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Buying a home with a swimming pool: what to watch out for

Swimming in a backyard pool is a relaxing and convenient way to cool off during hot summers, so it's no surprise that so many Australian homes have a swimming pool installed. More than 10% of homes nationwide have a swimming pool, with the proportion rising to nearly one in three in the country's northern areas, so chances are that you'll encounter a home with a pool during your property hunt. However, most pre-purchase building inspections don't cover backyard pools due to licensing requirements. Here's what to look out for when buying a property with a swimming pool installed.

Swimming pool compliance certificates

Swimming pools installed in Australian homes are required to meet certain regulations relating to safety and filtration systems. Some states require the vendor of a property with a pool installed to furnish evidence of the pool's compliance to the buyer. In New South Wales, for example, a buyer must be provided with a Certificate of Compliance or occupancy certificate, as well as evidence that the pool has been registered on the Swimming Pool Register. These certificates are a good way to confirm that the pool meets regulatory requirements for pool safety to avoid trouble from your local council's building department in the future.

However, recent changes to the law allow vendors to transfer their obligations to the purchaser, by providing them with a Certificate of Non-Compliance. Under the changes, buyers who purchase a property with a pool that is non-compliant have 90 days to resolve any outstanding issues, at their own cost. Take this into account when negotiating a purchase price, as the required repairs may cost more than you think.

Structural integrity and equipment operation

Certificates of Compliance are issued in relation to a pool's adherence to safety regulations, and will not cover any structural defects with the pool or faults with the equipment. Before signing a sales contract to purchase a property with a backyard swimming pool, take a few moments to check for cracks in the pool walls or tile grout, rust-coloured stains and a non-uniform water level throughout the pool.

It can be difficult to determine whether there are any faults with the pool heater, skimmer or filtration system without any prior experience in dealing with pool equipment. You can get a good idea of whether everything is working as it should by turning on the equipment for a brief period, but to be sure, you can engage a local swimming pool contractor to conduct a pre-purchase pool inspection.

Backyard swimming pools can look very appealing, particularly in the summer months. However, they can be very costly to maintain and repair. Before purchasing a home with a swimming pool installed, be sure to give the pool extra scrutiny in your pre-settlement inspection to reduce the risk of encountering problems down the line.