Types of pools
There are two types of pools
A pool that is in a place used as a residence or on land that contains a place of residence.
A swimming pool that is on land adjacent to a place of residence is also a residential pool if that pool is used in association with the residence.
Small heated pool
This is a small heated pool that has a water surface area of 5m2 or less and is designed for therapeutic or recreational use.
Legal requirements for pool barriers
Legislation for swimming pools changed on 1 January 2017. The aim is to help protect unsupervised young children from drowning in residential pools.
Even if you don’t have young children on your property yourself – it is important that your pool continues to keep unsupervised children safe. For this reason every three years your pool must be checked for safety.
All residential swimming pools therefore need to have barriers that restrict access to the pool or the immediate pool area to unsupervised children. Manufacturers and retailers of any type of pools must inform you of your responsibilities when you buy one.
Even inflatable pools that you pull out of storage for summer can also fall under the requirements of a residential pool – even though it’s not permanent.
If your inflatable pool has 400mm or more of water then you will need a way to restrict access to it. This could be via a fence around the pool itself, or through an alternative option. The key is to restrict access by unsupervised young children.
These barriers must comply with the Building Act 2004 and clause F9 of the Building Code. There are a number of accepted ways of meeting compliance under the legislation – for more information see our guide on swimming pool barriers [PDF, 2452 KB].
The immediate pool area must be fenced. This means
- the land in or on which the pool is situated, and
- the area around it used for activities connected to the pool.
The barrier should prevent young children moving directly to the pool from
- the house and other buildings,
- garden paths, or
- other areas of your property normally open to them.
Because a swimming pool barrier is classed as a building under the Building Act 2004, a building consent is required for any new fencing – and possibly also if
- existing fencing needs to be replaced, or
- you wish to move the barrier to a different location on the property.
To apply for a building consent see our information on applying for approvals.
Even with a barrier in place - it remains important to watch your children closely while they are playing in the pool.
Ongoing pool compliance – council checks
Owners are responsible for ensuring that the swimming pool has a barrier that complies.
Council is obligated to ensure the barrier is checked a minimum of once every three years to confirm compliance. An inspection from a Council officer or an Independent Qualified Pool Inspector (IQPI) will confirm if your pool complies.
Existing pools that have been checked and confirmed as complying under the repealed Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987, or under building consents issued before 1 January 2017, will still comply.
Council has a pool register that holds details of all swimming pools within the district. The register also schedules when the pool barrier needs to be inspected next. To find out if your pool is on the register or when your next scheduled inspection is due, contact us on
- 0800 SELWYN, or
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
If your pool isn’t on the register, you will need to arrange for an inspection by a Council officer or an Independently Qualified Pool Inspector (IQPI). A fee will be charged for the inspection and associated administration work. Please see our fee schedule for details.
Small heated pools
Spa pools and hot tubs do not need barriers around them so long as they meet the following criteria
- the small heated pool has a water surface area of less than 5m2
- the top edge of the pool wall is no less than 760mm above ground level
- there are no climbable objects within 760mm of the edge of the pool
- the pool wall has no ridges, overhangs, indentations or similar greater than 10mm
- there is a warning signage on at least two sides of the pool
- the pool has a cover which
- is held in place with lockable snap fasteners with a minimum width of 35mm
- can’t be lifted to create a gap more than 100mm when the locks are in place
- can support a point load of 20kg
- is sloped so that water can’t pond on top.
Regularly maintaining your pool barrier
As a pool owner it’s your responsibility to carry out routine maintenance to ensure the pool barrier continues to meet the minimum requirements, including
- lubricating gate hinges
- checking gate self-closing mechanisms
- pruning trees and vegetation to keep it clear from the pool barrier
- repairing and replacing any broken or damaged parts of the pool barrier as part of routine maintenance.