Swimming Pool Fencing:

In May 2016, the Building Commission adopted an amendment to the Building Regulations 2012 which saw the 2012 edition of AS1926.1, as referenced in the BCA Volume Two, replacing the 1993 edition as prescribed within the Building Regulations 2012 at the time. With the change of editions came confusion and misinterpretations throughout the industry as new elements were introduced including the contentious boundary barrier requirements. Fast forward more than three years later and we are still seeing issues with applying the new standard to all types of swimming pool fences throughout Western Australia. Our building surveyors have come up with a series of frequently asked questions from customers and the solved answers in an easy to understand format.

When is a swimming pool fence required?

Any swimming pool, spa or structure whether above ground, below ground, permanent or temporary, inflatable or otherwise, that holds more than 300mm of water and is designed for swimming, wading, paddling or similar is considered to be a swimming pool. If this is associated with a Class 1 building (single and group dwellings, boarding house, guest houses etc.) it is considered a private swimming pool and requires a swimming pool fence installed to Australian Standard 1926 and tested at least once every 4 years by the local government.

If you would like further information on the Building Regulations 2012Building Code of Australia – Volume Two and AS1926 requirements please contact one of our building surveyors. Otherwise further technical information will be posted in our Residential Solutions section of the website over the next few weeks.

Can I have windows or doors opening into the swimming pool enclosure?

A very common question asked is why is my friend/family member allowed a self-closing door entering the swimming pool enclosure, but I am not permitted for a new swimming pool/spa? If the swimming pool was approved and installed prior to November 2001, self-closing doors were permitted as compliant with the Standard at the time. As with all amendments to Building Regulations and Australian Standards, these are not applied retrospectively therefore homeowners were not required to upgrade any fencing.

In 2001 the regulations were amended to include isolation fencing, therefore removing any doors (self-closing or otherwise) from being permitted into a swimming pool enclosure. Windows are still permitted, however, need to be permanently restricted to a maximum opening of 100mm.

What are the non-climbable zones?

The non-climbable zones vary depending which Regulations and Standards you are required to comply with at the date of installation or building permit being issues. For all new pools (post-May 2016) the non-climbable zones are shown below. This does not include boundary fencing/barriers.

For further clarification on non-climbable zones please contact one of our building surveyors.

What if I have a boundary fence that forms part of the fence?

If you are proposing a new pool or looking to have a spa or swimming pool approved retrospectively post-May 2016 and the boundary fence forms part of the barrier, the boundary fence will need to meet the requirements of AS1926.1 – 2012.

A boundary fence forming part of a swimming pool barrier needs to be a minimum 1800mm in height and have a 900mm (measured as a quadrant from the top of the fence) non-climbable zone on the inside. In addition to no foot or handholds, no retaining (including planter boxes), steps or other objects is permitted within 500mm of the boundary where it reduces the minimum height of the barrier.

Our building surveyors advise taking special care during the design stage to ensure pool equipment and landscaping does not impact on a boundary barrier.

Can I have a swimming pool in my front yard?

There is no reason why a spa or swimming pool cannot be approved in the front yard of a residential property, however, you will need to consider planning implications in addition to swimming pool regulations.

For example, a front fence that forms part of the swimming pool or spa enclosure is considered to be a boundary barrier therefore needs to be a minimum 1800mm in height and have a 900mm (measured as a quadrant from the top of the fence) non-climbable zone on the inside. Fencing of this height generally would require a large percentage to be permeable. If retaining is required, the minimum boundary barrier height may increase the wall height to one not permitted under local or state planning policies.

If you would like further advice on any of the above FAQ’s or another swimming pool regulation question please contact one of our experienced building surveyors today.

The below guidelines on the Building Commission website is another useful resource for understanding the regulations;

https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/atoms/files/195697_web_rules_for_pools_and_spas_a4_booklet_feb_2019.pdf

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