Pools are a popular amenity in many homes and public spaces, providing a refreshing escape from the summer heat and a fun way to exercise. They enhance the aesthetic appeal of the house as well as its overall value for potential buyers. However, ownership and pool maintenance comes with a significant responsibility to ensure the safety of swimmers. More than 27 children died of drowning during the stint between 2000 and 2019. To prevent these accidents pool and spa safety came into effect such as the pool regulations in Victoria.
Pools and spas in Victoria must follow a set of provisions. Owners of private swimming pools and spas should develop an understanding of the rules to minimise the risk of accidents and injuries.
This article will explore rules and laws for the safety of your pool.
Victoria Building Regulations for Swimming Pools
The VBA refers to the Victorian Building Authority, which is the regulatory body responsible for administering the Building Act 1993 in Australia. Based on the definition given by the VBA, a pool is an excavated structure that has the capability of containing water with a depth of more than 300m. It is intended solely for the purpose of human aquatic activities i.e. swimming, wading, etc.
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This definition can be applied to different pools including, ground pools, and portable pools. This definition also entails spas and hot tubs.
Pool Registration Requirements
The Victorian Building Authority, in December 2019, established new laws to improve swimming pools and spa safety. According to the new pool regulations effect in Victoria, ensure your pool has followed rules including:
- Owners need to register their pool or spa with their local council. So, register your pool or spa. Complete pool inspection by a registered inspector to ensure the pool or spa was installed based on regulations. The inspector identifies any non-compliant safety concerns.
- Address the problems identified by the inspector for swimming pool safety. Ensure your pool has no unaddressed problems.
- Certificate of barrier compliance must be lodged with the local council within the assigned time frame. It is mandatory to lodge a certificate of barrier within time to avoid penalties.
The owner is obliged to pay a registration fee to the Council. For pools and spas constructed before 1 November 2020, an information search fee will also be payable.
Safety Barriers for Swimming Pools and Spa Safety
According to VBA, pool barriers must comply with the Australian Standard AS 1926.1-2012. Some common types of pool and spa barriers include:
- Pool or spa fence: It is a pool or spa barrier that surrounds the perimeter of the spa or pool. To get a compliance certificate, it must be at least 1200mm high and have no gaps or openings. The barrier or fence must be constructed from durable materials to improve swimming pools or spas.
- All gates in a pool fence must be self-closing and self-latching and must open away from the pool. The gate must be designed to restrict young children’s entrance to the pool.
- Private pools and spas should have a secure cover in position. Further, pool and spa owners must ensure that this cover will be able to support the weight of an adult.
- An alarm system can be implemented in the pool or spa area to detect when someone enters and sound an audible alarm to alert adults.
- Windows and doors can provide access to a pool. Locks and restrictors can block access to the pool area.
Any windows, openings, or doors that give passage to the area must be fitted with locks or restrictors to prevent young children from opening them.
Other Pool Regulations
According to the VBA’s Building Regulations 2018, pool or spa is located at a minimum distance of 3 meters from any part of a house or other building on the property. This distance is measured from the closest point on the edge of the pool to the nearest part of the building (VBA, 2018).
These rules are designed to ensure that there is a safe distance from any structures on the land where a swimming pool is located.
Inspection and Compliance of Pool Regulations
Inspection and Certification Requirements
The standard code of compliance adopted for pools must be Australian Standard AS 1926.1-2012. The inspector must be a registered building surveyor or inspector. These inspectors are tasked to ensure pool barrier compliance. They prepare a report in the form of a checklist. Considering that certificate of compliance being required for operation, this report is vital.
In the State, once the certificate of final inspection is issued, it should be submitted to the local council within 30 days after issuance. The certificate of compliance is to be submitted to the local council after every four years, so the next certificate of compliance is due after every four years.
In case of non-compliance to rules and regulations, there are penalties and fines, the severity of which depends on the magnitude of the violation. The value of monetary penalties can range from $300 to $1900. In the instance of non-compliance, the inspector will issue a non-compliance certificate. This certificate is submitted to the local council and pool owners will have 60 days to rectify issues along with a notice according to the Building Act 1993. Non-compliance can restrict access to the pool for all. (Government of Victoria, 2018). Owners are advised to bring their pools into compliance.
Understanding the spa and swimming pool regulations in Victoria is crucial for ensuring the safety of everyone who uses your pool or spa. We hope this guide has been helpful in providing essential information on how to stay compliant with these regulations. However, if you have any further questions or require assistance in designing a compliant pool or spa, please don’t hesitate to contact SQM Architects. Our team of experts is always ready to help you achieve your dream pool or spa while ensuring it meets all the necessary regulations.