While a swimming pool may be installed above-ground or in-ground and may be indoor or outdoor, these guidelines only cover project requirements for Outdoor Swimming Pools external to the building and therefore, do not include any building rooftop or roof setback pools. Indoor swimming pools are considered to be community facilities or accessory to a main occupancy. Refer to the appropriate project guidelines specific to the building and use group type.
All swimming pools must have an indirect connection to sanitary wastewater. Swimming pools installed in New York City must follow the city's safety and quality-of-life standards. The Construction Codes, specifically BC 3109, outline the construction requirements. Other City agencies also regulate pools depending upon the property's location, landmark status, or zoning.
Private. A swimming pool that is accessory to a 1 or 2 family residence and is solely for the use of the occupants for noncommercial purposes is considered to be private.
Public. A swimming pool that is not private and is operated by either city agencies, commercial interests, or private entities, including pools that are accessory to bathing establishments, schools, hotels, motels, camps, apartment houses, condominiums, clubs, gymnasia or health establishments, is considered to be a Group A Assembly occupancy classification. In addition to DOB requirements, public swimming pools must comply with NYC Health Code requirements.
Installation of a swimming pool generally involves the following elements:
Excavation and/or ground preparation
Pool, including vinyl, fiberglass or cementitious liner
Ladders, stairs, handholds, railing and diving boards
Water supply, inlets, skimmers, and valves (plumbing work)
Drain – main drain, backflow preventer (plumbing work)
Pumps, alarms and equipment (plumbing and GFI electrical work)
Recirculation systems – strainers, filtrations, and treatment equipment
Fence, screening and gates
Solar covers (as required by the NYC Energy Conservation Code)
Non-slip surface surround
Lighting (possibly underwater)
DOB requires work permits to install a pool with the exception of some above-ground pools and shallow wading pools. To determine if a proposed pool needs a work permit, contact a licensed P.E. or R.A., or the DOB borough office.
Private outdoor swimming pools are typically submitted as a renovation project.
Public outdoor swimming pools must be submitted as an alteration project. Following completion of a public pool project, the property must obtain a new or amended Certificate of Occupancy.
An indoor swimming pool installation is considered a design element of the associated new building or alteration project application and a separate application is not required.
These are simple to install, typically made from prefabricated kits and assembled by professional installers.
Ground is leveled to form desired surface
Perimeter track is assembled to support the outer wall (made of metal, plastic or wood)
Sand is spread in the pool area and plumbing lines run
Vinyl liner is spread and secured over pool walls; the liner is smoothed out and fastened into place
Pool is filled with water
Pump, drainage, and filtering system connections are hooked up.
These pools are less durable and less permanent than other designs, and relatively easy to disassemble and move to a new location.
Vinyl-lined In-ground Pools. These are structurally similar to above-ground pools, but look like conventional in-ground designs. Installation involves digging a hole in the ground, laying necessary plumbing and a sand base, and assembling a metal, plastic or wood frame wall around the perimeter of the hole. Similar to an above-ground pool, vinyl lining is secured to the structural walls. These pools cost less than other in-ground designs, but are also less durable.
Fiberglass Pools. These are made from pre-fabricated fiberglass-reinforced molded plastic. Installation involves digging an appropriately sized hole, laying the necessary plumbing, adding a sand filler and lowering the pool structure into the hole. The pool is then leveled, plumbing connected, the area around the pool is backfilled, and an adjoining concrete walkway or deck structure installed around the perimeter.
Gunite Pools. This type of pool involves assembling a grid framework of appropriately spaced and secured steel reinforcing rods (rebar) placed in the excavated area. Once the grid and plumbing are in place, a heavy coating of gunite, a mixture of cement and sand, is sprayed around the rebar. The gunite is troweled smooth and let to sit for a week or so before applying a smooth finish to the rough surface, typically of plaster and/or special concrete paint. Some gunite pools may have tile, exposed aggregate or fiberglass finishes. These pools are durable and can be built in any shape or size.
Poured-Concrete Pools. These pools are similar to gunite pools, but more complicated to build. Instead of spraying concrete material around a rebar framework, concrete is actually poured into forms. In masonry block pools, the walls are constructed of reinforced concrete blocks. The lining of the pool is then finished in the same manner as a gunite pool with coating(s) of plaster and/or concrete paint.
Drainage. The DEP requires a swimming pool application and, upon approval, issues a letter that will allow the property owner to discharge from the swimming pool into internal sanitary or combined drains connected to the city sanitary sewer or combined sewer. The letter of approval includes limitations on the permissible frequency and flow rate for the discharge.
Properties that front a public street with a dedicated sanitary sewer system may be allowed, by DEP, to indirectly connect the drainage from the pool.
Pool discharge cannot drain into street catch basins or dedicated storm water drainage systems.
Properties that do not front a street with a dedicated public sanitary sewer system (PC 220.127.116.11) can connect into a private on-site storm water disposal system, such as a drywell with a flow restrictor installed.
Walkways and patios included as part of the swimming pool installation, which exceed 20% of the existing impervious area on the property or 200 square feet, may require a private on-site storm water (drywell) disposal system, as per PC 1101.2.1,
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