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A private swimming pool promises refreshment and variety and saves you having to go to the public swimming pool. However, the question always arises as to whether a private pool requires a permit. We clarify.

In a nutshell

  • The need for a building permit depends on the size, location and construction of the pool
  • legal framework for swimming pools depending on the federal state
  • Consult the applicable state building regulations
  • Indoor pool requires approval primarily because of the building envelope

The pool from a building law point of view

In order to determine whether your pool requires a building permit, you must first deal with how the planned structure is to be assessed from the point of view of building law. You should keep two completely different cases in mind:

The indoor pool

If a swimming pool is to be accommodated in the basement, an annex or even a separate building, a planning application is usually required. Because the assessment is not primarily based on the pool, but rather on the structure necessary to accommodate it.

Indoor Swimming Pool

Notice: The actual pool is usually not a real building law problem here. As long as the associated building is permitted, the pool appears to be eligible for approval as a residential use.

The outdoor pool

If, on the other hand, the focus is actually on the pool as an independent outdoor structure, you have to deal with the legal framework for a water basin. In very general terms, it is initially irrelevant what function the water basin has, i.e. whether it is used for leisure purposes or for a completely different purpose.

Outdoor or indoor?

The fundamental question in the legal assessment of a pool is always first of all whether the structure should be built in the so-called indoor or outdoor area. Depending on the situation, the obligation and ability to obtain a permit appear completely different:


  • Interior: location within built-up area (= localities)
  • Swimming pool generally possible
  • no building permit required within specified limits
  • Exact location may be restricted depending on the development plan

outdoor area

Outdoor pool construction
  • Outside: location outside of built-up contexts (garden plots, meadow orchards, etc.)
  • Water basins, except for agricultural projects, are always associated with a planning application
  • Pools for leisure activities are generally not possible

Procedural-free or subject to approval?

The next question after the issue of admissibility is clearly the question of whether your pool needs a building permit. It helps to take a look at the state building regulations, which also regulate the approval process under many other aspects. Below the list of process-free construction projects is the Upper limit of 100m3 for pools (§61 model building regulations). This means for you that your pool up to a capacity of this size does not require a permit. Only after that do you need a building permit for your project.

16 federal states: 8 state or state building codes

You may be surprised that a model building code is mentioned as a reference for the limit of procedural freedom, although previously there was talk of a so-called state building code.

The background is the fact that building regulations are a matter for the federal states. Each federal state has legal regulations either alone or jointly with other federal states. There are a total of 8 state or state building codes for the 16 German federal states. As a rule, these are based on the template of the federal government, the model building code. However, there can also be deviations.

Tip: Always check first which building code is responsible for your state. Then you can specifically check there, but what size your pool is subject to approval.

frequently asked Questions

Who can help with legal questions about the pool?

It is difficult, especially for laypersons, to illuminate a swimming pool from all legal points of view. You should therefore obtain information at an early stage from the competent building law authority, usually the district office. There you will find out everything you need to know about your building on your property.

Can a swimming pool be covered later?

Comparable legal issues are of interest for a possible covering of your pool as for the pool itself. There are limits beyond which the covering becomes subject to approval. In addition, there may be the issue of the distance areas that every building projecting upwards from the terrain to the property lines must comply with.

Why are outdoor private pools prohibited?

Areas outside of connected buildings enjoy a special protection status in order to prevent urban sprawl. Pools and other leisure facilities in particular change the use of actual agricultural or forestry garden plots enormously and are therefore severely limited.

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