THE VICTORIAN Government has introduced Building Amendment (Swimming Pool and Spa) Regulations 2019, which took effect from last December.
This introduces mandatory requirements for owners of private swimming pools or spas to register their pool or spa with their local council.
In addition, pool and spa owners will now be required to have their safety barriers inspected by a registered building surveyor or building inspector every four years.
These regulations are being introduced because, on average, four young children die in Victoria in home swimming pools or spas each year, and many more are taken to hospital for near-drownings.
The cost to register your pool or spa is set by the State Government.
So, what does this all mean for owners of existing backyard or indoor pools and spas?
A swimming pool or spa is any structure or excavation containing water and primarily used for swimming, wading, paddling or the like, and is capable of containing water to a depth of greater than 300mm.
This includes in-ground swimming pools, indoor swimming pools, above-ground swimming pools (including permanent and temporary swimming pools), spas, swim spas, bathing and wading pools and hot tubs.
Small inflatable pools that do not require any assembly — other than inflation — are not subject to these rules.
Also exempted are spas and baths inside a building which are used only for personal hygiene and are emptied fully after each use.
The owner of the land on which the pool is situated is responsible for compliance, so in the case of a tenanted property, the onus is on the landlord.
Register your pool or spa
The new laws require mandatory registration of all Victorian swimming pools and spas by June 1, 2020.
You can register your swimming pool or spa online via your council’s website, or alternatively in person at the council offices.
A fee of $79 applies for all swimming pool and spa registrations and is paid at the time of registration.
This fee consists of a registration fee of $32 and an information search fee of $47.
Have your pool inspected and get a certificate of compliance
Once you have registered your pool or spa you will be advised of the date your pool was built, and when you are required to lodge a Certificate of Pool and Spa Safety Barrier Compliance (CPSSBC) to verify that your swimming pool or spa is safe.
To obtain this certificate you will need to arrange to have your pool inspected by a registered building surveyor or registered building inspector.
The inspection will check that the pool or spa and its safety barriers, gates, pool fences, boundary fences, walls, screens, balustrades, doors, windows, locks, latches, hinges and self-closing devices (where applicable) are all in compliance with Australian Standard AS1926.1.
This inspection and certification will cost somewhere in the region of between $250 and $400, as inspectors set their own fees independently.
It is suggested that you obtain more than one quote.
Rather like obtaining a roadworthy certificate for your car, if it passes you get the required certificate and if it fails you get a notice of defects and will require a further inspection, for a smaller fee, once these have been corrected.
Fortunately, you have some time to do this because the date by which you have to lodge this certificate with the council depends on the date of construction of your pool or spa.
If constructed before July 1994, the certificate must be lodged by
June 1, 2021.
If constructed between July 1994 and April 2010, the certificate must be lodged by June 1, 2022.
If constructed after April 2010, the certificate must be lodged by
June 1, 2023.
Having obtained your certificate of compliance, lodge it with your council before the due date.
Ongoing four-year certification
Pools and spas will only need to be registered with the council once.
Following the initial certification, pools and spas are required to be re-inspected every four years thereafter, at your cost, and further certificates lodged with council.
If you do not register your pool or spa by June 1, 2020, this will result in an infringement notice of approximately $330.
If a failed inspection is not corrected within 60 days, the inspector will issue a non-compliance certificate and submit it directly to council.
Council will then contact you and issue a barrier improvement notice, which will need to be actioned within 14 days and a fee of $385 will apply.
If you do not comply with Council’s directions to ensure compliance with the Building Regulations, this may result in the referral of the matter to a magistrate.
The State Government has a zero tolerance approach to offending property owners and is committed to ensuring adequate water safety for young children.
Significant penalties could apply if a matter is brought before the court.
Swimming pool and spa owners have a legal obligation to ensure they maintain the effective operation of swimming pool and spa safety barriers.
Gates and doors must remain closed except when entering the pool or spa.