Hot tub: (referred to as a whirl pool in the Alberta Building Code) a pool or tub containing water at a temperature above 30°C, designed primarily for therapeutic or recreational use and is not drained, cleaned or refilled before use by each individual, and/or uses hydro jet circulation or air induction bubbles.
Swimming pool: a structure, basin or tank containing an artificially created pool of water used for swimming, recreation, bathing, diving, wading, healing, therapy, religious rituals or other purposes, and includes all buildings, equipment and facilities used in conjunction with it.
Pond: Natural or artificial body of standing water used primarily for aesthetic reasons. Bylaws and building codes apply the same as pools and hot tubs.
Before you start
A building permit is always required to install a hot tub or swimming pool, because they have the potential to affect health and safety.
Note: Above ground swimming pools that are dismantled in the fall and put up again in the spring only require the initial building permit. If the pool is put up in the exact same spot as it was approved, you are not required to get a new permit every year.
An electrical permit is always required to install a hot tub. The electrical connections can be done by a qualified, licensed electrical contractor under a contractor’s electrical permit, or by the homeowner under a homeowner’s electrical permit.
All wiring for below ground swimming pools or related equipment must be done by a qualified, licensed electrical contractor.
For all questions regarding the electrical code or inspections, call our Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311 and ask to speak with an electrical inspector.
What permits do I need?
The scope of work being performed will dictate what permits are required. If a development permit is required, this must be applied for and approved prior to building permit and trade permit applications.
When is a development permit required?
A development permit may be required for your hot tub or swimming pool if it:
- Is located within the actual front setback area.
- Has a total area more than 15 per cent of your property area.
- Has any above grade components including a deck, walkway, supporting member, heater or mechanical equipment, located within 1.2 m of any property line.
Hot tub distance from property lines
When is a trade permit required?
As the homeowner, you are able to obtain homeowner’s plumbing, electrical and gas fireplace installation permits. To apply for a homeowner’s trade permit, you must be performing the work yourself, you must own the home with proof of ownership (in cases where the property has been purchased recently) and live in the home. If you are hiring a contractor, they must have a valid City of Calgary business licence and obtain the proper permits. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to ensure these permits have been obtained.
You cannot apply for a trade permit on behalf of a contractor. If your contractor is performing the work, they must apply for the applicable trade permit.
Risks when a permit is not obtained
If you, as a homeowner or contractor, do not have permits for work that has been started or completed, there could be consequences if you do not take action to correct the situation, such as:
- Enforcement action issued by a City inspector.
- A fine for building without a permit.
- Having to undo work that has been completed.
- Future legal and financial issues when selling your property or making an insurance claim.
- Having to do more work than was originally planned and budgeted.
Note: As a homeowner, you are responsible for paying any penalties, even if you hired a contractor who assured you permits were not needed. If you are unsure if you need a permit, call the Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311. Find out if your contractor has a City of Calgary business license with our licensed trade contractor list.
Existing structures requiring relaxation
If a structure has already been built and does not comply with the rules of the Land Use Bylaw, a relaxation application is required. The applicant applies for a development permit application to weigh the impacts of the non-compliant structure and evaluate whether a relaxation is appropriate. When making this type of application, use the requirements list for Relaxation of an Existing Structure.
Development permit timelines vary, based on the type of application and the impacts to the community.
Bylaw and code considerations
Inquiries about building, plumbing, gas, electrical or heating, ventilation and air conditioning code or construction methods, building safety and fire regulations, please contact the Technical Assistance Centre. For all other inquiries (i.e. Land Use Bylaw), please call 403-268-5311.
Note: It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the work being carried out conforms to any restrictive covenants, caveats or other restrictions that are registered on the land title.
Location of hot tubs and swimming pools
Hot tubs and swimming pools are required to be 1.2 m from side and rear property lines and may not be located in the actual front setback without a development permit.
There can be no wires over a hot tub, unless it is covered by an overhead structure. Any existing overhead wiring is required to be clear of any hot tub or swimming pool 5.0 m vertically and 5.0 m horizontally.
Hot tub distance from property lines
Hot tubs located on a deck/patio
If a hot tub is supported by a structure that elevates the floor of the hot tub above grade, such as a deck or patio, an engineer’s stamp is required, regardless of the height of the structure.
Hot tubs located in a gazebo
If you’re putting your hot tub in a gazebo that is more than 10 m2, or if the height of the gazebo floor is more than 0.6 m above ground level, the gazebo must have its own approved building permit.
If you plan to enclose a hot tub in a covered structure, such as a gazebo, accessory residential building rules will apply. Any covered structure over 10 m2 in floor area will require a building permit. Any covered structure with a finished floor 0.6 m or more above grade will require an approved development permit.
Code requirements for operating water surface
As per Alberta Building Code, the water depth of a hot tub should not be more than 1.2 m measured from the hot tub floor to the water surface. The depth of water to a seat or bench in a whirlpool must not be more than 0.6 m.
What documents do I need?
Where you live and the type of property you have will determine which requirement list you need to apply for a permit. Please read the content carefully and bring your completed documents, with drawings to the Planning Services Centre.
Sample drawings for building permits and development permits for hot tubs and swimming pools.
Note: you will also have to provide a copy of the manufacturer’s installation specifications.
Book your inspections by contacting 311 and providing them with your permit number.
Generally, your project will require a rough-in and a final inspection for each building and trade permit pulled, though additional inspections may be required. You can contact 311 on the morning of your inspection to find out if it will be in the morning or afternoon.
A development completion permit inspection may be required if a development permit is involved in your project. Call our Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311 to determine if a development completion permit is required.
Call before you dig
Always call Alberta One Call before you dig: 1-800-242-3447. For more information or to submit a locate request, visit Alberta One-Call.
Disclaimer: This information has no legal status and cannot be used as an official interpretation of the various bylaws, codes and regulations currently in effect. The City of Calgary accepts no responsibility to persons relying solely on this information. Web pages are updated periodically.