Local Regulations Governing Retractable Pool Enclosures

The retractable pool enclosure system by COVERS in Play is a lightweight architectural building system engineered to allow outdoor patios, swimming pools and any other outdoor area to be utilized and enjoyed during bad weather and all year round, even in winter. Designed as a building, it must comply with all local zoning regulations and building codes, whether it is built as an addition to a house or building or as a freestanding building on your property.

Whether the installation is on a smaller urban property or on a larger rural property, all of the local zoning and building code regulations will still apply, as with any new construction.

Zoning Bylaws, Ordinances, and Regulations

Local Bylaws, Ordinances and Regulations have been developed in every city, municipality, township and county. These rules govern the development of the lands in each jurisdiction in order to ensure that any new development or construction will be in compliance with their Official Plan and built in a proper and safe manner.

Zoning rules include specific requirements and restrictions, for example what can be built, building height, property line setbacks and what percentage of the property can be developed (lot coverage). Additionally, every building must comply with the building code with respect to all aspects of construction, including construction materials, architectural design and structural adequacy. Some properties are also subject to the regulations of Conservation Authorities or Home Owner’s Associations. For any project you will need the permission of the local building department and any other authority with jurisdiction over your property.

Please Note: Regulations for swimming pools - location on your property, setbacks from your house and property lines are different than those for an enclosure. You will need to look into both if you plan on installing a new pool and an enclosure.

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Urban and Rural Properties

Urban: If your property is in a town or a city, in a subdivision for example, the location and size of the enclosure must comply with the specific setback and lot coverage rules that apply to your specific property. The rules may be different for your neighbours across the street or around the corner, so you will need to know how the regulations apply to your specific property. As the owner of the property you can contact the building department to find out the setback and lot coverage rules for your specific address in order to proceed to the next steps in the permit process.

Rural: If your property is located in the countryside, say an estate lot or larger, your pool enclosure project will not be affected by zoning rules to the same extent that urban projects will be. You will still need a building permit and comply with any other local regulations, ie. septic regulations or other environmental rules that may apply.

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Your Enclosure Ideas

The retractable pool enclosure system by Covers in Play is engineered with structural posts and beams and rafters. Each enclosure is custom made, usually designed by the customer to fit their needs and site conditions. They can slide open from one end to the other or from the middle both ways. In terms of a layout, if a customer can dream it up, Covers in Play can very likely make it a reality.

Enclosures can be any size, practically any shape, installed as an addition to a house or building, allowing direct access to a pool or patio area, especially great in the winter.

Or less expensively, they can be made as a fixed structure – four walls and a roof, and any number of windows and doors, placed anywhere the customer would like them.

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What's Needed for a Permit

All enclosures by COVERS in Play are designed and built in compliance with all local regulations and building code requirements. Building permits and electrical permits, when required, need to be obtained and the process involves applications filled in with the owner’s information, site address and description of the project. Appropriate drawings for the project, including elevations, floor plans, details and sections are all prepared by Covers in Play and submitted, along with electrical schematics when required (also prepared by Covers in Play). With Covers in Play’s experienced team the process is streamlined and permits allowing the project to move forward are easily obtained.

The Building Permit submission is reviewed by the building department's Plans Examiners, followed by permission being granted for the project to proceed. This process usually takes a week or two.

A project may require similar approvals from Conservation Authorities and/or Home Owners Associations if the property is subject to their regulations.

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You Might Need a Variance

In many cases enclosure projects on smaller properties in urban areas are not able to be completed within the guidelines permitted by local regulations or bylaws. The enclosure may need to be too close to a property line or the size required may exceed the maximum lot coverage allowed.

In these circumstances there is a possible solution. Building departments allow projects to proceed if the owner receives permission from a Committee of Adjustment by way of a Variance.

A Variance is a legal authorization whereby provision is made for you to proceed with your project by relaxing the rules for your specific case.

You will need to submit an application to the Committee detailing the enclosure project, with drawings, indicating where the project exceeds the bylaw limitations and to what extent, along with the reasons for your application. The Covers in Play team is familiar with this process and can assist with the required drawings for the application.

The process to obtain a Variance is similar in all jurisdictions and usually takes 2- 3 months. Not all applications are successful, however minor variances usually can get approved fairly easily. Most property owners make the applications themselves, with the help of the project drawings however, some prefer the assistance of professionals in their communities who understand the process and procedures involved. These specialists, known as "Planners" work with zoning and planning issues all the time for private homeowners, builders and developers.

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A Committee of Adjustment can Approve it

A Committee of Adjustment is a mechanism whereby the zoning regulations may be relaxed, allowing a proposed development, construction or project to proceed in spite of some contravention of some regulation or another. For example, an enclosure may need to be a little closer to the property line than is currently allowed or it may exceed the maximum lot coverage allowed.

City or Municipal planning staff review the applications with respect to the project details and the rules and regulations prescribed by the governing state or provincial legislation. Upon their review, the staff provides comments and recommendations on the project to the Committee.

The Committee of Adjustment is typically made up of an odd number (ie. 5 or 7) of local citizens in the municipality who meet regularly, usually monthly to review applications and listen to applicants present their request for permission to proceed with their project. Typically, owners of neighbouring properties within a certain radius (i.e. 200 ft.) of the applicant’s project address will be notified about the Variance application as well as the hearing date to give them an opportunity to comment on the project.

Prior to the meeting the Committee members review the applications and staff comments and recommendations. Applicants and the public are then allowed their input and opinions before the Committee. After consideration of staff recommendations, public and applicant’s input the Committee will make their decision.

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