Don Ball’s life is about to get 13 times more
Under a Florida law that took effect in April, pool builders
constructing new public facilities now must work with the local
building department, rather than the county’s health
department, for their plans, permits and inspections.
That means in Pinellas County, where Ball’s firm pulls 20 to
30 permits annually for commercial pools, he will go from dealing
with one government entity (Pinella’s health department) to
“Every individual city is allowed to maintain its own
building department,” said Ball, president of The Pool
Works in Tarpon Springs. “There are 13 different building
departments within this one county. We’re going from one to
The shift is the result of Florida HB 1263, a wide-ranging piece of
legislation intended to streamline Florida’s health
department. Previously, that department oversaw construction and
operation of the state’s 37,000 public pools. But under the
new law, plan approvals will be up to the local building
department. The health department will issue operating permits for
new and existing commercial pools.
“With regard to the pool changes, I think there was some
feeling that there was overlap between local building departments
and health departments,” explained Jennifer Hatfield,
director of government and public affairs for the Florida Swimming
Pool Association . “It seemed duplicative.”
The new process will mean a change in how commercial pool builders
and local governments do business. “I think that in the short
term, there will likely be a learning curve, and that learning
curve will vary based on the building department,” Hatfield
Industry sources say Florida’s health department appears to
be doing everything it can to assist the process, offering Webinars
and briefings to pool builders and others.
“It appears that the department of health is really trying to
make it an easy transition,” said Don Cesarone, who builds
approximately 30 pools a year as the general manager and vice
president of commercial pools at Van Kirk & Sons
Pools and Spas in Deerfield Beach, Fla.
However, Cesarone is a little worried that local building
departments may not have enough people on staff to handle the new
process. “It seems like building departments are pretty far
extended as far as workload already,” he said.