Owner Builder- Florida can anyone help?

Gecrabill

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Feb 24, 2014
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I am in the process of doing an owner build pool in Sarasota county. I am now 8 months into the process. Topographic survey took 3 months. Engineering took 4.5 months, drainage plan 2 weeks. I finally felt like we were in a great place. I went in and applied for the permit today. While applying I was told that I could not act without a licensed pool contractor. I was given the following Florida statutes as reference.

Statutes & Constitution :View Statutes : Online Sunshine

Section 489.103 (6)
Section 489.113 (C)

has anyone else run into this before? Specifically, Florida?

Thank you
 

AQUA~HOLICS

In The Industry
Jul 19, 2021
134
Southern California
This is common, they are actually looking out for your best interest. I personally only work with Owner Builders in SoCal building swimming pools. As I read the document it appears that you are allowed to pull the permit in your name as long as you understand what is expected of you and that you hire ONLY licensed, insured, bonded contractors. This is the same in SoCal. You as the “OWNER BUILDER “ take on more responsibility especially if you hire an unlicensed worker then your homeowners insurance may not cover you if there’s an injury on the job site. All this is written in the disclosure statement. Hope this helps, Ray
 

KCNM

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Jandy Truclear / Ei
489.103(7) is exactly what @AQUA~HOLICS is talking about. A property owner is permitted to serve as contractor on their own propery, even without license. And the cited 489.103(6) specifically states that it does not in any way limit subsection (7). And (7)(b) states that anyone serving as a contractor or delegated to directly supervise work by the owner must themselves be licensed. Which is typically not a problem -- all the major subcontractors that an owner would hire should have their own appropriate licenses.
 

Gecrabill

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Feb 24, 2014
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Thanks for the replies. my local permitting office is saying that I am not even able to pull the permit or have any work done unless I have contracted a certified pool contractor.
 
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KCNM

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Jandy Truclear / Ei
Print out a copy of 489.103 and highlight the last sentence of 489.103(6):
This subsection does not limit the exemptions provided in subsection (7).
Then this part of 489.103(7)(a):
Owners of property when acting as their own contractor and providing direct, onsite supervision themselves of all work not performed by licensed contractors:
1. When building or improving ... one-family or two-family residences on such property for the occupancy or use of such owners and not offered for sale or lease
You will need to fill out an owner-builder disclosure.

I know you're listed as Sarasota county, but here's the page for Charlotte County which details the owner-builder option and requirements:

 
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Gecrabill

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Feb 24, 2014
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Osprey, Florida
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Thank you, I have now been passed up 3 levels to a senior building official who provided this information:
"I understand we have been providing pieces of the statute but if we provided the statute in full it would miss the direct response needed. If you are building a 1 or 2 family residence you would be exempt for the contractor requirement. But does not exempt pools from licensure.

If a general contractor wants to pull the permit and add the subs for plumbing and electrical, that would also be permissible. Then the general contractor can install the concrete and steel rebar.

Thanks for your inquiry."
 
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TampaKathy

Gold Supporter
Oct 2, 2020
463
Tampa, FL
Honestly, that was my first thought on actually reading the statute...where does it say pool building is exempt but then I figured it was considered part of a 1 or 2 family residence...rhetorical question...but how do other counties get to it being ok? Seems Sarasota is doing a very literal reading of the statute (not saying if that is right or wrong). This is disappointing.
 

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Gecrabill

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Feb 24, 2014
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Osprey, Florida
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It does state "When building or improving farm outbuildings or one-family or two-family residences" in section 7, my thoughts would be that building a pool is an improvement. I just dont know where to go from here.
 

JoyfulNoise

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If the building department is narrowly interpreting the statute to mean only improving a physical residence and no other structures on the property then that would indeed exclude pool building. You might need to find a local construction lawyer to look at the statute and advise you on how narrowly the statute can be read. Your city council is the only body that could override such an interpretation but they are unlikely to get involved in the matter as they will defer to the buildings department experts. They will reason that the building department has a sufficient justification for being so conservative. Perhaps there is a precedent of bad pool builds that were allowed due to lax oversight and those builds caused significant damage or injury? Or maybe the head of the building department takes pay-offs from local PB's to keep O/B's from happening? Either way, "you can't fight City Hall" as the old sayin goes ...

It looks like the way to go around it, somewhat, is to find a GC with the appropriate licensing that can do the excavation/rebar/gunite (in essence, a licensed contractor building you a structurally engineered "concrete bucket") and have that contractor list all the subsidiary contractors needed (electrical, plumbing, etc). Then you would work with each sub directly to finish the job (making sure you get paid invoices and lien release documents). Not sure you'll find a GC that will want to work that way but it's possible.

Maybe talk to the excavator companies and find out if they are licensed to do the structural work or if they know anyone that is?

Maybe talk to a local civil engineering firm and see if they know any licensed GC's that can do residential work?

Bummer, but it sounds like your municipality makes it very difficult to do owner-build pools...
 
Last edited:

Newdude

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 16, 2019
11,173
NY
in essence, a licensed contractor building you a structurally engineered "concrete bucket
Reminds me of this story (which was proven fake, but still awesome)

Maybe you could do something similar and install an 'art sculpture'. Sir that's a pool. Well, to you maybe.... to me it's a commentary on life in South Africa. Art is amazing like that.
 

Oswald

Well-known member
Jul 23, 2021
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Leander, TX
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If the building department is narrowly interpreting the statute to mean only improving a physical residence and no other structures on the property then that would indeed exclude pool building. You might need to find a local construction lawyer to look at the statute and advise you on how narrowly the statute can be read. Your city council is the only body that could override such an interpretation but they are unlikely to get involved in the matter as they will defer to the buildings department experts. They will reason that the building department has a sufficient justification for being so conservative. Perhaps there is a precedent of bad pool builds that were allowed due to lax oversight and those builds caused significant damage or injury? Or maybe the head of the building department takes pay-offs from local PB's to keep O/B's from happening? Either way, "you can't fight City Hall" as the old sayin goes ...

It looks like the way to go around it, somewhat, is to find a GC with the appropriate licensing that can do the excavation/rebar/gunite (in essence, a licensed contractor building you a structurally engineered "concrete bucket") and have that contractor list all the subsidiary contractors needed (electrical, plumbing, etc). Then you would work with each sub directly to finish the job (making sure you get paid invoices and lien release documents). Not sure you'll find a GC that will want to work that way but it's possible.

Maybe talk to the excavator companies and find out if they are licensed to do the structural work or if they know anyone that is?

Maybe talk to a local civil engineering firm and see if they know any licensed GC's that can do residential work?

Bummer, but it sounds like your municipality makes it very difficult to do owner-build pools...
Once you get a lawyer involved, I'm not sure you would save any money over going with a pool builder. 🤷
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
28,200
File the application.

If it passes, fine, if not, file an appeal.

If that does not pass, you can contact these commissioners.

The Board of Sarasota County Commissioners may be reached at [email protected].

You can contact these people directly.

Matt Osterhoudt. Director, Planning and Development Services Department, Sarasota County Government

Thomas Polk, Director

Allen Parsons, Manager

Matt Osterhoudt, Manager

Greg Yantorno, Building Official

Kathy Croteau, Deputy Building Official

Susan Mori, Permit Center South Manager

Brad Bailey, Permit Center North Manager

If that does not pass, file an appeal to the city attorney.

If that does not work, file an appeal to the mayor's office.

If that does not work, file an appeal with the state's attorney's office.

Then file with the governor of the state.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
28,200
You think I’m joking.

The governor will not get involved, but they will probably have a staffer inquire about it and that gets people’s attention when they get a letter from the governor’s office asking about the situation.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
28,200
Effective Monday, October 11, Sarasota County's Planning and Development Services will be offering in person and the continuation of curbside permitting services at both 1001 Sarasota Center Blvd., Sarasota and 4000 S Tamiami Trail, Venice. Important Note: curbside service will only be available for contractors. In-person customers will need to use the permit center kiosk to sign in; remote sign-in using the Qless app is reserved for contractors.


Go down on the 11th and get the permit.

Contact the Building Code Board of Adjustments and Appeals.

https://www.scgov.net/government/ad...uilding-code-board-of-adjustments-and-appeals

https://www.scgov.net/home/showpublisheddocument/47507/637384415141200000
 

setsailsoon

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G,

I'm in the process of an owner build house and pool in Martin County. I've met with the Building Department for the house, wells and septic. Looks pretty straight-forward and they are definitely working with me. Pool is next but same people. Are you trying to do the excavation yourself or get a licensed contractor to do it for you? If you're having this issue because you are renting the equipment to do the dig yourself, one way may be to at least hire a licensed excavation contractor for just that part of the work. They can call for underground locating service. If this isn't practical for you I would see if the engineering company can help. Are they local?

I hope this is helpful.

Chris
 

Gecrabill

Bronze Supporter
Feb 24, 2014
63
Osprey, Florida
Chlorine
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G,

I'm in the process of an owner build house and pool in Martin County. I've met with the Building Department for the house, wells and septic. Looks pretty straight-forward and they are definitely working with me. Pool is next but same people. Are you trying to do the excavation yourself or get a licensed contractor to do it for you? If you're having this issue because you are renting the equipment to do the dig yourself, one way may be to at least hire a licensed excavation contractor for just that part of the work. They can call for underground locating service. If this isn't practical for you I would see if the engineering company can help. Are they local?

I hope this is helpful.

Chris
I will not be doing the digging myself. I will sub out pretty much all aspect. And yes they will be licensed.
 

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