Skip to main content

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.

Processing update

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 safety laws for owners of pools and spas

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

The new laws require:

  • Mandatory registration of all private swimming pools and spas
  • Introduction of a new compliance program to improve pool and spa safety.

Owners of existing swimming pools and spas will need to register their pool or spa with Council by 1 November 2020 or within 30 days after completion if their pool or spa is under construction.

To learn more about the new regulations and why they have been introduced click on the below links:

Register a permanent swimming pool and/or spa completed before 1 November 2020

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 $31.80 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 $47.20 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.

Register a permanent swimming pool and/or spa completed after 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 $31.80

Lodgement of Certificate of pool and spa barrier compliance $20.40

Register a Relocatable Swimming Pool

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 $31.80 applies when registering with Council. An Information search fee of $47.20 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. 

 

Lodge Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Compliance

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 $20.40 applies when lodging the certificate.

Lodge Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Non-Compliance

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 $20.40 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 November 2021

From 1 June 1994 until 30 April 2010 - due by 1 November 2022

From 1 May 2010 until 31 October 2020 - due by 1 November 2023

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.

Please click here to 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 Non-Compliance and will submit to Council. Council will then contact you to issue a barrier improvement notice, which will need to be actioned within 14 days.

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

All pool/spa owners are responsible got registration and periodic inspections of the pool/spa safety barrier to ensure that the barrier continues to meet the relevant safety regulations.

If you do not register your pool/spa by 1 November 2020, this may result in an infringement notice (2 penalty units – approx. $330).

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

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.

Safety standards and regulations

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. 

Do I need a Building Permit?

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.

Your responsibilities as a pool or spa owner

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.