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Swimming Pools

Swimming Pool and Spa Register

New mandatory pool and spa registration

From 1 December 2019, new laws to improve swimming pool and spa safety come into effect in Victoria. They introduce new registration, inspection and certification requirements for property owners.

As part of the changes, owners are required to register their pool and spa with their local council and have their safety barrier inspected once every four years.

What pools and spas need to be registered?

Any swimming pool or spa that is capable of holding more than 300mm (30cm) of water needs to be registered.

This includes in-ground and above ground pools and spas, inflatable pools, indoor pools and spa pools, children’s paddling and wading pools, spas, jacuzzis, hot tubs and swim spas and portable spas.

Relocatable pool/spa is defined as a pool/spa that is capable of being relocated with ease. It must be able to be removed from its foundations and relocated. An example of such a product is a small inflatable pool that requires no assembly other than inflation.

Relocatable pool/spa installed for three days and more must be secured with a relocatable pool barrier of the same standard as per permanent pool/spa.

Relocatable pool/spa, if erected three or more consecutive days before 1 November 2020 and remains erected on 1 November 2020 must be registered. In any other case, on the fourth day after the relocatable pool/spa was erected. At time of registration, the Municipal Building Surveyor will determine the applicable pool barrier Australian Standard (Regulation 147L).

This does not include bodies of water such as birdbaths, fish ponds, fountains, spas inside a building/bathroom that are used for personal hygiene and contain a drain plug, water supply/storage tanks and dams, rivers, creeks and lakes.

Can I decommission or remove a pool before registration?

Yes. The Victorian Building Authority has provided the following guideline when it comes to decommissioning a pool for its principal purpose of swimming, wading, paddling, bathing and similar.

Relocatable pools

Complete dismantling of pool if above ground. Otherwise at least the removal of the pool liner, access ladder and filtration system and ensure the remaining components cannot hold water to a depth of more than 300 mm.

Total removal of an inground swimming pool

A building permit to demolish is required (if the exemptions in Schedule 3 of the Regulations do not apply). Consideration needs to be given to the setback from the boundary and whether the demolition 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 with a maximum depth of 300mm (or as determined by an engineer taking site conditions into account).

In-ground pools

In- ground pools can either be left in situ and buried or made incapable of holding water to a depth of more than 300mm. The process can include:

-to cut at least two holes at least 500mm x 500mm in the deep end of the pool (or as determined by an engineer taking site conditions into account);
-to remove debris from cut outs; to remove filtration system and access ladders;
-to fill the pool excavation with appropriate fill material compacted in layers with a maximum depth of 300mm (or as determined by an engineer taking site conditions into account).
-Consideration can also be given to cutting down the side walls.

The Municipal Building Surveyor is the regulator on whether a pool is deemed to be a decommissioned pool. Council maintains a separate register of decommissioned pool/spa, relocatable pool/spa and method of decommissioning.

Council reminds owners of permanent pools that have been decommissioned and remain on site, that although the pool is taken off the permanent pool/spa 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.

How long to I have to register?
The regulations state that owners will be required to register their swimming pool or spa from 1 December 2019. Private pool and spa owners will now have until 1 November 2020 to register pools and spas – an extension of five months from the original 1 June deadline due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Swimming pools and spas that are built after the 1 November 2020 must be registered within 30 days after the certificate of final inspection is issued.

Registration Costs

Type of Fee or Penalty Amount (2019-2020)
Pool or spa registration fee: A one-off fee payable to the relevant council for the registration of your pool or spa. $31.80
Information search fee (if applicable): This fee enables the 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 June 2020. $47.20
Failure to register swimming pool or spa within relevant timeframe: up to $1,652.20

If I have a swimming pool and spa, do I need to register them separately?
A pool and spa can be registered in a single application, however if they are protected by separate barrier systems there may be differences in the standards to which they are inspected depending on construction dates for each one.

If the swimming pools are enclosed separately by individual barriers, then each swimming pool and spa must be registered under a separate application, and two (or more) sets of fees would be payable.

What happens if I don’t register?
Building Regulations state that it will be an offence not to register within the required timeframe of 1 November 2020 which will be subject to a penalty. Whilst Council must issue a Notice to Register a Pool (prior to issuing a Building Infringement Notice), discretion will be made on individual circumstances on delay in registering a pool.

What happens after I register?
When you complete your application to register your swimming pool or spa, Council will confirm the date of the construction of the swimming pool, the relevant standard that the safety barrier must comply with and the date that the certificate of compliance for the safety barrier(s) must be lodged by.

Once the swimming pool and/or spa has been registered with Council, it will remain on the register until the owner removes or decommissions the swimming pool or spa and applies to Council to remove it from the permanent pool/spa register.

Further information
Further information in relation to the VBA swimming pool registration and inspection process can be found at https://www.vba.vic.gov.au/consumers/swimming-pools

If you are planning on building or installing a swimming pool or spa there are regulations that must be followed and adhered to. In Victoria, the design, construction and installation of swimming pools, spas and their safety barriers are subject to strict building requirements under the Building Regulations 2018. The Regulations also contain ongoing legal obligations for pool and spa owners to maintain their safety barriers at all times to the Australian Standard that has been determined by the Municipal Building Surveyor at the time of pool/spa registration.

Failure to comply with the regulations can increase the risk of drowning and lead to prosecution by the VBA or local councils.

All required Forms can be found on our Building Resources and Forms webpage.

Swimming pools and spas in Victoria must comply with the following requirements

  • All swimming pools and spas with a depth of more than 300mm (30cm) must have a safety fence or barrier that meets the Australian Standard. This also applies to inflatable or relocatable pools and spas
  • A swimming pool or spa and associated safety barriers can be constructed by a registered builder or by an owner-builder from the Victorian Building Authority
  • A registered builder must be engaged under a written domestic building contract to carry out building work in excess of $5000 (including labour and materials) and an owner-builder must obtain a Certificate of Consent for work in excess of $16,000
  • A Building Permit, issued by a Registered Building Surveyor, must be obtained to construct a pool or spa, as well as the associated safety barriers.
  • During construction, a compliant temporary safety barrier must be in place and maintained to ensure it is in proper working order. Talk to your registered builder to agree on who will be installing and maintaining the temporary barrier, and later the permanent barrier, and ensure this is written into the contract
  • Swimming pool gates must be self-latching and self-closing from any position, and should never be propped open.
  • Safety barriers must maintain a series of non-climbable zones as required by the Australian Standard applicable to your pool/spa. Any objects inside or outside the pool fence that children might use to climb into the swimming pool or spa area, such as pot plants and chairs must be moved away from the barrier

VBA Checklists for guidance on pool barriers

The following VBA Checklists will provide guidance on pool barrier. Check your pool/spa registration determination letter for the Australian Standard that will apply:

Pools installed before 8 April 1991
Pools installed between 8 April 1991 and 30 April 2010
Pools installed from 1 May 2010

Contact
Building Department
1 Market Place
Hamilton Vic 3300
Phone (03) 5573 0256
Email building@sthgrampians.vic.gov.au

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