Now that the weather in Arizona has started to cool down a bit, so has some of the pool building frenzy that started back in the spring. As an owner/builder, this is the time that you should be starting to get organized: doing the planning and designing in anticipation of going into full construction mode by late fall / early winter.|
The pool sub-contractors that have blown you off for the good part of the summer will be starting to be more responsive here in the coming months. But before you can start scheduling them in, you'll need to make sure that your permits are all properly secured.
To help with that process, I've updated just about all the City Information pages (e.g. City Plans/Permits/Fees, City Zoning, and City Fencing/Barrier pages), and got rid of all the stale links that no longer point to valid resources.
When I first took a swag at collecting this information a few years back, most of the cities did not have comprehensive websites that carried this information. So what I had to do back then was spend countless hours on the telephone with the cities trying to get to right person from the right department who could answer my questions.
I was surprised to find out how many people there were working directly in development services / community development / building safety who couldn't answer my questions. This was somewhat disturbing to me as a homeowner who was about to embark on a huge and costly construction project. Fortunately, after a few rounds of calls, one thing I noticed is that most cities have similar if not the same requirements for swimming pool construction. There are permit requirements, there are setback requirements, and there are barrier requirements. Those are the big 3.
Above and beyond that, there are some miscellaneous idiosyncracies from city to city that are not very significant. Some cities will require an owner/builder affadavit in which you sign a paper saying you understand the risks of doing it yourself. Others will have additional fees over and above the standard permit and plan review fee.
Anyways, I decided it was finally time to update all that information as I've noticed a bunch of the links were no longer working. I spent the weekend combing the Internet to update all the links and I was surprised to see how much the landscape has changed. Most cities now have at least partial online support for their development services, community development, and building safety. In most cities, I was able to find a documented permit procedure if not the actual building permit application itself. This makes it much more convenient for owner/builders to do some upfront research at the leisure of their own home before heading in to the city to submit their plans.
One thing you'll notice from the updated pages is that there will be a ton of new links to city documents that tell the homeowner what is needed to apply for a pool building permit, how to gather the information, what the detailed process is, etc. You'll also notice that for just about all the major cities in Arizona, there is a link to a downloadable building permit application (in PDF format), so that you can fill it out prior to going down. I'm hoping to create a one-stop shop place where folks from AZ can go to get all the city information resources they need to start the permit process.
One word of warning as you browse through this permit section. There is still a lot of variation from city to city as far as streamlining the swimming pool construction permit process. As you browse through the application forms, you may notice that some applications ask you for way more information than is required (e.g. truss, soil, electrical, and plumbing info). This is because construction/building permits for residential construction usually means building a new house or adding a new room onto an existing house. Swimming pools technically fall into the category of residential construction, but most of the information required on the permit is not applicable for swimming pools.
More and more cities are starting to provide abbreviated permit application forms tailored for swimming pools, because they know most of the information they ask for doesn't apply, but some still use a "one-size-fits-all" application that leaves many homeowners scratching their heads. Don't be alarmed by this.
The key thing to keep in mind is to use the city information page as a general guide for what you will need. Make sure you give your city development dept a call to find out what the specific requirements are for your locale. It may be that they have updated and/or more specific forms for swimming pools that they have not yet placed on their website. A simple phone call may save you a lot of headaches later. I include the phone numbers for all of the city agencies that are directly responsible for swimming pool permits, so you won't have to go digging yourself.
BTW, if anyone out there reading this page works for your city's development services / building safety / community development dept, I want to show you a city that really has the homeowner in mind. That city is Peoria and here is what I'm talking about. After reviewing over 40 Arizona city websites, I would have to say that Peoria has one of the most complete and easiest to use (to find stuff!) website in the state. City of Peoria - you ROCK. Click on the link see how ALL cities should make it this easy for homeowners to find the right application for building permits. Unfortunately, most cities are catering to big business home builders and industrial construction companies and the little guy (you and me) usually comes last. I suspect that as each city matures and their policies and procedures get streamlined, that more and more will follow the lead of cities like Peoria and start to really think about Joe six-pack homeowner.
So have at it as we head into the time period considered by many to be the beginning of the owner/builder pool construction season. Remember that you will need your pool design ready before you submit your permit application. I wrote up a story a month back about some design consultants that you can contact if you are still spinning your wheels on what you want your pool design to look like.