Is Your New Home Ready for a Swimming Pool?

home swimming pools ottawa
May 15 15

Buying a new home can be a pleasant and rewarding experience. It can also be a catastrophe if the correct swimming pool planning has not been done in advance. Here is a list of things to look out for before you sign on the dotted line:

Yard Size

Yards these days are getting smaller and smaller. This is not a great prospect for someone who wants an inground pool installed in the future. When you are shopping for your new home, look for the largest yard possible with a wide distance between houses for equipment access into your backyard. A good rule of thumb is to have a width of seven feet or more in a straight line. If you are not on a corner lot, digging equipment has to come down the side of the house. Occasionally, existing fences must be removed for equipment access and replaced after the pool is finished.

Power Lines

Make sure you have no overhead power lines over your backyard or even slightly behind or beside the property. All power lines have to be a specific distance away from pool water (depending on voltage). No overhead power lines are allowed immediately above the pool water surface in Ottawa.

Underground Power Cables

Watch for underground power cables or lines. It may look like a perfect home, but if there are any buried lines under the backyard, you may not be able to put a pool in. Is there a green metal electrical box in your yard or your neighbours? This can be an indication of high voltage cables underground. Always check the survey or lot plan for hidden obstacles.

Large Trees

Watch for overly large trees as they will sometimes have to be removed due to large roots encroaching on the pool area as well as overhead foliage falling into the pool. Deciduous trees can be a nuisance with falling leaves and the endless need for pool cleaning.


Be sure the sides or back of the property do not have any easements. Easements can be identified on a lot plan or survey. They are usually designated for utility right-of-way such as electrical lines, septic and water run-off. Pools and concrete decks are not allowed to be on an easement and they can make finding a good spot to place your pool almost impossible. This can be especially concerning if you want a large pool or patio.

Patio Clearance

If you desire a pool with a standard 30” concrete deck sidewalk, Ottawa bylaws require at least 6.5 feet of clearance from your property line to the pool’s water edge. This sometimes can make it hard to fit a pool in a small yard in addition to leaving room for a decent sized patio area.

Pool Equipment Placement

In Ottawa, all pool equipment such as pumps, filters and heaters must be a minimum of four feet from your property line. The gas heater must be located ten feet away from any air inlet or opening window. These required distances can make placement of the pool equipment challenging in a small yard. This is especially true now that homes are sometimes as little as six feet apart with only two feet to the property line on one side.


Does your yard have a slope? Slopes usually require the need for construction of retaining walls when putting in your pool. Pools need to be built level with the ground nearest the house. If your yard drops 24 inches at the rear, expect a two foot retaining wall to be built at the rear of the property to support the pool wall. Occasionally, if there is enough space, the pool builder can slope the ground downward toward the property line and avoid a retaining wall. This slope must be gradual enough to avoid erosion of the ground during rainfall and runoff. Avoid yards with a large “drainage ditch” at the rear of the property as this will inevitably result in more expense when constructing the pool.


Ensure that any fences are in good condition. Pool fences can be constructed of many things such as PVC, vinyl, iron, wood or chain link. All fences also need to be minimum five feet high with self-closing and latching gates. The gates must also be locked at all times. Newer Ottawa code requires a chain link fence to have a mesh spacing of 1.5 inches. Most older chain link fences have two inch mesh spacing. Occasionally, the old mesh can be replaced to satisfy the bylaw. Beware of chain link fences that are overgrown with hedges as it can be difficult or impossible to modify the mesh without trimming back or removing the hedge altogether. Hedges are not considered a fence and must have a proper fence installed on the property to satisfy the pool bylaw.

Underground Rock

Underground bedrock or boulders cannot be seen until the digging day. Some areas have more underground rock than others. If you want to build a pool in your new backyard, make sure to ask around to see what others in your area have encountered beneath the ground. Is your property close to bedrock? Or just the odd boulder? Look on Google Earth to see how many pools are in your neighborhood. If you see mostly above ground pools, this is sometimes an indication of rock. If you see a lot of inground pools, this can be a good sign. Rock can sometimes be very costly to remove. I have personally done rock removal jobs on swimming pool digs that have run from $3,000 to over $20,000 (for full bedrock removal). This extra rock removal charge is always on top of the pool price. Also, remember that an adequate excavator with a hoe-ram (hydraulic rock hammer) needs at least 12 feet of straight access to your backyard.

When you are house hunting, be sure to consider all of these factors to avoid unnecessary expense and difficulties when installing an inground pool.

-Brad Spaidal –Rideau Pools Ottawa.

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