Pool safety is a top priority in the state of Texas and its municipalities. Residential pool owners and owners of semi-public and public pools in the Lone Star State must take a number of measures to ensure the safety of their pools.
This includes installing fencing, gates, locks, additional drains, having safety equipment readily available, and acquiring the proper permits when building.
What Do Texas Pool Laws Cover?
Texas laws cover all types of pools, from above-ground to in-ground. They cover residential swimming pools, as well as public and semi-public pools. Many individual Texas municipalities also have their own ordinances covering swimming pools.
With the exception of residential swimming pools, all pools in Texas are divided into classes. They are:
- Class A: Pools typically used for accredited competitive events. Users may or may not need to pay to use. Class A pools can also be used for recreation.
- Class B: Pools used by general public for recreation and may or may not have fee for use.
- Class C: Pools used in apartments, condominiums, hotels, motels and mobile home parks; clubs, private organizations, clubs, homeowners associations (HOAs); and schools. Used by occupants, members, students and their guests.
- Class D: Pools are wading pools with a 24-inch maximum water depth at any point.
Swimming Pool Location Requirements
Municipalities in Texas have specific requirements for the location of a swimming pool as it relates to property lines and buildings, with measurements taken from the structure and not from the pool’s edge. The state generally does not allow swimming pools to be placed in front yards.
Distance requirements can vary from place to place. For example, the City of Denison requires that pools must be a minimum of 5 feet from a house and 5 feet from property lines; the City of Wylie requires a minimum setback of 3 feet from a structure and 5 feet from property lines.
Is a Fence Required Around a Pool in a Fenced Yard?
Texas state law requires that all pools in the state must be enclosed by a fence at least 48 inches tall. It must not be made from climbable material, like chain link fencing. A fence’s climbable features (for example, horizontal slats) can exist only on the inside of the fence.
A sphere of 4 inches or more cannot pass under or through a pool fence, and the fence’s decorative openings must be less than 1 and 3/4 inches in all directions.
A pool’s fence or barrier must have self-closing and self-latching gates equipped with locks that are out of reach of small children. Permanent structures or other equipment may not be placed or built in a way that makes it easy to climb a pool yard enclosure.
Pool Gates, Doors and Windows
All gates accessing a swimming pool must be at least 48 inches tall and follow fencing regulations. Gates must have functionality for self-closing and self-latching and must lock by padlock, combination lock, keypad or key card. Pool gates must open away from a pool; they must also have a latch that children cannot open if the gate were unlocked.
Some homes in Texas have windows that face toward pools or direct entrances to the pool from the house. When a home’s door leads to a pool, Texas law requires the door to have a “keyless bolting device” a minimum of 36 inches from the ground.
If the property has sliding doors, they should have a bar-and-pin lock; French doors should have a deadbolt. Windows providing access from a home to a pool must be permanently sealed.
Pool Alarms or Safety Systems
Residential swimming pools in Texas must have pool alarms or safety systems. If the wall of a property owner’s home is a boundary to the pool, they must install an alarm on doors and windows that open to it.
When someone enters the pool, an alarm should sound. The alarm should be located high enough on a wall to be out of the reach of children.
Can Property Owners Build Their Own Pool in Texas?
A homeowner can indeed build their own pool in Texas. However, building a pool can be complex and expensive. It involves several different aspects of construction and safety that homeowners may not be aware of.
The property owner must do their homework to ensure that they are in compliance with all applicable building codes and regulations in their area.
State and Local Pool Regulations
State and local building codes in Texas specify requirements for swimming pool design, construction and safety features, and some of these vary from place to place.
These requirements include standards for every system that is part of a pool installation, including fencing, electrical wiring and plumbing. A homeowner may consider hiring licensed contractors for some aspects of the project.
Does Texas Require Permits for Building a Pool?
Texas requires permits for pool building, as swimming pools are subject to state and municipal building codes and safety regulations. Homeowners will typically need to obtain permits from their city or county building department before starting construction, which can take between a few days or a few weeks to get, depending on the complexity of the project.
Specific permits and approvals required for building a pool vary based on the location, size of the pool and how complex the build is.
A person interested in building a pool typically needs to submit detailed plans and specifications for the job, as well as show that the pool will comply with all applicable building codes and safety standards. A homeowner may need approvals from other entities like their local zoning board or health department.
Pool Permit Fees
The property owner can visit their local authority office or website to request an application form for a permit. The price for a permit varies from place to place. For example:
- In Greenville, Texas, permits cost $50 for a residential swimming pool.
- In Seguin, Texas, a permit to build a pool is $50 for above-ground pools and $225 for in-ground pools.
- In Frisco, Texas, a permit to build a pool is $100 for above-ground pools; $200 for in-ground pools; and $225 for in-ground pools with spas.
Penalties for Violation of Texas Swimming Pool Laws
The exact amount of the fine a person will have to pay for violating Texas swimming pool laws depends on violation committed. The average fine is typically between $200 and $1,000 for each day of the violation.
A homeowner who attempts to build a pool without a permit may not only face significant fines, but can also be required to demolish the pool. According to Texas Local Government Code, neighborhood protection officials have the power to charge the homeowner with the cost of repairing a defective swimming pool barrier.
Texas Requirements for Keeping Pools Sanitary
Semi-public and public pools in Texas have greater requirements for cleanliness and safety than residential private pools. For example:
- A person in charge of a public swimming pool or an artificial swimming lagoon (an artificial body of water with at least 20,000 square feet of surface area) must keep it in sanitary condition.
- Bacterial content of this body of water must not exceed the safe limits of at least 1.0 part of free residual chlorine for each one million units of water.
- Public swimming pool water may not show an acid reaction on a standard pH test.
- Pool’s construction must be such that it offers the minimum possibility of drowning or injury.
A pool’s bathhouse and surroundings must be kept clean and sanitary at all times. A person who has, or is suspected to have, a transmissible infection or communicable disease will not be allowed to swim in the pool.
Semi-public and Public Pool Facilities in Texas
Texas has rules for semi-public and public pools. For example, a public swimming pool must have approved bathroom facilities, and dressing rooms must contain showers. If the facility has bathing suits and towels available for swimmers, they must be washed with soap and hot water and thoroughly rinsed and dried after each use.
Combs and hairbrushes used by at least two people will not be distributed or permitted in a swimming pool’s bathhouse. Food and beverages may not be prohibited.
Separate throwing ropes longer than two-thirds of the maximum width of public pools are not required, but Class C or semi-private pools, must have ring buoys with throwing ropes and reaching poles located every 2,000 square feet of pool surface area up to 6,000 square feet. Beyond that, another set of these is required for each additional 4,000 square feet of pool surface.
Public Swimming Pool Safety Signs in Texas
While all pools in Texas require fences, semi-public and public pools have considerably more safety regulations. A pool typically does not require a lifeguard if it has no diving board and the proper signs indicate that a lifeguard is not on duty.
If a property has a water slide or a lazy river, it must have a lifeguard when the attraction is open to guests.
Other signs that must be posted include a sign indicating the maximum number of people allowed in the pool; the location of the emergency phone which must be accessible within 200 feet of the pool with instructions on how to use it; and a list of pool rules. The phone must be lighted and directly connect to emergency services.
Disabled Access for Swimming Pools in Texas
ADA laws require public places, like hotels that have pools, to provide access for disabled persons. This is usually by way of a pool lift. The lift must be attached to the pool deck and functioning when the pool is open. Staff must be trained on lift operation and maintenance.
The lift’s batteries must be have an ample charge. Additionally, a pool lift should not have a cover unless the disabled person can move the cover themselves without assistance from staff.
Drain Cover Requirements for Swimming Pools
Semi-public and public pools in Texas must have drain covers that meet the standard of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (VGBA), a federal law that establishes drain cover design requirements and configurations for public and semi-public swimming pools.
If a pool has one main drain, the pool’s owner or operator must either disable it or install an additional anti-entrapment device, such as an automatic shut-off system, suction-limiting vent system or gravity drainage system.
If a pool has two or more multiple main drains that are more than 3 feet apart, or has a single main drain that is unblockable, the pool operator does not have to fulfill this requirement.
- Texas Administrative Code: Chapter 265 General Sanitation Subchapter L Public Swimming Pools and Spas
- City of Denison: Online Permitting and Registration
- City of Wylie: Article VIII Swimming Pool Code
- Arnold & Itkin: Texas Pool Safety Lawyers
- Quality Pool Service Inc: What Happens if You Put Up a Pool Without a Permit?
- City of Greenville: Swimming Pool Permit Brochure
- City of Seguin: Pool Permit Application
- City of Frisco: Permit, Inspection and Miscellaneous Consolidated Fee Schedule
- Texas Statutes: Title 7 Chapter 214 Municipal Regulation of Housing and Other Structures Subchapter A. Dangerous Structures
- Texas Statutes: Health and Safety Code General Provisions
- Texas Lodging: Join THLA Member Portal Find Lodging Keeping Your Pool Area Safe
- AA Health: Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act
- Legal Beagle: Codes & Regulations for Swimming Pools
- Legal Beagle: Swimming Pool Fence Laws in Georgia
- Legal Beagle: Tennessee Laws for Private Swimming Pools
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.