Swimming pools are not always included in a home inspection. Many years ago, swimming pools were not common and it didn’t make sense to learn how to safely inspect them since a home inspector would come across them so infrequently.
This may still be the case if you’re an inspector in Maine or Minnesota. However, if your business is in Florida or Texas or another hot, sunny state, you may see more homes with pools than without.
To Inspect or Not to Inspect?
The ASHI Standards of Practice allow you to disclaim a swimming pool; however, this ends up being more of a business decision. If many homeowners in your area have pools and you don’t include them as part of your inspection but other inspectors do, you will lose business. If you see some homes with pools but not a lot, you may want to offer a swimming-pool inspection as an add-on.
ASHI warns, however, if you charge extra for a pool inspection, you are implying a certain level of expertise in this area, and if you do not, in fact, have this expertise, you may be opening yourself up to a lawsuit.
Once you determine you are going to offer swimming pool inspections, whether at an additional fee or not, you must set some guidelines for yourself as to how deeply you will delve into the safety and condition of these features.
One ASHI suggestion is to write into your contract that you will inspect the pool insofar as to determine whether it should be inspected by a professional. This is similar to how you inspect HVAC equipment or boilers; you are not an HVAC expert, but you look for signs that a potential flaw in the system may need further examination.
What to Look for in a Pool Inspection
If you decide to go ahead with pool inspections, ASHI has outlined some standards of practice for inspection.
One important safety consideration for pools is easy to see. Is there a physical barrier? Many states and municipalities have laws that pools must be behind fences to help prevent accidental drownings. Familiarize yourself with your area’s laws. For instance, if your city requires pool gates to lock and the pool you inspect has a gate with no lock, you must note this. If the fencing has to be a certain height, measure it to be sure it complies.
The electrical components of a pool are especially hazardous because of the extra danger posed by the water. ASHI has a long list of requirements for electricity near pools, mandating the distance of the receptacles from the water, the presence of protective covers of electrical equipment and the type of wiring used.
Electrical fixtures in or near the water such as pool lights, ceiling fans or other lighting fixtures should be checked to be sure they are in good working order and the required distance from the water.
Visual Inspections of Major Components
The filter should be working and the water should be clean. Although it is outside the scope of a home inspector’s job to chemically test the water, a visual inspection should be done.
Also, do a visual inspection of the pool’s interior. Old vinyl linings will crack over time and need replacement. While not inherently dangerous, it poses a large expense to the potential new homeowner and should be noted.
Inspect the pool deck and surrounding areas for cracks or tripping hazards. Surfaces should be flat and smooth. If the surface is tile, check for slipperiness.
Slides and diving boards are less common with modern pools because of the liability involved. Many insurance companies balk at providing extra insurance for a pool with these features. Note on your report if these are present and the liability they bring.
While not overly complicated, pool inspections must be thorough and include certain components and functions.
When you complete your inspection training through ICA School, you’re equipped to handle the basics of every home inspection. Further, we offer supplemental training for add-on services such as radon and mold testing. Get a demo of our home inspection course to learn more today.