Tennessee Laws for Private Swimming Pools

By Claire Gillespie - Updated March 15, 2018
Swimming pool at private residence with fence

You need a permit to build a private swimming pool anywhere in Tennessee. Plus, towns and cities may have their own rules about zoning, barriers, gates and alarms. Get to know Tennessee laws for private swimming pools before work starts on your pool, but make sure you're familiar with any local pool laws for your town or city, as well.

What Is a Private Swimming Pool?

According to Tennessee law, a residential swimming pool is any structure intended for swimming, recreational bathing or wading that contains water over 24 inches deep, including in-ground, above-ground and on-ground pools.

Swimming Pool Permits

A building permit is required to build a private swimming pool containing water over 24 inches deep. Permits can be obtained from the local building inspector upon production of a site plan describing the proposed construction work and electrical and septic requirements of the pool, and showing that the pool will be located entirely on the owner's property. A permit fee is required and varies by location.

Swimming Pool Zoning

Information about the location of septic tanks must be included in the permit application. Rules can vary by location. For example, in Rutherford County, there must be at least a 25-foot setback between an in-ground pool and a septic tank. An in-ground pool must be built at least 5 feet from the edge of the owner's property line. For above-ground pools, the applicant must create a 10-foot setback from all septic tanks. However, above-ground pools do not have to be set back from the edge of the property line.

Swimming Pool Barriers

Every residential swimming pool in Tennessee is subject to the BOCA Pool Barrier Code and must have a barrier – a fence or wall – around it to prevent drownings and injuries. The top of the barrier must be at least 48 inches above the finished ground level on the side of the barrier that faces away from the swimming pool. Maximum vertical clearance between finished ground level and the barrier must be 2 inches, measured on the side of the barrier that faces away from the swimming pool. The barrier must not have any footholds or handholds that a child could use to climb over. Some cities, like Mt. Juliet, provide detailed rules for swimming pool barriers.

Swimming Pool Gates

In Tennessee, barriers around private swimming pools must have access gates at least 48 inches tall and equipped with locking devices. Pedestrian access gates must be self-closing, have a self-latching device at least 54 inches above the ground and open outwards from the pool. Gates other than pedestrian access gates must have a self-latching device at least 54 inches above the ground. Any drive-through gates must be secured with padlocks.

Swimming Pool Alarms

All private swimming pools built in Tennessee on or after January 1, 2011 are required to have an alarm. This applies to any residential swimming pool containing water that is more than 36 inches deep, including in-ground pools, above-ground pools and non-portable spas and hot tubs. The alarm must be fixed to the pool and be able to detect when an object or person heavier than 15 pounds enters the water, and the alarm sound must be 50 decibels or stronger so that it can be heard from inside a home.

About the Author

Claire is a qualified lawyer and specialized in family law before becoming a full-time writer. She has written for many digital publications, including The Washington Post, Forbes, Vice and HealthCentral.

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