Swimming pools and spas
New Victorian Government regulations for swimming pools and spa barriers
The Victorian Government introduced new legislation on December 1, 2019 relating to private swimming pool and spa barriers and fencing.
The legislation introduces mandatory requirements for all Victorian Councils to establish and maintain a register of all private swimming pools and spas.
All swimming pools and spas that fall within the requirements of the Act must have a compliant barrier in place. Broadly, these include all permanent pools and spas and most relocatable pools and relocatable spas that are capable of holding a depth of water greater than 300mm.
Relocatable pools that do not consist of multiple components and do not require any assembly are not subject to the barrier requirements. An example of such a product is a small inflatable pool that requires no assembly other than inflation and is not capable of containing water to a depth of more than 300mm.
The register must contain specified information such as date of construction and the applicable barrier standard as prescribed by the regulations relating to swimming pools and spas.
Owners of private swimming pools or spas are required to register their pool or spa with their local Council. All pools and spas must be registered by June 1, 2020.
The legislation makes the owner the primary person responsible for registering their pool or spa, with a requirement to engage a suitably qualified registered building practitioner (ie. Building Inspector or Building Surveyor) to perform inspections, and lodge a proof of compliance certificate resulting from that inspection with their Council within the required time frame. These inspections will be required every four years.
For more detailed information about the new Victorian Government legislation please check the Victorian Building Authority website.
Building swimming pools and spas
If you are planning to build a pool you first need a building permit. A permit will safeguard people, especially young children, from injury and loss of amenity, and will ensure that the proposed usage meets with the expectations of the Council and adjoining property owners.
Your swimming pool must meet certain standards (AS 1926 – 1993). They apply to the design, construction and performance of fences, gates, windows, door-sets and balconies intended to form part of a barrier that will restrict the access of young children to swimming pools.
These standards apply to any excavation or structure containing water to a depth greater than 300mm and used primarily for swimming, wading, paddling, or the like, including a bathing, wading pool or spa.
Fencing may be constructed from any type of material that is durable, with a reasonable natural life when exposed to likely weather conditions, pool chemicals, pollution, decay, insects, water salt spray etc., provided that the finished fencing complies with the requirements of the standard.
Fences and gates must be 1.2 metres high at any point along the length of the fencing, measured on the outside of the fence.
The clearance between the ground level and the bottom of the fence is not to exceed 100mm.
Any horizontal rails, rods etc. that could assist climbing are to be placed inside the fence. If outside, they shall be at least 900mm apart, with the bottom rail located a minimum of 100mm from the top of the fence.
Compliant pool gates
Gates must open outward, away from the swimming pool only. They must be self closing to return the gate to the closed position and be capable of operating the latch from any position without the use of manual force.
The latch must operate automatically, and not reopen without manual release of the mechanism.
The latch must be located not less than 1500mm above ground level. Where the latch is less than 1500mm above the ground level, it must be shielded so that no opening greater than 10mm is closer than 450mm to the latch. Any hand hole shall be a minimum of 1200mm above ground level.
If the walls of the buildings are to be used as swimming pool barriers, they shall be fitted with child resistant doors and windows.
Doors in buildings opening to pools/spas
Doors must open into the building, away from the swimming pool only. They must be self closing to return the door to the closed position and be capable of operating the latch from any position without the use of manual force.
The latch must operate automatically and not reopen without manual release of the mechanism. The latch release on the inside of the door must be located not less than 1500mm above floor level.
No footholds wider than 10mm are allowed to exist between the latch and a point 100mm above the floor level.
Windows in buildings opening to pools/spas
Be totally covered by approved grills or screens with no openings through which a 105mm diameter bar can pass
Screens must be fully secure, or be restricted from opening to create a gap through which a 105mm diameter bar can pass, or
Have the lowest opening panel not less than 1200mm above the floor level and no foot holds wider than 10mm, down to 1100mm below the lowest opening window panel
If you occupy a property with a pool or spa you must take all reasonable steps to ensure that any fence or other barrier, door, gate, lock, latch, catch, bolt, fly screen or grill, restricting access to the swimming pool or spa is maintained and operating effectively at all times.