Correction: A previous version of this article stated that ORP/pH controllers will be required on all pools. That requirement will apply to commercial pools only.
The 2023 edition of the Florida Building Code has been finalized, and this year’s session ended for the Florida legislature. The year has brought several changes, some directly targeted to pools and the pool industry, others for the construction or leisure industries in general.
FLORIDA BUILDING CODE
The state’s building code has finalized its three-year update cycle, with the latest edition going into effect Dec. 31. Major changes, all supported by the Florida Swimming Pool Association (FSPA) include:
* Elevated pool damp proofing and secondary containment: Elevated concrete pools and spas — those installed on the second floor of a building or higher — must include damp proofing to resist water intrusion in to the pool shell and secondary containment to mitigate leaks. This applies to new construction and existing installations when they undergo resurfacing. This is meant to prevent leaks and protect the building.
* Swim-Up Bars: Resorts and other commercial venues now will be permitted to install swim-up bars after years of lobbying for it.
“It was a long time coming,” said Dallas Thiesen, FSPA’s Senior Director of Government Affairs.
* ORP / pH Controllers: Beginning Dec. 31, all newly permitted commercial pools and spas will need an ORP/PH controller to help pool contractors and technicians monitor the water chemistry. This modification was proposed by FSPA and received unanimous support form the Florida Building Commission’s Swimming Pool Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).
* Building tolerances: Unless the code states a specification for a particular element or feature, construction tolerances for commercial pools and spas must be kept to 3 inches or 5% of a specified dimension, whichever is less. This does not apply to accessibility features. Supported by FSPA, the new language is expected to cut down on needed variance requests.
While new laws specifically targeted pools or the pool industry, some will have an impact:
* Plan Review and Permitting: Moving forward, if a building officials or fire marshall seeks to make changes to a building plan after the permit was issued, they must cite a provision of the Florida Building Code that would require the change or face potential disciplinary action.
* Latent Construction Defect Statute of Limitations: With the 2023 Florida Building Code, the statute of limitations to file a latent construction defect is reduced from 10 years to seven from issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy, Certificate of Completion, or abandonment of the job. This change is expected to reduce frivolous lawsuits, Thiesen said.
* Summer sales tax holiday: With a budget surplus, the state is allowing certain summer-related products to sell without a sales tax between the Memorial and Labor Day holidays. This includes replacement parts, nets, filters, lights, and covers under $100, as well as retail chemicals under $150. If the purchase goes over the threshold, the entire amount is taxed.