Before you build a pool, learn about selecting a licensed builder, local council requirements and your legal rights and obligations.
Things to consider
Talk to your local council about approval requirements in your area and any natural conditions that may affect your future swimming pool.
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.
Before digging, find out if there are any underground cables on your pool site. Get a copy of your site plan from your local council or water authority. Contact Dial Before You Dig on 1100.
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.
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.
- Ask your local council or private accredited certifier to determine who can approve your plans.
- 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.
Choosing a pool builder
When deciding on 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 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 Fund
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 Fund (HBCF) for the construction and warranty periods.
The pool builder needs to obtain HBCF 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 materials involved is over $20,000. HBCF cover is also required where a builder does work for an owner-builder.
HBCF 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 insolvent, or had their licence suspended for failing to comply with an order of a Court or Tribunal to compensate a homeowner.
It is also strongly recommended that you take out 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. Visit out insurance page for more information.
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).
Deposits and progress payments
The maximum deposit that you can be asked to pay is 10 percent of the contract price.
If the work is required to be covered by the Home Building Compensation Fund (HBCF) , 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 homeowner 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.
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, NSW Fair Trading has a free dispute resolution process.
Notifying your insurer and making a claim
You should immediately notify your Home Building Compensation Fund (HBC) insurer or provider in writing if you have suffered financial loss or damages.
If you’ve attempted to have the work completed or rectified with no success, you may be able to formally lodge a claim under your Home Building Compensation Fund insurance policy.
Visit the SIRA website for more information about notifying your insurer of a loss or making a claim under the Home Building Compensation Scheme.
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. You are unable to take out insurance under the Home Building Compensation Fund.
Visit the becoming an owner-builder page for more information.
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 Fund.