Monday, July 20, 2009

Another Code Horror Story

City Deems $20,000 Pool Deck Illegal

I've written before that you need to check with your local building inspector before building a pool deck. It's not because I think codes are always perfect but because it can be very costly if you don't.

This particular case involves a man in Arkansas who built a very nice looking above ground pool deck for his family. As far as safety is concerned, there doesn't appear to be any problems. The problem is that there is supposedly an easement in his backyard that prohibits the building of a deck. So now the city is telling him to take down the entire $20,000 deck.

He claims that a building inspector told him it was fine to build there. Another inspector is saying no. I don't know all the facts of the story but if there is a lesson to be learned, perhaps it's that you shouldn't trust what some worker for the city says and you should double check and get the necessary permits before building.

You can check out this story from 4029 TV in Arkansas here.

As always, enjoy your pool.


Paul Ottaviano - How to Build Pool Decks

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cap and Trade and Your Deck

I usually don't get too involved with politics on this blog because most of it isn't related to building a pool deck. However, the Waxman-Markey climate change "cap and trade" bill making its way through Congress could have impact on your decking plans or even just your backyard.

For example...

The now famous "shade tree" requirement (Section 205) is a real part of the bill.

Those who voted for this bill - assuming they read it - would now like the government to be your chief landscaper. There will be "minimum required distances" between your trees and your home, as well as other things, like your pool deck.

Also, if this bill becomes law there will be "lighting efficiency standards". So those of you who just installed outdoor lighting that doesn't meet the government prescribed list of qualifications can expect what? An energy audit? I don't know.

I understand that many of you probably have different views on government, energy, and the environment.

My point here is not to force my personal views upon you but instead show how this bill could possibly impact your decking plans, your existing pool deck, or other DIY projects you have in mind for the future.

Waxman-Markey is a mammoth piece of legislation. At 1000 pages nobody can realistically be expected to read the whole thing in one sitting - most of the House didn't read it - but there are people out there who do just that and post their findings.

So I'll be keeping a close eye on this and anything that looks like it could affect your pool deck ideas or plans will be passed along to you.

You can view the bill for yourself here.


Paul Ottaviano - How to Build Pool Decks

Monday, July 6, 2009

Code Enforcement: Safety or Corruption?

Couple builds a pool deck and then is fined $5000.

I've written before that when building a deck around your pool you'll need to follow local building codes.

That said, I write that not out of love for all codes or building inspectors but instead out of genuine concern for your safety - and especially your wallet - because some local governments crack down hard on people who circumvent their local permit system.

With that in mind, take a look at this story out of Chicago's Daily Herald where a couple was fined $5000 for building a above ground pool deck without acquiring a permit.

Even more interesting are the reader's comments. Many are calling the village inspection department corrupt and incompetent. Others would make my libertarian friends proud by questioning the governments role in "pool deck safety".

Without passing any moral judgment on this one case or the people involved, my own general opinion on codes and inspectors is this...

If they're going to exist at all it should only be for safety reasons and not design preferences. And of course inspectors should be competent and honest. But back in the real world, some are incompetent and dishonest.

Also, codes should not be used as a system where you are forced to pay tribute to a local government just for "the right" to build a pool deck or help the government "raise revenue". And any "penalties" for "non-compliance" should not be draconian.

If someone builds an ugly deck, then they'll pay for it later when they try to sell their home. That's penalty enough.

What do you think?

Enjoy your pool! If you can.


Paul Ottaviano - How to build a swimming pool deck