New licensing scheme possible for pool builders

For almost 25 years the New Zealand Master Pool Builders Inc (NZMPB) has worked hard to ensure high standards of pool construction in this country, with its members having to prove a required level of competence and other criteria in order to join.

However there are still no legal licensing requirements from Government for pool builders in New Zealand, which is something NZMPB would like to change.

The organisation hopes to introduce a new licensing scheme in conjunction with SPASA, the Australian Swimming Pool and Spa Association, which owns the licensing schemes in Australia, says president Larry Ogden.

“We visited the SPLASH Pool and Spa Trade Show on the Gold Coast in August and had some initial discussions about joining SPASA, either as a NZ version of the Association or as a side-by-side organisation. This initiative would enable us to access SPASA’s existing qualifications and courses and have everyone singing from the same song sheet.”

The SPASA qualifications are recognised by the Australian qualifications authority, which means they would automatically become legally valid under NZQA.

“Although we had discussions with MBIE some years ago to develop a formal diploma in New Zealand through NZQA, the cost proved prohibitive given the fact there are only around 123 pool builders and moulded pool installer operators around New Zealand.”

If the alignment with SPASA comes to fruition Larry envisages running the Australian courses and qualification programmes from New Zealand using SPASA’s existing material. These qualifications may then be introduced as a requirement for all pool builders.

Larry says the Association would also like to see pool construction added as a sub-category in the Building Code, in the same way other sub-trades are categorised.

“Although the pool construction industry is not huge, accounting for around $200m a year in New Zealand, a large number of people have swimming pools, and like some kind of reassurance they are dealing with competent tradespeople.”

Dealing with members of NZMPB is already one way to ensure the capability of the person or company building the pool.

Larry also suggests clients look closely at a pool builder’s previous work and even chat to past clients.

“Our members go through a rigorous vetting, including their operating and financial history, and are advised to follow our ethic statement. They can also voluntarily achieve the NZMPB Diploma in Pool Technology and NZMPB Certified Builders License, under our own licensing programme. Although these are not formal qualifications, they promote and monitor professionalism and uniformity in the industry.”

He says generally the pool construction process goes very well, and clients deal with a professional team, including pool builders, pool installers, pool shops and service technicians, who between them can advise on design, construction details, solve difficult site problems and other issues, and provide expert advice on installing and maintaining a new swimming pool.

“Our members are kept up to date with the latest information on regulations, procedures and trends, and regularly network with others in the pool industry at meetings and training sessions in a bid to maintain best practice.”

Larry says the organisation has very few complaints about its members.

However in the rare instance that problems do occur, NZMPB has introduced a disputes process that enables the pool buying public to air any grievances against a pool builder (whether a member of the organisation or not).

“We provide a frank and honest appraisal of the workmanship of the builder and make a judgement to help resolve any issues or disputes. It is an extremely valuable service for the client.”

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