How Much Room For An Inground Pool?

backyard lawn with beige shed and green grass

If you are considering putting in a pool, there are quite a few factors to ponder.  First, where do you put the pool?  Do you need to build a fence or do you already have one that’ll meet code?  Does your municipality let you use the house as part of the pool fence or do you need a fence between the house and the pool?  And finally, how to determine how much room for an inground pool will you need?

How To Determine How Much Room For An Inground Pool

First, locate your property survey.  There should be a survey or plot plan somewhere in your closing documents.  If not, contact your local building department and ask them where you can find the survey for your property.  It may be at the registry of deeds, the zoning administrator, the town lister, or otherwise.  This plan will show you your lot shape and the footprint of your house on the lot.  It may also show easements and other restrictions on where you can build on your property.  

You must always consider utilities.  Call 811 and have the underground utilities located on your property.  Sometimes you’ll have a gas line or an electrical line running right through the pool area.  If you  can relocate the utility, that’s great.  It’s better to know ahead of time you’ll have the added expense of utility relocation than to get most of the way through the design process only to learn of their existence.

Can You Put A Pool In The Front Yard?

Typically you cannot put the pool in the front yard.  There are some municipalities which will allow this, but very few.  Whether or not your fence meets code is likely a question you’ll need answered with professional help.  There are so many dimensional requirements for fences and you’ll need to comply with all of them.  And to make matters more complex it’s not uncommon for one municipality to permit 4’ fences and when you cross the line into another municipality all of a sudden you need 5’ fences.  There is no pattern or rule of thumb.  You always must consider the local codes and how they impact your project.

How Much Room For An Inground Pool?

Now that you have your property survey and know your fence requirements, you can move on to the next step.  So how much room you need for an inground pool anyway?  That is something you can determine pretty easily with some quick research.  First, look at your local zoning regulations.  There typically will be a section called ‘dimensional requirements’ which will cover building setbacks.  

Sometimes a swimming pool is considered it’s own category of improvement with it’s own set of setbacks.  Other times a swimming pool is considered an ‘accessory structure’ like a shed or garage and must comply with those setbacks.  And still in other circumstances a pool is considered the same as a residence, and will need to comply with the same setbacks as if you were building a house. 

In some rare situations, pools are zoned along with ponds, and with the same regulations which are often quite loose and unregulated.  If there’s any ambiguity at all, call your local building inspector and they will point you in the right direction.

How To Determine Distance From Pool To The House

However, this only gives you part of the story. Dimensional regulations typically only speak to the distance from the pool to the property line.  Sometimes, there are dimensional regulations between the pool and the house, or the pool and any other structure on the property.  However, in most cases the distance from the pool to the house is determined by two major factors.  These will impact how much room for an inground pool you ultimately have.

First, the distance from the pool to the house is determined by the windows.  If you have windows within 5’ of the water’s edge of the pool, you will need to replace the glass in those windows with tempered glass to make the pool code compliant.  In my early days of designing pools I failed to take this into consideration and had a very upset client on my hands when we had to replace one of their perfectly good windows halfway through construction.  

Next there’s the structural aspect.  If you have a full basement and you draw a 45 degree line from the bottom of the basement footing up toward the pool, and the pool intersects that line your pool will impact the foundation of the house.  Likewise, if you have a stem wall or a slab, your pool will impact the structure of the home.  You will need an engineer to sign off on the design of the pool relative to the house.  You don’t want to cause any structural issues for the home by putting in the pool.  

Where To Begin Once You Have Maximum Pool Size

Once you know how far you can build from the property line, and how close you can build to the house, you have the maximum size pool determined.  Now you know how much room for an inground pool you have.  From here, you can design what you want and hopefully fit it all in.  If you can’t you can always ask for a variance which would allow you to violate zoning setbacks. 

However, in the majority of cases, you must prove a ‘hardship’ of some kind which would be an unique situation which applies only to you which would allow you to violate the zoning setbacks.  As you might imagine, the zoning board of appeals rarely will grant a variance because if they do, everyone will simply ask for a variance instead of complying with the zoning setbacks.  However, it is never a bad idea to ask, though it’ll delay getting started on your project.

backyard of a home with a brown patio and grass turf grass showing how much room for an inground pool as 20 feet by 6 feet

How Much Room For An Inground Pool Summary

Once you know how much room you have, you can compare that with how much room for an inground pool. You will need at least 8-10 feet in two directions to put in a small dipping or plunge pool. If you have this leftover you have space to put in a pool.  If you have 20’ x 6’ that can be a decent plunge pool or cocktail pool also.  In the end, just make sure you have enough space to do what you want inside the pool.  You are the ultimate judge of how much room for an inground pool. If you’re planning a pool, you may also want to know how much an inground pool costs.