Maintenance and operation of barriers

Swimming pool and spa barrier maintenance requirements have been clarified to ensure building owners and occupiers are aware of their responsibilities under the Building Act 1993 (the Act) and the Building Regulations 2018 (the Regulations).

A swimming pool or spa barrier may include items such as fences, posts and panels, gate units, gates and doorsets, fixed screens, constructed or natural walls, retaining walls, sides of buildings, and balustrades on a balcony.

Every swimming pool and spa on a site with a residential building or shed/garage must have a barrier to restrict access by young children, and the barrier must be properly maintained and operate effectively. There are severe penalties for not maintaining or ensuring effective operation of a swimming pool or spa barrier.

Owners

An owner must take all reasonable steps to ensure that a barrier restricting access to a swimming pool or spa is properly maintained.

Occupiers

An occupier must take all reasonable steps to ensure that a swimming pool or spa barrier is operating effectively at all times. Where the occupier is not the owner, this requirement may be met if the occupier has notified the owner in writing that the barrier is not operating effectively.

Barrier gates or doors must remain closed

The occupier must also take all reasonable steps to ensure that any gate or door forming part of a swimming pool or spa barrier remains closed, except when someone is entering or leaving the swimming pool or spa area. Anyone who opens a gate or door forming part of a swimming pool or spa barrier must ensure that the gate or door is closed immediately after entering or leaving the swimming pool or spa area.

Regular checks and maintenance

We recommend that you check the safety of your barrier using the appropriate VBA checklist at least annually. Below are some useful tips for maintaining safety barriers.

  • Promptly repair any faults in gates, doors (if permitted at time of construction) and windows, making sure all self-closers, latches, fly screens, catches and bolts are working properly.
  • Make sure there are no chairs, boxes, pool pumps, tree branches, pot plants or other items close to the safety barrier that could be used to climb over the barrier to gain access to the pool or spa area.
  • Make sure any fences (especially timber paling fences) are in good condition, non-climbable and have no gaps larger than 100 mm.
  • Request that neighbours of adjoining properties remove potential hazards or climbable objects, if applicable.

It is a good idea to have your pool and spa safety barriers inspected by a registered building surveyor or registered building inspector every three years. This will ensure that the barriers comply with the regulations and do not pose a safety risk to young children.