Building or renovating

Building a new pool

A swimming pool can be a great addition to your home; however the construction and maintenance process can be complex. This guide includes a few tips to help you along the way.

Recommendations from family and friends who own pools are a good starting point. Discuss their experiences involving size, location, finishes, landscaping, building time, upkeep and any issues they faced during or after construction.

What approvals are needed?

  • Building approval - your pool builder will draw up plans and specifications for your approval and is also responsible for the lodging of the documents with your local government, a private certifier and the relevant statutory authorities. 
  • Sewerage and water supply approval – in most cases your pool builder will arrange this.
  • Structural stability- Before approval, your local government or private certifier will require information from the pool builder to ensure that the pool will be structurally sound. For difficult sites, structural advice may be required from a qualified engineer.

Choosing a pool builder

Arrange several pool builders to inspect your site, provide written quotations and details of their warranties. Before you accept a quote or sign a contract, check with QBCC that the pool builder is licensed using the licence search.

What should be included in the quote?

Discuss with the pool builders your requirements in relation to:

  • Shape, location on site, interior lining, size and depth of the pool
  • Number and type of inlets, skimmer boxes and drains required
  • Filtration equipment required – type, capacity and positioning
  • Accessories such as underwater lights, cleaners, ladders and handrails

Also, confirm the builder’s responsibilities and exactly what work will be included, such as pool surrounds and landscaping.

What should be in the contract?

A range of contracts can be used for swimming pool construction. The Swimming Pool and Spa Association (SPASA) provides contract documentation specifically tailored for this purpose.

All domestic pool contracts for work valued at more than $3,300 must comply with certain legal requirements:

  • A 5-business day “cooling-off” period and the requirement for the contractor to provide the homeowner with a written contract and a QBCC-approved Contract Information Statement.
  • The deposit paid must not exceed 10% for work up to $20,000 in value, or 5% for projects over $20,000.

Whichever contract you use, read it carefully and seek legal advice about any concerns you may have before signing.

Make sure your contract documentation is supported by appropriate drawings and details of all aspects of your pool, including the physical dimensions, shape, size, water depth, interior finish, type of filtration and access. Your contract should also clearly identify the amount and timing of progress payments.

Check the contract for provisions about unforeseen events, such as encountering rock in the course of excavation and wet weather. You should also obtain in writing any details regarding warranties on the pool and the associated equipment.

What about insurance?

If you have an insurance policy covering your house and contents, let your insurance company know that you are building a pool and make sure it will be covered by your house policy. You may have to increase your coverage or arrange an extension to your existing house and contents policy.

If you enter into a contract with your pool builder on or after 28 October 2016, your contractor will now have to pay compulsory Home Warranty Insurance. This insurance provides home owners with cover for loss where the licensed contractor does not complete the contracted works or fails to rectify defective work.

What are the fencing requirements?

Pools under construction don't need to comply with the pool safety standard until the pool is filled with 300mm of water or more. It may be appropriate to construct a temporary barrier for workplace health and safety reasons during construction while the pool is empty.

Once the pool is filled with 300mm of water or more, a compliant temporary fence can be used for up to three months. This is provided it is inspected and approved by the building certifier who approved the application. A temporary fence can only be used for longer than three months with further written approval by the building certifier. The building certifier can only give the final inspection certificate when there is a permanent compliant barrier in place.

What happens when the pool is completed?

A comprehensive ‘handover’ by the builder is essential. It is important that everyone who will be responsible for your pool’s care and maintenance learns about sanitising the water, operating and maintaining the filtration equipment, and operating and maintaining the chlorination equipment (if applicable).

The building certifier, either a private building certifier or a local government building certifier, who approved the building approval must inspect and certify the pool safety barrier before the pool is filled to a depth of 300 millimetres or more.

Mandatory follow-up inspections are required to be undertaken if the final inspection has not been done. Building certifiers are required to undertake the follow-up inspection at 6 months for new pools or 2 years if the building approval was for a new house and pool. If the building approval is due to lapse earlier than six months or two years, the final inspection must be done before it lapses.