Swimming & Spa Pool Fences

The Building Act 2004, particularly Building Code Clause F9, requires all residential pools to have a pool barrier to restrict access by unsupervised children under 5 years of age. These barriers must be maintained so that they continue to be effective.

A pool is defined as any excavation, structure or product containing water over 400mm deep that is used or capable of being used for swimming, wading, paddling or bathing. This includes spas and inflatable pools.

For pools installed prior to 1 January 2017, the Schedule of the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 may still apply as prescribed under Section 450B of the Building Act 2004. If your pool was installed prior to 1 January 2017, please contact the Council for clarification.

Under Section 162D of the Building Act 2004, residential swimming pools must have their barriers inspected at least once every three years.

Any work to do with swimming pool fencing requires building consent - regardless of whether a pool already exists or is being installed.

More about the inspection process for swimming pool fencing

Manawatū District Council has an obligation under the Building Act 2004 to ensure pools are inspected in accordance with the Act. The underlying purpose of the Act is to promote residential pool safety.

Swimming pool owners have the choice between engaging either their territorial authority (Manawatū District Council) or an Independent Qualified Pool Inspector (IQPI) to perform the inspection.

An IQPI is a person accepted by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) as qualified to carry out the periodic inspections. Trading Standards maintains the national register of IQPI’s and provides guidance about the responsibilities of an IQPI. Refer to the Trading Standards website for more information.

If you’re a pool owner, we will send you a letter informing you when your pool inspection is due. You will be able to choose to hire an IPQI in your area to inspect your pool, or have Council carry out the inspection at a cost per inspection, as outlined in our Fees and Charges.

If your inspection shows that your pool isn’t compliant, you’ll have time to get it up to standard and we’ll keep in touch to make sure we can help you get there.

As a property owner you are responsible for ensuring that the pool fencing is safe and complies with the requirements of the Act at all times. Property owners who don’t can be issued with a “Notice to fix” under the Building Act 2004 if non-compliance is not resolved.

You can read more about the Pool Safety Legislation on the MBIE website.

Spa pools and small heated pools

A small heated pool is defined as having a water surface area of 5m2 or less and with walls that are not less than 760mm at all points, above the adjacent floor or ground. The wall must be vertical or slope outwards at not more than 15˚ from vertical with no external objects or projections (such as steps) within 760mm of the top edge that could assist climbing.

A safety cover may be used as a means of restricting the entry of children to a small heated pool when it is not in use. The small heated pool may then be exempt from three-yearly mandatory inspections and you’ll be responsible for its compliance. We’ll just need to check it once to be sure it complies.

The safety cover must:

  • Be able to withstand a reasonably foreseeable load, and
  • Be constructed with a slope from the centre to the outside edges to prevent water ponding on the cover itself, and
  • Be able to be readily returned to the closed position by an adult, and
  • Be held in place with straps fitted with lockable snap fasteners not less than 33mm or fasteners using metal padlocks
  • Have signage fixed on two opposite sides of the cover stating “WARNING: This spa pool cover must be kept locked except when under adult supervision.”

Covers and fasteners need regular maintenance, especially if exposed to UV light which affects straps and plastic fasteners.

Small heated pools that do not meet the above criteria, such as a spa recessed into a deck or one that has fixed steps or climb points within 760mm of the top edge, will need to be fenced and will require three-yearly mandatory inspections of the fencing.

Updating your details

If you are a pool owner and have any changes to your pool ownership status, including small heated pools, you can send an email to building@mdc.govt.nz or you can contact the Support Team on (06) 323 0000.

For more information, see restricting access to residential pools on the MBIE website.