Code for pool fencing in Florida?

c9pilotApril 28, 2008

An interesting thing about having 3 PBs survey your yard is having them each point out different issues.

One PB pointed at the fence on one side and said that it was considered a "climbable" fence. It's chain link, only about 3 feet high. The thing is, that neighbor's pool is less than 2 years old.

The fence between the other neighbor's yard is that white plastic stuff with vertical rails, 4' high. Their pool is really old and leaks, slumping toward the canal.

So does anybody know what the code is for a pool here? (Pinellas County, if that matters)

And can you pass the pool inspection without the fence up? (seems wrong to me that it could be a bad fence, although I see the point).

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kitchenshock

I believe its a state wide code. I went through this when I was building my pool and it all comes down to what the inspector will accept. I would call your local building department and talk to their expert. You can ask them to come out and advise you which is what we did. Remember they work for the taxpayer (ie you). I was told by my pool builder that the code gives the local building inspectors quite a bit of power in Florida.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 11:25AM
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tresw

Pinellas County swimming pool codes (partial) are here:

http://www.pinellascounty.org/build/swimpool.htm

Note that the minimum height for a pool barrier is 4', so the chain link fence is non-compliant unless there is an approved safety cover on the pool.

That section also refers you to the Florida state codes section 424.2. Unfortunately Forida does not have its state codes posted online, so you will have to contact your local building department and get a copy of the referenced code. It seems that most states use Appendix G of the Residential Building Code for fence requirements (see link below). There are specifics about how far apart horizontal members can be spaced and that sort of thing. BUT, Florida may be different.

You cannot pass inspection in most areas until a compliant barrier is in place (or an approved safety cover). Most locales don't allow plaster/ fill to take place until the barrier is installed and completely finished (including latches, return springs, etc.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Appendix G

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 11:33AM
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tresw

Quote: "Remember they work for the taxpayer (ie you)"

You would not believe how much power inspectors have. The last thing you want to do is make an inspector mad, they can make your life miserable. While it's technically true that inspectors work for us, they are masters of their domain and do not answer to us. Most codes are written very explicitly, but then at the end state "or as determined by local code enforcement". In other words, the inspectors can enforce more stringent requirements than are in the codes!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 11:38AM
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c9pilot

Thanks, everyone. Normally, I'm really good at googling and navigating websites, but I really get lost trying to find code requirements for some reason. The code guy I talked to about a shed kept telling me it was online but I still can't find it. I think it's a terminology problem.
Anyway, we're remodeling so I'm quite familiar with the inspector issues. My DH realized that the one particular difficult inspector seemed to be A LOT nicer when I was around, so I handle all the inspections now, even though I'm not always sure what they are inspecting today.

Anyway, the only difficulty I see is how I can put up the fencing and then get the equipment in and out. As it is already they'd probably roll just over the neighbor's property line where we have a piece of 1/2 wall that sticks out (to block view of garbage can). These are the same neighbors with the chain link fence. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that their pool wasn't permitted or code anyway. Their PB is one of the ones on my "don't use this company" list.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 1:12PM
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kitchenshock

You would not believe how much power inspectors have.

I fully understand the power they have. I would never do anything to upset them but when I think they are being unreasonable or not doing their job I have no problem as a home owner going to their boss. I have done it twice and got positive results both times and suffered no negative consequences. Asking them to make a determination is something they do and most are more then happy to help you figure out a solution for the problem. You can take your plans to their office usually and work out the issues with them. With things like a pool fence, its much better to get them to come out to the site since there are sometimes site issues that can only be understood by them being there.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 2:43PM
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tresw

Kitchenshock, we're mostly in agreement although going over their head should be done as a last resort. As an architect I am frequently involved in discussions with code officials (23 years worth, hundreds if not thousands of conversations) and know the routine. I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression from your "they work for us" comment, they really don't. Their salaries may be paid from tax funds, but no one should take the "I'm your boss and you will do what I say" attitude with a code official. You'll be no better off then taking that attitude with a police officer that pulled you over for DUI! But, if you go to an inspector and tell them you would like their input on an issue that you are not sure about they are usually quite receptive and helpful. They also respond well to good research, if you can quote code passages to them it helps your case.

Quote: "My DH realized that the one particular difficult inspector seemed to be A LOT nicer when I was around, so I handle all the inspections now, even though I'm not always sure what they are inspecting today."

LOL!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 6:16PM
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subl1002

All florida building codes are online.
Go here for all residential pool requirements:
http://ecodes.iccsafe.org/icce/gateway.dll/Florida%20Custom/Res2004_FL/307/320/321
scroll to:R4101.17.1 through R4101.17.3

Here is a link that might be useful: Florida Pool Code

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 8:19PM
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chulaman

Here is what the code says...and I intend to use chain link:

R4101.17.1.1
The top of the barrier shall be at least 48 inches (1219 mm) above grade measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool. The maximum vertical clearance between grade and the bottom of the barrier shall be 2 inches (51 mm) measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool. Where the top of the pool structure is above grade the barrier may be at ground level or mounted on top of the pool structure. Where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure, the maximum vertical clearance between the top of the pool structure and the bottom of the barrier shall be 4 inches (102 mm).

R4101.17.1.6
Maximum mesh size for chain link fences shall be a 2¼ inch square (57 mm) unless the fence is provided with slats fastened at the top or bottom which reduce the openings to no more than 1¾ inches (44 mm).

I have the whole thing as a word document. Send me an email and I will send it to you or use the link provided by subl1002 above.

Each locality can have local option codes that are more intensive, and yes, each locality has wide latitude to interpret and some inspectors and officials take that to mean that they can change the english language at will....I would say to officials that say no to chain link "why would the code specify what chain link is OK if chain link is not OK?"...

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 8:29PM
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kitchenshock

tresw, I didn't think I was advising someone to take an "I'm your boss attitude" with an inspector, at least that was not my intent. I think that many people do not realize that the building department is a great resource to use when you have an issue. We all pay taxes to fund these departments and we should take advantage of them when issues arise. That is all that I meant.

I went through this pool fence thing because of the unique nature of my property and the design of my pool (natural free flowing). The builder and the pool fence company were giving me conflicting "play-it-safe" advice and the net result would have added another $7k to the project. I went to the building department, talked to the inspector that was in charge of making determinations on pool safety and got him to come out and tell me what was acceptable. I didn't go there with an attitude or demand he do anything which would be silly. I was just taking advantage of a department that I pay for with my taxes.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 9:53PM
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tresw

Kitchenshock, what you just stated is completely reasonable and is exactly how code officials should be approached. You are absolutely correct that they should be viewed as a resource that is available to us, especially to help with "fuzzy" issues (of which there are many when you're dealing with codes!)

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 10:27PM
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