Fencing of swimming pools


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Why you need to fence your pool

While a pool may be an asset for your home, sadly it can also be a deadly danger for small children and a significant number of toddlers have drowned in private swimming and spa pools.

Parliament decided there is no reason for children to fall into private pools and drown, or suffer brain damage, and this can be almost entirely avoided by adequate fencing.

The Building Act 2004 is the law that requires your pool to be fenced.

Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016

​​The Building (Pools) Amendment Act took effect from 1 January 2017. It amended the Building Act 2004, and repealed the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 (FOSPA).

Pool fencing rules remain pretty much the same, however the new Act requires Council to inspect pool fencing at least once every three years to ensure they are compliant.

This means Council will need to inspect all pool safety barriers in the scheduled inspection programme even if they have been previously inspected and approved.

Does the act apply to you?

If your pool has a minimum water depth of 400mm, it must have compliant safety barriers.

If you own a pool (or are renting/leasing a property with a pool on it) then you have a duty under the Act. 

Pool owners must tell the Council if they have a pool or are intending to get or build a pool.  A building consent is required and fencing around all pools must be to the standard set in the Act.  If a pool is not fenced to this standard, the owner (or tenant) of the property must ensure that the pool is kept empty.

If a pool is kept empty, barriers must be erected to prevent falling.

Council is required to take all reasonable steps to make sure that the Act is complied with.

What sort of barrier do I need?

Pool safety barriers must fully enclose the pool or the immediate pool area.

The barrier should prevent children from moving directly into the pool area from the house or other buildings and from other parts of the property.

A boundary fence may act as a lawful pool safety barrier if it effectively restricts any access to the pool by ensuring a small child cannot climb over, under or through the fence.​

Safety barrier rules

The fence must be at least 1.2m high at every point around the entire length of the outside of the fence.

The fence must not be able to be climbed. Any perforated material (trellis, mesh or netting) must have gaps no wider than 13mm if the fence is between 1.2m and 1.8m high, or gaps no wider than 35mm if the fence is a minimum of 1.8m and up to 3.0m high. Any horizontal or angled supports located on the outside of the fence must be at least 900mm apart, or be made non-climbable by the installation of a 60° fillet for example.

The fence must be at least 1.2m higher than any permanent climbable object or protrusion that is within 1.2m of the fence.

There must be no space greater than 100mm between the fence pickets or rails, or under the fence.

Alternatively, if the fence is on a boundary and the outside (neighbours' side) of the fence cannot be made compliant as outlined above, then so long as the  fence is a minimum of 1.8m high it may still comply. It must have a 900mm clear zone on the inside of the fence (measured no more than 150mm from the top), to prevent a small child from scaling the fence internally. The fence would need to be located a minimum of 1000mm from the edge of the water in the pool, to prevent a small child jumping directly into the pool.​

Gates in the barrier

All gates must open away from the pool.

All gates must be fitted with a self-closing and self-latching device that closes and latches the gate from a static start at any position. Any external latches must be at least 1.5m above the ground to keep them out of reach of small children.

Any internal latch must not be accessible by reaching over or through the gate unless the hole in the gate is at least 1.2m above ground level. Any gaps in the gate that may allow access to the latch below 1.2m must be covered by a shield of a minimum least 450mm in diameter.

There must be no object or device near the gate that could be used to hold it open.

Pools next to buildings

The wall of a building may form part of the pool safety barrier if it complies with the requirements of Clause F9 of the New Zealand Building Code.  

All doors that provide direct access to the pool or immediate pool area must be fitted with a locking device at least 1.5m from the internal floor level. They must either be self-closing and latching from a static start of 150mm or more from the closed position, or be fitted with an acceptable pool door alarm to signal any unwanted entry into the pool area.

All windows opening into the immediate pool area, with an internal sill height of 1000mm or less, must be restricted to an opening of no more than 100mm, or be provided with shielding to the whole window, to restrict the passage of small children.​

What is the 'immediate pool area'?

This is defined as the area that is directly related to the use of the pool and as much of the surrounding area that is used for activities carried out in relation to the use of the pool.

This may well include a pump shed, change rooms, decking or paving, some pool furniture and a barbecue or dining area. It should not include the whole of the backyard, even if it is fully fenced. The pool area should not accommodate other outdoor activities such as clotheslines, vegetable gardens or children's play equipment.

What about lockable spa pool covers?

Under the new legislation, compliant child resistant pool covers are considered a lawful pool safety barrier, provided the pool has less than 5 square metres of water surface area and the cover can:​

  • restrict the entry of children when closed
  • be able to withstand a reasonably foreseeable load
  • be able to be readily returned to the closed position
  • have signage indicating its child safety features.

However, these only apply when the top of every wall of the pool is at all points at least 760mm above the floor, and the walls of the pool inhibit climbing. There must not be any objects or protrusions within 760mm of the top of the pool which may be used to grant a small child access.​

All of the above information is included in our Swimming pool and Spa pool safety barriers brochure (PDF, 250KB).

How to arrange contact with our building team

By phone or email

If you would like a member of the team to call or email you to discuss your enquiry, or if you would like to book an inspection for an existing building consent, you can phone us on (07) 315 3030 to lodge a call or email return request or click here to use our request a call or email back online form.

In person

If you would like to come in and meet with a member of the team, you can either call us on (07) 315 3030 to lodge an appointment request or click here to use our request an appointment online form.

How long will it take us to respond?

If you are contacting us to arrange an inspection for an existing building consent we will contact you within 24 hours. For all other enquiries we have set a service standard of 5 days to call or email you back to either discuss your enquiry or set an appointment date and time. And we have a service standard of 10 working days to have the appointment with you.

If your request is urgent, please note this on the form and we will do our best to respond as quickly as we can - we are a small team though and this is not always possible. Any change to our service timeframes is at the discretion of the Planning and Regulatory Manager.​​​

Page reviewed: 02 May 2019 11:38am