All pools with a depth of 400mm or more that are used for swimming, wading, paddling or bathing need some form of fence or barrier.
Do I need a consent for my pool?
A building consent is required before installing a pool and when adding or altering a fence around a pool.
All pools must be fenced, regardless of when they were installed. An existing pool that is not fenced to the standards in the Act will require a building consent.
All private swimming pools and spa pools must be fenced, unless see our Q&As
Applying for a consent
Complete an application for building consent for swimming pool/fence and attach:
Certificate of title. If you don't have one, a further fee of $20 is required.
Site plan - showing street location, distance to boundaries and buildings, natural features of the land (hills, lakes, streams, trees etc) detail of any excavation work or site levelling.
For rural areas - show location of septic tank and effluent lines
A set of plans (minimum scale 1:100) - include fence detail, location, height, gates, latches. If the consent application is for an existing fence, photos clearly showing all details will be sufficient.
Specifications - details of compliance with Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016.
Pay deposit fee - see building consent fees
Application form - see building consent forms
Pool fence inspections
Under the Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016 Council must make sure all pools are fenced and comply with the requirements.
We carry out inspection audits to make sure your fence is still compliant at least every 3 years, or sooner if we think there are any safety risks.
The inspection includes: the fence height and that no climbable objects are nearby; any gates; doors or windows opening into the pool area; boundary fence that forms part of the pool barrier.
A letter will be sent to you before the scheduled inspection. It will also include a checklist to help you with compliance.
More information about the pool legislation changes
The pool fence must be climb-proof
The fence must be made of durable materials and constructed to prevent children under the age of 5-years from gaining access to the pool.
The top of the fence must be at least 1200mm (1.2m) above the ground at all points measured from the ground level outside the immediate pool area.
The 1200mm rule also applies to how close any climbable object must be away from the fence. This means that there must be no trees, hedges, or stacks of wood etc which can be climbed, within 1200mm of the outside of the fence.
Any gaps under the fence or gate must not exceed 100mm. Any gaps between vertical palings, pickets and posts etc must not exceed 100mm. Any horizontal rails, supports, or rods that are accessible from the outside, must be at least 900mm apart.
Gate and door requirements
Gates and doors must be constructed of durable materials that will prevent climbing. Gates must be a minimum of 1200mm high and have maximum gap of 100mm between verticals and at the base.
Gates and doors must open away from the pool, be clear of anything that could prevent them from closing, and have no means of being held open.
They must not open when lifted up or pulled down, they must not release from the latch, come off the hinges or provide clearance of more than 100mm.
Gates open away from the pool so that if the gate is is left unlatched, it will not open if a young child leans against it. It's more difficult for young children, especially those unsteady on their feet, to open a gate or door if they have to pull against it.
Gates need to close and latch automatically when released from any point.
Pools in urban areas must drain to the sewer via a gully trap and not to a stormwater drain. This is to prevent pool chemicals contaminating the environment.
Pools in a rural areas can be drained into either a soak pit or to land. Pool water should not be discharged directly into streams or rivers or a septic tank system.
The location of the existing septic system must be shown on swimming pool consent applications for rural properties. This is to ensure the septic system will not be near the pool or affected by backwash disposal.
Pool filling point (backflow prevention)
When pools are filled or topped up, a backflow prevention device (vacuum breaker) must be fitted so the pool water cannot siphon back into the drinking water supply.
Most pools are filled from a hose, so it is easy to fit a backflow device to the tap as a permanent fixture. These are available at hardware or plumbing stockists. This requirement applies to both tank water supply and city water supply.
Checklist for fencing a pool
♦ The fence is at least 1.2 metres high.
♦ Fence palings are vertical and climb proof.
♦ There are no gaps greater than 100mm in the fence.
♦ Gates open outwards.
♦ Gates need to close and latch automatically when released from any point.
♦ There are top bolts on ranch slider doors that prevent access to the pool.
♦ Steps for a Para type pool are removed when pool's not in use.
♦ Climbable objects are at least 1200mm away from the pool fence. If your pool fence is on a boundary check the neighbour's side also.
Q&As about pools
What's classed as a pool?
A pool is defined in the Act as an excavation, structure, or product that is used or capable of being used for swimming, wading, paddling or bathing, including spa pools, with a depth of 400mm or more.
Yes, all residential swimming pools must be fenced unless the:
♦ depth is less than 400mm when at maximum capacity
♦ walls of the pool are 1.2 metres or more above the ground (or the pool’s surrounds). This means no permanent means of access such as steps are allowed and temporary steps must be removed after use
♦ pool is indoors
All pools must be fenced to the standards in the Act, regardless of when it was installed. There are different requirements for pools that are consented for first come to the attention of Council after 1 January 2017.
What about an existing pool – does it need to be fenced?
All pools must be fenced to the standards in the Act, regardless of when it was installed.
An existing pool that is not fenced to the standards in the Act will require a building consent. This is for the fence only and would only require one inspection to check the fence and gates.
Where must the pool fence be built?
The fence may only surround the pool and the area immediately around the pool. This pool area can only include things used in association with the pool, such as a sunbathing deck or a changing shed. It must not include the clothesline, barbecue area or vegetable garden. The area should have only one entry gate.
It may be possible to use a boundary fence as part of the pool fence, however, this is subject to strict conditions.
With a boundary fence, there is a danger that a neighbour may unknowingly make the fence unsafe, such as by stacking timber against the fence so that it becomes easy for a child to climb over.
Can the house form part of the fence?
Yes, but you have to meet certain requirements of the Act. Please check with our building staff for the requirements.
What about a spa pool?
Spa pools are exempt from the fencing requirements under the Building Act 2004, 21A of Schedule 1(external link)
This exemption applies to spa pools that have a water surface area of 5m2 or less, the top surface is at least 760mm above the floor or ground and has a compliant lockable cover.
If I fence the legal boundary does my neighbour have to share the cost of the fence?
The Fencing Act 1978 sets out you and your neighbour's obligations for constructing a fence between properties.
If you intend to use the boundary fence as part of your swimming pool fence, then you are totally responsible for the construction and maintenance costs. The fence must comply with the Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016.
Check with our building staff for advice.
Who is responsible to fence the pool?
Pool owners and people with pools on their property including tenants, have duties under the Act.
Pool owners must tell Council that they have a pool.
Anyone intending to install a pool must inform Council, a building consent is required before constructing any pool and may also be required if altering a fence around an existing pool.
What happens if I have a pool that is not fenced?
It’s illegal to have an unfenced pool and owners may be prosecuted.
Criminal charges can be brought against any person in control of a property where a child drowns due to an inadequately fenced pool.
For more information
Application form - Swimming Pool and/or Pool Fence
Pamphlet - Guide to fencing swimming and spa pools