless you decide the fence the entire pool with a compliant fence that has adequate clearance from the Spa itself. Your DA determination should outline the minimum requirements. If the Spa is a Swim Spa it is entirely possible that your Council will require it to be fully fenced as they deem it a pool, not a spa.

  6. Nicola

    Hi there,
    Can a smooth colorbond pergola post with no climbable footholds or ridges be placed within 900mm of the pool fence? (On the outside of the pool area) The installer tells me it can be because it cannot be climbed. It is over 1800mm in height. Thank you

    1. Carol

      Hi Nicola, It seems your installer has made a determination that a post is not climbable. It’s unclear what this is based upon given the existence of NCZ2&3. Under the current Standard a post can potentially be used to gain a foothold to scale a barrier. I would recommend that if you are considering installing a smooth support post within an NCZ, that you seek out a Certifier who will be willing to assess the post as Non Climbable. Given that the post is going to be problematic to move, we recommend you allow a 900mm clearance from the fencing, or install hard against the fence.

  7. bishoy

    Hi there

    I am confused about the 500mm exclusion zone from the bottom of the 1800mm boundary fence and the 900mm non climbable zone from the top.

    Council has asked that we remove our japanese buxus hedge (300mm high) from the boundary fence to meet the standard, however it seems to contradict the 900mm NCZ standar which allows plants as long as its not in the 900mm arc.

    Am i mis-reading the standard

    1. Carol

      In essence you need to ensure that both Zones are kept clear of objects that are either scalable or reduce barrier height.
      I would suggest you follow the instructions issued by our Inspector and direct any further questions to them as they have seen your pool enclosure.
      If you do not wish to deal with Council for a follow up inspection, you can engage any Certifier you choose.
      However we can really only make reliable comment on your specific situation once our Inspector carried out an inspection to assess the objects in question, which may or may not be deemed a non-compliance.

  8. Jessicca


    Just a quick question as I’m getting different answers from different people-confusing! I’m looking at putting a pergola on my deck. The deck surrounds the pool. The installer is saying I can have the post around 510mm from the boundary fence and that is deemed compliant. I’ve always thought a post had to satisfy the “900mm NCZ” rule. Can you please let me know your thoughts? Much appreciated.

  9. RobertMcNulty

    I have just had Council out to inspect my fencing, which was only 1500mm high. I increased the height to over 1800mm by installing a ColorBond extension. Now Council says this is not compliant and are telling me I have to install boards over the extension. Why?

    1. Carol

      Robert, the upper 900mm quadrant, known as Non Climbable Zone 5 (NCZ5) must have no climbable points within. By attaching an extension like this, climbable points are created at the point of attachment. The reason this has happened is because your Inspector has failed to advise you how to avoid this, despite knowing that the chances are you will buy this product. So now you have a choice, either remove the expensive extensions and replace the boundary fencing altogether. Or remove the extension from the top and install at the base of the fencing to increase height from the ground up, or cover the extension with a smooth covering. It’s up to you which option to go with.

  10. Tomas Stovac

    The details are very helpful and I now understand that by trying to install a ColorBond lattice extension section it will create more problems for me. Agreed to extend height from the ground up.

  11. Aaron

    Hi, hoping you can clarify something for me.
    We are building a patio structure next to our new pool. We have standard aluminium flat top fencing on 2 sides of the pool.
    Can we have the posts of the pavilion positioned close to the alumminium fence? Centre of the posts will be approx 300-400mm from the fence line. The posts will be powdercoated 100x100mm square steel posts. We are in QLD.
    Any advice you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Carol

      I can quote the legislation in NSW; if you were to install the posts 300mm-400mm outside the pool fencing, that would be a failure to comply. There is a 900mm Non Climbable Zone to the outside of any pool fencing.
      Therefore any posts must either be 900mm away or 300mm clear poolside, or installed as a part of the fencing – provided that the roof structure is not within the NCZ3 900mm Non Climbable Zone above the fencing.
      I would suggest you seek on site professional advice before committing to building such a structure so that you can have confidence that the pool enclosure won’t be made non-compliant.

  12. Matthew

    I have been searching everywhere for an answer, but can’t find one and hoping you can help. The 1.8m boundary fence specifies measurement from inside the pool side. (Our side) Our yard slopes up between the fence and the pool and I am wondering how far out from the fence does the 1.8m apply? 2m out from the fence, at pool level where the pool starts is 50cm higher than the base of the fence. So the fence is 1.8m at finished ground level at the border but the top of the fence is actually only 1.3m higher than the pool. I can’t find rules about retaining walls or slope/step change distance requirements. Finished ground level is so arbitrary and assumes the entire pool zone is flat.

    1. Client Services

      Hi Matthew,
      Clause 2.3.1 – the 500mm Exclusion Zone has been eluded to in the Standard but only recently clarified by Fair Trading that it does apply to a boundary fence.
      If you have more than 500mm clearance out from the boundary you will be fine.
      If not, then your Boundary Fence height may be too low.

  13. Damian

    Hi there, Great website. Best that we have found on this topic. May I please ask a question about shade sail poles? Is there a way that a shade sail pole can be butted up against a pool fence and still be compliant, particularly with NCZ2? Similarly, is there a way to attach a shade sail pole to a brick boundary wall and comply with NCZ5?


    1. Hi Damian,
      The problem with a shade sail posts is they are round like a fireman’s pole = a perfect size to grip.
      Our Certifier advises a couple of options when located near a pool barrier.
      1) Make the post a part of the pool barrier.
      2) Position the post more than 300mm away to the inside of the pool barrier.
      3) Position the post more than 900mm away and to the outside of the pool barrier.
      4) Box in the post so its squarer and position it hard against the outside or inside of the pool barrier.

      For the boundary fencing, the only option is to box it in so it is squarer as well as being hard against the boundary fencing therefore not climbable.

  14. Annelies

    Hi, we’re planning a pool along our back boundary fence but want planting there up to 4m for privacy purposes. Is any vegetation within the 900mm area considered not climbable like tiger grass? Also if I use a solid modular wall instead of vertical timber pailing, does anything change, for example, can I plant in the 300mm clear zone or what if we build the fence to 2m? Finally, are the rules the same if the neighbours have a pool on the other side of the boundary fence that is acting as a pool barrier for us? Thanks!

    1. Cluase 2.2.1` states that no objects or plants can be in a Non Climbable Zone. There is no mention of certain plants being ok. So you would need 900mm clearance out from the boundary. We also recommend to keep plants out of the 500mm Exclusion Zone which starts at ground level. The 300mm Clear Zone applies to the old Standard; its 500mm for new pools. Any substantial material is fine as long as its complies with NCZ5 ie no climbable points. Even if you both have a pool, you might be following different standards though. For a new pook its the current Standard which at the moment is AS1926.1-2012.

  15. Looking at the photo at the top of this article, there is an aluminium fence that meets the border fence. Assuming the aluminium fence is 1200mm and the border fence is 1800mm wouldn’t that make the top of the aluminium fence a climbable object (more than 10mm in width) within the 900mm arc of the top of the border fence? This would seem a very common solution for pool fences to meet boundary fences and we would like to do something similar but now I am questioning the legality of the solution.

    1. Hi Matthew, The current Standard permits a 1200mm high pool fence to intersect with an 1800mm high boundary fence provided that the surface width of the pool fence does not exceed 50mm.

  16. Darren

    What great advice – I was able to do a walk through and make my own determination of the costs that might be involved if I went ahead and purchased the property.

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