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Swimming pool and spas

We offer advice about swimming pool fencing and safety barriers to ensure you meet the Victorian Government safety standards and requirements.

Permit requirements and your responsibilities

Thank you to everyone who has registered their pool and/or spa. Our team is busy processing all registration certificates and there may be a delay in receiving a response. As long as you have completed the registration form, you have completed the government requirements. We will contact you with your completed registration certificate as soon as possible. Meanwhile, if you have any enquiries, you can contact us on 9217 2259.

New State Government laws about pool and spa barriers came into force from 1 December 2019.

The new laws require:

  • Mandatory registration by owners of all private swimming pools and spas
  • Mandatory inspection and certification of barrier compliance required every four years.

Owners of private swimming pools and spas are required to register their pool/spa with Council. Newly constructed swimming pools and spas must be registered within 30 days of obtaining a Certificate of Final Inspection and Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Compliance (Form 23).

Owners of pools and spas will also need to have the pool or spa barrier inspected and a certificate of compliance issued every four years.

The deadline for submitting the first certificate of compliance to Council depends on what year the pool or spa was constructed.

In light of the COVID-19 restrictions, the Victorian Government has extended the deadlines for compliance certificates. Please see the below list for the new deadlines.

  • Pools and spas constructed before 30 June 1994 must be inspected and issued with a certificate of compliance by 1 June 2022.
  • Pools and spas constructed between 1 July 1994 and 1 May 2010 must be inspected and issued with a certificate of compliance by 1 June 2023.
  • Pools and spas constructed after 1 May 2010 must be inspected and issued with a certificate of compliance 1 June 2024.

To learn more about the new regulations and why they have been introduced visit the following websites:

A Building Permit is required for the construction of, and alterations to:

  • all swimming pools - in ground and above ground capable of holding water greater than 300mm deep
  • spas
  • associated pool or spa safety barriers.

The Building Permit documentation must include details of:

  • site plan showing location of swimming pool or spa, barriers, and any existing buildings on site
  • the type and location of the safety barriers, including fences, gates, doors, windows, latches, catches, self-closing devices and mesh screens
  • water reticulation and filtration equipment (manufacturer's specifications).

From 1 May 2010 outdoor pools cannot be accessed directly from a building or adjoining property.  

After a Building Permit is issued, safety barriers must be completed within 6 months of building work commencing on the swimming pool or spa. 

Learn more about swimming pool and spa safety regulations.

As an owner or you are considering installing a swimming pool and/or spa please be advised your responsibilities include:

  • Owners to obtain a building permit for the construction/installation of a swimming pool and/or spa
  • Owners must register their swimming pool and/or spa with Council
  • Owners must organise an inspection of their safety barrier by a registered swimming pool inspector
  • Owners must ensure they are maintaining their safety barriers in accordance with the Building Regulations 2018
  • Owners must submit a Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Compliance (Form 23) with Council by due date

It is a requirement of the Victorian Building Regulations that any swimming pool or spa capable of containing more than a depth of 300mm of water must have compliant safety barriers. 

It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that compliant safety barriers are in place.

A Building Permit must be obtained prior to the construction of a swimming pool, spa and for their associated safety barriers. 

During construction

During construction it is common for temporary fencing to be erected under the Building Permit to allow completion of the pool construction. Ensure you read the contract and discuss the details with your builder to understand what is included and what isn’t. 

The design and location of permanent fencing should be finalised during the design stage, prior to obtaining a building permit. Engage a registered Building Practitioner to advise on compliance issues for your barrier design. 

Temporary fencing

Temporary fencing is not acceptable as an ongoing or long-term barrier system for swimming pools and spas.

Compliant and permanent safety barriers must be completed within 6 months of the commencement of pool or spa works. 

Prior to filling your pool for the first time you must have a compliant safety barrier in place that has been inspected and approved by the relevant Building Surveyor.

Compliance

Your Building Surveyor will require detailed documentation relating to the pool or spa structure as well as fencing details to demonstrate how compliance will be achieved in accordance with the Australian Standard and the Building Regulations. 

Your Building Surveyor will issue you with a Certificate of Final Inspection as evidence that the pool or spa and associated safety barriers comply with the Building Permit documentation & applicable barrier standard. 

Maintenance

Once completed and approved, maintenance of the pool and safety barriers is the responsibility of the property owner. Safety barriers must be maintained in compliant working order at all times. 

Once pool safety barriers have been installed in compliance with Australian Standard AS 1926.1, it is imperative that property owners with swimming pools be aware of their obligations. 

Pool owners are obligated under Part 9 Division 2 of the Building Regulations 2018 to ensure the swimming pool safety barriers are maintained to restrict access. 

Buying/selling a home

If you own or are purchasing a home with a swimming pool or spa and are not sure that the swimming pool or spa fence or barrier complies, contact a Private Building Surveyor or Inspector to arrange for an inspection.

Why barriers are important

Children under the age of 5 are at highest risk for both fatal and non-fatal drownings (including mild to severe brain or other organ damage due to lack of oxygen) with swimming pools recording the largest number of non-fatal drownings.

Between June 2007 and July 2018, 14 children under the age of 5 have died and 37 children have had non-fatal injuries from home swimming pools in Victoria (Department of Justice).

To protect young children, active supervision of young children in and around swimming pools and spas is required at all times.

Registration and lodgement

Registration is required for all permanent swimming pools and spas that were constructed and completed prior to 1 November 2020.

If you have a swimming pool and spa within two separate barriers, two registration submissions will need to be completed.

Registration fee of $32.30 applies when registering your pool or spa with Council.

Please note - If you are unable to provide copies of any relevant building permit and/or any other information or documentation that provides evidence of when the swimming pool or spa was constructed, an information search fee of $47.90 will apply.

This fee enables Council to conduct the appropriate searches to determine the date of construction of your pool or spa and any associated building permits, which determines the applicable barrier standard. The information search fee only applies to pools or spas constructed before 1 November 2020.

Registration is required for all permanent swimming pools and spas where the building permit was issued on or after the 1 November 2020 or before 1 November 2020 but construction was not complete until after 1 November 2020.

The registration of the permanent swimming pool or spa must be within 30 days after the date on which the owner receives the occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection for the swimming pool and/or spa. You are required to submit the Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Compliance when completing the registration.

If you have a swimming pool and spa within two separate barriers, two registration submissions will need to be completed.

Fees

Registration of pool and/or spa $32.30

Lodgement of Certificate of pool and spa barrier compliance $20.70

Under the current requirement in reg 147V(2), Certificate of Pool Barrier Compliance cannot be lodged more than 30 days after the date that the certificate is dated.

If the certificate is more than 30 days old, the owner must obtain a new certificate for lodgement.

A fee of $20.70 applies when lodging the certificate.

In accordance with Regulation 147ZI, the Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Non-Compliance (Form 24) must be lodged with Council by the swimming pool inspector as soon as practicable, after being issued.

Once lodged, Council will give a notice in writing to the owner of the land that they must pay a fee (26 fee units) associated with the lodgement of the Form 24.

Relocatable (portable) swimming pools must be registered with council if erected for more than three (3) consecutive days. The owner of the land on which the relocatable swimming pool is located must register on the fourth day after it is erected. 
 
If your relocatable swimming pool is only in place for a period of less than three (3) consecutive days, there is no need to apply for registration and must be removed from the property. 

Registration fee of $32.30 applies when registering with Council. An Information search fee of $47.90 does not apply to a relocatable swimming pool (under reg 147N). 

All relocatable swimming pools require a temporary pool barrier which forms part of obtaining a Certificate of Pool Barrier Compliance. The property owner is required to lodge a Certificate of Pool Barrier Compliance within 14 days of receiving the registration certificate from council. Property owners are required to have their swimming pool barriers inspected and certified by a registered Private Building Surveyor or Building Inspector. 
 

Registration and a Certificate of Pool Barrier Compliance inspection is required for each time a relocatable swimming pool is erected for more than three (3) consecutive days. 

Next steps

Once your swimming pool and/or spa is registered with Council, a certificate with further information relating to the barrier standard and the due date of the compliance certificate will be sent to the property owner. The property owner will then need to arrange an inspection of the pool/spa barrier through a registered Private Building Surveyor or Building Inspector.

Once the Private Building Surveyor or Building Inspector has conducted the inspection and confirmed that your pool/spa safety barrier meets the regulations, they will provide a Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Compliance which will need to be lodged to council.  The Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Compliance cannot be lodged more than 30 days after the date that the certificate is dated.

A fee of $20.70 applies when lodging the certificate.

You can read more, including FAQs regarding the registration process or searching for a practitioner, on the Victorian Building Authority's website.

Dates for lodgement of the first Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Compliance are as follows:

Pool/Spa construction date

  • On or before 30 June 1994 - due by 1 June 2022
  • From 1 June 1994 until 30 April 2010 - due by 1 June 2023
  • From 1 May 2010 until 31 October 2020 - due by 1 June 2024
  • On or after 1 November 2020 - at the time of applying for registration.

Following the initial inspection, you are required to lodge a Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Compliance every 4 years.

Visit the ‘Find a Practitioner’ section of the Victorian Building Authority website (category Building Inspector/Building Surveyor)

Please note that the pool/spa barrier inspection fee is set by the relevant Building Surveyor/Inspector and is to be paid by the pool/spa owner.

If the Building Surveyor/Inspector finds an issue with your pool/spa barrier, resulting in the barrier not complying with the safety regulations, you will have 60 days to resolve the issue(s).

Once the issue(s) are resolved, the Building Surveyor/Inspector will issue you with a Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Compliance which you can then lodge with Council.

If the issue(s) are not resolved within the specified timeframes, the Building Surveyor/Inspector will issue a Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Non-Compliance (Form 24) and submit to Council. Council will issue a Barrier Improvement Notice (Form 25) to the owner of the property, which will need to be actioned within the specified timeframe. Please note the owner is required to pay the fee associated with the lodgement of the Form 24 (26 fee units).

For more information, including FAQs regarding the inspections and compliance process, please click here to view the Victorian Building Authorities website.

Owners are responsible to register their swimming pool and/or spa with Council and maintain their safety barrier in accordance with the Building Regulations 2018. Failure to comply will result in an infringement.

The following are infringeable offences under Divisions 4- 6 of Part 9A of the Regulations:

  • Reg 147L(2) – An owner fails to apply for registration of a swimming pool that was constructed before, or under construction as at 1 November 2020 by the later date of 1 November 2020, or 30 days after the date the Occupancy Permit or Certificate of Final Inspection for the swimming pool was issued (2 Penalty Units).
  • Reg 147M(2) – An owner fails to apply for registration of a swimming pool constructed after 1 November 2020, within 30 days after the date the owner receives the Occupancy Permit or Certificate of Final Inspection for the swimming pool, and lodges the CBC at the same time as applying for registration of the swimming pool (2 Penalty Units).
  • Reg 147N(2) – An owner of land on which a relocatable swimming pool has remained erected for at least three consecutive days, fails to apply for registration on the fourth day after it was erected (2 Penalty Units).
  • Reg 147O(2) – An owner fails to apply for registration of a swimming pool within the period specified in a written notice given by the council (2 Penalty Units).
  • Reg 147V(1) – The owner does not lodge a CBC by the applicable date most recently specified by the relevant council in a notice to the owner (2 Penalty Units).
  • Reg 147X(3) – The owner fails to pay the relevant fee to council at the time of lodging a CBC (2 Penalty Units).
  • Reg 147ZC – Following alterations to the barrier of a registered swimming pool, the owner fails to lodge the CBC with the relevant council within 14 days after receiving the certificate (2 Penalty Units).
  • Reg 147ZJ(4) – Following lodgement of a CBNC, the owner fails to pay the fee specified in a council notice within the required period (2 Penalty Units).

If you do not comply with Council’s directions to ensure compliance with the regulations, this may result in the referral to the magistrate.

Swimming Pool/Spa infringements are issued when property owners are in breach of one of the offences under Divisions 4- 6 of Part 9A of the Regulations.

Pay your Fine

You can pay your fine online.

Appeal your Fine

If you believe there is a valid reason for you not to pay a fine, you can apply for an internal review, as long as the matter has not been lodged with the Magistrates Court or Fines Victoria.

While there will be stricter laws on managing pool and spa compliance, the requirement to have compliant safety barriers hasn’t changed. You are already expected to have compliant safety barriers in place.

You can check if your pool or spa barriers are compliant using the Victorian Building Authority’s three self-assessment checklists.

Where owners do not, or cannot, remove an existing swimming pool/spa from a property, it must be permanently decommissioned to the satisfaction of Council, in accordance with Victorian Building Authority (VBA) guidelines. 

 

When determining whether a swimming pool (spa) has been decommissioned it must demonstrated that: 

  • The swimming pool/spa structure is not capable of holding water (not operational)
  • No longer be used for swimming, wading or the like
  • Removal of pool liner, access ladder and filtration system (as applicable) 
  • Cut at least two holes at least 500 mm x 500 mm in the deep end of the pool (or as determined by an engineer taking site conditions into account) 
  • Fill the pool excavation with appropriate fill material compacted in layers with a maximum depth of 300 mm (or as determined by an engineer taking site conditions into account) 
  • Consideration can also be given to cutting down the side walls. 

Note: When considering the removal of a swimming pool, Owners must advise Council on the method as a building permit to demolish may be required, in particular with in-ground swimming pools. Consideration needs to be given to the setback from the boundary and whether it will have an adverse effect on the adjoining property. The excavation will need to be filled with appropriate soil for the site and compacted in layers (or as determined by an engineer taking site conditions into account). 

Decommissioning of swimming pools that remain in situ can be problematic if any future construction and development work will occur on the site. Owners of permanent pools that have been decommissioned and where the structure remains on site, must understand that although the pool is taken off the register and is considered decommissioned, an application for a building permit will be needed to recommission the pool and install the required safety barrier and filtration system. 

Please notify council via email buildplan@whittlesea.vic.gov.au if your pool and/or spa has been removed/decommissioned.

What defines a swimming pool or spa?

A swimming pool or spa is any excavation or structure containing water and principally used, designed, manufactured or adapted to be used for swimming, wading, paddling or the like, including a bathing or wading pool, or spa that are capable of containing a depth of more than 300mm of water.

This includes:

  • in-ground swimming pools
  • indoor swimming pools
  • above-ground swimming pools (including permanent and temporary pools)
  • jacuzzis
  • spas
  • swim spas
  • bathing and wading pools
  • hot tubs.

What are safety barriers?

Safety barriers are designed to help restrict unsupervised entry by young children to the swimming pool or spa area. 

A safety barrier may consist of a:

  • fence
  • wall
  • gate
  • screen
  • balustrades 

and includes attachments, such as:

  • doors
  • gates
  • windows
  • locks
  • latches
  • hinges
  • self closing devices.

Provided their use & physical characteristics such as heights, gaps, rigidity etc. meet the requirements of the applicable safety standards required.

When is a safety barrier not required?

A safety barrier is not required for:

  • An excavation or structure that is NOT designed, manufactured or adopted to be used principally for swimming, paddling or wading, such as bird baths, fish ponds, fountains, dams and water supply/storage tanks
  • swimming pools or spas not capable of containing a depth of water greater than 300mm 
  • inflatable swimming pools (typically toddler or wading pools) not capable of containing a depth of water greater than 300 mm
  • spas inside a building that are used for personal hygiene, such as a spa bath in a bathroom. 

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