Above ground pools offer a few advantages in terms of ease of installation and cost. But you may wonder: do you need a permit for an above ground pool? Because you certainly do for an inground pool. Above ground pool permit requirements differ from state to state, so always check with your local municipality before proceeding with any construction.
In this article, let’s take a look at the ins and outs of permits for an above ground pool, including in what situations you’ll need one. Remember: complying with local regulations means a smooth and legal installation process. So, now that we’ve got that sorted, let’s get into it!
- Permits are almost always needed because pool installation involves sensitive and technical work that has to follow safety guidelines.
- Permits might specify you follow additional safety measures following installation, such as erecting a fence or equipping the pool with an alarm.
- Skipping out on necessary permits to erect an illegal pool could result in fines, removal of the pool, legal repercussions, a devaluation of your property, etc.
Do You Need a Permit for an Above Ground Pool?
If you ask anyone in the swimming pool industry, their advice will always be to get the permit—better to be safe than sorry. In most cases, any construction on your property must be signed off by an external authority, which also applies to above ground pools. Even if you’re somewhat doubtful about whether a permit is needed, it’s a simple matter of checking with your local municipal authority as to whether the permit is necessary.
People often make the mistake of thinking permits are only a sign of permission from an authority, but they’re not just that. They’re also a sign of legitimacy and safety. It’s a certificate that your pool has the appropriate safety-grade materials, will be installed according to the correct guidelines, and will be connected to electrical, gas, and water lines in a way that is safe and secure for you, your household, and your neighbors.
In summary, even if you might not need a permit for an above ground pool, always check with the appropriate department first.
When Do You Need a Permit for an Above Ground Pool?
You often need a permit for an above ground pool, but when exactly do you need one? Here are some scenarios that require obtaining an above ground permit. But before I jump in, let me preface by saying that this depends on your municipality, so for the best and most accurate advice, always check with your local authorities!
Depth and Size
A permit might be necessary if the pool exceeds a certain depth and size threshold (24 inches deep or more or 250 sq feet or more in size).
If you plan to place the pool in an ecologically vulnerable area, such as a floodplain or near wetlands, you’d need to comply with environmental regulations. And you’ll need to obtain a permit beforehand.
Some regions have specific zoning laws that dictate where pools can be installed on a property. So, always check these beforehand and obtain necessary permits if needed.
Electrical and Plumbing Work
A permit will be necessary to install electrical lines, circuits, pumps, or plumbing for pool-related equipment like piping and drainage. If you hire an electrician for this part of the process, they may apply for the permits on your behalf.
Certain heaters may require the use of a gas line. When it comes to electrical and gas lines, I recommend hiring a contractor. If you do, the contractor will apply for the needed permits.
Homeowner’s Association (HOA) Rules
If you live in a community governed by an HOA, they may have specific guidelines for installing above ground pools. Check with your HOA on their requirements before moving forward with the installation.
If your property is located in a historic district, additional regulations may exist to consider when installing an above ground pool.
Even if you don’t think your pool fits any of these scenarios, ALWAYS check with the relevant authority! Permits are almost always needed with pool construction – even with above ground pools.
Safety Requirements for Above Ground Pools
I’m sure you already know that safety is crucial when it comes to pools of any kind, but here are some essential points worth keeping in mind:
Installing a sturdy and secure fence around the swimming pool area is one of the most critical safety measures and is usually a requirement by permit offices. To prevent unauthorized access, the fence should have a self-closing and self-latching gate, ideally with a lock.
You might be required to get a pool cover for when the above ground pool is not in use. Even if you aren’t required to have one, pool covers are a great investment to keep your pool clean, preserve the water temperature, and prevent evaporation.
Installing a pool alarm is now a standard safety feature requirement. An alarm sounds an alert if someone enters the pool area or falls into the water.
Supervision and First Aid Safety
Don’t leave children unattended in or around the above ground pool, even for a moment. I’d suggest appointing a responsible adult to act as a lifeguard when the pool is in use. I also strongly recommend you (as well as any other individuals, even the children!) get certified with CPR—it’s a handy skill to have in any life-threatening situation.
When it comes to the pool, strictly establish non-negotiable rules for your family and any visitors, such as no running around on the pool deck, no diving, no shoving others into the water, and no silly horseplay. You may be a killjoy, but better than having to deal with an emergency situation!
Keep rescue equipment (pool noodles, floats, hooks, etc.) near the pool to assist in rescues if needed. You should also use slip-resistant materials for the pool’s decking to reduce the risk of falls and regularly inspect the pool’s structure, ladders, fencing, and alarm systems for signs of damage.
Check out my complete pool safety guide for more on this.
What to Ask Your Local Municipality
First, determine which department in your local municipality handles construction and swimming pool permits—ask around town, check with neighbors, or do a quick Google search. Once you’ve identified the right body, check their website for guidelines—most local authorities usually list them for ease and convenience. However, if you can’t find such guidelines, I suggest you contact them over email or the phone to clear up any doubts you may have.
If you’re uncertain about what exactly to ask your local municipality, I’ve drawn up a simple checklist on what to inquire about:
- Local pool size restrictions that might trigger the need for a permit.
- Safety measures or fencing mandates for pool installations.
- Any additional zoning regulations that apply to above ground pools.
- Documentation or plans they may need from you to process the permit application.
- The process of applying for a pool permit, including any forms you need to fill out and fees associated with the permit.
- Any inspections required during or after the pool installation process to ensure compliance with safety standards.
- The typical waiting period for approval.
Another great resource is to ask a pool professional in your area. They will be able to provide you with all the information you need regarding permits for your specific above ground swimming pool.
Do You Need a Permit for Electrical Work on an Above Ground Pool?
Yes, you do! Electrical work is a dicey business, especially when water is involved. For instance, you’ll need industry-approved waterproof wiring to negate the chances of a shock hazard. Getting an approved permit for any wiring work guarantees that a master electrician will oversee and sign off on the project, making the installation safe. Skipping this step is hazardous and legally inadvisable.
More likely than not, you will be hiring an electrician to take care of this part of the above ground pool installation process. If you hire a contractor, generally, they will take care of the permits for you. This applies to any gas or plumbing contractors you may hire as well.
What Happens If You Don’t Get a Permit for Your Above Ground Pool?
Not getting a permit is a bad idea for a lot of reasons. To start with, at the bare minimum, you might be slapped with a fine depending on how severe the violation is. This can be followed by more serious actions, such as a stop work order if the pool is still being installed or a forced removal order, where the pool is removed altogether if it violates local regulations. This is more than annoying; it’s also costly, time-consuming, and frustrating for everyone involved.
Following this, legal action might ensue depending on who you’ve upset and how upset they are (this can range from the municipal authority to neighbors and, god forbid, the HOA!).
Even if you’re tempted to risk all of this and install an above ground pool without a permit, there might be further unpleasant consequences. First and foremost, you’re risking the safety of your household and any visitors who use the pool, which can also potentially lead to lawsuits. For instance, parents of a child who slipped and suffered a head injury around your pool might take you to court because of poor safety measures.
Overall, erecting an above ground pool without the proper legal permissions is not worth the trouble. Always get the necessary permits!
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Now, Go Get Your Permit!
If you’ve made it this far, you now know that above ground pools, while convenient and budget-friendly, still require red tape—just like an inground pool. But while all the paperwork might sound tedious, it is the first step towards being a responsible pool owner. Ignoring regulations and laws is never wise for financial and safety reasons. It’s always best to obtain the proper permits before installing any type of pool. And the result is always worth it!
Do you have any more questions about permits? Just ask! I am here to answer all your questions!