Pool Construction Legal Requirements & Implications

Pool Construction Legal Requirements & Implications

Although it is possible to plan, design and build a pool without specialist help it is highly recommended to employ someone to advise you through the legal aspects – and there are MANY obligations to fulfil at every stage of a pool build!  Direction needs to be adhered in accordance with the Australian Building Act 1975, local government stipulations as well as pool safety laws.  For instance, Brisbane Queensland does not require a development application (DA) unless specifically outlined under a neighbourhood plan or development overlay however other local councils differ from this.  This article will touch on the basic legal steps that you need to know – whether you have a team of specialists or are doing it yourself.

Prior to constructing your pool

Prior to undertaking construction of your pool it is advisable to consult with a qualified pool draftsman to aid in the design and layout.  With their skilful advice not only will you achieve optimal utilisation of your yard space but they will factor in your needs for lifestyle enhancement.  This is a topic addressed in the article 5 factors that turn your pool area into a lifestyle experience!.

Secondly, approval of a building application (BA) lodged at your local council is mandatory.  This building application will need appropriate documentation that shows construction complies with the following:

1. Engineering requirements

This includes assessment of soil stability, reinforcement of concrete compliance and plans of engineering structural details including fencing.  Your engineer will also have to return to site post BA approval stage and when the reinforcement for concrete pools has been completed to ensure they comply with their detail plans.  Upon satisfactory inspection the engineer will issue a certificate that will cover you for any structural issues

2. Surveying requirements

If you are planning to build the pool near your property boundary ensure that you know exactly where it ends and begins.  You do not want to find out post construction that your pool is entering into your neighbours’ property or that you could have utilised your space better!  Employing a surveyor to lay out exactly your boundaries will ensure that future problems are negated.  While the surveyor is at your property it is worth investing a little more money to get them to peg out the pool area too!

3. Safety & fencing requirements

The engineering plans will direct your fence locations, height and installation requirements.  Compliance with this is vital for several reasons.  Firstly, drowning accidents is one of the most common causes of death in children and secondly, if ever your property is to be sold or leased, it is a legal requirement to register the pool with your building commission.  Although it is not mandatory for pool home owners to register their pool, it is to obtain a safety certificate post-build – so why not register it anyway?  You will receive updates from the commission on pool safety law changes and how it will affect you on a regular basis without having to do the leg work to find out this information.

There are exemptions from complying with safety standards.  For example, a resident owner who has a disability, impracticality (moving/demolishing dwelling or change of size or location of pool) and protected vegetation within the build site.  These exemptions will further require alternative safety measures therefore speaking to a qualified pool designer or engineer will give you options to maximise your chances for your BA approval.

Digging the hole

Once the BA has been obtained construction works can begin.  However, one big legal element of the pool build process that is easily overlooked is removal and disposal of soil.

Making sure knowledge of restrictions in your area due to fire ant control with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is vital as huge fines are enforceable if non-compliancy is found.  You can go direct to their website and conduct a search or inquire at their offices.  Furthermore, know where you can dispose the excess soil.  Some disposal stations do not receive soil/contaminated soil or various types of soil.  Find out your soil type and if ever it was contaminated through engaging a soil tester prior to calling your local government to inquiry where your nearest soil refuse station is located.  It is worth noting that costs associated to this is highly variable due to distance required for travel and what type of material you are disposing, not to mention the possibility of earthwork delays due to hitting rock underground.

Another check to conduct is a dial before you dig search.  This will advise whether there are phone, electrical, gas or sewerage infrastructure underneath your property that could potentially affect your dig.

Prior to excavation you must have temporary fencing and appropriate signage enclosing the whole site.   Hefty fines are strictly enforced if a site does not meet safety standards so ask your local council or refer to the Builders Act 1975 Ch8 s245M.

Utility Connection

During reinforcement installation stage, a qualified plumber and electrician need to be engaged to rough in their amenities.  Once the pool shell has been poured (for concrete pools) or fibreglass shell lifted into place, they will have to return to site to connect the pool to their respective services.  Both trades must be licensed; with electricians complying with Workplace Health and Safety Electrical Safety Office guidelines under the 2002 Act and 2013 Regulations and plumbers complying with the 2002 Act and 2003 Regulation.  Although they are not required to issue a certificate of compliance for the pool, the plumber is required to obtain plumbing approval from their local council prior to works and electricians to conduct an electrical safety test, keep record of the test results and ensure the test results are “OK” at completion.

Pool Fencing & Safety

Once the pool shell is complete the finishing elements still require a degree of legal compliance.  The choice of either tiling, exposed aggregate, concrete painting or fibreglass pool finish is up to you. However, the coping tile selection can be restrictive.  Coping tiles are the pavers or tiles that are laid around the edge of the pool.  These tiles have to be weatherproof, high slippage resistance and are not sharp edged.  To understand tiling terminology read our simplified tile blog http://www.spaceconstructions.com.au/lay-down-your-tile/.  Finally, search for tiles or pavers that have been qualified by the manufacturer to meet standards.

Post construction of your pool

Once your pool shell and tiles are complete mandatory safety standards need to be met.  Firstly, doors from any building cannot have direct access to the pool area and windows which open onto the pool area must be fixed or cannot be opened more than 100mm.  Fencing around the pool must be at least 1200 with a gap from the ground no more than 100mm.  If choosing vertical rails for your fencing they must be no greater than 100mm apart and horizontal rails no closer than 900mm apart.  The fence must be constantly maintained – no holes, rails are in good repair and securely fixed and no climbable objects within 900mm from the outside and 300mm from the inside of the pool area.  Entry gates need to open outwards with latches at least 150mm off the ground and 1400mm above the top part of the lower horizontal railings and hinges must be at least 900mm with a non-climbable safety cap installed.  Also, the gates have to be self-closing and self-latching so little ones cannot sneak in.  Finally, a CPR sign needs to be hung securely within the pool area and be highly visible.

Once all these items have been compiled, registration of your pool can be done post inspection and approved certification has been received.  Registration can be done in QLD at the QBCC website.

As you can see, there are many legal implications that need to be considered pre, during and post construction of your pool.  Engaging reliable, qualified and knowledgeable specialist will reduce your leg work which in turn minimises any liability that may incur if you were to DIY build.  This guide has been written with pool building regulations within Brisbane QLD therefore check your local government and state laws prior to your build.