International Building Codes for Swimming Pools

In its building codes, the International Code Council contains specifications intended to guide builders toward the construction and installation of residential swimming pools. These specifications are found in the Council’s International Residential Code, on which many local building codes are established, and also its International Swimming Pool and Spa Code, which also contains specifications for proper pool repair and maintenance. Code specifications and license requirements differ from location to location, so check with the local building authority before starting designing and constructing your own pool.

Pool Design

Chapter eight of the International Pool and Spa Code includes specifications which govern all facets of residential pool design. The code specifies suitable limits to the slope of the pool, the transition areas between different depths, the angle of walls and the design of the transition points between the pool floor. The code also specifies minimum dimensions for diving water envelopes and it provides detailed requirements for diving equipment, pool stairs, ladders, slides and other special features. The minimum depth for diving, for instance, ranges between 7 feet, 6 inches and 9 feet, based on the overall design of the pool.

Barrier Requirements

The International Residential Code sets out conditions for planners and other barriers designed to limit access to the pool for security reasons. The conditions specify the minimum height of obstacles and the maximum gap between the base of the barrier along with the ground. The top of the barrier must be at least 48 inches above the ground on the side away from the pool using a gap between the base of the obstacle and the ground not more than 2 inches. The code also specifies that the acceptable dimension of gaps in the barrier, which must be narrow enough that a 4-inch sphere can not pass through them. It also specifies the kind and location of latching mechanism to be used on gates. In general, the specifications are supposed to ensure that that isn’t easy for unauthorized kids or individuals to go over, under or through the obstacle.

Glass Requirements

In case any walls, windows, doors or obstacles near a pool incorporate glass, the glazing must be tempered safety glass; the International Residential Code demands that shatter-resistant safety glass can be utilized in hazardous locations, identified as locations near swimming pools. According to the code, any glass that’s within 60 horizontal inches of the water’s edge must be safety glass, provided that the bottom edge of the glass is less than 60 vertical inches over any standing or walking layer. This specification applies to all panes of glass at multipane windows or panels.

Safety Attributes

In addition to the specifications above, the IRC along with the International Pool and Spa Code set out conditions for additional pool security features, such as a rope-and-float assembly which marks the transition between shallow and deep areas positioned between 1 and 2 feet from the start of the shallow aspect of the femoral slope. Suction outlets have to be equipped with entrapment safeguards that meet American National Standards Institute and the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals principles, called the ANSI-APSP-7 standards.

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