What Happens If You Build a Pool Without a Permit?

Written by Michael Dean
August 7, 2023

building a swimming pool without a permit

Building a pool requires time, effort, and, most importantly, a permit from the local authorities. A permit from your local authority is mandatory to construct any sort of building, including swimming pools. The procedure and the department responsible for the permit can vary from place to place, but more likely than not, you’re still going to need some kind of permit – no matter what type of pool you’re building. In fact, building a pool without a permit can have consequences.

In this article, I will discuss what happens if you build a pool without a permit and answer other burning FAQs you may have.

Main Takeaways

  • Building a pool requires permits from local authorities, and not getting one can lead to heavy consequences, including pool removal and legal penalties.
  • Get familiar with the regulations in your area and obtain the necessary permits before starting any pool construction project.
  • Local zoning and building offices can be helpful resources in understanding the specific permit requirements for your municipality.
  • Always check with your local authorities to confirm the permit requirements for your pool.

What Happens If You Build a Pool Without a Permit?

Building a pool without a permit can lead to unfortunate consequences that can be easily avoided by following local administrative guidelines in the first place. In some cases, local authorities may even have the power to remove the pool altogether if it is built without a permit. Of course, this is the last thing you’ll want! Removing the pool you worked so hard for and spent so much money on will be heartbreaking. So, please, get all the necessary permits before you start building!

Do You Get Fined for Building a Pool Without a Permit?

Failure to obtain a permit can also result in legal penalties and hefty fines. The fines and penalties vary from state to state. For example, in California, you can be fined up to $5,000 per violation by Contractors State License Board (CSLB). And in Florida, you may be asked to pay double the permit fee when found guilty.

Safety and Insurance Issues

Besides adhering to the law, another important reason you should get all permits for your pool is to ensure your pool complies with safety standards. In some areas, an in-person inspection is mandatory, which makes sure there are no safety concerns. In other regions, simply submitting the measurements and pictures online is sufficient to file your case. Either way, the primary concern is the safety of you, your friends, and your family. Without a permit, pool safety can be compromised, which is the last thing you’ll want! Your pool should be a beautiful and safe escape from the heat, not a potential safety hazard!

Furthermore, building a pool without a permit can create problems with your homeowner’s insurance. In case of an accident or property damage related to the pool, your insurance company will not compensate you if your pool is built without following the proper legal procedures.

While jumping through red tape may be annoying, it’ll save you so much headache, time, and money down the line. So, don’t cut any corners and get your pool permit!

Do I Need a Permit to Build a Swimming Pool?

Yes, you must get a permit to build a swimming pool. However, the regulations vary based on your location. So, it’s essential to get familiar with the regulations in your area before building anything on your property.

Local building codes and zoning regulations govern construction projects within a particular area. They dictate the size, location, and safety standards for swimming pools. These codes are in place to ensure that the pool doesn’t pose a risk to the public or surrounding properties.

Besides your local government, your Homeowner’s Association (HOA) may have its own rules regarding pool construction, so you should also check in with them before starting construction! HOA fees can add up quickly, so avoiding a fine at all costs is good practice.

What Permits Do You Need for a Pool?

Generally, you’ll need a residential building permit to start your pool construction. You’ll also likely need a zoning permit. Additionally, you may need to apply for permits for other pool-related projects, such as pool enclosures, decks, fences, or any significant modifications to an existing pool. On top of all this, you’ll need a separate permit for electricity and gas.

Is all of this giving you a massive headache? Well, the good news is that if you’re like most pool owners, you won’t need to worry about any of these above permits. Phew! If you hire a pool contractor, they should handle all of this for you. Before hiring a contractor, make sure applying for permits and getting them approved is a part of their services. 

For more questions you should ask a pool contractor, here is my complete guide on how to vet potential pool builders.

How to Check the Permit Requirements for Your Municipality

In almost every US state, you are required to obtain permits to build your pool. But knowing the exact requirements according to your municipality can sometimes be tricky. All pool building permit requirements differ – even within the same state in some cases! While all will require a plot plan showing the pool’s shape, size, and location, others may require more information regarding the pool structure and construction. Some may require an electrical panel plan, and others may ask for safety measures, including fences and pool alarms. So, since it differs so much, how do you know what you need?

Contact Your Zoning Office

To ensure a smooth and hassle-free process, contact your local zoning or planning office to get a better idea of your local regulations. They can provide information on zoning regulations, property setbacks, and any specific requirements for pool construction in your area. The zoning office will also generally have specific information about what lies underneath your backyard, which is a huge help for planning the excavation process. 

The zoning office will likely inform you of any plumbing, wells, or septic systems buried in the ground that could affect your pool construction. According to this information, they can help guide you with the best course of action to navigate the pool construction process.

Go Online

In this day and age, you can also check the application process, fees, and document requirements online on the official website of your local municipality. A simple Google search with the keywords “pool permit requirements (your location here)” should lead you to the correct information.

Now, with all this said, unfortunately, the permit requirements will differ if your property is in a protected area. Many municipalities do not allow building pools in such circumstances, but this isn’t always the case, so make sure you do your homework!

Ask Your Contractor

While understanding the importance of permits and knowing what you need is crucial, note that your pool contractor should already be well-versed in the permit requirements. A reputable contractor will walk you through the permitting process and ensure your pool complies with all requirements. The contractor should also apply for the necessary permits on your behalf as well!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need a permit to build a deck around an above ground pool?

Yes, in most jurisdictions, you will need a permit to build a deck around an above ground pool. Building codes and zoning regulations apply not only to the pool itself but also to any related structures, including decks. It’s essential to check with your local authorities to ensure you comply with all the necessary permit requirements.

Can you build a pool without a permit?

No, you cannot build a pool without a permit. Building a pool without a permit comes with dire consequences, such as fines and the possibility of having the pool removed. Always obtain the required permits according to your local municipality before starting any pool construction project. Some types of above ground pools may not need a permit, for example, if you plan to install a kiddie pool.

What size pool needs a permit?

Almost all pools need a permit – it doesn’t matter if it’s indoor, outdoor, inground, or above ground. However, there are some exceptions to the rule. For example, as a general rule, you may not need to apply for a permit for an above ground pool less than 24 inches deep.

But with that said, the requirement for a permit can vary depending on your location and local regulations. So, always check your local laws! The specific size threshold for needing a permit can also vary from one municipality to another.

To be sure, contact your local zoning or building office to determine the permit requirements for your specific pool size.

Go Get Your Permit!

Pools are a great way to relax, cool off in summer, and add value to your building. But before planning to add a pool to your backyard, remember to obtain all necessary permits from your local authorities. Building a pool without the needed permits can lead to severe consequences, such as fines, removal of the pool, and insurance issues. 

To avoid these hassles, familiarize yourself with local regulations, contact your homeowner’s association, and work with a competent contractor who understands the permit requirements.

Do you have any more questions about permits and the pool construction process? Let me know!

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