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    Thread: Backyard Koi Pond

    1. #1
      Drwonga is offline Junior Member
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      Backyard Koi Pond

      Hi Folks,

      Ive always wanted a pond, and Im planning on installing one! I am still in the planning phase, but I know it will be 4 deep. I have a question about pond placement from the foundation. I have it set around 5.5 from the foundation. I live in California, and the foundation is a concrete floating slab. The soil I have is heavy clay. Are there any concerns about the pond being this close to the foundation? Would this cause any issues with erosion, earthquakes, or any other soil instability?

      Thanks!

      Larry

    2. #2
      birdman's Avatar
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      Just wanted to welcome you to the forum. What part of CA? I would think you would be OK but there are others on here who can probably better advise.

    3. #3
      Marlo is offline Senior Member
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      My 1953 Rancho with slab on hard clay, is only 4 feet from the 1960 gunite pool, now pond. No issues even 57 years later. Our clay is so hard that they used a jack hammer to dig for the neighbor’s block wall footing. It’s hard to imagine it ever moving, but I think all bets would be off if we had any serious liquefaction.
      63m3 gunite pool
      ProfiDrum CombiBio 50


    4. #4
      Drwonga is offline Junior Member
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      Thanks Birdman! I'm in Santa Clara Valley! I've already learned so much just by reading through the posts here on the forum!

      Hi Mario, that sounds like our backyard as well! There have been jackhammers used to dig holes in our yard (I was actually going to invest in one to help dig this pond). Upon further thought, I figure in a big earthquake, with liquefaction, all bets are off. Thanks for your experience with a big deep hole "close" to the foundation!

    5. #5
      koiman1950's Avatar
      koiman1950 is offline Senior Member ~ Koi Health Care Committee Member
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      California law now requires this pond to be located a minimum of 10' from any permanent structure/house and 5' from any fence or property boundary. Even back when my pool (now pond) was built in 1990, those were the requirements for a permit. Oh, without a permit you most likely wouldn't be able to sell the house unless you demo it and back fill with packed solid soil. I am a pond contractor in Santa Clara Valley.
      Mike

      check out our website at: http://www.pond-life.net



      "Our goal is to assist with emergency and Koi health issues, as well as educate on best practices. Please help us gain a clear picture by giving the original poster time to answer our questions before offering opinions and suggested treatments."

    6. #6
      Drwonga is offline Junior Member
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      Hi Koiman,

      Thanks for the info. I checked with my town’s municipal code, and their only stipulation was for a distance of 1’ from the property line (there is a depth limit if placed in the front yard, unfenced). I saw no permits specific to ponds either. Do you know if all towns in the South Bay have different municipal codes/potential permit requirements? Or is this a statewide law?

      Thanks!

    7. #7
      koiman1950's Avatar
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      Well, first, it's a "general" state-wide law but many times, in unincorporated areas you can get by with whatever you want. You're correct, there are no specific requirements for permits for "ponds" per se, so they lump it all in under swimming pools if it it to be more than 18"-24" in depth. The depth part is what will get you as most all municipalities consider anything more than 24" depth to be a swimming pool. I don't know why this has never changed in all these years. It seems to be either ignorance, don't care or arrogance. Maybe all three as I've dealt with all in separate situations and the latter in some. Remember, although most everyone hates permits, they are really there for your protection when you look at the big picture. It keeps contractors and such from building something that's unstable or causes risks down the road. Even when we build something that doesn't require permits due to local requirements, we still build it as though there is and try to follow the guidelines as much as possible.

      BTW, what city are you in?
      Mike

      check out our website at: http://www.pond-life.net



      "Our goal is to assist with emergency and Koi health issues, as well as educate on best practices. Please help us gain a clear picture by giving the original poster time to answer our questions before offering opinions and suggested treatments."

    8. #8
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      Hi Mike,

      Thanks - yes, I'd like to build as close to recommended guidelines as possible, if the details are available. I'm in Morgan Hill. Here is the municipal code I saw for ponds specifically (They appear to be called out separately from pools).

      18.56.050 - Ponds

      In ground ponds less than eighteen inches in depth are allowed within the front yard area, but shall be setback a minimum of ten feet from all property lines. In ground ponds of any depth are allowed within the rear or side yard areas but shall be setback a minimum of one foot from any property line.

      Thanks!

      Larry

    9. #9
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      Quote Originally Posted by Drwonga View Post
      Hi Mike,

      Thanks - yes, I'd like to build as close to recommended guidelines as possible, if the details are available. I'm in Morgan Hill. Here is the municipal code I saw for ponds specifically (They appear to be called out separately from pools).

      18.56.050 - Ponds

      In ground ponds less than eighteen inches in depth are allowed within the front yard area, but shall be setback a minimum of ten feet from all property lines. In ground ponds of any depth are allowed within the rear or side yard areas but shall be setback a minimum of one foot from any property line.

      Thanks!

      Larry
      just don't do like me and have the pond 2 feet off the fenceline. I emptied my pond and am hoping i dont get a collapse on that wall. come spring i will fill old pond and relocate to the middle of the lawn and well off the fenceline

    10. #10
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      Hi Kevin,

      Oh no, I try to be conservative in my construction! It is planned to be roughly 6’ from the property line and fence line, as well as the house foundation.

      Good luck with your pond relocation!

    11. #11
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      Quote Originally Posted by Drwonga View Post
      Hi Mike,

      Thanks - yes, I'd like to build as close to recommended guidelines as possible, if the details are available. I'm in Morgan Hill. Here is the municipal code I saw for ponds specifically (They appear to be called out separately from pools).

      18.56.050 - Ponds

      In ground ponds less than eighteen inches in depth are allowed within the front yard area, but shall be setback a minimum of ten feet from all property lines. In ground ponds of any depth are allowed within the rear or side yard areas but shall be setback a minimum of one foot from any property line.

      Thanks!

      Larry
      Okay. I see the reference. Interesting to say the least. I don't see any reference however to how far away from permanent structures. But, it also doesn't say whether a permit is required or not. I'm assuming as it's listed without saying so, a permit IS required. I see in your latest response to kevin that you plan to keep it about 6' from both fence/structure you're fine.
      Mike

      check out our website at: http://www.pond-life.net



      "Our goal is to assist with emergency and Koi health issues, as well as educate on best practices. Please help us gain a clear picture by giving the original poster time to answer our questions before offering opinions and suggested treatments."

    12. #12
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      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for verifying what I am seeing. As a precaution, I actually wrote to the towns permit department to confirm. Based on the description I provided, they confirmed no permits would be required to build the koi pond. They did mention I will need to get a permit if I am going to run additional electrical outlets for the pump (which I need to do).

      Thanks!
      Last edited by Drwonga; 2 Weeks Ago at 04:52 PM.

    13. #13
      koiman1950's Avatar
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      Yep. Usually most city planning dept's are more concerned with the plumbing and electrical on most projects like this. It's good for you that you don't need a permit for this but I'm really surprised they don't think of a pond as an "attractive nuisance" like they do a pool. A kid can drown in one just as easily and the fish are more of an attractant than an empty pool full of water I would think!?! As to additional electrical outlets, do they mean actual outlets or adding additional breakers/lines. I've always been told that if the line is existing, adding additional outlets that still are under the amp load requirements of the current breaker are okay provided the proper size wiring is installed along with GFCI outlets. If this individual you talked to stated outlets, and you already have existing electrical somewhere in the yard you could tie into that wouldn't exceed the limit of the current breaker, you might wish to seek clarification on that. Good luck with your build.
      Mike

      check out our website at: http://www.pond-life.net



      "Our goal is to assist with emergency and Koi health issues, as well as educate on best practices. Please help us gain a clear picture by giving the original poster time to answer our questions before offering opinions and suggested treatments."

    14. #14
      Drwonga is offline Junior Member
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      Hi Mike,

      Good call on the electrical. I think I will actually just have an electrician come in and extend the outlet - there is an outdoor outlet already installed, so it *should* be just tapping into that and running it across the yard (in a conduit I had the landscapers install years ago). Because of the change in pond location, I think they would just need to add a bit more on the conduit to place the outlet closer. I figure the electrician should know all about whether that upgrade would need a permit.

      I did mention the pond is in the backyard and fenced in already, so that might have something to do with the attractive nuisance thing? I do keep our yard locked as well. *shrug*

      I'm hoping to finalize my floor plan for the pond soon and get the HOA approval, so I can get this thing started!

    15. #15
      koiman1950's Avatar
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      HOAs are sometimes tougher than city planning departments. Good luck and hopefully, they don't cause you a headache. Been there done that with two clients. They ended up throwing up their hands in disgust at the ignorance to the situation shown by the HOA members.
      Mike

      check out our website at: http://www.pond-life.net



      "Our goal is to assist with emergency and Koi health issues, as well as educate on best practices. Please help us gain a clear picture by giving the original poster time to answer our questions before offering opinions and suggested treatments."

    16. #16
      Drwonga is offline Junior Member
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      Thanks! Fingers crossed! Our HOA is pretty relaxed though, so I'm hopeful!

    17. #17
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      I'm going through and finalizing how I would like to build this pond. Originally I was thinking a big hole with a concrete collar and liner, then big boulders around the edge. I'm now wondering instead, of using a concrete collar, then adding concrete blocks or bricks to elevate the water level a few feet above the surrounding area, and provide a little spot to sit (no big boulders). Does anybody have some basic instructions on how to go about building this style of pond?

    18. #18
      birdman's Avatar
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      Most people pour a concrete footing, then go up 3 rows of blocks. (Split face blocks come in different colors and look nice like this pond I did) Then excavate the whole from out of the blocks.
      Attached Images Attached Images  

    19. #19
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      Thanks Steve! Do you place rebar into the concrete bricks, then fill the empty spaces with concrete? If you use rebar, do you have to make sure it is sunk into the ground, through the concrete footing? Would this building method be suitable for both free form and rectangular ponds?

      I was thinking it might be cool to dig down 3' or so, then add two or two and a half feet of concrete/brick on top, for a total depth of 5-5.5' or so.

    20. #20
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      Sorry - I actually looked this up, and it makes sense now.

      Unfortunately I am not seeing these types of blocks at my local home improvement store. Perhaps I could do cinderblocks with a brick facade. I am still envisioning this to be roughly 18" or so high, to allow for seating. Still trying to figure out how to add curves with the cinder blocks...

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