Land Development Services

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Regular hours for calls and emails are 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 9:15 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Friday.

TTY 711

12055 Government Center Pkwy
Fairfax, VA 22035

Bill Hicks,

Pools, Spas and Hot Tubs

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

This information is the most common for how to obtain the necessary permits for your project and is not representative of all the conditions you may encounter. 

Permits & Fees

You must obtain a swimming pool building permit for any pool with a surface area greater than 150 square feet, a capacity over 5,000 gallons or more, or a depth of 24 inches or more. You must also obtain a mechanical or plumbing permit (for fuel-fired heaters) and an electrical permit (for lighting, outlets and filter/circulating equipment). A portable, self-contained spa or hot tub on a slab usually only requires an electrical permit.

To demo an existing pool you must obtain a demolition permit, with a submitted plat or grading plan, which will require site, zoning and health (if applicable) reviews. No additional cut-off letters, cap-off's or demo-bonds are required for a pool demo.

Site-related Plans

To determine your project’s impact on your property, one of the site-related plan types listed below must be submitted. To learn more, see our Site-Related Plans publication or contact: 703-222-0801, TTY 711.

  • Conservation Plan
    A conservation plan is much like a house location plat, but also shows erosion and sediment control measures. You can use one when your project disturbs 5,000 square feet or less and drainage improvements and water quality controls are not required. If you do not meet these conditions, you must submit a grading plan.
  • Grading Plan
    A grading plan is a drawing of your site which shows topography, new construction and improvements and is required when your project disturbs more than 2,500 square feet, blocks existing drainage patterns or soil is to be cut or filled more than 18 inches.

Building Plans

When applying for a permit the plans must meet or show the following, if applicable:

  • Minimum scale of ¼ inch = 1 foot; fully dimensioned.
  • Minimum sheet size: 8 ½ x 11 inches
  • Code year used for the design.
  • Name, address and occupation of the designer.
  • If prepared by a Virginia registered design professional, show the electronic signature, seal and date.
  • List of materials used, including concrete strength and yield stress of steel strength.
  • Method of pool discharge drainage.
  • Wall section with size and spacing of reinforcing steel for concrete/gunite pools.
  • Manufacturer’s specifications for fiberglass pools, spas and hot tubs.
  • Assembly instructions for above-ground pools.

Pool Barrier Requirements

All outdoor pools, spas and hot tubs must be protected with a barrier (fence) that meets the requirements of the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code, Section 305. The requirements for pool barriers are intended to provide protections against accidental drownings by preventing children from entering the pool area unattended. Some examples and key requirements are below for easy reference.

Powered safety covers for pools and lockable safety covers for spas and hot tubs can be substituted for barriers if designed to meet ASTM 1346.

General Requirements

  • No opening in the barrier shall allow the passage of a 4-inch sphere.
  • Minimum height shall be 48 inches above grade measured on the outside of the barrier.
  • There shall be a clear zone of at least 3 feet between the outside of the barrier and any permanent, climbable structure includes (includes pool pumps, filters, heaters, etc.).
  • The inside of the barrier must be at least 20 inches from the water’s edge.
  • The clearance from the bottom of the barrier shall be:
    • 2 inches or less to grass, gravel or mulch.
    • 4 inches or less to concrete, wood or other hard surface.
    • 4 inches or less between the top of an above-ground pool and bottom of the barrier when the barrier is installed directly on the above ground pool.

Solid Barriers

Solid Barriers

  • No protrusions or indents other than normal joints or normal construction tolerances.

Mesh Fences

Mesh Fences

  • Install in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions and:
  • Bottom not more than 1 inch above decking or grade
  • Shall not allow the passage of a 4-inch sphere under any panel, even when lifted.
  • Attachment devices connecting the panels must be at least 45 inches above grade.
  • If there is a gate, make sure it meets requirements for gates in section 305.3 of this code.
  • Mesh fences may not be installed directly on top of above-ground pools.
  • Mesh fences such as Protect-A-Child or Life Saver Pool Fence are permitted provided such barriers meet the requirements of the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code.

Horizontal and Vertical Member Fences

Condition 1: Tops of Horizontal Members less than 45 inches apart

Horizontal Fence

  • If the tops of the horizontal members are less than 45 inches apart, they must be on the pool side of the barrier, and…
  • Spacing of vertical members may not exceed 1 ¾”
  • If there are decorative cutouts, spacing within the cutouts shall not exceed 1 ¾”

Condition 2: Tops of Horizontal Members 45 inches apart or greater

Horizontal Fence

  • If the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is 45 inches or more, they may be on either side of the barrier
  • The spacing between vertical members shall not exceed 4 inches, and
  • If there are decorative cutouts in the vertical members, the interior width of the cutout shall not exceed 1 ¾”

Chain Link Fence

Chain Link Fence

  • The maximum opening formed by chain link shall not be more than 1 ¾”
  • Access gate:
    • Must meet barrier requirements.
    • Must be self-closing/latching and swing away from pool.
    • There shall be no openings ½ inch or greater within 18 inches of the latch.
    • If the latch is less than 54 inches from grade, it must be located on the pool side of the barrier and be at least 3 inches from top of gate.
  • When a wall of a dwelling or structure is part of the enclosure and doors or windows in that wall directly access the pool area,
    • Openable windows with sill heights less than 48 inches shall have a water hazard entrance alarm as listed in UL 2017 or,
    • A safety cover as listed and labeled in accordance with ASTM F 1346,
    • Other approved means of protection such as self-closing and latching doors that provide equivalent protections to the above requirements.

Miss Utility

Before you begin excavating for your project, you must first call Miss Utility at 811, TTY 711. Miss Utility is a free service that marks underground utilities.

Temporary Pool?


Kids pools that are drained and filled daily with less than 24 inches of water ARE NOT required to meet county regulations.


On-ground portable and storable pools installed seasonally ARE required to meet county regulations.

Other Requirements

Swimming pools, spas and hot tubs must also meet the highlighted requirements listed below. All other requirements and design standards can be found in the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code.

  • Energy Conservation:
    • Heaters shall have an accessible on-off switch that can be activated without adjusting the thermostat.
    • Gas heaters shall not be equipped with a continuous pilot burner.
    • Heaters and pumps serving swimming pools shall be controlled by timers that can automatically turn equipment on and off.
    • Heated pools and spas must be equipped with a vapor retardant cover.
  • Pool areas, patios and decks:
    • Areas around pools, spas and hot tubs shall have surfaces that are slip resistant.
    • Surfaces shall be sloped to prevent standing water.  Typical slopes are ⅛- to ½-inch per foot depending on the type of surface.
    • Edges of decks and patio shall be rounded or tapered with no sharp corners.
    • Decks and patios shall have access to an outdoor hose for rinsing operations.
  • Safety:
    • Pool filtering and circulation systems shall be designed to prevent suction entrapment.
    • Pools with depths greater than 42 inches shall have handholds located a maximum of 12 inches above the waterline and no more than 4 feet apart.
    • Pools shall not have obstructions that can cause entrapments by pinching or wedging.
    • Pools with varying depth shall have a rope float in the shallow end within 1 to 2 feet of the slope-break.
  • Recreation Equipment:
    • Pools equipped with diving equipment shall have a clear area free of obstructions and a depth as required by the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code.
    • Diving equipment shall be labeled by the manufacturer and slip resistant.
    • Slides are permitted and shall be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Where can I put my pool?

Zoning regulations restrict the location of a pool as follows:

  • Pools in rear and side yards are permitted with limitations.
  • Pools in front yards are permitted in lots over 36,000 square feet with limitations (corner lots are considered to have two front yards).
  • The mechanical pool equipment, including the pump, filters, etc., none of which are more than 10 feet in width, may extend 5 feet into any minimum required yard, but not closer than 5 feet to any lot line. If there are separate pieces of pool equipment, each piece individually may not exceed 10 feet in width. 
  • The pool barrier is also subject to the zoning regulations for a fence.

For more information, please contact Zoning Permits Branch, Department of Planning and Development, at 703-222-1082, TTY 711.

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