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Exclusion of swimming pool technicians from inspection group will delay property deals, agents say

Date

Julie Power

Swimming pool and real estate groups say new pool fencing rules, which could be finally introduced in April, could delay sales or rentals of properties with pools because there will still be too few inspectors.

The state government's proposals to increase the number of qualified inspectors exclude swimming pool and spa technicians.

"Our people are specialised, they live and breathe pools daily," Swimming Pool and Spa Alliance chief executive Spiros Dassakis said.

"These technicians service thousands of residential pools in NSW every week."

His association has not been told why the technicians have been excluded.

To fight for their inclusion, the alliance has imposed a compulsory $150 levy on each member to fund legal action.

It will also lobby for a change in rules, which it says are being interpreted inconsistently by councils and certifiers, such as those relating to infinity pools and gazebos.

From April, all properties with pools will require a certificate of compliance before a sale or lease can be finalised.

These rules govern the height of the fence and require objects such as barbecues, trees and shrubs to be moved away or removed if near a pool fence where children could climb on them to enter the enclosure.

The scheme's introduction was postponed a year after NSW's existing 1130 inspectors (including about 800 council employees) were swamped with return visits to properties that failed to meet the compliance requirements.

The Sutherland shire, which has 21,000 pools, found that 96 per cent of them were failing to pass the first inspection, 76 per cent failed on the second inspection, and 66 per cent remained non-compliant even after five inspections. 

In Ku-ring-gai Council, which has 18,000 pools, 99 per cent of those inspected failed to meet the new requirements.

Val Gibson of Georges Hall was told by her bank that her 30-year old pool required a certificate of compliance before her loan could be renegotiated.

That triggered a round of discussions, where different inspectors provided different advice. She has spent nearly $4000 on new fences, including a dog-leg shaped fence to save her shrubs from being removed.

To save money, Mrs Gibson,67, installed a new fence herself. "I had jackhammer, the cement and I did all the posts." She had a big gum tree very close to the pool fence, which the council said would have to be chopped down.

That seemed bizarre because it had refused to remove a similar tree from her front yard that threatened to fall on her house, as another had done a few years before. So far, the tree has survived.

The Real Estate Institute of NSW has urged owners of properties with pools to apply for certificates now if they are planning to sell to avoid delays at the time of settlement.

A Department of Planning and Environment official said all licensed builders and pool builders would be eligible to apply for the new training course.

The government expects licensed builders, who conduct pre-purchase inspections, to be "especially interested in applying for the new accreditation".

The course is likely to begin in November, and the first group of new inspectors should qualify by the end of February.

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