If a South Carolina legislator has his way, residential pool
builders will be subject to the same state requirements as
commercial pool builders.
John L. Scott Jr. (D-District 19) plans to propose a bill during
the state’s next legislative session that would create new
regulations for residential pool builders.
The bill was motivated by the experience of a constituent who spent
tens of thousands of dollars only to end up with an unfinished pool
and the unpleasant discovery that her contractor was not
If passed, it would be a clear switch from current practices.
Currently, South Carolina has no statewide licensing or
construction requirements for residential pool builders.
“Anyone can come in and build whatever type of pool they
want,” said Shawn Clarke, who is manager of water supply and
recreational waters permitting for the Department of Health and
Environmental Control , which oversees commercial swimming
Counties may have some requirements, but those vary, too. Some
localities only ask for a business license to pull a permit for a
pool, while others may require a licensed electrician or licensed
gas fitter to handle the electrical work or heat pump installation.
“Some don’t have any regulations or inspections,”
said Jim Ridge, recreational waters compliance coordinator at
However, it’s a different world for commercial builders.
Anyone who wants to construct a commercial pool in South Carolina
has to be licensed as a general contractor with a specialty
swimming pool subclassification, the levels of which vary on the
dollar amount of the pool.
A state licensing requirement for residential pool builders sounds
great to Don Miller, manager of Miller Pools
in Chapin, S.C. He and his sons own the business, which typically
builds approximately 15 high-end pools per year.
As a licensed commercial pool builder who also does residential
projects, Miller thinks stricter rules would be better for the
industry. “There’s too much deadwood out there,”
he said. “People go work with someone for two weeks, and then
they go out on their own. … These clowns go out there and
don’t even have insurance.”
He thinks the additional requirements also would be better for
homeowners. “We clean up too many messes,” Miller said.
“I get one to two calls a week from [people who have hired]
fly-by-nighters. It’s a crying shame.”