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Ask an Edina Realty Lawyer: What are the rules and ordinances for adding a backyard pool?

backyard pool

Homeownership can be complicated, but we also think it’s one of the most rewarding ventures out there. In our series, Ask an Edina Realty Lawyer, we are hoping to demystify some of the trickier aspects of buying, selling and owning a home.

In this edition, one of our lawyers discusses how homeowners can enjoy summer fun while complying with local ordinances related to pool installation, safety and late night noise.

Dear Edina Realty Legal,

Dear Edina Realty Legal,

I’m considering installing a pool for some summer fun. Do I need to be aware of any legal issues in adding a pool to my backyard? I’m also hoping to install an outdoor sound system near the pool.

It sounds like you know how to enjoy summer! As you can imagine, there are a few requirements you need to comply with before getting a pool in your backyard.

Getting a building permit for your pool

In Minnesota and Wisconsin, if you will be getting an in-ground pool, a building permit is required before construction can begin. Depending on the work that needs to be done to install the pool, you may also need to get other permits, including:

  • Plumbing permits
  • Electrical permits
  • Mechanical permits

Check local requirements on location and mechanical elements

Your local jurisdiction likely has specific requirements as to where a pool can be located on your property. For example, the City of Andover requires all backyard pools to be at least ten feet away from the side and rear property lines — but also at least six feet away from your house.

But the location of the pool itself is not the only consideration. Many jurisdictions also have specific requirements as to where the mechanical elements of a pool may be located. The City of Watertown, as an example, requires any noise-making mechanical equipment to be at least 25 feet away from any residential structure on a neighboring property.

Last, even if you decide to go with an above-ground pool, you may still need a building permit. The City of Chippewa Falls requires a permit for all pools, including above-ground pools, that are at least three feet in depth. And Minnesota state law requires a building permit for any above-ground pool that exceeds 5,000 gallons of water and has a depth of at least two feet.

It is important to note that the installation of an in-ground pool takes significant time. If you start the process mid-summer, it is likely you will be making your splash the following year as installation may not be complete until the weather turns cool. If you are looking for a more immediate solution for cooling down, a simple above-ground pool may be the answer.

Follow local safety requirements when adding a pool

As you start imagining what your yard will look like with a pool, be sure to imagine a fence as well. Your local jurisdiction will likely have specific requirements as to fencing, and may require you to obtain a fence permit, along with all the other permits for the pool construction.

In general, a fence is required for most in-ground pools. And while above-ground pools do not typically require the installation of a fence, there are often requirements that the pool be secured. This can mean removing the ladder up to the pool or installing a locking mechanism to prevent anyone from being able to climb the ladder when you are not present.

One last note on requirements and restrictions: If you live in a community with a homeowner’s association, do not forget to check the HOA’s rules and approval requirements.

Consider noise ordinances before planning nightly pool parties

Now that we have taken care of your pool, I wanted to offer some advice on your new sound system. Having a few guests and enjoying music is a great way to enjoy summer to the fullest, but it’s important to keep your neighbors — and the local laws — in mind.

Many cities have noise ordinances restricting amplified music at certain times. The City of Plymouth, for one, prohibits the playing of any music that can be heard beyond the property line from 10pm to 7am. Other jurisdictions have similar requirements.

I hope this did not ruin your excitement! Installing your pool legally will avoid many headaches, and visits from the local inspector, in the future.

Looking for more details, including costs and pool styles? Take a deeper dive into five things to consider before adding a backyard pool.

The Edina Realty Legal Department serves as in-house counsel for Edina Realty and does not represent private clients. This insight is not intended to provide legal advice.

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