Keeping safe around the water is any pool owner’s primary concern, but it can be dizzying to wade through the myriad restrictions in place. The Victorian government recently announced changes to pool regulations that require pool owners to register their pool with their council for a small fee. There are various standards that must be met for safety barriers, and these barriers must be inspected by a registered building inspector or surveyor who will issue a certificate of compliance if the standard has been met. These certificates must be renewed, and barriers re-inspected, every four years.
Melbourne Pool + Outdoor Design editor Tristan Lott spoke with leading industry experts to learn more about these new restrictions and shed light on what they mean for property owners and occupants.
Meet Malcolm Sloan, director of Pool Barrier Services
Pool Barrier Services is a swimming pool and spa pre-compliance team, dedicated to helping pool owners understand and meet the legislative requirements with ease.
Pool Barrier Services works alongside numerous builders, pool barrier fencing specialists, engineers, building inspectors and surveyors to provide expert advice about spa and pool fencing regulations. Here, Sloan explains the specifics of the new legislation and how Pool Barrier Services is helping pool owners every day.
MS: All swimming pools and spas in Victoria are required to be certified compliant within the next 4 years … All swimming pools and spas in Victoria are [also] required to be registered with the council within the pool or spa’s location prior to or by 1st November 2020. Following the registration with the council, a compliance inspection by a qualified swimming pool and spa inspector is then required to be conducted and a Form 23 Certificate of Compliance issued.
MS: Not everyone is aware that if the inspector cannot sign off a compliance certificate on the first visit to inspect the barrier, the inspector is required under the Victorian Building Act to issue a Form 24 Non-Compliance Notice. This does not go well for an orderly compliance … They will commonly order the breach to be rectified within 30 or 60 days. If it is considered very serious and an emergency order is issued, [pool owners will have seven days before] the council will get involved, fines [issued] and, in extreme cases, court action. The inspector will [be required] to revisit, incurring additional inspection fees [and] the inspector is not obliged to outline [the] remedy for non-compliance.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
MS: Pool Barrier Services conduct a pre-compliance consultation and prepare a 12 page report of any defects. We then assist with recommendations for any remedial works required in order to get the barrier to a level that would be satisfactory for an inspection by an independent swimming pool and spa inspector.
If we conduct a pre-compliance consultation and the owners take our advice on rectification works we will guarantee that, if the independent swimming pool and spa inspector conducts a compliance inspection and it fails, we will pay for any revisits required to get the barrier compliant.
We also guarantee that if we conduct a pre-compliance consultation on a pool or spa constructed between 1950 and 2010 and the barrier system is 100 percent ready, we will refund our pre-compliance consultation fee.
Meet James Ding, director of Victorian Pool Safety Services
Established to assist pool owners with understanding and navigating the new restrictions, Victorian Pool Safety Services understands that many pool and spa owners need professional, independent advice to suit the different designs and specific requirements of their pools.
Offering an all-inclusive, end-to-end service, the company will arrange and coordinate the compliance process and any subsequent repair works to alleviate any stress on the part of the pool owner.
JD: Property owners with a swimming pool or spa have always had a legal and moral obligation to ensure that they maintain the effective operation of swimming pool and spa safety barriers. Unfortunately, over 90 percent of swimming pools and spas are not compliant. This is the primary reason these changes have occurred.
Property owners have the choice of coordinating and performing the registration, repair/build, inspection and certification process themselves, or [they can] engage a business that has knowledge of the process and requirements, such as Victorian Pool Safety Services, to help and perform the compliance coordination on [their] behalf.
The requirements are the same for property owners who lease their property with a pool or spa. The difference may be that they are relying on the property manager to ensure compliance where the property manager may not have the knowledge or skills to adequately coordinate compliance on behalf of the property owner. It is important to remember that the legal obligation still resides with the property owner. For tenants, the requirements enable them to ask the property manager for evidence of compliance prior to leasing or during a lease period.
JD: Current pool owners are now required to be even more diligent in not only ensuring the pool barriers are maintained, repaired and kept in working order, but to meet the requirements of registration, inspection and certification. In addition to the registration and inspection fees and costs there are also significant penalties for noncompliance with [fines] up to $1,652.20
To ensure current pool owners achieve this, they have the option of performing and coordinating all the activities plus any rectification works themselves or engaging Victorian Pool Safety Services to act and manage on their behalf.
The benefits for property owners include further clarity of owners legal obligations and the process for compliance. The primary benefit is reducing the risks … of drownings and near-drownings particularly for young children. This is applicable to both owner-occupiers and owners leasing a property.
For industry professionals, the change in requirements will make it easier to explain to clients what is required and in what time frame. This will be particularly true when dealing with non-compliant barriers.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
JD: Victorian Pool Safety Services provides a complete end-to-end service for property owners to act on their behalf [and] ensure their pool is registered, compliant and safe. We are achieving this through experience in the new registration, inspection and certification requirements and processes. We are also able to coordinate repair/build assessments and subsequent works with suitable qualified trades to meet compliance.
Victorian Pool Safety Services only uses registered third-party building surveyors or inspectors with the necessary experience and insurances. Our services are provided to property owners, property investors, real estate agents, property managers, building managers, corporations and hotel operators.
Images courtesy of Victorian Pool Safety Services, Pool Barrier Services and Lifestyle Pools & Spas