Retractable Pool Enclosures - Local Regulations

The COVERS in Play retractable pool enclosure system is a lightweight architectural building system specifically designed to protect an outdoor pool and/or patio area from inclement weather. Although it is not designed as additional living space, it is however designed as a building and/or a building addition for the use and enjoyment of the space that it will cover. As such, an enclosure is classified as an addition when attached to a home or building or an outbuilding or accessory building when it is a freestanding enclosure away from your home. All Enclosures that are either attached to a home or building or that are freestanding away from a home or building are subject to all the local regulations, municipal codes and building codes as with any new construction. This includes all regulations with respect to property size and zoning regulations in both urban and rural locations.

Zoning - Regulations, Ordinances, Bylaws

Every city, municipality, township and county has established codes and regulations governing the development of the lands in their jurisdiction and as a result there are local rules that must be complied with. These rules include specific requirements and restrictions for property line setbacks, lot coverage and building height for example. In addition, any construction will need to comply with local building codes, which govern such things as construction materials, architectural and structural design. Conservation Authorities and Home Owners' Associations also have their own sets of rules that must be complied with as well if the property is subject to them. You will need to consult with your local building department and any authorities having jurisdiction to determine the guidelines to which you must comply with your enclosure project. Please note that the rules for swimming pools are different than the rules for additions (if you want the enclosure attached to your house) and outbuildings (freestanding enclosures) and larger setbacks and lot coverage rules have a greater impact on your enclosure project.

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Your Property

Urban Properties - if you are located in a city or town and your property is surrounded by other homes, in a subdivision for example, the setback and lot coverage rules will govern where on your property you can build an enclosure and also how large it can be. You will need to consult with your local building department for this information.

Rural Properties - if you are located in the countryside, on an estate lot for example a half acre or larger, or you have a larger property then the restrictions of an urban location will not affect your pool enclosure project to the same extent. Permits will still be required and local building codes and other considerations must still be adhered to such as setbacks from septic systems for example.

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Your Enclosure Ideas

The COVERS in Play enclosure system is a very simple design comprised of posts and beams and rafters. They are all custom made, to the design requirements of each customer. If you can dream it up, it can likely be made the way you want. It can be any size, attached to your home like an addition, allowing you to enter the pool area without going outdoors in the winter. They can be made to slide open from one end to the other or from the middle both ways if you like. They can be made as a fixed structure as well. 3 walls and a roof, with as many doors and windows as you like, placed wherever you decide.

An enclosure can also be freestanding if desired. It would be considered as an outbuilding or accessory building in your zoning regulations and would need to comply to the regulations accordingly.

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Getting Permission

COVERS in Play enclosures are always designed and constructed in compliance with local building code regulations. Automatic retractable enclosures must also comply with electrical regulations and safety standards. Building Permits are typically required and must be applied for at your local building department. COVERS in Play is completely familiar with Building Permits and ensures that the process goes smoothly for each project, even when new houses, additions or new pools are being installed as well.

Permit submission requirements include application forms describing the project, along with the owners information such as name and address, etc.. Drawings with site plans, floor plans, elevations and construction details describing the materials to be used and how they fit together are prepared by Covers in Play for the project and become part of the Building Permit submission. Electrical Permits may also be required and COVERS in Play prepares the appropriate schematics needed. The Building Permit approval process typically involves internal review by Plans Examiners and granting of approval to proceed. The time required varies from place to place but they are usually acquired in a week or two.

In addition similar approvals may be needed from conservation authorities and/or Home Owner's Associations where applicable.

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What is a Variance?

Particularly in urban areas where properties are smaller and homes and buildings are closer together, the local ordinances and bylaws may be too restrictive to allow your enclosure project. The enclosure may need to be built too close to a property line or it may exceed the maximum lot coverage allowance for example. Cities and municipalities have a mechanism in place whereby an applicant may ask for permission to proceed in spite of the project breaking the general rules and guidelines as they currently exist.

The process involves an application for a "Variance". A Variance is a legal approval for your project whereby the particular regulation is relaxed in your particular case to allow you to proceed with your project. To get a Variance the applicant must apply to a Committee of Adjustment which must approve it. The application process is similar to the Building Permit process and involves an application describing the project, the areas where the project contravenes the local ordinance(s) and by how much and the reasons why the variance should be granted. The time required to get a Variance varies from place to place but is typically two or three months. Not all Variance applications are approved, however minor Variances have the best chance of success. Homeowners often make Variance applications themselves, however there are professional planning companies which specialize in this type of work for those who need it.

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Committee of Adjustment

A Committee of Adjustment usually consists of an odd number (5 or 7 for example) of citizen members who will vote for or against the granting of a Variance. Minor Variances are often necessitated by circumstances peculiar to a property which prevent the owner from developing it in a way which conforms to a Zoning By-law. Examples of Minor Variance Applications that affect enclosures include requests for relief from the building setbacks, lot coverage or building height provisions of a Zoning By-law.

The Committee of Adjustment typically has an administration office where City or municipal planning staff process applications in accordance with rules and regulations set out in the governing state or provincial legislation. Following their work the staff will provide comments and/or recommendations to the committee. Neighbouring property owners within a certain distance (ie 200 ft) of the subject property will be also notified of the application and hearing date. Any member of the public can submit comments of support or concerns to the committee. Regularly scheduled Committee of Adjustment hearings occur where applications, staff opinions and public comments are considered and decided upon.

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