Pool permits are pretty serious business. A pool is a major engineering and architectural change to your property, so getting the proper permits for any development in and around it is a must. Permits are needed for almost every step of pool infrastructure, from laying the first tile to even draining pool water, and this is unlikely to change. You must understand how to navigate them to avoid being fined double (or even triple!) the permit cost. In this article, I’ll break down pool permit costs to help you make informed decisions on your journey to building the perfect pool.
- Permit applications require extensive documentation such as construction plans, material specifications, height and width specifications, site plans, drainage plans, etc.
- The time to obtain a pool permit depends on the project and can range from anywhere between a few days to a month (or more).
- In most cases, like any other application fees, pool permit application costs are non-refundable because of the labor and resources used to review the project, even if it’s canceled or denied.
How Much Do Pool Permits Cost?
Permits are necessary mainly during the construction or deconstruction of a pool. They’re required to signal your legal compliance with local regulations and safety standards and are a vital part of the pool construction process that legitimizes the work you’re doing to build the swimming pool. Since there are many types of pool permits, costs also differ significantly, based broadly on the type of work being undertaken, the size of your pool, local regulations, and so on. Let’s get a broad overview of the most common pool permits and their costs.
But first, a disclaimer. These are very broad estimates based on general guidelines. Actual costs will differ based on your county and the work you’re looking at getting done. Talk to a local pool contractor if you want a more specific estimate! They’ll be able to provide you with a detailed breakdown of the permit costs for the project.
Building an inground pool requires an extensive number of permits due to their permanence and the long-lasting impact on the property. After all, you’re displacing a large portion of the earth, which affects insect and rodent habitat and groundwater supply and can be dangerous to your property if done incorrectly. The cost of permits for inground pools generally ranges from $100 to $1,000 or more. For example, a pool permit cost for an inground pool in Lee County, FL, costs $225.
Interestingly, in some municipalities, the permit cost is determined by the estimated cost of the pool. For example, if your municipality charges $10 per $1,000 of valuation for a pool estimated to cost $50,000, your permit would cost $500.
Above Ground Pools
Above ground pools are generally easier and cheaper to permit. The cost of permits for above ground pools has a wide range as well, as, again, this depends on where you’re located. This permit can range from $50 to $300. To use the same example above, in Lee County, an above ground pool permit costs $75.
Pool Fencing/Alarms/Gates (Safety Elements)
Pool fences, alarms, and gates are vital safety features nowadays. Construction might require a separate permit since you’d need to declare certain information, such as the material used in each installation and other specific details (for example, the height of the fence). These are usually minor in terms of permit costs, around $50 to $200. In Severn, CA, the permit fee for pool fencing is $173.
Removing a pool is a significant undertaking that requires specialized engineering knowledge during excavation, refilling, compacting, and more. You generally need a permit for pool demolition, which can set you back $200 more or less.
Draining a Pool
You might be surprised to know that, yes, in most cases, you will need a permit to drain your pool. The cost of a pool draining permit can range from $0 to $200—cost ranges depending on county regulations. In Morgan Hill, CA, for example, the permit for draining a pool costs $183.
Pool Electrical and Plumbing
Installing electrical and plumbing components for a pool always necessitates permits. After all, this is sensitive wiring or piping work that can be fatal to swimmers if rigged up poorly. Safety matters! And one way to ensure safety is to get the proper permits. You can expect to pay around $50 to $500. San Diego is on the more expensive end of the spectrum, with a permit for electrical and plumbing setting pool owners back $429!
In addition to the above permit fees, you may be required to pay a plan review fee, depending on your municipality. This fee can vary widely but generally costs between $50 to $500. For example, in Arkansas, the fee is 1% of the total estimated cost. And in Sacramento, CA, it costs 40% of the total permit fee.
How to Get a Pool Permit
Applying for a permit can be dull work, but here’s a quick breakdown of how to go about it.
Research Any Local Regulations
Get started by researching specific swimming pool regulations of your city or county. You can do this by checking out the district’s or department’s website on pool permits, or you could call them directly to understand their requirements and restrictions for the project you have in mind. If you’re in doubt at any point, I urge you to speak to a professional pool contractor for a clearer idea. When you hire one, they will draw up plans that adhere to the codes, streamlining the approval process.
Gather Your Documentation
Permit applications require extensive documentation. You’re looking at detailed construction plans, material specifications, height and width specifications, site plans, drainage plans, property line details, etc. A contractor can help gather this info more effectively.
Submit the Application
Once you’ve got all the documents and information in place, head over to the relevant department to submit the application. Double check you’ve included everything they’ll need with an official (this helps avoid delay and wasted money) and pay the fees. Double-check that the application is filled out accurately to avoid any delays in the approval process.
In some cases, the department might need additional info, so stay in touch and be ready with any further information. An inspector might also be dispatched to survey the project area and associated materials and report back on whether it’s safe to proceed.
Keep in mind that if you hire a pool contractor to build your pool, they should be taking care of all permits for you. So, in most cases, you won’t need to worry about finding and paying for the right permits, as the contractor will be in charge of that!
How Long Does It Take to Get a Pool Permit?
As with any government process, the timeframe for obtaining a pool permit can vary drastically. Depending on the project, it can take anywhere from a few days to a month (or more municipalities). Most minor pool permits should be issued in 1-2 days, but major ones, such as irregular inground pools or major excavation work, can take much longer. The region you live in also matters. A large town might have a modernized, streamlined vetting process as opposed to small rural towns.
The speed at which your permit is approved (or denied) also depends on whether the information you provided is accurate and complete. You can expect delays in permit approvals during peak construction season or if the department is experiencing a backlog in processing permits. I’d say keep a broad time frame in mind and apply well in advance to avoid permit approval delays down the line.
Can You Build a Pool Without a Permit?
Nowadays, building a pool without a permit is a serious risk, not only due to legal compliance but also for safety reasons. When you build a pool without a permit, there is no proper oversight of the project. Municipalities enforce safety regulations with pool permits, which prevents pools from being built haphazardly. You also avoid fines, insurance loss, property devaluation, penalties, and other serious repercussions by building a pool with a permit.
In some cases, the HOA will have its own regulations for pools, and if you get on the wrong side of the HOA, your life can become a living nightmare.
My advice? Have all permits ready and filed before even starting the construction project. It saves you a lot of time, money, and potential headaches. Building a pool with the proper permits not only ensures legal compliance but also provides peace of mind, knowing that your pool is safe and built to code.
I know this seems like a pain to deal with and a lot of paperwork to sift through. But here’s the good news: if you hire a contractor, they should also apply for all needed permits on your behalf!
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Frequently Asked Questions
Do pool permit costs vary by location?
Absolutely! Pool permit costs vary depending on your location. Different towns and cities will charge different amounts for pool permits. Other factors, such as the area’s building codes, local zoning requirements, and administrative fee structure, can all contribute to the variation in swimming pool permit costs from one place to another.
Are pool permit application costs non-refundable?
Yes. You’ll find that in most cases, like any other application fees, pool permit application costs are non-refundable. Even if your permit is not approved or you decide to cancel the project, the application fees are almost always non-refundable. I suggest carefully reviewing the local building department’s policies regarding permit fees and refunds before submitting your application.
Make Sure Your Pool is Legal
If you are planning to build a pool, remove a pool, do pool electrical work, or even drain your pool, chances are you’ll need a permit from your local government. Pool permits are essential not only for the sake of legality but also to ensure the safety of your pool. While they vary in cost depending on the pool size and what is needed, pool permits will generally set you back between $50 and $1,000. And that’s only for the pool itself. You’ll also need to consider plumbing and electrical permits, pool fencing permits, and the plan review fee.
If you have more questions about the cost of pool permits in your area, feel free to reach out to me. I am always ready to help a fellow pool owner out!