RESIDENTIAL POOLS AND THE NEW NZBC F9/AS1 AND F9/AS2

pool-fence

F9 generally

On 1 January 2017 the Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016 repealed the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act and inserted new provisions into the Building Act 2004. The Amendment Act created Building Code clause F9 – Means of restricting access to residential pools. On 27 April 2017 The Acceptable Solutions for NZBC F9, AS1 - Residential Pool Barriers  and AS2 - Covers for small heated pools, were published and became effective.

The purpose of F9 is to prevent unsupervised access by children under five years of age to residential pools.

There are a number of new definitions that are included under F9, key ones are:

  • Pool - means:
    • any excavation or structure of a kind normally used for swimming, paddling, or bathing; or
    • any product (other than an ordinary home bath) that is designed or modified to be used for swimming, wading, paddling, or bathing; but
    • does not include an artificial lake.
  • Residential pool - means a pool that is:
  • in a place of abode; or
  • in or on land that also contains an abode; or
  • in or on land that is adjacent to other land that contains an abode if the pool is used in conjunction with that other land or abode
  • Small heated pool - Means a heated pool (such as a spa pool or hot tub) that:
  • has a water surface area of 5 m² or less; and
  • is designed for therapeutic or recreational use
  • Abode or place of abode:
    • Means any place used predominantly as a place of residence or abode, including any appurtenances belonging to or enjoyed with the place; and
    • Includes -
      • a hotel, motel, inn, hostel, or boarding house
      • a convalescent home, nursing home, or hospice
      • a rest home or retirement village
      • a camping ground
      • any similar place

The Building Act now requires pool manufacturers or retailers to supply an approved pool notice setting out or summarising the responsibilities of owners, pool operators, and occupiers. This includes pools for swimming, wading, paddling, or bathing, other than an ordinary home bath. 

  • NZBC F9/AS1 - Residential Pool Barriers

    Requires barriers around pools (400mm deep or greater) to restrict unsupervised access by children. Barriers can include walls, fences, gates and suitably constructed doors and windows.

    This new Acceptable Solution has mostly been based on the old Standard NZS 8500: 2006, Safety barriers and fences around swimming pools, spas and hot tubs, but does not use all of it.  This can leave things confused as they are not explained fully, however referring back to the Standard can help.

Because the old Standard has been used, the new F9/AS1 is not particularly well coordinated with the rest of the Codes Acceptable Solutions and logic.  Things to take note of are:

  • F9/AS1 uses the old 1200mm high pool barriers not the 1000/1100mm logic of F4/AS1 (clause 2.1.2)
  • F9/AS1 uses barrier horizontal members at least 900mm apart, much larger than F4/AS1(clause 2.1.3)
  • F9/AS1 uses smaller wire mesh and fencing openings than F4/AS1 (clause 2.1.5, Fig1)
  • Balcony balustrades less than 2400mm above immediate pool area are to F9/AS1, but greater than 2400mm may use F4/AS1 (clause 2.5)
  • Openings for windows less than 2400mm above immediate pool area are to F9/AS1 requirements, which in some cases are different to F4/AS1, above 2400mm may use F4/AS1 (clause 4.1)

A particular new item to be aware of is the restriction in size of doors from the building to the immediate pool area, these have to be a single leaf door not more than 1000mm wide (clause 4.2.1). The door is also required to have various safety hardware.

The Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016 has introduced a new pool inspection regime, that includes an independently qualified pool inspector (pool inspector) regime. This means when pool owners have their swimming pool barriers inspected every three years to ensure they comply with the Building Act, they will be able to choose either their local territorial authority (local council) or a pool inspector to carry out the inspection.

A building consent is required for barriers for residential pools, this excludes safety covers for small heated pools. 

NZBC F9/AS2 - Covers for small heated pools

Barriers to F9/AS1 can be used around small heated pools, but may require building consent and inspections. However an alternative is to use NZBC F9/AS2 which allows lockable covers to be used on complying small heated pools, which means a building consent and inspections will probably not be required.

Building consents not being required, has been brought about by the Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016 adding small heated pool covers to the Building Act's Schedule 1, Building work for which building consent not required clause 21A. Similarly the Amendment Act clause 162D excludes small heated pools from the need for periodic inspections. It is also worth noting that the Amendment Act clause 162C only requires restricting access to small heated pools when not in use.

NZBC F9/AS2 clauses 2.2 Strength of covers, 2.3 Top surface of covers, and 2.4 Cover fastenings, give the details of the cover and fasteners. Clause 2.5 Signage, requires warning signage on two sides of the pool.

Like AS1, AS2 has it's logic problems, clause 1.0, Scope, requires a pool wall height of 760mm as well as a secure cover. AS1 deems 760mm climbable so the cover is the key to keeping children safe and is only needed when the pool is not in use. So why the 760mm height is required is a mystery.

Please note that AS2 Figure 1 (it is a reproduction of AS1 Fig 2, which is originally from NZS 8500) has been poorly done and is still showing 1200mm clearances, these should be 760mm clearances, but it only notes that as part of the title "R760 is to be substituted for R1200". This could lead to confusion and mistakes. Moreover, as above, the logic of the need for these clearances is also a mystery.

Masterspec

We recommended that if you are doing work related to pools, you make yourself familiar with the requirements of NZBC F9/AS1 and F9/AS2 and Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016. Not only for your design work but also so you can advise your clients on their responsibilities.

Masterspec has updated all sections with items related to the new NZBC F9/AS1 and F9/AS2.

LINKS:

NZBC F9/AS1 and F9/AS2

https://www.building.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/building-code-compliance/f-safety-of-users/f9-restricting-access-residential-pools/asvm/f9-restricting-access-to-residential-pools.pdf

Amendment Act

The Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016

Determinations related to pools

Determinations about pool safety

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