Don’t Forget: State Law Requires a Building Permit for All Swimming Pools

Kristina RamseyNews

The current Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code requires that a property owner obtain a building permit prior to the construction or installation of any new in-ground and on-ground swimming pool to ensure the safety of residents. The regulations are very important, not to collect money, but to ensure the safety of our community. Improper installation can lead to many life and health safety issues and potential property damage to one’s own property and to adjoining neighbor’s property. Unlevel or improperly installed pools and ladders can lead to drowning, injury, flooding, and many more threatening and damaging issues.

Pools requiring a permit include pools that:

  • are greater than 150 square feet, or
  • hold more than 5,000 gallons of water, or
  • are more than 24″ deep. 

To determine the square footage of the pool, multiply the radius times the radius times 3.14. For example, the calculation for a onground swimming pool with a 14’ radius would be:  14’ x 14’ x 3.14 = 615.44 square feet.

All swimming pools that require a building permit must be constructed according to the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code.  Also regulated onground (i.e., above-ground) swimming pools must be constructed in accordance with the pool manufacturer’s installation instructions.

Not obtaining a building permit for the construction of a swimming pool as required represents a violation of state law (Section 36-106 of the Code of Virginia) and may lead to legal action against the violator by the City Attorney’s Office

Please contact the City of Buena Vista’s Building Inspections Office at (540) 261-8635 or for all code requirements, including barrier height, ladders, gates, decks, entrapment prevention, handrails, etc., and for inspection requirements.

Relevant Links and References:

  • City Code of Buena Vista, Division 8, Sect. 14-310 (Swimming Pools; Spas; Hot Tubs” states, “It shall be the duty of the owner of any premises on which there exists a swimming pool, spa and/or hot tub, to maintain such in a clean and sanitary condition, and in good repair. Failure to do so shall constitute a nuisance. (Ord. No. 16-02, 4-7-201)

Pools not requiring a permit:

The building code does not require a permit for any onground pools that

  • holds less than 5,000 gallons,
  • is less than 24” tall, and
  • is less than 150 square feet

See below for two links to help make that determination, plus three examples of “kiddie” pools that would not typically require a permit.