swimming pools, spas and pool safety barriers

Important Update

The State Government has introduced a suite of changes to the requirements for pool and spa owners as part of its Building Amendment Regulations 2023.

Below is a summary of the changes to private swimming pool safety barriers:

  • Building permits are not required for new pool barriers (with some exceptions) - owners will no longer need a building permit for pool safety barriers to be installed around new private swimming pools or spas.
  • Notification to pool inspector - once a new pool/spa has been constructed, it is essential to notify the City's Pool Inspector and book in for an initial inspection of the new safety barrier. The safety barrier must be inspected within 30 days to verify compliance with current building standards and legislation.
  • Non-compliant barrier re-inspection - if pool barriers are found to be non-compliant, they will be inspected within 60 days. It is crucial to address any issues promptly to avoid enforcement actions.
  • Pools under construction (regardless of water level) while site is under control of builder - builders are responsible for securing the construction site from unauthorised access under work health and safety laws.
  • Completed swimming pools/spas (containing more than 300mm of water) - pool owners must provide and maintain a compliant safety barrier. Regular inspections and timely responses to inspection requests are crucial.

What is a swimming pool?

A swimming pool is any structure used for swimming, paddling, wading or the like, and has the capacity to hold 300mm or more of water. This includes above/below ground pools, inflatable/portable pools, above/below ground spas and bathing/wading pools. Swimming pools and spas that contain more than 300mm of water are required to be isolated with a compliant pool safety barrier. 

Pool safety barriers

Pools are one of the largest causes of accidental death for young children aged under five. Statistics show approximately 40 per cent of toddler drowning deaths occur in private swimming pools. For every drowning death, it is estimated that 10 children are admitted to hospital following a near-drowning incident. 

In WA, current building legislation requires a safety barrier to be provided around swimming pools or spas containing more than 300mm of water to restrict young children from unsupervised access to a swimming pool/spa area from outside the property and from building(s) on the property. Inflatable/portable pools are not exempt from this mandatory requirement. 

The requirements for pool safety barriers are set by:

  • Building Regulations 2012 - a compliant barrier to be provided around a pool/spa at all times.
  • Australian Standard AS 1926.1-1993 and AS 1926.1-2012: Fencing for Swimming Pools.
  • Australian Standard AS 1926.2-2007: Location of Safety Barriers for Swimming Pools.


Under the Building Regulations 2012, the City can issue an infringement of $1,000 on the owner or occupier of a property for a failure to provide a pool safety barrier around a private swimming pool or spa. In addition, a fine of $5,000 can be imposed by the Magistrates Court if owners/occupiers are successfully prosecuted by the City.

When is a building permit required?

Under the Building Act 2011, a building permit is required for:

  • Swimming pools, including portable/inflatable pools.
  • Spas.

A building permit must be obtained from the City before the installation or construction of a pool/spa.

You will need to apply for a building permit to construct fences that would form part of a safety barrier if they: 

  • also act as a fall protection barrier (balustrade), or
  • are not constructed in accordance with a relevant local law, or
  • are constructed of masonry and over 0.75m in height, or
  • are constructed of a material other than masonry and over 1.8m in height.

For more information, please contact the Building Services team on (08) 9273 6000 or email pools@vincent.wa.gov.au.

Are there other approvals required?

If your swimming pool or spa is located within the front setback area of the property, and your pool barrier includes a 1800mm high front boundary fence, you may require planning approval from the City. Please contact the City's Statutory Planning Services team for more information on (08) 9273 6000.

What do I need to do after I have finished?

The responsible person named as the builder on the building permit must submit a BA7 Notice of Completion to the City of Vincent within seven (7) days of the completion of the work or stage of work as required under Section 33 of the Building Act 2011. The BA7 establishes the end date of the permit.

Note: It is an offence not to submit a BA7 after works have been completed. An infringement or a fine may be imposed for a failure to give notice of completion to the City. 

Penalties: Infringement - $500 / Fine - $10,000

Mandatory inspections

Under the Building Regulations 2012, the City has a legislative obligation to ensure that private swimming pools and spas located within Vincent are inspected at least once every (4) years to confirm continued compliance of the pool safety barriers with applicable building standards.

There will be instances when our inspection scheduling may require some properties to have their pool barriers inspected earlier than four years to even out the number of properties the City inspects per financial year. There is no extra charge for this as it is covered by the annual pool inspection levy charged in the annual rates. 

Pool inspection levy

Local government pool inspections are an essential service provided in order to ensure safety for young children around private swimming pools and spas. The pool inspection levy allows Vincent to maintain an appropriate inspection regime.

Under the Building Act 2011 (‘the Act’), a local government is required to inspect the safety barrier to a private swimming pool/spa at intervals of no more than four (4) years for the purpose of monitoring compliance with existing building legislation and Australian Standard AS 1926 Parts 1 and 2.

The Act allows a local government to impose a charge on owners/occupiers of a property where there is a private swimming pool/spa to meet the estimated cost of carrying out the inspections. In accordance with the provisions of the Building Regulations 2012, a local government can charge a maximum fee of $78 annually for cost recovery purposes. The total cost for a 4-yearly inspection cycle is $312, with this fee divided across four years at $78 pro rata. This charge is payable by each pool owner regardless of whether an inspection was carried out on their property in that year.

A pool safety barrier inspection does not only consist of a 10–15-minute inspection onsite. There is a substantial amount of work involved with a safety barrier inspection, including:

  • Administrative tasks – preparing and sending out inspection request letters, booking in inspections, record keeping and updating the pool register.
  • Travel time.
  • Physical inspection – 10 -15 minutes generally.
  • Preparation of the pool inspection report, issued to the property owner/occupier.
  • Updates to the pool register and other records.
  • Re-inspections – if a barrier is deemed non-compliant, the Pool Inspector must re-inspect the barrier until the property owner/occupier has rectified the non-compliance/s and bring the barrier into compliance. It is not uncommon to undertake up to three re-inspections.

The fees charged to pool owners are essential to cover the costs of the City’s private pool inspection program.

Decommissioning/removing a private swimming pool

Had enough of your pool? Ideally, when the swimming pool or spa is no longer wanted, they would be removed from site either by deflating, dismantling, excavating and lifting out, or complete demolition. 

What constitutes decommissioning?

A decommissioned swimming pool or spa is defined as one that is no longer being used and will not contain water more than 300mm deep at any time. Such measures to decommission, as a minimum may include:

  • removing the structure completely*, or
  • Placing sizeable hole(s) in the deepest point of the pool or spa and removing the filter and access ladders, or
  • Placing sizeable hole(s) in the deep end of the pool and multiple locations, backfilling with clean fill and compacting the fill.

A compliant safety barrier is not required while the pool or spa is decommissioned. 

* if the pool or spa is in excess of 40m2 in area, an Application for a Demolition Permit (BA5) is required.

Pool owner must ensure:

  • Any backfill is properly compacted. To prevent potential future issues (particularly if the property owner wishes to build on this land later), it is recommended that a professional structural engineer certify the compacted fill. A compaction certificate is to be submitted to the City to be placed on the property file.
  • The removal of the pool and any subsequent compaction of fill will not impose any loads on adjoining buildings or structures, and neighbouring properties.
  • Only clean non-toxic soil endemic to the site must be used to backfill the excavation. 
  • When emptying a pool consideration needs to be given to the appropriate disposal of the water, such as disposal by a licensed liquid waste contractor. Under no circumstances should water be emptied into or be allowed to enter the following:
    • Water Corporation sewer system;
    • City's stormwater drainage system;
    • Discharged off-site.
  • A below-ground pool located less than the depth of the deepest end away from boundaries may require a BA20 and/or a BA20A form to be signed by the adjoining property owner prior to the pool being removed from site.
  • The City's Pool Inspector will inspect the property after the pool or spa has been decommissioned or removed.
  • A decommissioned pool or spa is still listed on the City's pool register and will be re-inspected at intervals of no more than four (4) years. The pool or spa will still incur the annual pro rata inspection fee on your Rates notice until the structure has been completely removed from the property.
  • If the pool or spa is to be recommissioned at any time, please contact the City's Pool Inspector to arrange an inspection to ensure a compliant safety barrier is in place prior to the pool or spa being filled with water.

Safety Alert - Skimmer Boxes

Pool skimmer boxes are designed to remove leaves and other debris from the pool water before the waste sinks to the bottom of the pool. Poorly designed skimmer boxes with removable covers and unprotected intake areas can pose a safety risk for young children. 

The strong suction of the pool's filter pump can cause serious and permanent injury to young children. Children have suffered serious injuries or died after sitting on open, potty-shaped skimmer boxes. Pools with skimmer boxes moulded into the side are unsafe as children can easily lift the cover, creating the risk of hair or parts of the body being trapped. 

If your skimmer box is unsafe, immediate action should be taken:

  • Buy and fit a low-cost conversion kit, available from local swimming pool suppliers, or
  • Place a bar or other fitting (safety skirt) across the opening of the skimmer box to prevent children from sitting in the box, or
  • Permanently fix the cover over the skimmer box so it can only be removed using a tool.

If you have any concerns about the safety of a skimmer box, please contact the Consumer Protection's product safety team on 1300 304 054, visit Product Safety Australia or contact a local pool shop for expert advice.

More information

For more information on swimming pools/spas and safety barrier requirements, please contact the City's Building Services team on (08) 9273 6000 or at pools@vincent.wa.gov.au. Alternatively, please visit the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety website.

Disclaimer: This information is produced by the City of Vincent in good faith and is correct at the date of publication. The City accepts no responsibility for any ramifications or repercussions providing this information.

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