I am a fairly new owner of a home with a pool and need some help navigating local ordinances regarding a pool when it is not "open" for the season.
I received a notice about a violation of Virginia Maintenance Code 303.1 and I need to understand what the code requires for compliance. The notice sites "Swimming pools shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition, and in good repair." It is not completely clear what this means for someone who chooses not to open a pool for the swim season as I have chosen to do. How can one guarantee that their pool is being “maintained in a clean and sanitary condition, and in good repair” while also not bringing the pool operational for the season?
I purchased a home with an existing in-ground swimming pool. When I took ownership of the house, the pool was basically empty and had an external pump running periodically to keep the pool drained. (I understand from my recent reading that there are concerns with a pool becoming buoyant when kept empty. For the sake of focus, lets pick up that discussion another time.) So, the pool is drained and is meticulously pumped free of water. As a matter of fact, the dry pool has been enjoyed by my sons who might periodically skateboard in it. As far as safety is concerned, I believed I was doing the right thing by removing the opportunity for drowning (no water = no drowning) and greatly reducing the opportunity for mosquitoes and other water borne nasties.
My wife and I purchased the house with the not-fully-functional pool realizing that there was some risk but we took stock of what it might take to fix the pool, made plans to budget for it and save up the monies needed. When purchasing the house, we dreamed of the day when we might enjoy the pool with friends and family. In the intervening time, we have had some family/health issues that have put a major strain on our budget. This has forced us to push out any fixes or alterations on the pool. Given the notice I received, I am trying to determine what is the requirement and what do I minimally need to do to come into compliance. To be clear, I want to maintain a safe property but, at the same time, I would like to be cautious on the monies spent on the pool when we are now at the cusp of determining if health/budget issues will force us to not open the pool for an extended time or, potentially, get rid of it all together.
A stated before, I am new to owning and maintain a pool and am still learning the differences between personal preference, best practices, and requirements. Upon first notice, I met with the inspector and he indicated that I need to bring my fence gates up to code. They needed to auto latch at 6 inches out from open, etc. This seemed somewhat irrelevant given that I maintained a padlock on the gates at all times but, nevertheless, I spent the next few weekends making changes to my gates and latches to comply with what he directed. I notified the inspector that I made the fixes and upon re-inspection he noted via voicemail (I was not present when he came by) that I needed a cover on my pool. I had previously surmised that the cover was to ensure drowning risk was greatly reduced. Given that I maintain a completely empty pool which is completely enclosed in my private yard, I did not fully understand what he was directing me to. As such, I thought the cover must be related to appearance or keeping stray yard debris from collecting in the pool. I looked around the pool supplies I acquired with the house and applied the cover I had. I then notified the inspector that I had applied the cover. He phoned back and stated that he appreciated my attempts but that it did not comply with the requirements for a cover and that I needed to educate myself on the requirements. Apparently what I have is a called a leaf cover.
At this time, I thought it best for me to read up on the requirements for residential pools. I headed to my trusty browser and started right into my county requirements and figured I would work my way backwards from the details of my county requirements to the state and national level. This led me to the following:
As it turns out, everything I was finding were related to the requirements for constructing a pool and getting it inspected after construction. Searching more I found this PDF of Virginia Maintenance Code 303.1 (http://ecodes.biz/ecodes_support/fre...quirements.pdf) that states the code but contains no guidance on what is required to comply. Is compliance left for the inspector and the home owner to negotiate? Is it solely the discretion of the inspector?
Complicating matters, I suspect it is one of my neighbors who is filing complaints with the county. For no good reason, there seems to be some animosity between my neighbor’s family and mine. In the past, they have made gestures like this through other avenues that amount to nothing more than passive aggressive ways of poking us in the eye. I mention this because I think it is important to understand that I am going to have to PROVE my compliance to the county not just this once but probably on an ongoing basis if my neighbor continues to operate in this manner.
What I have considered:
Before choosing a course of action, I want to understand my options. Thus I am reaching out to informed people like you to gather information and ideas. As far as I can see, I have the following options:
Option 1: Fill the pool with water and add a plastic cover with water bag weights. This is what one of my neighbors (not the one complaining) does in the off season but is this sufficient to comply? It appears to be the most economical rout at ~$200 for cover and weights. Personally, I would MUCH prefer not to go this route as it seems to INCREASE the potential of drowning and definitely increases the opportunity for mosquitoes.
Option 2: Have a custom safety cover made and install it. This appears to run between $500 and $1,000. If I get a model that is opaque enough it would seem to block the view and might placate the complaints. In light of Virginia Maintenance Code 303.1, is it sufficient to cover the pool year-round and not open it?
Option 3: Buck up and have the pool fixed and opened for the season. At this time, I am not certain we have the monies on hand to bring the pool into operation and run it through the season.
Option 4: Buck up and have the pool removed. I had hoped to one day still be able to bring the pool operational and would prefer to not be forced into this route.
Are there options I am missing? What would you recommend to a person in my situation?
Thanks for taking the time to read my post and share your wisdom.