It's the wonderful Australian summer, and if you're looking for a house with the ability to cool off whenever you like, then what better addition to your ‘must haves’ than your very own swimming pool? However, unlike a strata or cooperative-managed joint tenant, you will need to take extra care to ensure that the pool (as well as the house) is fit for purpose. Read on for the definitive short guide on buying a house with a swimming pool.
How does the law define a pool?
Now it might seem obvious, but there are clear definitions as to what constitutes a swimming pool. A pool can be either above or below ground structure that is primarily used for swimming or bathing, and can include a range of portable pools and larger spas. Specifically, if it can hold more than 300 millilitres of water and it is used for swimming (as opposed to a pond), then the law applies. It is worth noting that if you decided to use your pool as a pond, it is still legally considered a swimming pool.
Check if your pool is registered
All pools in Queensland need to be registered with the Queensland Building and Construction Commission’s (QBCC) Pool Safety Register. Simply click on the link and enter the property address to see if it is registered. If you can't find this here, double-check if there has been a property address variation, otherwise, this is a red flag. If this is a new build or new addition, simply click through to ‘register a pool’ and you can begin this process.
You will need a licensed pool inspector
Swimming pools are highly regulated because of the many safety considerations (such as water chemistry and the inherent risk of drowning). Because of this, they are not included as part of your regular pre-purchase building inspection. As such, you will need to find a registered pool safety inspector who can issue a pool safety certificate, which is a legal requirement when you buy or sell a home.
What if my pool is deemed not compliant?
If your pool fails to make the grade, then you will be issued a 'nonconformity notice'. From receiving this form, you will have three months until the registered pool safety inspector will forward a copy of this to the local government. From this point on, you could be liable for significant fines. However, if you are in the process of buying the property, you should ask the inspector to quote on the costs of bringing the pool up to compliance. Then, forward the report to your real estate solicitors or conveyancers, and this could be used to negotiate a cost reduction in the property sale price in much the same way you would if you found any other defect in either of your pre-purchase pest or building inspections.
Having a pool is a fantastic addition to the house and is a much sought-after feature (especially here in the warmer climates!). The laws around pool safety are strict, and this is for good reason - pool barriers save many children from dying every year. Pool chemistry and water safety systems help keep you and your family safe. The dangers are far worse than just fines, and so it is non-negotiable. Get yourself a licensed pool inspector straight away, and then you can jump in with confidence.
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