How to Become a Florida Residential or Commercial Pool Builder

swimming pool construction

Build a pool or spa from the ground down!

In our last blog post, we discussed how to perform pool related services as well as common remodels without having to be a fully licensed residential or commercial pool contractor.  If you want to learn more, here is a link to our Pool Service Contractor article.  Enough about that, this article is for the brave men and women who want to bring out the heavy equipment and build and design new swimming pools and spas.  For a homeowner or community association, there is nothing more exciting than seeing the excavator break ground on dig day.  But before we get to that, there are some rules to playing this big of a game.   


Do I need a pool builder’s license to construct a pool in Florida?

YES!  You must have a license to construct a new swimming pool or spa in the state of Florida.  Do not attempt to break ground without a licensed contractor running the project’s design, construction, permitting and inspection process.  


Building a pool is a business, art, and science all wrapped in one.  That is why pool construction is a highly regulated industry where licensees must meet standards related to both business and finance, as well as the actual trade knowledge regarding swimming pool construction.  On top of testing in those areas, there is an experience requirement that must also be met.  All of this is to ensure quality and safety, and to protect the individuals who are hiring professionals for these services.    


Residential pool contractor by experience option:

In the state of Florida, if you are a licensed pool service contractor, you can upgrade to a residential pool contractor after maintaining your license for 3 years.  This is a huge benefit to anyone who is thinking about becoming a residential pool contractor, but doesn’t have the necessary experience at that moment.  Most will start as a pool service contractor doing maintenance, repair, and building a viable business around that.  Then after 3 years, the process is fairly easy to upgrade to a residential pool builder without having to retake the exams.  


Residential vs Commercial Pool Contractor

As the names imply, a residential pool contractor is limited to pool construction for private homeowners and residences. A commercial pool contractor has the widest scope of work which allows licensees to build much larger public pools for parks, schools, and other high use facilities.  For a contractor, it is important to get the right license for the type of work they seek to do.  If you never intend to take on large scale public pool construction, there is nothing wrong with getting your residential pool contractors license and pursuing the high demand in this area.  


What does a pool build entail?

The process for building a swimming pool is actually a fairly simple sequence of events.  Most contractors will accomplish the following either in house, or through the use of subcontractors to bring a pool to life.


  1. Meet with customers to understand their wants and needs
  2. Submit a design and bid for the customers approval
  3. An engineer will draft a design for approval from the building department
  4. Once approved, the dig of the pool will occur
  5. Rebar and often initial plumbing will be set
  6. Concrete will be applied, usually in the form of “shotcrete” or “gunite”
  7. Pool equipment will be connected
  8. Electrical will be added and hooked up
  9. A plaster finish along with tile will be added as a top layer
  10. Water will be added and a fire up process for the chemicals will be done
  11. Pool deck will be installed


Throughout the above process, a series of inspections will be performed in order to ultimately complete the project and close the permit(s).  A quality licensed pool contractor will handle all of the above, all while keeping the customer informed throughout the process. 


Characteristics of a good residential and commercial pool contractor:

Most construction projects rely heavily on communication and logistics to be successful.  A pool contractor must be on top of their game when it comes to communicating with both customers, building officials, and subcontractors.  There is a sequence of tasks that must be performed in the correct order, and delays of any sort have a ripple effect (pun fully intended) on the rest of the project.  


Beyond just lining up the sequence of work and inspections, there is the inevitable variable related weather that can cause delays.  While a contractor can’t always control all of the factors that affect the project from start to finish, clear expectations and communication with the customer goes a long way in building a reputation as an excellent pool contractor.


Residential and Commercial Pool Contractor License Requirements:


  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Have good moral character. (A criminal incident in the past does not prevent you from getting a license so long as you have had your civil rights restored, all debts to society paid, no pending or current liens such as IRS, and have no pending or ongoing criminal litigation).
  • Credit worthy. (Applicants will be subject to a credit report on both the applicant and the business with a preferred FICO score of a 660 or above. )
    • If you do not meet the 660 FICO score, you CAN still get your license by posting a licensing bond.
      • Bond amounts vary based on whether the applicant is a Division I or Division II contractor, however this amount can be reduced by 50% upon taking a board-approved financial responsibility course.
  • Four years of proven construction experience. (FAR 61G4-15.001)
    • You do not have to have the necessary experience before you take the exam.
      • The test scores are valid for 4 years meaning you have 4 years to gain the required experience after passing the state exam.
        • For Swimming Pool/Spa Contractors, you must have been a foreman or supervisor that was involved in all aspects of construction, repair, water treatment and servicing of commercial/residential pools.
    • Note: 3 years of any accredited college credits can be used in place of construction experience regardless of the subject matter/courses.  This would reduce your field experience requirement down to just 1 year if you have a college degree.


Residential and Commercial pool contractor course:

Gold Coast School of Construction offers all the education you need to fully prepare for your residential and commercial swimming pool contractors license.  If you have any questions about the courses or books provided to help you prepare, contact a helpful career counselor at 1-800-732-9140, or visit the course information page.  You will quickly see why at Gold Coast, “The Proof is in the Passing!