Following several member and consumer enquiries about the obligations of Owner Builders, the Swimming Pool & Spa Association of Victoria (SPASA) the sole industry peak body, urges consumers to closely read the following information in the lead up to the summer season.
Kit pools installed by unregistered pool builders can leave homeowners with expensive legal bills, warranty, OHS & insurance issues.
"The most effective way consumers can protect their financial and legal position is to use a builder registered with the Victorian Building Authority, specifically in the categories of 'Domestic Builder Unlimited' or 'Domestic Builder – Limited Swimming Pools'," SPASA CEO Brendan Watkins said.
“And without doubt the best way to ensure a stress-free experience is to use a SPASA Pool Builder Member."
There are three essential questions prospective pool or spa owners should ask -
1. Are you a Registered Building Practitioner?
2. Are you a SPASA Pool Builder Member?
3. Do you use a SPASA Pool Construction Contract?
Unregistered and inexperienced pool builders can talk unwitting homeowners into accepting all of the responsibility for occupational health and safety, building faults or structural failures of the pool or spa by getting them to become Owner Builders.
This means that the builder avoids having to provide domestic building insurance for works over $16,000 - which is mandatory for all registered pool builders.
It is illegal for any building work to be completed on a swimming pool, in excess of $5,000, without VBA registration and a compliant Construction Contract.
"It’s usually only when the homeowners go to sell their home, within six and a half years of the pool being built, that they find out they are legally bound to provide domestic building insurance before the sale can go ahead." Mr Watkins said.
"What most Owner Builders don't realise is that they become liable for issues, such as damage to a neighbour's property, or a worker being injured on site. This could see the Owner Builder entangled in expensive legal battles for compensation. Don’t cut corners."
Pool Barriers Are Law
The Victorian Building Authority advises that a building permit is required for all pools or spas with a depth of water of more than 30cm - regardless of whether construction is being undertaken by an Owner Builder.
The building permit application must also include details of the proposed safety barriers. "The building permit application can be made to a municipal or private building surveyor," VBA Director of Technical and Regulation, Jarrod Edwards said.
"Following completion of the pool or spa, and installation of a permanent barrier, the relevant building surveyor must inspect the work and, if compliant, issue a certificate of final inspection. Homeowners must ensure they receive that certificate before using their pool or spa, in order to keep their family safe."
Here are five important steps homeowners should take before proceeding with the installation of a pool or spa:
1. Get a building permit from a registered building surveyor. Check with your local council or use the Find a practitioner link on the VBA website.
2. Request to see the builder's registration card from the Building Practitioners Board, search yourself on the Victorian Building Authority's website, or call 1300 815 127.
3. Ask to see a copy of the builder's domestic building insurance policy for the work and public liability insurance policy.
4. Check if the builder is a "Pool Builder Member" of SPASA. All SPASA Pool Builder category members must have the correct insurances & be registered with the Building Practitioner's Board.
5. Read SPASA's consumer advice and fact sheets. Media enquiries: Brendan Watkins, SPASA CEO, 03 9501 2040