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IRC reference to the Pool Code


Corporate Supporter
Staff member
Nov 1, 2012
I am curious what [your interpretation] is for the extent to which you apply the mandatory referenced standard in section R326.1 of the 2015 IRC (and later) for the "design and construction of pools and spas" in accordance with the ISPSC. This reference applies, whether you adopt the ISPSC or not, according to the IRC (rational provided below) Is this reference ONLY for the physical pool and spa or would you include things like security barriers (305) or decks (306)? What about hot tubs? What is their "design and construction"?

Here are my additional thoughts and questions on the matter. My primary question is "to what extent do you consider this reference"?

1) Of course security barrier codes are more important than deck codes, but using the reference and not bias, how do you distinguish? See ISPSC sections 305 and 306

2) Yes it's a mandatory reference to another I-code whether adopted specifically or not. In the front of the IRC under the title "Effective Use of the International Residential Code", it states the following in the description for Chapter 44, Referenced Standards:

"Compliance with the referenced standard is necessary for compliance with this code. By providing specifically adopted standards..."

This states that by being referenced in the IRC, they are already "specifically adopted". They have already been adopted for you, the code user.
Then if you go to Chapter 44, you see the ISPSC and section 326.1 listed. It does not appear the IRC distinguishes I-codes from "standards".

3) What about ISPSC chapter 10 for portable spas? (hot tubs). Does the IRC reference for "design and construction" apply to these? For the barrier to apply, you would need the reference to chapter 3 from chapter 10. hmmm... So how do you do get barrier provisions around hot tubs with only "the extent of the reference". Where do you draw the line?

The barrier provisions were an individual appendix in the IRC and easy to handle alone up until the 2015. Now "adoption" or "reference" or whatever, is more confusing if you are just seeking security barriers. I'm working on some proposals for the ISPSC deck provisions, and I'd like to first understand how the industry reads the IRC reference. Thanks.


Gold Member
Sep 3, 2011
Is the question about the 326.1 language that says "The design of pools and spas" but not including the barrier requirements, or any of the other requirements? If so I read it to mean the entire package, although I hadn't parsed those words down that far. We adopted the ISPSC, so I never had to.


Oct 17, 2009
Big Sky Country
User note:
About this chapter: Chapter 3 covers general regulations for pool and spa installations. As many of these requirements would need to be repeated in Chapters 3 through 10, placing such requirements in only one location eliminates code development coordination issues with the same requirement in multiple locations. These general requirements can be superseded by more specific requirements for certain applications in Chapters 3 through 10.


Nov 28, 2009
Poconos/eastern PA
DECK. An area immediately adjacent to or attached to a pool
or spa that is specifically constructed or installed for sitting,
standing, or walking.

Is this why there is always a sign at a public pool that says NO RUNNING?