Swimming Pools & Barriers

Residential Swimming Pool and Spa Pool Safety

Under the Building Act 2004, all residential pools must have compliant pool barriers to keep young children safe at all times. This includes spas and temporary pools.

What is a pool?

A pool means - any excavation or structure of a kind normally used for swimming, paddling, or bathing; or any product (other than an ordinary home bath) that is designed or modified to be used for swimming, wading, paddling, or bathing; but does not include an artificial lake.

A residential pool means a pool that is - in a place of abode; or in or on land that also contains an abode; or in or on land that is adjacent to other land that contains an abode if the pool is used in conjunction with that other land or abode.

Every residential pool with a maximum depth of water of 400mm or more that is filled or partially filled with water must have a barrier to restrict access to the pool by unsupervised children under five years of age. The property owner is responsible for ensuring these barriers remain compliant.

Councils are required by the Building Act 2004 to ensure these residential pools are inspected at least every three years to determine they still have complying pool barriers.

If you have a residential pool, please ensure it is registered with the Council.

Click to register using our online Swimming Pool Registration Form (please note that a registration and inspection fee applies).

Barrier Requirements

Building Code clause F9 requires barriers around residential pools to prevent unsupervised access by children under five years of age. Barriers can be fences, walls or parts of buildings, and include gates and suitably constructed doors. There are requirements for the minimum height and configuration of the barrier. For example, gates need to open away from the pool area and be self-closing and self-latching.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has published two acceptable solutions that provide ways of constructing pool barriers that are deemed to comply with the requirements of Building Code clause F9. F9/AS1 covers pool barriers such as fences and building walls. F9/AS2 sets out the requirements for covers to "small, heated pools".

Read acceptable solutions F9/AS1 and F9/AS2.

Safety Covers for Small, Heated Pools

Safety covers can be the barrier that restricts access to a small heated pool, such as a spa pool, where:

  • the water surface area is 5m2 or less
  • the side walls of the pool are at least 760mm high above the adjacent floor
  • the side walls cannot be easily climbed.

A safety cover must have signage indicating its child safety features, and must be able to:

  • restrict entry of children under five years of age when closed
  • withstand a foreseeable load
  • be readily returned to the closed position.

Check if your pool meets the requirements for a "small, heated pool".

Generally inflatable hot tubs or spa pools will require a fence as the covers do not meet the requirements in F9/AS2 for small, heated pools.

The installation of a safety cover for a small, heated pool is covered under Schedule 1 of the Building Act. This means it will not require a building consent if it meets the exemption criteria.

Mandatory Inspections Every Three Years

Residential pools must be inspected every three years. These mandatory inspections do not apply to small heated pools, such as spa pools and hot tubs, where the barrier is a safety cover.

Pool owners can choose who undertakes the mandatory inspection of their pool – either the territorial authority, or an independently qualified pool inspector (IQPI). The IQPI is a person accepted by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) as qualified to carry out periodic inspections.

In addition to three yearly inspections, territorial authorities also have discretion to inspect any residential pool at any time, including small, heated pools, to determine whether the pool barrier requirements are being complied with.

Please see our Fees & Charges page for Inspection of pool fencing/barriers.

Applying for Building Consent

You must obtain a building consent before installing a pool barrier, even if the pool itself is temporary.

The only exception is for a safety cover for a small, heated pool, which may be exempt from needing a building consent. See Safety covers for small, heated pools above.

To apply for a building consent, you will need to complete the Form 2.

The following information will need to be included with the building consent application for a swimming pool and its associated barrier;

  • Site plan with dimensions, showing location of pool and existing buildings, location of fence, boundaries, existing waterways and pool surround.
  • Fence construction. Show the height, gates, self-closing device, construction type etc.
  • Show how any doors or windows that form part of the fence will comply
  • Brand and model of pool
  • Size of the pool
  • Drainage plan. Show discharge point
  • Producer statement (where applicable)
  • Installation instructions/manual with construction details
  • Show filling point for pool (tap) and backflow protection.

Further information on swimming pool barrier compliance can be found on

Last reviewed date: 20 Jun 2024