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2 February 2022

Masterton District Council has begun inspecting private swimming pools, as required by law, to ensure access is restricted, to keep children safe.

Under the Building Act, any pool with a maximum depth of more than 400mm – including temporary inflatable pools – must be surrounded by a barrier at least 1.2m in height, with a self-closing gate.

Section 165D of the Act requires councils to inspect pools every three years to ensure they meet requirements.

Warranted Council staff are entitled to enter properties to inspect pools, with inspections carrying a fee of $160.

The elected members of the Council agreed the fee last year as part of Long-Term Plan deliberations, deciding that inspection work should not be covered by the general rate, but targeted to those owning pools.

There are an estimated 2000 residential pools in the Masterton District.

Council Chief Executive David Hopman said the inspections were important work that was legally required.

“Swimming pools can be a fantastic part of summer life in Masterton, but it is essential that all steps required by the law are taken to minimise the risk to our children,” he said.

“Pools come with rules and responsibilities for owners, and councils have a responsibility to ensure rules are being followed.”

Details on requirements are available on the Masterton District Council’s website – search ‘swimming pools’.

A guide to acceptable solutions for restricting access to pools is published by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment here (also available through the Masterton District Council website).

There are several ways in which pool fencing commonly fails Building Act requirements:

  • the gate does not close automatically
  • the fence has deteriorated, with gaps allowing access or climbing
  • vegetation near the fence, inside or outside, provides assistance to climbing
  • temporary pools purchased without consideration of fencing requirements.

If an inspection identifies improvements are required, property owners may be given time to complete work, if pools are made safe in the meantime. If, after further inspection, work is found to not have been completed, further fees may apply, and the Council will proceed with further enforcement options.