Research pool barrier laws
We have bought a home with a pool. The pool doesn’t have a fence, instead it’s reliant on self-closing doors. I’d like to put a pool fence in as we have a baby on the way and family and friends with young children. Do I need approval? What sort of fencing would you recommend? Your pool must have been approved or installed before November 5, 2001, when barriers between the doors of the home and the swimming pool were not required.
The existing barrier (that includes self-closing doors and restricted perimeter access) would have been inspected, and a report provided to the pool owner of the compliance of the pool barrier at the time of the last inspection. You should request a copy of this report so you are certain the barrier in place is compliant.
There is no replacement for supervision around water.
No barrier is 100 per cent effective, so it would be difficult to advise on the best pool barrier, as there are so many available options.
Under current building regulations, a building permit is required for a pool fence when you install a new pool.
Before the pool is filled with water, the barrier must be inspected.
At least once every four years, the barrier will be inspected for compliance by a representative of the council.
Voluntarily installing a new swimming pool barrier does not trigger the requirement for a building permit or inspection.
As the pool owner, you are responsible for maintaining the barrier in place.
I recommend you get advice from a reputable supplier or installer of pool barriers that must meet strict Australian standard requirements.
The installer needs to consider the location of the barrier, taking note of existing or proposed vegetation in the garden, hard landscaping such as retaining walls, water features and even taps and built-in furniture or barbecues that might breach a swimming pool barrier.
You might find the design of your yard does not allow for the installation of a completely compliant safety barrier, so consider if a non-compliant barrier is better than none at all.
You may request an inspection of the new barrier, but it is likely to attract a fee.
Contact the council or an independent building surveyor for advice on compliance requirements so you are not reliant on the advice of the contractor you engage.
It is important to understand that the Australian standard used to design and install a compliant pool barrier is to restrict, not prevent access to the private pools by children aged up to five.
The Australian Standard for Swimming Pool Safety Barriers (AS1926.1 — 1993) provides the testing criteria for a number of types of fences, gates and latch designs. It discussed the use of popular fencing, including masonry walls and picket, glass and tubular steel fencing.
With design elements for different materials, the standard also addresses site and design issues such as balconies over pools, retaining walls, boundary fences, climbable fencing (such as mesh), and vegetation.
Should you wish to remove your barrier later, you can as long as the doors and windows and other perimeter access restriction currently in place are reinstated or maintained as previously approved.
Information on swimming pool safety barriers and applications or approved requirements for pools is available from your local government office.
Most council websites have information on swimming pool safety.
This gives you some guidance on the requirements and how these would apply in the context of your pool.
Pool barriers are subject to a suite of laws and regulations.