There are around 400,000 private swimming pools in NSW and many families enjoy spending quality time in their pools with family and friends. In 2020 all new pools must meet the minimum requirements of the current Standard AS1926.1-2012 and be surrounded by a compliant pool barrier that separates the Residence& neighbouring properties from the swimming pool.
Many pool owners ask me what is required to meet compliance and that is a difficult question to answer without gathering certain facts. When was the pool built? What is the property type? Have you maintained the right to apply the Saving Clauses and have you made changes to the means of access to the pool enclosure? In fact, was the pool Barrier surrounding the Pool ever compliant?
Once a Certifier attends your property he must assess the pool enclosure under the Standard that is applicable to the stated age of the pool, as well as considering what & when any modifications were made after the Pool was constructed.
The Saving Clauses – Pools Built prior to 2008
In some cases, the swimming pool itself is not required to be surrounded by a pool fence and a portion of the Residence can form a part of the barrier. However certain restrictions are placed on the means of access from the Residence and to retain the Saving Clauses, the home owner must have maintained these as they relate to the doors and windows of the Residence. They must also have maintained compliance for the pool fencing and not have made any recent modifications to the means of access.
If this relates to you, seek advice from a professional Certifier if you are thinking of selling or leasing your property.
These are some common issues we regularly see
- Gates opening inward: all gates providing access to a Pool must open away from a pool.
- Gaps below or within a barrier exceeding the maximum permissible gap of 100mm, due to incorrect installation of the barrier, or ground that has eroded or has been removed by a Pet or Pool owner.
- Incorrect Barrier Fence Height, due to a build-up of ground, or the barrier installed too low to the ground. It is crucial to know how to measure the height of your fence, especially loop top and spear head metal barriers. Fence height is measured both vertically and perpendicularly from the finished ground level outside your pool barrier. Boundary Barrier height is measured similarly but from inside the pool enclosure.
- The placement of trees, hedges or a raised garden beds placed either inside or outside your barrier.
- A barrier incorrectly installed on sloping or stepped ground, incorrect design, where the perpendicular height & NCZ’s do not have the correct separation.
- Pool barriers that cannot fundamentally comply with the Standard applicable to the stated age of the pool are required to be upgraded to the current Standard.
Objects Placed Too Close to the NCZ
The Regulations state that you must maintain a Non-Climbable Zone (NCZ) around your pool Barrier fence. The actual clearance to objects or structures depends on what Standard is being applied to your pool Barrier. Clearances range from 900mm up to 1200mm (outside) & 300mm (Poolside),a Boundary Barrier (Pool side) can range from 300mm up to a clearance of 900mm depending what standard is being applied. Again, to determine what Standard to apply you need to consult your Certifier.
Essentially you need to keep objects away from your fence which may aid or facilitate a child scaling the Barrier. Objects we often find too close to the NCZ include potted plants, tree branches, garden toys, barbecues and outdoor furniture however these are easily fixed with their removal from the NCZ. More of a problem are structures like the pool filter enclosure, built-in BBQ’s, posts to shade structures and handrails to staircases to name just a few common mistakes.
We find this issue relates to newly built pool enclosures and those built prior to 2008. For the newly built we are seeing full kitchen & dining facilities, wet bars, and big screen TV’s all fully within the pool enclosure.
The only structures that can be located within the bounds of a pool enclosure are pool filter enclosures, shade structures and structures such as slides for the pool-activities directly relating to the pool as they do not distract from active supervision. Non ancillary structures such as Garden sheds, clothes-lines, kiddie cubby houses and trampolines cannot be located within the bounds of a pool enclosure. Why? They distract from the active supervision of children & can encourage the propping the gate; many older pools do have this problem where the entire back-yard is the pool enclosure.
If you recognise this scenario, and you are planning to sell or lease your home, or have been contacted by the authorities, you need to contact a professional Certifier so they can explain how to resolve this common problem.
You’ve changed your Fencing
Many owners of older pools may have a 1200mm – 1500mm high Boundary Fence and a rusted, incorrectly designed or ugly pool barrier. A common mistake made by pool owners is to go ahead and replace the rusted pool barrier with a new glass or metal pool barrier for example, yet not be aware of the impact of these changes.
If you are about to make changes or the changes have been made and you are planning to sell or lease your home, or have been contacted by the authorities, you need to contact a professional Certifier so they can explain how to resolve this common problem. Changes to the means of access to your pool enclosure could also include renovations to the Residence that impact the pool fencing and render it non-compliant, or the installation of a granny flat near to an existing swimming pool.