The pool inspector regime

Since January 2017 the Building Act has required pool barriers to be inspected every 3 years. To help with meeting this requirement, the independently qualified pool inspector regime was introduced.

The regime

Every residential pool that's filled or partly filled with water must have physical barriers that restrict access to the pool by unsupervised children under 5, and these barriers must be inspected every 3 years.

To help with meeting this requirement, the independently qualified pool inspector regime was introduced in 2017. When pool owners are due to have their swimming pool barriers inspected, they can choose either their local territorial authority (eg, local council) or an independently qualified pool inspector to carry out the inspection.

Legislative context

The Building Act was amended by the Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016 to help prevent drowning of, and injury to, young children by restricting unsupervised access to residential pools by children under 5 years of age.

The Amendment Act introduced new provisions to help ensure that barriers preventing access to pools comply with the Building Act, through a 3 yearly certification process. It also introduced provisions enabling individuals — outside of building consent authorities and territorial authorities — to provide pool barrier compliance inspection services and issue required certificates of periodic inspection. These people are known as independently qualified pool inspectors (pool inspectors).

Roles within the regime

There are approximately 200,000 residential pools in New Zealand with pool barriers requiring 3-yearly inspections. Pool owners can choose either their local territorial authority (local council) or an independently qualified pool inspector to carry out this inspection.

Pool inspectors

An independently qualified pool inspector (pool inspector) is someone who has been accepted by Trading Standards — on behalf of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) — as qualified to carry out inspections to determine whether a pool has barriers that meet the requirements of the Building Act.

Pool inspectors must notify the relevant territorial authority if they find a pool with non-compliant barriers, and copy this information to Trading Standards.

A pool inspector can't be prosecuted under the Building Act. If they breach other legislation — such as the Crimes Act or the Fair Trading Act — this can be dealt with by other agencies, including the Police.

Territorial authorities (local councils)

Territorial authorities hold the official records of swimming pools in their region, and are responsible for monitoring compliance with the pool barrier requirements in the Building Act, and for the periodic inspection and certification requirements.

Territorial authorities can only accept certificates of periodic inspection from individuals who are registered pool inspectors. They must notify us if they decline to accept a certificate of periodic inspection from a pool inspector. They're also obliged to inform us of any issues with a pool inspector's conduct.

Trading Standards (MBIE)

A unit within MBIE, Trading Standards is responsible for the acceptance of individuals as pool inspectors, once we're satisfied that the individual is appropriately qualified. We also maintain the details of pool inspectors on a public register.

Building System Performance (MBIE)

This branch of MBIE provides policy and technical advice on New Zealand’s building system, rules and standards. This includes providing advice to Trading Standards on the suitability of a prospective pool inspectors.

Their website has information about the section of the Building Code that relates to pool barriers, including links to the relevant NZ Standards and Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods. It also has guidance documents for pool owners and territorial authorities.

Building Performance website — F9 Restricting access to residential pools(external link)