Decommissioning a swimming pool or spa

Advisory notes

There will be occasions where a pool owner may decide that they no longer want to keep their swimming pool.

If a pool owner wants to remove their pool or spa they must alter it such that it can no longer be defined as a “swimming pool”. This is called decommissioning.

All regulated pools and spas in Queensland are recorded on the Queensland Pool Safety Register. Once decommissioned a pool must be removed from the register. To arrange this, contact the QBCC (Queensland Building and Construction Commission).

Lowering the water level in a pool to less than 300mm deep doesn’t remove any obligation of the pool owner, if it can still be filled to a higher level.

Beware of structural consequences

Pools and spas are designed to retain water. Removing the water has structural implications.

In the case of above-ground pools, dry vinyl liners will quickly deteriorate. You may not be able to reuse them.

In-ground pools, particularly fibreglass, may suffer structural failure (wall collapse or rising out-of-ground) due to pressure from surrounding soils.

Nearby buildings or structures may even develop structural cracks. This would be a consequence of foundation movement.

Decommissioning an in-ground pool

A pool is like a bucket. Filling it with soil will not eliminate its ability to retain water.

Planter pots have openings provided at their base to stop them holding water. A filled pool shell will also need holes for drainage.

Modifying a pool shell is best guided by an engineer. This would normally involve:

  • the removal of the hydrostatic relief valve and core-drilling, or
  • cutting a series of large openings to the floor of the pool structure.

Backfilling with an initial layer of gravel or similar free-draining material is considered best practice.

Concrete pool surrounds (coping) are typically removed to a level below finished ground line. This helps with the eventual placement of turf or other surface treatments. They can then blend in with existing ground profiles.

It is important that you use clean, adequately compacted filling material.

Swimming pool decommissioning would normally require demolition approval by a Private Certifier.

Decommissioning checklist

Make sure you follow the steps below:

  1. Contact a Private Certifier to arrange the necessary approvals for demolition or change-of-use.
  2. Maintain compliance of all pool safety barriers until the decommissioning process is entirely complete.
  3. Advise the QBCC in writing that the pool or spa structure has been demolished, removed, or use has changed.

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Frequently asked questions

I wish to construct a timber deck over the entire pool. Can I then pull down my pool fence?

No, you can only remove pool safety barriers after the use has been changed by the Private Certifier.

The deck requires approval by a Private Certifier. The Private Certifier considers the formal decommissioning process or change-of-use of the pool at the same time. A pool shell would not be permitted to remain under a deck accumulating rainwater without features required of a rainwater tank. For example, providing for water use and overflow, mosquito control, access for maintenance, etc.

I have just purchased a property with a pool which requires me to upgrade the pool fencing and obtain a Pool Safety Certificate within 90 days. However, I am planning to construct additions that will require the removal of the pool. Am I required to formally decommission the pool within 90 days?

Yes. Fines can be issued unless:

  • the pool barriers comply, and
  • a Form 23 Pool Safety Certificate is obtained within 90 days from settlement.

The pool structure can be provided with a “temporary pool fencing”, but this will require separate certification.

Can I permanently lock-down or screw-fix a lid to my spa tub so that it is no longer capable of being used?

No, this action would not avoid the need to maintain compliant pool safety barriers in place. The definition of a “swimming pool” includes a spa. As the structure has been designed for that purpose, the owner’s obligation continues to apply despite the current use of the structure.

The spa needs to be decommissioned if it’s no longer used. Otherwise, remove it from the property.