21A. Means of restricting access to small heated pools

Spa pool

Small heated pools and spa pools does not require a building consent for the cover used to restrict access, as long as it meets Building Code requirements for safety covers.



Amended January 2017: Clause 21A was inserted, as from 1 January 2017, by s18(3) Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016.

What the law says

Subject to section 42A of the Building Act, Schedule 1 exempts the following from a building consent:

Installation of a safety cover as a means of restricting access to a small heated pool that is a residential pool.

Guidance on the exemption

Under exemption 21A, a building consent is not required for the means of restricting access where a safety cover is used on a small heated pool, such as a spa pool with a water surface area of 5 square metres or less. Furthermore, the top surface of every wall of the pool must be at all points at least 760mm above the adjacent floor or ground, and, the walls of the pool are non-climbable.

If the cover used does not comply with Building Code clause F9.3.5, it is not considered to be a safety cover.

For a safety cover to comply with F9.3.5 it must satify all of the following:

  • restrict the entry of children when closed
  • be able to withstand a reasonably foreseeable load
  • be able to be readily returned to the closed position
  • have signage indicating its child safety features.

Where a small heated pool has a safety cover, it also does not need to be inspected every three years as fencing to other residential pools are (section 162D of the Building Act 2004 refers).

The following terms are defined in the glossary:

• ‘abode’ or ‘place of abode’
• ‘pool’
• ‘residential pool’
• ‘small heated pool’.

Construction specifications for covers that comply with F9.3.5 are provided in Acceptable Solution F9/AS2.

Example where this exemption could apply

A homeowner wishes to install a rectangular spa pool with internal dimensions of 2.4 and 1.2 metres, with a safety cover on it. The safety cover fully complies with the requirements of Building Code clause F9.3.5.

Examples where building consent is required

An owner of a residential property intends to construct a rectangular ‘endless’ (ie. a current is created to swim against) exercise pool with internal dimensions of 3 and 2 metres, with a safety cover. As the pool surface area is greater than 5 square metres, it does not fit into the definition of a ‘small heated pool’ and a building consent is required for the means of restricting access.
A homeowner proposes to install a spa pool with a lightweight cover that is easy to life or remove. As the cover is unlikely to fully comply with Building Code clause F9.3.5, it is not considered to be a safety cover and building consent is required for the means of restricting access, unless the cover is modified or replaced to comply.

Related information

Safety guidance for pool owners

Residential pools: Guidance for territorial authorities

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: