What are the rules around swimming pool safety barriers?
Swimming pools and spas are required to be protected with a safety barrier that complies with the Building Regulations 2018. Safety barriers include fences, walls, windows, doors, screens, gates and other permanent elements that prevent access by children to the pool or spa area.
An application for a building permit can be made to either a registered Private Building Surveyor or to Council’s Municipal Building Surveyor. You will need to obtain a building permit before constructing a safety barrier which complies with the relevant building regulations.
Is my existing pool or spa barrier legal?
If you already have a pool or spa As a pool or spa owner, you have an obligation to maintain the operation of your swimming pool or spa barrier to prevent access to the pool or spa.
The following checklists will help you assess the safety/compliance of your barrier. The checklists are based on the relevant barrier standard associated with the date that the pool or spa was installed.
Checklist 1 (for pools and spas installed before 8 April 1991)
Checklist 2 (for pools and spas installed between 8 April 1991 and 30 April 2010)
Checklist 3 (for pools and spas installed from 1 May 2010)
If you are having any work done on an existing safety barrier, a permit may need to be issued to alter the barrier. Work to alter an existing barrier will need to comply with the current Regulations. Check with your local council or building surveyor for advice.
Do I have to install a safety barrier around my swimming pool or spa?
Yes, all swimming pools and spas having a depth of more than 300mm (30cm) must be completely enclosed within a safety barrier. Drowning is the most common cause of preventable death for children under five in Victoria. Safety barriers reduce the risk of child injury and drownings.
Do I have to get a building permit for my safety barrier before it is installed?
Yes, a building permit is required to be issued before you install a new swimming pool or spa and required safety barrier, or before you carry out any alterations to an existing safety barrier.
Do I need a building permit and safety barrier to install an above ground or inflatable pool or spa?
All swimming pool and spas capable of more than 300mm (30cm) water depth require a safety barrier to be installed. If the swimming pool or spa is less than 300mm (30cm) deep or located inside a building (e.g. in a bathroom) and used for personal hygiene and emptied after each use, a building permit and safety barrier are not required.
What happens if I don't do anything about pool safety?
Council Building Surveyors do conduct routine audits of swimming pool and spa safety barriers. If a complying safety barrier is not maintained around your swimming pool or spa, significant penalties can apply.
Learn more about pool safety barrier legislation on the Victorian Building Authority website and the Victorian Government Legislation website.
Relocatable Pool Safety Barriers
A building permit is not required for relocatable pool safety barriers around a relocatable swimming pool or spa (Item 21 of Schedule 3 of the Building Regulations 2018).
Even though such a barrier may be exempt from the requirement for a building permit, a relocatable pool safety barrier is still required to comply with the Australian Standard for Pool Safety Barriers (AS1926.1-2012) in all respects.
Hume City Council’s Building Surveyors are not aware of any products or systems currently on the market that are accredited under the Building Act 1993 by the Building Regulations Advisory Committee, or any other approved accreditation scheme, as complying entirely with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and AS1926.1-2012.
The BCA and AS1926.1-2012 form part of the Building Regulations 2018. Owners of relocatable swimming pools or spas must make their own inquiries in order to determine and confirm whether a relocatable pool safety barrier product or system complies with these regulations.
To meet the exemption from the requirement for a building permit for a relocatable pool safety barrier, the product or system you are using must:
- be designed to be relocatable
- be able to be reasonably and practically relocated
- comply with AS1926.1-2012 in all relevant respects.
As a general rule, a building permit is required for the construction or installation of a pool safety barrier or fence.
Owners of relocatable swimming pools or spas are subject to all of the relevant provisions of Part 9A of the Building Regulations 2018, including the requirement to ensure that a compliant pool safety barrier is in place, whether or not the barrier is relocatable.
A relocatable swimming pool or spa must also be registered with Council by 1 November 2020 and a certificate of barrier compliance lodged with the Council starting 1 June 2021, depending on the age of the swimming pool and/or spa.
New property owners
If you are considering the purchase a property with a swimming pool or spa, you should make inquiries to ensure the safety barrier complies with the Building Regulations. Be aware that as the new owner of a property, you accept responsibility for ensuring that the safety barrier complies and is maintained. If you own or are considering the purchase of a property with a swimming pool or spa, and you are not sure whether the safety barrier complies, you should engage the expert advice of a registered Building Surveyor or Building Inspector.