California Residential Swimming Pool Enclosures
Residential swimming pools in California are not as regulated as commercial pools. There are rules with regards to the enclosure which are listed in Title 24 California State Building Code. However, many municipalities in California have adopted these rules and added more stringent requirements. Therefore, when considering buying a home with a swimming pool, or having one built, you should check with you local building code authority for the requirements in your area. Listed below are the residential swimming pool enclosure requirements for the areas covered by the Sacramento County Building Department of Community Development.
An outdoor swimming pool shall be provided with a barrier that, once installed, shall be inspected and approved by a Building Inspection official prior to filling the swimming pool with water. Perimeter fencing may be approved as a barrier.
The barrier shall comply with each of the following:
- The top of the barrier shall be at least 60 inches above grade measured on the side of the barrier that faces away from the swimming pool. The maximum vertical clearance between grade and the bottom of the barrier shall be 2 inches measured on the side of the barrier that faces away from the swimming pool.
- The maximum vertical clearance at the bottom of the barrier may be increased to 4 inches when grade is a solid surface such as a concrete deck or when the barrier is mounted on the top of the above ground pool structure.
- When barriers have horizontal members spaced less than 45 inches apart between the tops of the horizontal members, the horizontal members shall be placed on the pool side of the barrier.
- Any decorative design work on the side away from the swimming pool, such as protrusions, indentations, or cutouts that render the barrier easily climbable, is prohibited.
- Openings in the barrier shall not allow passage of a 1 ¾ inches or greater diameter sphere. Exception: For fencing composed of vertical and horizontal members, the spacing between vertical members may be increased to a maximum 4 inches when the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is 45 inches or more. “No-climb fencing” is not acceptable as a barrier.
- Chain link fences used as the barrier shall have a maximum mesh size of 2.25 sq inch, unless, the fence is provided with slats fastened at the top or the bottom which reduce the openings to no more than 1.75 inches.
- Diagonal members: Where the barrier is composed of a diagonal member the maximum opening formed by the diagonal members shall be no more than 1.75 inches.
- Solid barriers that do not have openings, such as masonry or stone walls, shall not contain indentations or protrusions except for tooled masonry joints.
Gates. Access gates shall comply with the requirements of subdivisions (1) thru (8) above and shall be equipped to accommodate a locking device. Pedestrian access gates shall open outward away from the pool and shall be self-closing and have a self-latching device. Gates other than pedestrian access gates shall have a self-latching device. Where the release mechanism of the self-latching device is located less than 54 inches (1372 mm) from the bottom of the gate, the release mechanism shall be located on the pool side of the gate at least 3 inches (76 mm) below the top of the gate, and the gate and barrier shall have no opening greater than 0.5 inch (12.7 mm) within 18 inches (457 mm) of the release mechanism.
Door operations. Except as specifically permitted by this section egress doors shall be readily openable from the egress side without the use of a key or special knowledge or effort.
Exception: Access doors or gates in barrier walls and fences protecting pools, spas and hot tubs shall be permitted to have operable parts of the release of latch on self-latching devices at 54 inches (1370 mm) maximum above the finished floor or ground, provided the self-latching devices are not also self-locking devices operated by means of a key, electronic opener or integral combination lock.
- Dwelling wall as a barrier. Where a wall of a dwelling serves as part of the barrier, one of the following shall apply:
- Doors with direct access to the pool through that wall shall be equipped with an alarm that produces an audible warning when the door and/or its screen, if present, are opened. The alarm shall be listed in accordance with UL 2017. The audible alarm shall activate within 7 seconds and sound continuously for a minimum of 30 seconds after the door and/or its screen, if present, are opened and be capable of being heard throughout the house during normal household activities. The alarm shall automatically reset under all conditions. The alarm shall be equipped with a manual means, such as touchpad or switch, to temporarily deactivate the alarm for a single opening. Such deactivations shall last for not more than 15 seconds. Document # SP-01 4/19/2016 Page 4 of 18
- The pool shall be equipped with a power safety cover that complies with ASTM F 1346.
- Other means of protection, such as self-closing doors with self-latching devices, which are approved by the administrative authority, shall be accepted so long as the degree of protection afforded is not less than the protection afforded by Item 1 or 2 above.
- Any other alternate barrier product maybe approved on a case by case basis by the Chief Building Official.
Your home inspector who may not include a swimming pool inspection in his/her service should at a minimum comment on a safety enclosure of the pool being present or not present. A best practice is to alert you to the varied enclosure requirements and recommend that you research the requirements for the area you in which you are buying the home and the requirements which may be expected by your home owner’s insurance carrier.
An older home may not have an enclosure which meets this requirement, but it is in your best interest to have one installed help prevent an accident or tragedy. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that the leading cause of death for 1-4 years olds is accidental drowning. Over 300 per year.
North American Home Services has been providing home inspection services to the greater Sacramento region for over 10 years. We have completed thousands of inspections on residential and commercial buildings. Our home inspectors are highly regarded and qualified. Each is certified through the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors and remains current on all aspects related to providing the best home inspection services.