Knowing The Victorian Pool Fencing Standards & Regulations

While it’s easy to get caught up in the fun of dreaming about installing a swimming pool or spa, don’t forget the all-important consideration of pool safety!

Glass Pool Fencing Standards & Regulations

As former Minister of Planning, Richard Wynne said “Pool and spa ownership is a choice and with that choice comes the responsibility of making sure they are safe.”

Unfortunately, drowning is a more common occurrence than you may think. Over the last couple of decades, there has been a significant number of deaths of children 5 years and younger in private, residential pools. The coroner found that in a majority of these cases, a non-compliant safety barrier may have played a role in the deaths.

As a swimming pool and/or spa owner, you have a legal obligation to ensure and maintain the correct operation of barriers and fencing around pools to help prevent avoidable deaths like these. It’s not uncommon to feel a little bit lost when researching all the regulations, there’s a lot to digest!

For the full Victoria Building Authority (VBA) or Swimming Pool and Spa Association (SPASA) guides, refer to their website. For a more bite-sized guide on the most commonly asked questions and main takeaways see our informative post below.

Voluntary Swimming Pool and Spa Register

You may or may not be aware that the Victorian government passed legislation in 2019, making it mandatory for swimming pools and spas to be registered as an introduction to improving spa and swimming pool safety.

The register was scheduled to become mandatory as of June 2020, but the Victorian Government extended the deadline to November 2020.

For further information, please see details at the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) website.

Why did the regulations change?

The Victorian government implemented updated regulations state-wide to make pools and spas safer, particularly for children. With an average of 4 deaths of young children in home pools and spas annually combined with the fact most pools in Victoria weren’t meeting safety standards, it was clear urgent action was required.

The main changes from the previous regulations were:

  • Now, inspections can be conducted on pools and spas in Victoria as regularly as every 3 years, with failure to comply invoking penalties of up to $1,800.
  • Once your pool is constructed, you must ensure that it is inspected every 4 years

Whose responsibility is it to register the pool or spa?

It is the homeowners responsibility to ensure that the pool or spa on their property is registered and certified.

What if my house has multiple pools or spas?

For homes with multiple pools or spas, the requirements depend on how they are fenced. If the pools or spas are in the same area and contained within the same pool fencing, then only one registration is required. This means just one registration fee, and one certificate upon approval, regardless of how many pools are in the area.

If the pools or spas are in separate areas guarded by separate fences, then each one will require its own registration and certification.

I purchased a property with a pool or spa. How do I know if it’s been registered?

If you are unsure if the pool in your newly-purchased property has been inspected and registered, you should contact your local council ASAP. This will ensure your compliance, and your family’s safety.

Permanent Safety Barriers

During the planning phase of the swimming pool or spa installation, detailed requirements are outlined in Australian Standard (AS) 1926.1. While these cover the design and construction of a safety barrier, it’s important to note that a barrier is also required during the construction period of the pool and/or spa.

Once the pool or spa is built, it should not be used until a permanent safety barrier is installed, and a certificate of final inspection is obtained from the relevant building surveyor.

When is a Safety Barrier Required?

Over the last few years, regulations on the safety barrier installation criteria for a pool or spa have changed. The requirements have now been split into three categories, based on when your pool was constructed and installed.

These are:

Are pool fences compulsory in Australia?

Pool fences are required in Victoria in any pool, spa, or body of water with a depth of 30 centimetres or more. This applies to a range of pool types, including:

  • outdoor in-ground pools and spas;
  • outdoor above-ground pools (including inflatable pools);
  • indoor pools and spa pools;
  • children’s paddling and wading pools;
  • spas, jacuzzi, hot tubs and swim spas.

Safety barriers are NOT required for a:

  • pool and/or spa that contains less than 300 mm of water;
  • bath or spa used for personal hygiene and emptied after use (located in a bathroom or ensuite);
  • fish pond, fountain or birdbath; and
  • water supply, storage tanks or dams.

Can I install my own pool fence in Victoria?

In Victoria, homeowners are allowed to construct and install their own pool fencing and safety barriers, as long as they align with the regulations and requirements. It is also quite likely the project will require a Building Permit to ensure compliance with building safety standards. This will protect the homeowner legally, and ensures that their proposed fence will be compliant with the pool fencing regulations.

What Are the Requirements for Pool Gates?

The requirements for pool gates in Victoria are:

  • Pool gates must be self-closing and self-latching, eliminating the risk of the gate being left partially open, making the pool accessible to children.
  • The gate has to swing open away from the pool, not towards it.
  • Gate latches must be 1.5 metres above the surface level. As the rest of the fencing is only required to be 1.2 metres above, many Victorians opt for fencing at 1.5 metres to create a uniform finish with the gate.
  • The latch must be shielded for added protection.

What Materials Are Allowed for Pool Fencing in Victoria?

In Victoria, pool fencing can be manufactured using a variety of materials. This gives homeowners freedom in the aesthetic of their fencing, so long as it is compliant with regulations. This includes glass, aluminium, mesh, steel, timber, and more.

If using perforated fencing, like mesh or chain wire, the gaps within the fencing must be no more than 5 centimetres. The fence must also be a minimum of 1.8 metres in height, as opposed to the 1.2 metre regulation for non-perforated fencing.

Does a spa with a lockable cover need a fence in Victoria?

Since 1992, even spas with lockable covers require appropriate fencing. This is due to how easily lockable covers can be opened, or accidentally left unlocked.

What are the Building Standards for Pools and Spas?

In Victoria, swimming pools and spas must be compliant with a wide range of standards.

According to the VBA, swimming pools and spas in the State of Victoria must be compliant with numerous requirements including:

  • a registered domestic builder or owner-builder MUST build and install the safety barrier for pool or spa;
  • once the excavation begins, and the pool, structure for the pool, or spa, contains more than 300 mm of water, a safety barrier complying with Australian Standards (AS) 1926.1-2012 MUST be erected and maintained;
  • safety barriers MUST have the required minimum height of 1.2m
  • if you have an outdoor pool and/or spa built after 1 May 2010, there MUST NOT be direct access to the pool area via a door from a building (i.e. garage or house);
  • all pool gates MUST have a self-latching and self-closing mechanism;
  • safety barriers MUST NOT be installed near structures which will allow children the ability to climb and access the pool and/or spa area. These structures include trees, barbeques, pot plants and outdoor furniture.

How high does a pool fence need to be in Vic?

In Victoria, pool fencing must be at least 1.2 metres in height all around, including at the gate. It is also a requirement that there is nothing climbable within 1.2 metres of the fencing, to impede children from gaining access to the pool.

What permits do I need to build a pool?

Before building your pool, you need to understand the permit and building process and apply for the appropriate building permit. This includes supplying detailed construction plans, which will be reviewed prior to your permit being issued.

Pool Compliance Inspection

If you’ve adhered to the above and think you’re ready for a pool compliance inspection, you can reach out to your local registered Victorian pool inspector.These can be registered building inspectors, registered building surveyors or municipal building surveyors, though it’s important to note additional certification is required to carry out pool and spa related safety inspections. We recommend you organise an inspection as soon as possible to avoid stress and, most importantly, any costly fines.

Once successfully inspected, you will be granted a compliance certificate. This certificate can then be submitted to your local council. Note that the Certificate of Barrier Compliance is only valid for 30 days from the day it’s issued, so don’t delay in getting it submitted!

If you’re found to be non-compliant, the inspector will provide a report on your defects which should be fixed within 60 days. Then you can re-organise an inspection to repeat the process.

How much does a pool fence inspection cost in Victoria?

The cost of a pool inspection in Victoria usually costs anywhere from $200 to $500. We recommend that you organise an inspection as soon as possible to avoid stress, as well as any costly fines.

How often do you need to get your pool fence inspected in Victoria?

In Victoria, you’ll need to have your pool fence inspected approximately every 4 years to ensure that it remains aligned and compliant with regulations.

How long does a pool compliance certificate remain valid in Victoria?

While your pool fence needs to be inspected every 4 years, your pool compliance certificate remains valid for just 3 years, and will need re-inspection to ensure ongoing compliance.

Get in Touch

At Frameless Impressions, we have years of experience installing frameless glass pool fencing that meets the Victorian compliance requirements. If the clean aesthetic of frameless glass pool fencing is what you envision for your pool yard, we invite you to contact us or call at 1300 769 993 to speak with one of our experts