Before You Build


When it comes to pools, water is obviously the key ingredient, but it’s something that is usually not considered until late in the construction process. Using the “wrong” water can make maintenance of your water chemistry much harder than it needs to be, and may even result in damage or discoloration to your new pool. 

Generally you will have two options for filling your pool: Having the water trucked in, usually from a local utility, or filling it with a hose connected to your home water supply. The home water supply may be provided by a utility or a private well. Any source of water can have issues with high total alkalinity, high calcium or high metal content, any of which can make your pool maintenance much harder. The only way to know what you would be getting with your water is to test it, or to talk with the treatment plant operator to find out what the water contains. The reason this is so important is that there is no cheap way to remove calcium or metals from the water.

Code Requirements

If you live in or near a city or town, pool installations will most likely require at least one permit, are most likely required to meet local codes that limit where the pool can be installed, how the pool must be connected to the electric supply and how access to the pool is controlled for safety. There may also be restrictions on discharge of waste water and the types of filters you may use. The best approach to learning about this is to contact your local code enforcement agency and arrange to talk with an inspector.

If you live in an area without a permit or inspection process, you still want to pay attention to these requirements. They will make your pool significantly safer and some are much cheaper to incorporate during construction than they would be after the pool is built.

In many cases your pool builder will handle the permitting process and insure that the pool meets local code. However, you should still make an effort to be aware of what the local requirements are. It a good idea to double check what the builder is doing. Also, many of the requirements have some effect on how you use the pool (for example gates must usually stay locked, and restrictions on where you dump waste water are your responsibility not the builders).

Access Control

Controlling access to a pool is a major part of most local codes and is a really good idea. A fence is the primary method of protecting the pool from wandering or curious children. Existing fences are seldom acceptable for an in-ground pool, as pool fences are generally required to be climb resistant, 4.5 or 5′ tall or taller, with self-closing, self-latching gates. In addition, doors that provide access to the pool area from a house or other building generally need to be protected with alarms. Above ground pools can be protected by a fence or by a removable or lockable ladder. 


When you mix electricity and water, you want it done right. Pool electrical codes in the US are generally derived from the National Electrical Code (NEC) Article 680.26. Regardless of the requirements, a competent electrician with experience in wiring pools should be located prior to construction of the pool. You should mention pool bonding to the inspector and the electrician to see how familiar they are with the idea. This is not generally a DIY job, but you often have to be educated enough to be sure that your inspector and electrician understand what is required for a safe pool.

Waste water disposal

Sand and Diatomaceous Earth (DE) filters are generally cleaned by running water backwards through the filter. DE filters carry the DE with the waste water when this is done. Some localities restrict where you can discharge this water. Some require it to be discharged into the storm sewer system, some do not allow it in the storm sewer system, and some don’t allow these kinds of filters at all.

Physical Location

Some localities have restrictions on how close to a property line or structure that a pool can be located. Take a copy of your lot plan or survey to your inspector to get their take on where you may locate the pool.

You may find that there are utility easements or even underground utility services that restrict where the pool can be located.