COVID-19 Risk Level for Multnomah County: Extreme Risk

Hot Tubs, Ponds, Swimming Pools and Water Features Permits

Learn about permit requirements for jacuzzis, ponds, swimming pools and other water features in the City of Portland. Get applications for hot tub permits, inground pool permits, pond permits, spa permits and other permits for water features.

On this Page

Applications and helpful information for swimming pool permits, jacuzzi permits and permits for water features

You can  submit your permit application request online via Development Hub PDX

Click here for step-by-step instructions  to submit a permit application request online or in-person. 

Swimming pool permits  

A swimming pool is any structure used for swimming or recreational bathing that contains water over 24 inches deep. This includes in-ground, aboveground and on-ground swimming pools, hot tubs and spas. You need a building permit before you install a swimming pool. If the pool is prefabricated and the walls are entirely above adjacent grade, you do not need a permit.

  • All installations must restrict access to protect against drownings and near-drownings. Installations of swimming pools and hot tubs must meet the following code requirements:
  • Fence or substantial barrier. Any swimming pool not totally enclosed by a structure must be enclosed by a barrier or fence at least four (4) feet in height. The maximum vertical clearance between grade and the bottom of the barrier is 2 inches. Openings in the barrier shall not allow passage of a 4-inch diameter sphere.
  • Self-closing and latching gate. The fence or barrier must have a self-closing and latching gate (except where bordered by a wall of an adjacent structure at least 4 feet in height). Gates must open outward away from the pool.
  • Location:
    • Swimming pool must be at least 3 feet from any lot line.
    • Enclosing fence or wall will be at least 3 feet to the outer walls of the swimming pool.
    • Swimming pools must be set back from adjacent slopes.
    • In-ground pools in an overlay zone or plan district may have zoning restrictions.
    • Above ground pools must follow setback and building coverage standards.
  • Electrical Permit. You must have an electrical permit for the installation of in-ground swimming pools. You may also need an electrical permit for an aboveground swimming pool.
  • You must have either a sand filtration system or cartridge filter system for the pool. The backwash from a sand filtration system will need to discharge to the public sewer.

Hot tubs permits, jacuzzi permits and spa permits  

  • Plumbing permit: Needed if there is a direct connections to the plumbing system.
  • Mechanical permit: Needed if using gas heating
  • Electrical permit: Needed if using gas or electrical heating.

If you are installing the hot tub on a deck more than 30 inches above grade, there may be requirements related to the structural design of the deck. You will need to show that the deck can support the weight of the hot tub.

Any hot tub must have either a sand filtration system or cartridge filter system. The backwash from a sand filtration system will need to discharge to the public sewer.

Pond permits and permits for water features

Most self contained residential ponds, water features and fountains do not need a building or plumbing permit.

  • Plumbing permit: required if water is connected to the plumbing system. Also required if there is a design requiring drainage connection.
  • Electrical permit: required if a pump is connected directly to the electrical system.

More information about permits for inground pools, spas, ponds and water features

Multnomah County has more information on Health Department requirements.

We recommend that you check with your homeowner's insurance company before installing a swimming pool, hot tub, or water feature. As a homeowner, you may be liable for accidents or injuries occurring on your property as a result of the installation.

For more information about getting permits, check out the related Permit Review Process page.