Residential Swimming Pools

Rutherford County requires all outdoor, indoor, above-ground, and in-ground swimming pools to be surrounded by a barrier that complies with the 2018 International Swimming Pool and Spa Code.

Barrier Height and Clearances

1. The top of the barrier shall be a minimum of 48" above grade where measured on the side of the barrier that faces away from the pool. Such height shall be maintained around the entire perimeter of the barrier and for a distance of 3' horizontally from the outside of the barrier.

2. The vertical clearance between grade, such as grass or mulch, and the bottom of the barrier shall not exceed 2".

3. The vertical clearance between a solid surface, such as concrete, and the bottom of the barrier shall not exceed 4".

4.Where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure, the vertical clearance between the top of the pool and the bottom of the barrier shall not exceed 4".

Pool Wall as the Barrier (above-ground only)

If the pool wall is to be utilized as the barrier it shall be no less than 48" from finished grade to top of the pool wall for the entire perimeter of the pool. This measurement will be taken after the desired topsoil has been backfilled back around the pool. Please ensure this is complete before calling for a Final Inspection. Upon completion of setup, the installers will instruct you to start filling the pool with water. You may fill the pool up to 24" to complete the backfilling around the pool. If it appears that the backfilling will extend above 24" please call your inspector for instruction as you will likely be required to provide an alternative barrier for the pool. The ladder should not be installed, and the pool may NOT be filled more than 24" and my NOT be used without first requesting and receiving a Final Inspection by this office.

Solid Barrier Surfaces

Solid barriers that do not have openings shall not contain indentations or protrusions that form handholds and footholds, except for normal construction tolerances and tooled masonry joints.

Chain Link Fence as a Barrier

The maximum opening formed by a chain link fence shall be no more than 1 3/4". Where the fence is provided with slats fastened at the top and bottom that reduce the openings shall be no more than 1 3/4".

Wood Privacy Fence as a Barrier

Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members and the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is less than 45", the horizontal members shall be located on the pool side of the fence. Spacing between vertical members shall not exceed 1 3/4" in width. Where there are decorative cutouts within the vertical members, the interior width of the cutouts shall not exceed 1 3/4".

Wrought Iron Fences as a Barrier

Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members and the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is 45" or more, spacing between vertical members shall not exceed 4".

Barrier Composed of Diagonal Members

Where the barrier is composed of diagonal members, the maximum opening formed by the diagonal members shall not be greater than 1 3/4". The angle of the diagonal members shall not be more than 45 degrees.

Structure Wall as a Barrier

Where a wall of a dwelling or structure serves as part of the barrier and one or more doors or windows provide direct access through that wall, one of the following will be required:

1. Operable windows with a still height of not less than 48" above the finished floor and doors shall have an alarm that produces an audible warning when the window or door are opened. The alarm shall be listed and labeled as a water hazard entrance alarm in accordance with UL2017.

2. A safety cover that is listed and labeled in accordance with ASTMF1346 is installed on the pool.


Access gates shall be equipped to accommodate a locking device.  Pedestrian gates shall open outward away from the pool, shall be self-closing and shall have a self-latching device.

Double gates- One side of the double gate must be secured in place: the adjacent gate shall be secured with a self-latching device.

The gate shall not have openings larger than 1/2" within 18" of the latch release mechanism.

Latches- where the release mechanism of the self-latching device is located less than 54" from grade, the release mechanism shall be located on the pool side of the gate no less than 3" below the top of the gate. The gate shall not have any openings greater than 1/2" within 18" of the release mechanism.

Clear Zone from Barrier

There shall be a clear zone a minimum of 3' between the exterior of the barrier and any permanent structures or equipment such as pumps, filters and heaters that can be used to climb the barrier.

Poolside Barrier Setbacks

The poolside of the barrier shall be a minimum of 20" from the water's edge.

To download a copy of these requirements, click here.

What do I need to obtain a pool permit with Rutherford County?

In order to verify that your swimming pool will not encroach your septic tanks, lines or designated duplicate area, you will need to provide a copy of the design layout of your Subsurface Sewage Disposal System (septic system).  If you do not have a copy of this form, please visit the Tennessee Department of Environmental and Conservation office (Room 215 of our office building).   A Zoning Compliance Form will also need to be obtained from the Rutherford County Planning and Engineering Department (Room 200 of our office building) prior to permit issuance.  You will be asked to locate the proposed location of the swimming pool on grid paper, this drawing does not have to be to scale but the dimensions, etc. must be accurate. Please click here for a diagram form and here for an example of how to fill it out.  The building inspector will use all of the above mentioned paperwork to complete your Final Pool Inspection, in order to avoid unnecessary delays in permit issuance or completing the inspection, it is advised that you take the time to take measurements and know the exact location of your pool prior to coming to our office to obtain your permit.

Issuance of a Permit

To issue a Building Permit for a residential swimming pool permit the Property Owner must sign a Swimming Pool Barrier and Alarm Agreement and have it notarized (can be completed at Building Codes Office when permit is issued if homeowner is obtaining the permit him/herself).  This form ensures that you, as the property owner, understand all the barrier design controls required prior to the Final Inspection.  In addition to the Building Permit fee which is charged based on the value of your pool, there is a fully refundable deposit of $100 due at the time of permit issuance.  This deposit will be fully refunded to the recipient upon completion of the Final Inspection within 6 months from the date of permit issuance.  This should not, however, be misinterpreted as having 6 months to call for your Final Inspection.  As mentioned above, the swimming pool cannot be used until all the Barrier requirements have been met and a Final Inspection has been completed and passed.  It is the responsibility of the Property Owner/permit holder to call for the Final Inspection.  If a Final Inspection is not requested and the 6-month time period expires, this does not relieve you of the requirements of the Barrier Agreement you signed.  If a Final Inspection is not requested, the permit will become null and void and the swimming pool will be deemed an illegal structure.

Forms and Checklists

Safety Barrier Guidelines for Home Pools

Swimming Pool Barrier and Alarm Agreement

Swimming Pool Diagram

Example of a Swimming Pool Diagram

Final Swimming Pool Inspection Checklist

ICC Pool, Spa and Hot Tub Safety