Building a Swimming Pool in New Orleans - Important Things to Know Before You Start

by Pool Builders on 07-01-2009 in Articles

Did you know that, in certain areas, if your pool builder attempts to excavate your pool when the Mississippi River is at its' full height (flood stage), you may be forced by local authorities to fill it back in? If your answer is "no", then it would be advisable to read on to learn more before your pool project becomes your worst nightmare.

Special considerations for pool construction in the New Orleans area

Building any permanent structure in the Greater New Orleans Area such as a home, or even a swimming pool, takes years of experience to master. The greater New Orleans area is unique in the diversity of soil types one encounters, and the effect that the water table will have on each of these soils.

Even homes in well established areas (that would seem stable) struggle with soft soil that tends to sink or compress over time. And in some newer developments that are built on reclaimed swamp or marshland the problems of soft or sinking soil are even more severe.

Important things to consider when building a pool in New Orleans:

1. Soil Conditions: If your soil has a high sand content, and your water table is high, the excavation will collapse. Experienced builders know how to work around these conditions. The inexperienced and "faint-of -heart" might decide that perhaps building pools is not as glamorous as they thought, and abandon the project.

If the soil is very high in organic matter, as this organic matter decays, it takes up less space, and leads to the subsidence or sinking effect that is so common in many areas. Piling support is advisable when these conditions are encountered.

Soils that are high in clay content are sometimes referred to as "expansive soils." These soils increase in volume when wet, and shrink as they become dryer. If you see cracks in your soil when it is dry, there is a good chance that your soil is expansive. This change in volume imposes special demands on the structure of your pool and deck.

2. Permitting Requirements: Believe it or not, each Louisiana Parish has its own set of rules that govern the issuance of building permits for swimming pools. Even inside a Parish, such as Jefferson, the requirements will differ in Harahan, Gretna, East & West Jefferson, and Kenner. Within 1000 feet of the "toe" of a levee, you will be required to obtain a "Levee Permit", which involves approval from the Levee Board, Core of Engineers, and the Dept. of Transportation.

In addition to these, in some areas of New Orleans, you may have to deal with "Tree Preservation Districts", in others, you may have to deal with entities such as the "Vieux Carre' Commission" and the "Historical District Commission." On top of all of this, many subdivisions have their own "Architectural Review Committees" that must approve a project before you even apply for a building permit.

3. High Water Tables: As stated earlier, high water tables and sandy soils create what we refer to as "cave-ins". In some extreme cases, the use of sheet-pilings and wooden cribbing may have to be employed, with the use of several pumps, to maintain an open, de-watered excavation to build your pool in. Conditions such as these can only be controlled by an experienced and tenacious contractor. Quality control becomes difficult for the experienced and impossible for the amateurs.

Just as many New Orleans residents struggle with home foundations can crack or sink, we face the same challenges in pool construction. If your pool is not built properly you could be facing costly pool cracks, leaks or repairs down the road. Or worse yet, your pool may be in violation of a permitting restriction requiring the pool to be completely dug up and started over again!

Our advice: Don't look for a bargain on items such as parachutes, brain surgery, and......Yes, pool construction.

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