POOL INSPECTIONS CAN BE A NIGHTMARE
Words and photos: John Pond
The new pool fence legislation comes into effect at the end of April in NSW and at various times throughout Australia and other states. Pools should be fenced and certified at that time.
Recently THE OFFICE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT ISSUED A 1 PAGE DIRECTIVE ….
#1 Legislation is definitely going ahead
#2 Now for a sale the owner has to get a certifier in … BUT they can sell with a “Certificate of Non-Compliance” which gives the new owner the opportunity to upgrade the pool as they want.
I have spent a great deal of time reading legislation and trying to determine what type of fencing I should use and how to make my fencing fit into the landscape and design of my pool and house.
If you have a simple pool stuck in the backyard, then your fencing and design can be simple, but my pool is against the front of my home and most fencing will destroy the overall look I wanted when building the pool.
Personally I believe many of the rules are complete overkill and if I was younger and richer I would fight them in the Land and Environment Court, but as I am neither I initially took advice from 3 pool builders that I received quotes from.
Council was no help and my calls went unanswered. I don’t believe they are fully aware of the legislation.
I found the quotes from pool fencers for the same work varied by up to $2000. Their knowledge on the codes was not great, bearing in mind that each council may have different rules. Eventually I found a very good pool fence builder at a reasonable price. The company is called Ausglass Fencing and the owner Andrew Lorch did a first class and very tidy job, nothing was a problem and the construction was completed in a day. His mobile number is 0406 888413
Prior to construction and after many sleepless nights, I discovered, by accident on the internet, the name of some registered independent pool safety and certification inspectors.
I discovered that Mark Dodgson, in his role as a pool fence builder and with his additional knowledge as a certifier, was able to give my proposed pool fence the once over, he picked up some non-compliant items, let the builder know what they needed to do to make it compliant and all was OK. He also builds pool fences, that one may assume would be perfectly compliant.
There are reasonable charges for this service, but they are very modest and assure everything is up to code.
As a Certification Inspector, Mark Dodgson can be reached at Inspections NSW phone: 1800 256 225.
His company, Inspections NSW, offers both certification and pre-certification advice. Remember 95% of pools fail inspections (sometimes on simple things) and therefore need upgrading to current standards at greatly increased expense to the homeowner. This is why I strongly recommend a pre-certification advice. His company also do work for contractors who want their own work checked before they leave a site (because it’s easier to fix while they’re on site). I find this a useful service as any minor changes, can be done during construction, saving both the homeowner and pool fencer time and money.
I strongly recommend the services of a consultant before building unless you have the most simple pool. For example some existing fences may qualify as a boundary without needing more pool fencing in that area.
I asked Mark Dodgson, of Inspections NSW, a few questions related to pool certification.
John Pond – Question: Why have the Government introduced these rules?
Answer Mark Dodgson: Statistically a disproportionate number of children 5 yrs and younger are drowning in pools, so these rules are designed to keep determined 5 year olds out of the pool.
Q: I hear that there are different rules for different pools is that correct?
A: Yes in NSW there are 3 different Australian Standards that your pool could be assessed under. The logic is that if you built your pool in a compliant manner originally then you should be able to keep your pool in its original state.
Q: Are there big differences between the different Standards?
A: Yes there certainly are. If you have a compliant pool commenced before 1st September 2008 then your boundary walls can be lower than 1800mm.
NOTE: In my work as a builder, I see incorrectly assessed pools under later Australian Standards, causing boundary fences to be unnecessarily pushed up to 1800mm. This can hugely affect the openness & vegetation in ones back yard, not to mention the cost!
Q: Are there any exceptions to these rules?
A: There are both legislated exemptions and the ability to apply for site-specific exemptions. We make full use of both for our clients.
Q: Are all Certifiers the same?
A: Of course I would say not … but that is also the reality because many Certifiers do not understand the intent of the law or the detail of the law and that means very few will apply for site-specific exemptions, which can save our clients thousands of dollars.
Also it’s worth noting that Council “Certifiers” do not need to have any formal training and Queensland trained Certifiers can work in NSW under reciprocal agreements.
I have seen some completely incorrect assessments and the poor customer will find that they have to completely re-do their pool fencing when they are re-assessed in the future.
Q: When do the latest certification rules come into effect:
A: Key Date in NSW: 29th April. You will not be able to lease your property without a Pool Compliance Certificate after this date
and if you want to sell you will need to have a Certifier issue either a Compliance Notice or a Non-Compliance notice (which gives the new owner the opportunity to implement the requirements as they wish.
Details may vary state to state.
Give Mark a call for more information on 1800 256 225 or email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Get at least 2 quotes and don’t necessarily go with the lowest.
Have pre-building advice.
I was very satisfied with the final build and inspection report.