Building a Swimming Pool or Spa
A Building Permit is required for the construction of all safety barriers and all types of pools and spas capable of holding more than 300mm of water in depth. A Building Permit is also required if you are installing new or altering any part of an existing safety barrier.
On 1 December 2019, new laws to improve swimming pool and spa safety came into effect in Victoria. It is now mandatory for owners of land where a swimming pool or spa is located to register their pool or spa with Council (see form below).
What classifies as a Swimming Pool or Spa?
A swimming pool or spa is any excavation or structure capable of containing a depth of water greater than 300mm and used principally for swimming, wading, paddling, or the like. This includes any inflatable or temporary swimming pools or a spa that has a lockable cover.
Safety barriers are not required for bird baths, fish ponds, fountains, dams and water storage tanks, however the owner has a duty of care to ensure these are safe.
New Safety Laws for Owners of Pools and Spas
Between 2000 and May 2019 there were 27 fatal drownings of young children in private swimming pools and spas across Victoria. For every fatal drowning, there are about six more non-fatal incidents, with about 20 per cent of these resulting in long-term behavioural and learning impairment.
To improve the safety of pools and spas, the Victorian regulations changed on 1 December 2019. From this date, if you own a property with a pool or spa, you’re required to register the pool/spa with Council by 1 June 2020. Note: this deadline has been extended. The new deadlines are available at www.vba.vic.gov.au/consumers/swimming-pools/registration-requirements.
Pool and spa owners are now required to obtain and lodge a compliance certificate for the safety of their pool or spa barrier every four years. To do this, you’ll need to engage a building surveyor or building inspector who can carry out an inspection and provide the certificate confirming your barrier complies with safety requirements.
Common reasons for barriers failing to comply include:
Lack of maintenance, e.g. gate hinges and latches wearing out
Alterations and additions to adjacent buildings or boundary fences that compromise the effectiveness of the barrier
Placing climbable objects such as BBQs or pot plants next to a barrier
Allowing climbable vegetation to grow immediately next to a barrier.
Maintaining your Safety Barrier
As an owner of a swimming pool or spa, you are required under the building regulations to ensure any fence or barrier restricting access to a swimming pool or spa is maintained and is operating effectively. Non-compliance, for any reason, can increase the risk of drowning and lead to prosecution.
The below checklists will assist you in assessing your safety barrier. Further information can be found at www.vba.vic.gov.au/consumers/swimming-pools/pool-safety-barriers
Safety Barrier Self Assessment Checklists
Pool or Spa Registration Form
APPLICATION TO REGISTER A SWIMMING POOL OR SPA FORM(PDF, 365KB)
If you have a swimming pool or spa located within the Central Goldfields Shire, please download the following application form and return with any supporting documentation via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once you’ve registered your pool or spa, the Council will notify you of the due date for your first certificate of pool barrier compliance. You are required to arrange an inspection and lodge the certificate with Council by the due date.
Pool and Spa Fees
Please contact the Building Department for a list of the fees for pools and spas.
Do I need a Safety Barrier?
Permanent safety barriers are required for all permanent or relocatable pools and spas capable of containing a depth of water greater than 300mm, including:
- In-ground swimming pools
- Hot tubs and Jacuzzis
- Indoor swimming pools
- Above-ground swimming pools
- Inflatable and relocatable pools
Note: A lockable lid is not a compliant safety barrier.
Is my Safety Barrier Compliant?
While there are now stricter laws on managing swimming pool and spa compliance, the requirement to have safety barriers installed and maintained hasn’t changed. Prior to summer and in readiness for the new requirements to register your pool or spa and have the safety barrier inspected it is recommended that you undertake a pool and spa safety barrier self-assessment to ensure compliance.
The Victorian Building Authority has provided the above pool and spa safety barrier self-assessment checklists for pool and spa owners to conduct their self-assessments.
For further information visit: www.vba.vic.gov.au/consumers/safety-guides/swimming-pools