Not only are pool enclosures
and fences an aesthetically-pleasing way to keep critters out of your pool, it also keeps your pool safe from liabilities (such as children or other unwanted visitors). Studies have shown that isolation fencing (pool fences) vs. property barriers (perimeter fencing) to be much more effective in reducing the rate of acidental drowning. Additionally, certain types of fencing are more effective at keeping children out than others. Specifically, easily-climbed fences with ample visibility such as chain link fences are much less effective pool barriers than non-climb fences. AN example of non-climb fecne is ornamental aluminum fences which allow for visibility, yet are unable to be scaled. Not to mention, great fence looks! To ensure safety, states have imposed pool fence laws and regulations
regarding very specific pool barriers.
Virginia has imposed the following Pool Fence Codes.
All outdoor pools, spas, and hot tubs with a depth of over 2 feet (24 inches) require a fence/barrier enclosurement around it. The enclosure must be non-climbable, and a minimum of 48 inches above completed ground level.
Details of Pool fence Regulations:
Non-climbable barriers are required
- Solid barriers, such as brick walls, must have no protrusions or indentations.
- Horizontal design elements less than 45 inches apart must be on the inside face; vertical elements must be spaced at 1 ¾ inches or less.
- Horizontal design elements greater than or equal to 45 inches apart are permitted to be located on either side of the barrier; vertical elements must be spaced at four inches or less.
- Openings which constitute a pattern capable of being climbable (such as chain-link) must be limited to 1 ¾ inches when measured horizontally.
- 2 inches maximum between ground level and bottom of the fence/barrier.
- 4 inches maximum between the top of an above-ground pool and the bottom of the fence/barrier.
- Less than 4 inches for all other openings that do not constitute a pattern of being climbable.
- 1 ¾ inches (measured horizontally) or 1 ¼ inches (diagonally) for openings in chain link or lattice-type barriers or other barriers with diagonal design elements.
- Must meet non-climbable barrier requirements.
- Must be self-closing/self-latching and swing away from the pool.
- Latches must be 54 inches (4 ½ feet) from bottom and at least three inches from the top of the gate on the pool side.
- There shall be no openings one half inch or greater within 18 inches of the latch.
- Must be labeled in accordance with UL 2017.
- Must sound immediately and continuously for 30 seconds.
- Must be heard throughout the house and reset automatically.
- Must be capable of being deceived temporarily
- Must be located 54 inches above the door threshold.
*Safety covers for spas and hot tubs meeting ASTM F1346 may be substituted for barriers*
Read more on pool fence maintenance at eHow
Pool fences are a vital safety component when you own a swimming pool. Many states, including New York and California, require that a fence be installed around a swimming pool as a way of preventing the accidental drowning of children and animals. Pool fences can be made of chain link, wood planks or other materials, but what they have in common is being susceptible to damage. As a pool owner, it requires some diligence to protect your fence and ensure it stays in top condition.
One of the biggest mistakes homeowners can make when installing a fence is not checking to see what the by-laws of their Homeowners Association (HOA) require. Do not assume that what your neighbors have previously done with their fence is okay! Just because the neighbors did it, doesn't mean that the HOA approved the project.
I recall a particular job where we were scheduled to install a chain link fence, and the customer called to tell us that the HOA informed her that no chain link was allowed in their community. There were already several yards in the neighborhood that had used chain link. Because of this, we didn't suspect that the chainlink would be a problem. This assumption was wrong. The HOA actually directed the chainlink fence homeowners to remove the unapproved fences from the entire neighborhood.
In another instance we had a customer who submitted her information to the HOA weeks in advance. She assumed that because she had not heard from the HOA that the fence was approved, and she had us install her fence. The HOA later stated that they never received her question. They made her redo her fence because she didn't get approval for the style she selected. As you can see, this can be a very costly mistake.
Typically, a HOA can take anywhere from one week to six weeks to approve your fence project. Generally speaking, you have to to get the HOA's approval whenever you do anything to the exterior of your residence. This can include painting and landscaping. Many HOA ordinances and rules prevent you from constructing chain link, split rail, or wire containment fences because they are not aesthetically appealing. If you install one without HOA approval, you can almost be sure you will have to tear it down or face serious fines, as well as aggravation and time consumption.
Following are suggestions for getting HOA getting approval for your fence project.
1. Read the regulations provided by the HOA thoroughly. Make sure that you have the most updated version. Call the HOA president or another board member with all questions you have regarding the specific regulations. Document the date and time of call, the name of the person with whom you spoke with, as well as what was said during the conversation.
2. Make notes on what you want to communicate in your letter to the HOA. In your correspondence try to anticipate any questions the HOA board may have about your project. Always include possible solutions to any problem you think the board may have with your planned project.
3. Enclose blueprints, pictures and project drawings. Also, be sure to include the specific dimensions of your project and any other pertinent details in your letter. Include images or colors of the materials you will be using. Be clear and precise so your letter will be easily understood.
4. Make copies of your letter to keep for your records. Mail your request to the homeowners association. Be sure you have included the best ways for members to contact you, such as giving them both a home and work telephone number.
5. Follow up on your letter if you are not contacted within a week after mailing. Confirm your letter has been received and ask for a date by which the board will render a decision on the plans for your property.
6. Appeal for a variance if your request is denied and you still want to pursue your plans. An appeal hearing may then be scheduled during which you can present your case to the entire board. You can enlist the support of your neighbors to help bolster your argument.
The bottom line is to be sure to get the approval of the HOA FIRST. It is not up to your fence company to find out the rules and regulations or to get approval of the HOA. A longstanding and professional fence company can help advise you in this process. They can also supply you with fence samples and pictures of existing installations to help you get the approval of the HOA before starting construction on the fence.
Article contributed by Chuck Billmyer.
In Richmond Vignia the need for a fence permit varies depending on the zoning for the property on which the fence will placed. The height and type of fence being installed can affect this need as well. Typically, commercial and industrial areas are allowed to have a six-foot tall fence, whereas in a residential area, you are limited to four or five feet.
In most cases the City of Richmond does not require a building permit as long as the fence is not above six feet in height. The Zoning Administrative Office also allows an additional 1 ½ feet for fence posts, columns, and gates. If you intend on putting barbed wire on top of your fence, you must have that detail approved prior to the installation of your fence.
If the property is located in districts R-6, R-7 or R-63, fences cannot exceed four feet in height in front of the property. The front of the property is defined as the area between the street line and the main building wall.
In addition, if the building is located in a historic area, the Commission of Architectural Review must approve the fence.
Before you begin any construction, it is always a good idea to have the property surveyed, so that the actual property lines are easy to identify. It’s never a good idea to build a fence only to find out that an entire side is on your neighbor’s property and needs to be removed and reinstalled. As well as a surveyor coming to the property, Miss Utility must also be called in to locate any underground utilities.
This information is pretty easy to find, if you know where to look. I went to the City of Richmond’s website www.richmondgov.com. From there I searched for fence in the Google search box and looked through the results until I found the information I was looking for.
If you are a homeowner you can go directly to the resident area and find your specific area of permit information.
If you have a home in the outlying areas of Henrico County or Hanover County you may follow the same method for reviewing fence permit needs or you may contact our Hurricane Fence Richmond office for immediate and professional assistance. As a locally owned and operated business we are very familiar with the Richmond Metropolitan Area fence permit needs.
Article contributed by fence professional Meagan Kenny.
SUMMER IS FUN!
And so is your very own a backyard pool. It can be a great source of exercise and relaxation. Kids and adults can join in on the fun, but pools must be made safe for all!
Yes, there are very specific safety regulations on pool fence gates. The BOCA (Building Officials and Code Administrators) is a code that governs pool barriers and gates, among many other building codes. It calls for all pool gates to be self-closing and latching. The latches and hinges can and will differ depending on style of fence.
Ornamental fence pool gates use a self-closing hinge in which the spring is actually located inside the hinge. This latch must be mounted at least 54” high from ground in order to be out of the reach of curious children. These latches also have a spring-loaded knob that can be easily height adjusted to meet code requirements.
Wood fence pool gates employ a strap hinge that is in no way spring loaded. A sturdy spring can be added to the post in order to force gate closed. It is also possible to use the ornamental spring latches for wood pool gates seeking to meet BOCA code.
PVC fence pool gates use a self-closing hinge that also has a spring located within the hinge and the latch that is used for wood and ornamental can also be used for PVC.
Chain-link fence pool gate hinges are not self-closing. Again, a sturdy spring must be added to the post, thereby forcing the gate closed. The latches used for wood, ornamental, and PVC can also be used for chain link fence.
The most commonly used latches and hinges for pool fence are manufactured by Tru-close. There are other manufacturing companies that make the same style latches and hinges.
Safety and Liability are always of issue to homeowners. Nobody wants a child’s drowning on his or her conscience. Furthermore, death by accidental drowning is absolutely the homeowner’s legal responsibility if the unwanted swimmer enters a pool that does not have the proper code meeting safety equipment. You will want to protect yourself and your wealth from a potentially disastrous lawsuit. Insurance companies will also require that your pool meet safety regulations to insure you. Local laws may apply, so look closely at the local code or ask your local fence or pool installation company. The regulations set forth in BOCA code are standard for most states and are set to maintain the safety and security of all of the United States. When choosing your installation people it is imperative that they are knowledgeable and professional. Your safety and security are at stake in the pool code arena.
When deciding on a fence for your pool, the height of the fence is a very important component of your decision. Most manufacturers have fences that are designed to be pool code compliant. As always you should first consult with your city or county’s pool regulations before making any decision This will also give you a good starting point for your decision process. Most municipalities have a minimum height of 4 feet on pool fences but again check with your city or county regulations.
As you begin your search you will notice there are many different styles to consider. Not all of these styles will meet pool codes at 4 feet high. The first rule to consider is that the distance between the bottom rail and the next rail (if you are looking at a 3 or 4 rail fence) or top rail needs to be a minimum of 45 inches. Naturally if you are looking at a 3 or 4 rail style of fence you will need to choose a fence taller than 4 feet tall. There are several styles of 3 rail fences that will meet pool code regulations at 54 inches tall. Again, at this height make sure of the distance between the bottom rail and the next rail at the top. Naturally speaking, if you have your mind set on a fence that is as short as possible, your choices of styles are going to be a little limited.
For the customer who is somewhat concerned with the height of the fence, I typically suggest that they have an open mind and initially choose a style that they like and then see what height the fence will need to be to meet pool regulations. Since most people choose to use an aluminum fence for there pool fence, the height of the fence usually does not affect or obstruct their view. Therefore by being more open to the height, you will open up more options as far as styles of fencing. By looking at a slightly taller fence than you originally were thinking of you may find a style of fence you will enjoy more.
In summary, typically the minimum height allowed for a pool fence is 4 feet tall. The style of the fence can affect what height the fence will need to be to meet pool regulations. Always check with your city or county as to what their pool fence regulations are. The process can become a little more involved than you originally thought so make sure you choose a highly professional fence company that can and is willing to walk you through the entire process.
Article contributed by fence professional Jamie Patterson
Most construction sites are enclosed with temporary construction fence. These sites can create dangerous circumstances that cause liability concerns and materials that need to be temporarily secured. A barrier between the people working on a construction site and the people who are not is a necessary implement. Many municipalities, insurance companies and general contractors require jobsites to be sufficiently secured.
There are a few different options for temporarily enclosing a construction site. Welded fence panels with extended legs that slide into a concrete block or onto a stand are commonly referred to as ‘panels & blocks’. This is a common application. These panels are ideal for installation on surfaces that you do not want to permanently or otherwise disturb. It is relatively easy to relocate this type of fence, as compared to others. Panels and blocks are also a cost effective way to secure a jobsite. One drawback to using this type of fence is that it is not conducive to add any type of visual screening. Screened panels can be subject to blowing over in windy conditions due to the added screen weight. If screening is desirable for a site, it is generally installed with chain link fabric attached to driven chain link posts. The posts are driven into the ground by or hand or with a compressor. Screening is installed using zip ties that attach the screen to the fence. This fence can also be easily removed but can disturb surrounding surfaces. Screening is used for the privacy of the site or as additional advertisement. The materials used for this application come from fences that have been previously installed. This allows for cost effectiveness and environmental concerns. When fence materials become damaged, they are typically recycled. If a more private fence or a long-term project is being built; plywood construction fence can be useful. The fence will become an actual wall between the site and the public. This type of fence is hard to climb and virtually impossible to see through. The fence is installed with 4” x 4” wood posts with the plywood attached with screws or nails.
Due to regulations, fences are a necessary item for almost all construction sites. Temporary fence can be rented or purchased depending on the specific application. When deciding on what type of fence a jobsite requires, there are a few questions that always come up. How much fence is needed? For, how long? What kind of surface the fence will be installed through or on? And what kind of fence material is considered necessary?
Though regulations require this implementation the usual goal for temporary fence on constructions sites is safety. This material is often used as a device for provisional crowd control for special events. It is especially useful for delineating and securing event parking areas.
Article contributed by fence professional John (J.P.) Patterson
Many insurance companies have different requirements when it
comes to pool fence specifications. One thing is certain; all
insurance companies require a fence around pools to reduce liabilty.
What I mean by pool fence requirements is that the height, material, size and spacing specifications may vary with each insurance company. Most of the insurance conditions depend heavily on the locality in which the pool and fence is being installed.
It is very important to keep in mind that though the insurance provider or locality requires you to have a specific fence installed, you must also check with any Homeowner’s Association (HOA) and the Building Owners and Code Administrators (BOCA).
A growing number of people are aware of currecnt code which requires that a pool fences must be at least 48 inches tall. This is good, however some insurance companies recommend that you do at least a 6 foot high fence, if allowed by the HOA and your locality, in the hope of reducing any risks that may be associated with the insured’s pool. Additionally, many insurance companies require the homeowner to have a pool gate with a lock to keep unwelcome swimmers out. Gates of pools must also meet specific pool gate codes. Please note that if you have a fence that has been installed that does not meet BOCA, locality or HOA specifications your may required tearing it right back down.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
Spacing for fence cross bars (laterals) is another key issue for insurance companies and BOCA. Be aware of the 45-inch rule! Because pool owners are told they need at least a 48 inch tall fence they are often left unaware of the 45-inch minimum space separation on the lateral bars to be in compliance. This is only applicable if the vertical pickets are more than 2 inches but less than 4 inches apart. This may sound very vague, but the goal of this spec is to prohibit fence climbers form gaining a foothold to leap across the fence. If you are installing a spear top fence (right) to adhere to the 45-inch vertical spacing rule, you must actually install a 60 inch high fence to meet code. You could choose to have a flush bottom rail or a modified bottom rail, but just remember the spacing between the bottom rail and the middle rail must be at least 45-inches.
As always, there are exceptions to the 45-inch rule. Generally you must check your local codes to verify that this does indeed apply to you; if the spacing between the upright pickets is less than 2 inches, the rule no longer applies.
Are you totally confused yet? The Building Officials and Code Administrators (BOCA) outline strong safety measures for swimming pool safety fences. Many communities have adopted these standards as their own in a effort to reduce and eliminate the possibility of drowning of children.
The most important things to remember when installing a pool fence are:
- The fence must be at least 48” tall
- The mid-rail must be at least 45” above the bottom rail
- The spacing between pickets must be less than 4”
- The spacing between the bottom rail and the ground must be less than 4”
- The gates must be self-closing and self latching
- The gate needs to open out and away from the pool area
- The opening mechanism must be at least 54” above ground.
If you keep all of the above in mind you should have no problem installing your pool fence. Additionally, a professional pool or fence company in your community should be able to direct you in the proper fence installation. Make them do their job to protect your pocket, your family, and the neighborhood children by meeting the sometimes stringent local and insurance pool fence codes.
Article contributed by fence professional Tina Parrish.