23. Tanks and pools

Water tanks on a rural property

Storage tanks and pools don't require a building consent if they meet requirements for capacity and height-above-ground. Note: There are separate requirements for restricting access to residential pools.

Amended January 2017: The heading to clause 23 was amended, as from 1 January 2017, by s18(4) Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016 by deleting “(excluding swimming pools)”. Clause 23 was amended, as from 1 January 2017, by s18(5) Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016 by deleting “(except a swimming pool as defined in section 2 of the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987)”.

What the law says

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

Building work in connection with a tank or pool and any structure in support of the tank or pool, including any tank or pool that is part of any other building for which a building consent is required, that:

(a) does not exceed 500 litres capacity and is supported not more than 4 metres above the supporting ground; or
(b) does not exceed 1,000 litres capacity and is supported not more than 3 metres above the supporting ground; or 
(c) does not exceed 2,000 litres capacity and is supported not more than 2 metres above the supporting ground; or 
(d) does not exceed 4,000 litres capacity and is supported not more than 1 metre above the supporting ground; or 
(e) does not exceed 8,000 litres capacity and is supported not more than 0.5 metres above the supporting ground; or 
(f) does not exceed 16,000 litres capacity and is supported not more than 0.25 metres above the supporting ground; or 
(g) does not exceed 35,000 litres capacity and is supported directly by ground.

Guidance on the exemption

A building consent is not required for the construction of any tank or pool or its structural support. This is as long as various requirements are met relating to its capacity and height above the ground, as listed in subclauses (a) to (g) of exemption 23. This exemption is likely to cover many residential pools (eg. an in-ground swimming pool of 7 metres long, 5 metres wide and a metre deep). Note that this exemption excludes building work in connection with a fence or hoarding restricting access to a residential pool (see exemption 21).

Examples where this exemption could apply

A rural property owner wants to install a 20,000 litre pre-cast concrete tank to collect and store rainwater from the house roof. He proposes to place the tank directly on the ground in a corner of the front garden.
A rural homeowner wants to install a 2,000 litre water storage tank supported 2 metres above the supporting ground.
The owner of a dwelling intends to install a 600 mm deep fishpond in his garden with a capacity of 1,000 litres of water and supported directly by the ground. As the pond is not normally used for swimming, paddling or bathing, it is not a pool and the barrier requirements before 1 January 2017 no longer apply.

Example where building consent is required

A rural homeowner wants to install a 1,000 litre water storage tank. To improve the water pressure, the owner intends to mount the tank on a steel tank stand. The tank will be supported more than 3 metres above the ground, so a building consent is required.

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: