Considering Building a Pool? What You May Not Know

Jul 15th, 2014 | By | Category: Neighborhood News


Before you take that jump and build your dream oasis in Sahuarita, there are some code requirements that you should know. New pools must comply with the 2012 International Residential Code. The purpose of these codes is to protect children against drowning by restricting access to a swimming pool. If your existing pool doesn’t meet these standards, consider making these changes. When you decide to build a pool or spa, most pool companies require the homeowner to be responsible for the barrier.

Here’s a summary of what is required:

Barriers (walls or fences):

  • The top of the barrier must be at least 60 inches above grade measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool.
  • No more than 2 inches is allowed between grade and the bottom of the barrier.
  • Openings in the barrier shall not allow passage of a 4 inch diameter sphere – if a child’s head can fit through, the rest of his/her body can too.
  • Solid barriers such as masonry or stone walls shall not contain indentations or protrusions that will allow someone to climb over the barrier.
  • Where the barrier is composed of rails or cutouts, there are limits to the size of the spacing to prevent creating a climbable surface.


  • All access gates are part of the barrier and shall comply with all the barrier requirements.
  • Pedestrian access gates shall open outward away from the pool and shall be self-latching and self-closing.
  • If the release mechanism is located less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate the following shall comply:
    • The release mechanism shall be located on the pool side of the gate at least 3 inches below the top of the gate.
    • The gate and barrier shall have no opening larger than ½ inch within 18 inches of the release mechanism.

Dwelling walls used as the barrier:

When dwelling wall(s) serve as part of the barrier, the following conditions shall be met:

  • Doors with direct access to the pool from the dwelling are equipped with an alarm which produces an audible warning when the door and/or screen, if present, are opened.
  • The alarm shall be labeled and listed in accordance with UL 2017.
  • The alarm shall be a minimum of 54 inches off the floor.

Barrier exceptions:

  • Spas or hot tubs with a safety cover complying with ASTM F 1346 shall be exempt from the barrier requirements listed above.
  • The pool is equipped with a powered safety cover in compliance with ASTM F 1346.
  • The Building Safety department will be glad to come out and check your existing walls to see if they meet the pool barrier requirements.

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