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Development Services

From Concept to Construction

Phone: 503-823-7300

TTY : 503-823-6868

1900 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97201

Ponds, Water Features, Swimming Pools & Hot Tubs

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Ponds and Water Features

Residential ponds, water features and fountains do not typically require a building or plumbing permit if they are self-contained. If there is a design requiring drainage connection or water connection to the plumbing system, then a plumbing permit is required. An electrical permit is also required if a pump is connected directly to the electrical system.

While the building code does not regulate self-contained residential ponds, water features and fountains, it is important to know that as a homeowner, you may be liable for accidents or injuries occurring on your property as a result of the installation of these accessories. We recommend that you check with your homeowner's insurance company prior to installation for more information.
 

Swimming Pools

A swimming pool is defined as any structure intended for swimming or recreational bathing that contains water over 24 inches deep. This includes in-ground, aboveground and on-ground swimming pools, hot tubs and spas (ORSC Sec. AG102).

A building permit is required to install a swimming pool unless it is prefabricated and the walls are entirely above adjacent grade. Whether a permit is required or not, the installation must meet the following code requirements that are intended to provide protection against drownings and near-drownings by restricting access to swimming pools, spas and hot tubs.
  • Any swimming pool not totally enclosed by a structure must be enclosed by a substantial barrier or fence at least four (4) feet in height. The maximum vertical clearance between grade and the bottom of the barrier is two (2) inches. Openings in the barrier shall not allow passage of a 4-inch diameter sphere.
  • The barrier must be equipped with a self-closing and latching gate except where bordered by a wall of an adjacent structure at least four (4) feet in height. Pedestrian access gates shall open outward away from the pool and shall be self-closing and have a self-latching device.
  • No swimming pool can be nearer than three (3) feet from any lot line, and no enclosing fence or wall shall be constructed nearer than three (3) feet to the outer walls of the swimming pool.
  • The location of an in-ground pool is not regulated by the zoning code unless there is an overlay zone (i.e. environmental overlay) or plan district on your property. Setback and building coverage standards apply to above-ground pools.
  • An electrical permit is required for the installation of in-ground swimming pools and may be required for an aboveground swimming pool.
  • Any pool is required to have either a sandfiltration system or cartridge filter system. The backwash from a sandfiltration system will need to discharge to either the public sewer or to an on-site system approved by BDS, separate from the drainfield. If you have questions about filtration for your pool, please contact Environmental Soils at (503) 823-6892.
  • Swimming pools must be set back from adjacent slopes.

Prior to installing a swimming pool, we recommend that you check with your homeowner's insurance company to determine what liability you may assume as a result of the installation.

 

Hot Tubs

In most cases, a hot tub installation does not require a plumbing permit because there are no direct connections to the plumbing system. If you have a hot tub that has a direct plumbing connection, a plumbing permit is required.

A mechanical and electrical permit is required for a hot tub installation using gas heating. An electrical permit is required for a hot tub installation using electric heating.

If your hot tub will be placed on an elevated deck that is more than 30 inches above grade, there may be requirements related to the structural design of the deck. Please contact Development Services Center staff for more information if this situation pertains to the placement of your hot tub.

Any hot tub is required to have either a sandfiltration system or cartridge filter system. The backwash from a sandfiltration system will need to discharge to either the public sewer or to an on-site system approved by BDS, separate from the drainfield. If you have questions about filtration for your hot tub, please contact Environmental Soils at (503) 823-6892.

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