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Swimming pools

Pools include swimming pools, spa pools, hot tubs, ponds and any 'excavation' that is over 400mm deep capable of use for swimming, wading, paddling or bathing.Pool fence

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

Applying for a consent

You need to fill in an application for building consent for swimming pool/fence and attach:

  • certificate of title.  If you don't have one, Council can provide it for a fee of $20
  • 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 
  • 2 sets 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 Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987
  • payment of deposit fee

For fees - see building consent fees

Application form and pamphlet see building consent forms

Your fence must be climb-proof

The fence must be made of durable materials and constructed to prevent children under the age of 6 years from gaining access to the pool.

  • The top of the fence must be at least 1200mm (1.2 metres) 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
  • 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.

It's vital that gates and doors open away from the pool.
If for any reason the gate 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.

Operation of gates and doors

Every gate and door must have a device which will automatically close and latch it when it is stationary and 150mm from the closed position.  This is to ensure that the gate or door cannot be accidentally left open. A self-closing and latching gate or door is critical to the safety of a pool.

Where the latch is on the outside of the fence, it must be at least 1.5 metres above the ground.  The reliable operation of a self-closing gate or door is critical to the safety of the pool.

Backwash disposal

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.

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
  • the fence palings are vertical and climb proof
  • there are no gaps greater than 100mm in the fence
  • the gates open outwards
  • the gate shuts automatically
  • the gate latches are self-locking
  • there are top bolts on ranch slider doors that prevent access to the pool
  • the steps for a Para type pool are removed when pool is 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

Frequently asked questions

What is classed as a pool?

A swimming pool is defined in the act as an excavation, structure, or product that is used or is capable of being used for the purpose of swimming, wading, paddling or bathing including spa pools, with a depth of 400mm or more.

Do all pools need to be fenced? 

All private swimming pools and spa pools must be fenced unless:

  • when at maximum capacity, they are less than 400mm deep
  • the 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
  • the pool is an indoor residential pool, or inside a building

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.

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.

For information on the Fencing Act.

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 Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987. Please check with our building staff for advice.

For more information

Application form -  Swimming Pool and/or Pool Fence

Pamphlet - Guide to fencing swimming and spa pools

Website - Department of Building and Housing - Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987

Last updated: 17/12/2014 9:16am Copyright © 2007-2014 Gisborne District Council

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