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Building a pool 

Before you plunge into building a pool, learn about selecting a licensed builder, local council requirements and your legal rights and obligations.

Things to consider 

Local council

Talk to your local council about approval requirements in your area and any natural conditions that may affect your future swimming pool.

Since April 2013 backyard swimming pools and spas must be registered on the NSW Government’s Swimming Pool Register. For more details visit the Office of Local Government website.

Properties with swimming and spa pools also need correct compliance documentation to be sold or leased in NSW. This does not apply to properties in strata or community schemes with more than 2 lots, or for any off-the-plan contract in a property sale. Visit our Swimming pools web page for more information.

Geotechnical survey

A geotechnical survey will show possible rock or unstable foundation soil that can increase costs dramatically. Some builders have geotechnical consultants, or alternatively the Association of Consulting Engineers can recommend one. Ask about the cost before going ahead.

Underground cables

Before digging, find out if there are any underground cables on your pool site (Dial Before You Dig, phone 1100). Get a copy of your site plan from your local council or water authority.

Site considerations

The site plan will show the position of sewers, storm water, drainage systems and other utility pipes. Your pool cannot interfere with drainage systems or pipes – moving them will increase costs. Be aware that removing and disposing rocks and other materials can be expensive.

Pool design

Select an appropriate pool for your site. Consider maintenance and the right equipment to use. Allow for future needs such as a shed, barbecue or clothes line.


Refer to your local council or private accredited certifier to determine who can approve your plans.

Also check legal requirements for a child-resistant barrier and tree preservation policies.

If power lines pass over or are close to your pool, contact Transgrid or your local electricity authority responsible for electricity line placements. They must be satisfied your pool is far enough from power lines and won't interfere with maintenance work.

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Choosing a pool builder 

In choosing a pool builder, consider the following.


If the work costs more than $5,000, the person or company doing the work must hold a licence issued by NSW Fair Trading for building or swimming pool building. The name on the contract must be exactly the same as the name on the licence. Do a licence check on our website to find out if your builder’s licence is valid and suitable for the work you want done. Or have a customer service officer check the licence details by calling us on 13 32 20.


Gain quotes from at least three builders. To compare them, the quotes should include the same pool equipment and all works, including moving any service lines and disposing of excavated materials and building debris. Also consider the substantial costs associated with landscaping.


Inspect one or more pools built by your preferred builder and talk to the owners about their experiences working with the builder. This is an important step in choosing the pool builder that's right for you.


Insurance under the Home Building Compensation Scheme

If your pool construction or renovation project costs more than $20,000 including GST, your pool builder needs to provide you with a certificate of cover under the Home Building Compensation (HBC) Scheme for the construction and warranty periods.

The pool builder needs to obtain HBC cover before starting work or requesting any money. Cover is also required if the contract price is not known, but where the reasonable market cost of the labour and materians involved is over $20,000. HBC cover is also required where a builder does work for an owner-builder.

HBC cover protects you as a last resort if your builder or tradesperson is unable to complete or fix the work. You can make a claim if your builder has died, disappeared, becomes insolved, or had their licence suspended for failing to compensate a home owner.

The builder’s name shown on the certificate of cover should be exactly the same as that on the building contract and the builder’s licence.

Without insurance under the HBC Scheme, you are not covered for defective or incomplete work should your builder die, become insolvent or disappear.

You can find out more about the HBC Scheme and check if you're covered at

Other insurance

It is also strongly recommended that you sight current contract works and public liability insurance policies covering your own and neighbours’ properties. For your own protection, check that all the people you engage to undertake any part of your building project have the necessary insurances in place and that the certificates are current.

For more information, refer to our Insurance web page.

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By law, your chosen builder or tradesperson must give you a written contract for all residential building work, including swimming pools, if:

  • the contract price is over $5,000 (including GST), or
  • the contract price is not known, is for the provision of labour and materials by the contractor the reasonable market cost of which is more than $5,000 (including GST).

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Deposits and progress payments 

The maximum deposit that you can be asked to pay is 10% of the contract price.

If the work is required to be covered by the Home Building Compensation (HBC) Scheme, it is illegal for the contractor to ask for a deposit or other payment under the contract, unless a valid certificate of cover is given to you.

Note: The loss of any deposit paid by a home owner that exceeds the legal limit will not be covered.

Progress payments are usually made at specific stages of a project and should equate to the value of work done. Never pay for work that has not been performed or pay any money exceeding what is required under the contract.

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Avoiding disputes 

Prevent problems when your pool is being built by fostering positive communication with your builder or tradesperson. 

Be business-like and put all messages or instructions in writing. This includes variations to the contract, which should be agreed by you in writing before they are carried out. These documents should be signed, dated and provided to the builder. Keep a copy of all correspondence.

If a dispute arises, Fair Trading has a free dispute resolution process that may assist you. For more information, refer to our Resolving building disputes page.

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Notifying your insurer and making a claim 

You should immediately notify your Home Building Compensation (HBC) Scheme insurer or provider in writing if you have suffered financial loss or damages upon becoming aware of defective or incomplete work.

If attempts to have work completed or rectified prove unsuccessful, you may be able to formally lodge a claim under your Home Building Compensation Scheme insurance policy.

For more information about notifying your insurer of a loss or making a claim under the Home Building Compensation Scheme, refer to the SIRA website.

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Know the law 

Be wary of builders who encourage you to become an owner-builder. They may be avoiding legal responsibility for the project.

If you become an owner-builder, you take on full legal and financial responsibility for the project. Do not take this step lightly. You will be unable to take out insurance under the Home Building Compensation Scheme. For more information, refer to our Becoming an owner-builder web page.

Be aware that if you coordinate two or more contractors to build the pool (e.g. excavator, concreter, plumber, tiler etc.) and the work is valued at more than $10,000, you will need an owner-builder permit.

Also, be wary of builders who use several different contracts of under $20,000 for one job. They may be avoiding their insurance obligations under the Home Building Compensation Scheme.

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