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Building Permits and Building Codes

Updated: Apr 22, 2023

I will keep this one short and just try to explain what to do and when to call your builder.

Your town may require you to apply for a building permit before starting construction on your pool. If you are doing the work yourself, call the building department to find out whether a permit is required. If a pool or spa company is handling the job, make sure that the contract states that the builder is responsible for securing all of the necessary permits. Although procedures may vary from town to town, applying for a permit sets in motion a number of events. First, the building department will review your plans. Later, the building inspector may also want to visit the site to make sure that the project complies with zoning laws.

Building codes are complex documents that state minimum construction requirements for people's safety. They can vary from town to town. Some communities have code requirements for pools and spas, and many address some of the things that may go along with a new one, such as safety fences, decks, patios, and electrical work.

A reputable pool company should be familiar with the requirements in your area. But as the homeowner, you are responsible for the project. At the very least, discuss the need for permits and code requirements with the contractor before signing the contract. If you are not satisfied, look for another contractor.

Review Local Zoning Laws

Municipalities create zoning laws to control how land is used in a given area. In the broadest sense, they separate residential from industrial and commercial areas. This distinction also means that Company X can't build an asphalt plant on your block. But local zoning laws can also affect how you use your own property. Some things to check on while still in the planning stage for your pool or spa include height restrictions for fences and required setbacks-or the distance between your property line and the structures you want to build.

If your plans don't comply with local regulations, either make the necessary changes or apply for a zoning variance. Zoning laws are written in very general terms that are open to interpretation for specific projects. The zoning board or commissioner will decide whether to issue the variance or reject the appeal. Ask about your local variance procedure at the building or planning department. Basically, you will need to prove to a zoning board that your plans will not harm your neighbors or encroach on their privacy. The variance process can take time, so it's best to learn the zoning regulations early.

In our unique region we have all different codes in DC MD and VA. DC being the most restrictive of course and most detailed in reviewing the application (as of today it takes 7-9 months to review) and MD being most efficient.

Give us a call if you need to consult on this matter, or if you need an expeditor.

In my next post we talk about elements of pool that are absolutely necessary and other that you can add later on.

Stay tuned and thanks for stopping by


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