Swimming and Small Heated Pools

Residential Pools - What You Need To Know



The Building Act 2004 Subpart 7A-Special provisions for residential pools section 162A states the following-

  • The purpose of this subpart is to prevent drowning of, and injury to, young children by restricting unsupervised access to residential pools by children under 5 years of age.


What is considered a pool?

For the purpose of the Building Act 2004, sub section 162B states the following-

  • This subpart applies to pools with a maximum depth of water of 400mm or more.


What are my responsibilities if I have a pool?

Subpart 162C of the Building Act 2004 states-

1.    Every residential pool that is filled or partly filled with water must have physical barriers that restrict access to the pool by unsupervised children under 5 years of age.

2.    The means of restricting access referred to in subsection (1) must comply with the requirements of the building code-

(a)    That are in force; or

(b)    That were in force when the pool was constructed, erected, or installed (after 1 September 1987) and in respect of which a building consent, code compliance certificate, or certificate of acceptance was issued (in relation to the means of restricting access to the pool).

3.    In the case of a small heated pool, the means of restricting access referred to in subsection (1) need only restrict access to the pool when the pool is not in use.

4.    The following persons must ensure compliance with this section:

(a)    The owner of the pool:

(b)    The pool operator:

(c)     The owner of the land on which the pool is situated:

(d)    The occupier of the property in or which the pool is situated:

(e)    If the pool is subject to a hire purchase agreement (as that term is defined in the Income Tax Act 2007), the purchaser of the pool.

(f)      If the pool is on premises that are not subject to a tenancy under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 but the pool is subject to a lease or is part of premises subject to a lease, the lessee of the pool or the premises.


What else do I need to consider in terms of restricting access to a pool?

The law further sets out the Performance requirements under Clause F9-Means of restricting access to residential pools



F9.3.1 Residential pools must have or be provided with physical barriers that restrict access to the pool or the immediate pool area by unsupervised young children (ie, under 5 years of age).

F9.3.2 Barriers must either—

(a) surround the pool (and may enclose the whole or part of the immediate pool area);


(b) in the case of a small heated pool, cover the pool itself.

F9.3.3 A barrier surrounding a pool must have no permanent objects or projections on the outside that could assist children in negotiating the barrier.

Any gates must—

(a) open away from the pool; and

(b) not be able to be readily opened by children; and

(c) automatically return to the closed position after use.

F9.3.4 Where a building forms all or part of an immediate pool area barrier,—

(a) doors between the building and the immediate pool area must not be able to be readily opened by children, and must either—

(i) emit an audible warning when the door is open; or

(ii) close automatically after use:

(b) windows opening from a building into the immediate pool area must be constructed or positioned to restrict the passage of children.

F9.3.5 Where a cover is provided as a barrier to a small heated pool, it must—

(a) restrict the entry of children when closed; and

(b) be able to withstand a reasonably foreseeable load; and

(c) be able to be readily returned to the closed position; and

(d) have signage indicating its child safety features.



Some Definitions

What is a Pool?

a) Means –

i) any excavation or structure of a kind normally used for swimming, paddling, or bathing; or

ii) any product (other than an ordinary home bath) that is designed or modified to be used for swimming, wading, paddling, or bathing; but

b) Does not include an artificial lake.


What is a Residential Pool?

Means a pool that is –

a) in a place of abode; or

b) in or on land that also contains an abode; or

c) in or on land that is adjacent to other land that contains an abode if the pool is used in conjunction with that other land or abode.


What is a small- heated pool?

Means a heated pool (such as a spa pool or hot tub) that –

a)       has a water surface area of 5 m² or less;


b)      is designed for therapeutic or recreational use.

Note: A large spa pool has a water surface of more than 5 square meters. Building Consent may be required.


Do I need a Building Consent for a small heated pool?

A couple of things to consider.

You may need a Resource Consent depending on your location, distance to boundaries and other buildings. Seek guidance on this from our Duty Planner at KDC.

If the water surface area greater than5m2, then a building consent may be required.

The Council may however consider a building consent exemption if the following items are shown on your application-

  •  the top surface of the pool wall must not be less than 760mm above the ground level or adjacent floor.
  • the outside pool wall must be non-climbable
  • safety covers must:
    • comply with Building Code clause F9.3.5 (refer above)
    • restrict the entry of young children (i.e. under five years of age) when closed
    • be capable of withstanding a reasonable load to ensure the cover won't collapse under the weight of a young child
    • readily return to the closed position
    • have a sign showing its child safety features.

Where a small heated pool has a safety cover, it does not need to be inspected every three years.


I want to put my spa pool on top of a deck

If you are putting in a small heated pool:

  • on top of an existing deck, you are responsible for ensuring the deck is structurally sound and can carry the weight of the pool
  • into an existing deck, you may need a building consent for changing the structure of the deck.

If you are putting in a new deck and the fall height is greater than 1.5m, you will need a building consent for the deck. If the ground level is sloping, you need to take this into consideration.

Most swimming pools require a building consent, however some are considered exempt under the Building Act 2004, provided they meet the requirements set out in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's (MBIE's) exempt building work guidance for pools and tanks.



Go to MBIE's exemption information on their website

Did you know that Even 'temporary' inflatable pools fall under the requirements of a residential pool.

If your inflatable pool has the ability to hold 400mm or more of water, then you will need a way to restrict access to it.


Removal of your swimming pool

If you would like to remove your swimming pool, you need to advise the Kaikoura District Council.


Guidance on swimming pool barriers

For more information on residential pools and the requirements they must meet, go to the following MBIE web pages:

Go to MBIE's safety guidance for pool owners

Go to MBIE's residential pool provisions of the Building Act 2004

It is the owner of the land the pool is situated on and the occupier of the property the pool is situated on, to ensure the compliance of the swimming pool barrier / small heated pool (spa).


Downloadable check sheets for self audit

Kaikoura District Council have developed the following check sheets which enable you to complete a self-audit of the compliance of your pool barrier.

Downloadable check sheets