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The Inspector's Journal

Safety Rules for Water Features


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Got a question here for the brethren that I've never run into before.

Are there any special safety requirements for a water feature with a koe pond similar to what's required for a swimming pool.

In 19 years I've inspected dozens of homes that had those things; but, since they are outside the scope of an inspection, I'd never really thought about safety aspects. The clients yesterday asked me specifically whether there was a need for a fence around the thing and I couldn't answer the question because I've never bothered to read into them.

This $2M= home one had a cascading waterfall dropping into a koi pond that was about 30 feet long, 8 feet wide and 3ft. deep. One steps out of the dinette or the kitchen to a raised and covered patio and walks 20 ft. to the end of the covered part and then steps down to another patio. Beyond the edge of the second patio there is a drop off to the koi pond from the patio.

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I probably should have looked into this kind of thing ages ago but I hadn't and I suppose I looked like an idiot for now knowing. I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Dunno. It's outside the scope of what I do and nobody has ever asked the question so I've never researched it. Let me look into it and I'll get back to you."

So, what gives?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I'd probably say something like

"My license requires me to cite safety concerns. I suppose the water feature could be one. I don't know. If you have concerns regarding safety aspects of the water feature, talk to the designer and installer; they would know better than me."

I'd put it in the "?" category.

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The state and city requirements here say, "A swimming pool, or other contained body of water that contains water eighteen inches or more in depth at any point and that is wider than eight feet at any point and is intended for swimming, shall be protected by an enclosure surrounding the pool area."

The key words are, "intended for swimming." A koe pond is not intended for swimming or bathing and would not be required to be protected.

However, I feel that a small child can just as easily fall into a koe pond and drown as in a swimming pool.

I always recommend a barrier for any water over 18 inches deep for increased safety reasons. So far, all buyers have been in agreement with me.

Jeff

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This is where I think our gig turns into the wiener patrol.....reporting on manmade fake waterfalls and reflecting ponds as hazards.....Pogo had it right.

We should put in our report......."It's a ****ing pond; don't fall in it. Take responsibility for chrissakes!"

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Well, I thank you all for your responses but I think that some folks are going off the rails.

I didn't ask for a declaration of war against the wieners. I didn't inspect the thing and it didn't go in the report, nor in the reports of the hundreds of other houses I've inspected that had those things - because our SOP clearly states that we neither inspect nor report on such things.

The customers asked me a question that I had no answer to. They wondered whether there was some kind of a code requirement for a safety barrier. Since I've never inspected one of those things and haven't bothered to educate myself about them I didn't know and told them I'd find out. I've got the answer I needed. Now I'll pass that along and that's the end of it. It does't affect me one way or the other.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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There's no code requirement and, of course, ponds are outside the scope of our inspections.

I usually just say something like, "Small kids from the house or the neighborhood can easily get into the pond and drown. If you'd like to reduce that risk, install a barrier around the pond or a safety net over it. Check out www.katchakid.com "

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