A fence is required for all in-ground swimming pools and above-ground swimming pools with sides less than 1.2 metres high.
As with any other building work, you need the proper information before you start. There are specific criteria to meet around fence design, listed below. Local pool fence retailers can provide you with information on fence design options.
Once you’ve decided on the fence design, talk to our building control team to check that it fits with the rules. You can get in touch by phoning the council on 06 349 0001, emailing email@example.com or applying online via this link: Apply for Building Consent Whanganui District Council
Be aware that as well as a fence, you’ll need a suitable backflow preventer (vacuum breaker) fitted to the tap used for filling the pool. This stops your pool hose siphoning water out of the pool and into the pipes in your home.
For pools in urban areas, backwash water – from cleaning the filter – needs to go into a gully trap. This is so we can keep pool water out of the stormwater system.
Your pool must remain empty until it has passed its final inspection and you have a Code Compliance Certificate for the work.
Information on current costs for building consents for swimming pools can be found here: Building Services Fees & Charges Whanganui District Council
Fence design criteria
The fence must be 1.2 metres or higher. However, if there’s a permanent object (such as a barbecue or a deck) within 1.2m of the fence, the fence needs to be 1.2m higher than the top of the object.
The fence must enclose the immediate pool area only, so it can’t include things like clotheslines, vegetable gardens, garden sheds and play areas. However, pool furniture, barbecues, maintenance equipment and changing room facilities are allowed within the immediate pool area.
Gaps in fencing material
If the fence is horizontally close boarded, the maximum gap between each board is 10mm.
The gap between horizontal rails on the outside of the fence cannot be less than 900mm.
Gaps in vertical cladding and gaps under fences and gates cannot be more than 100mm wide.
Gaps in trellis, mesh or netting can be no wider than 10mm if the fence is 1.2 metres high and no wider than 50mm if the fence is 1.8 metres high.
All gates opening to pool areas must open outwards (away from the pool) and have a device fitted that means they self-close and self-latch unaided from 150mm.
There must be no way that the gate can be left open.
The automatic latch must be 1.5 metres above ground level on the outside of the gate or 1.2m above ground level on the inside of the gate.
When lifted up or down, the gate must not release the latch device or come off its hinges.
Any door in a building that provides direct access to a pool needs to be self-closing and self-latching, or fitted with an alarm that sounds if the door doesn’t close after someone.
The door’s locking device or alarm deactivation switch needs to be fitted at least 1.5 metres from floor level.
Windows set lower than 1.2m from the inside floor level need restrictors so the window can only open to 100mm.
Using a boundary fence as part of your pool fence
If you’re using a boundary fence as part of your pool fencing, it’s your responsibility to make sure the fencing complies. If your neighbour puts trellis or a pile of wood on their side, the fence wouldn’t comply because a child could climb over. The way to ensure your boundary fence is safe, and not have to worry about what your neighbour is doing on their side, is to make sure it meets the criteria below:
- the boundary fence is 1.8 metres or higher
- gaps in the boundary fence are no more than 100mm
- the boundary fence is at least 1 metre from the pool
- there’s a 900mm clear zone between the boundary fence and the pool.