A number of pool professionals have noticed a recent spike in regulatory and inspection activity in Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city.
“They’re enforcing themselves more,” said Tom Driscoll, owner of Cabana Aquatech Pools in Houston. “I’m not really sure why. Maybe they’re getting called on for missing things that they didn’t really enforce before.”
Driscoll and others say the city is noticeably cracking down on everything from improper lighting and hydraulics to color of finish and the use of steel in construction. Nearly all areas of pool construction, it seems, now are in play for city inspectors.
In addition to stricter enforcement of regulations already on the books, on Aug. 1 the city adopted at least two new requirements for homeowners purchasing new pools. The first mandates that residents provide the city with a signed affidavit stating they are at least 18 years old, and that they essentially recognize a pool builder will be constructing a vessel on their property.
“It’s really a pain,” Driscoll said. “It’s as if the city and its smaller municipalities feel that you don’t have the knowledge to make the right decision.”
On top of the affidavits, the city’s Public Works and Engineering Department requires a calculation of impervious percentage, or a breakdown of the percentage of the property that contains green space vs. hardscape (including garage, driveway, sidewalk and pool deck, as well as the house).
According to Driscoll, more than 75 percent hardscape on a given plot raises red flags for the city.
“It can be a big deal if you have a homeowner who has a lot of concrete around their home,” said Chris Meier, president of Pulliam Pools of Houston. “It could become an issue with smaller lots. Basically, it’s just another little roadblock.”
The common thread, pool pros say, is that each new regulation, permit requirement or violation seemingly comes with a fee that must be surrendered to the city.