Hot tubs make a great addition for both leisure and health. The benefits are numerous -- you can relax after a long evening, invite guests over for dinner with a bath afterwards -- the possibilities are endless. Make sure you know what style you want -- freestanding or built-in -- to better gauge what the total costs will be.
It might be tough to predict the cost to install a hot tub, as it depends on whether you get a free standing aboveground structure versus a built-in tub. The national cost to install an above ground hot tub averages $321, with most homeowners spending between $159 and $490. The approximate cost to install a built-in hot tub varies from $15,000 to $20,000.
Above Ground Installation
If you choose to install an above ground hot tub, there are many factors you need to consider. This includes:
How will this affect your landscape (if placed in the yard)?
What kind of accessories will you need?
Prices for an above ground hot tub can range anywhere from $320 up to $17,000. The reason for this has to do with the type of hot tub you install and how many accessories you’ll add on. You will also have to factor in the cost of building the deck, concrete patio or installing the electrical and plumbing services if you don’t already have them.
Above ground models are also considered portable. You can set up a spa on your deck and then store the piece in your basement during the winter. They are difficult to move though -- about 225 pounds on average. Here are some types of above ground hot tubs to consider:
The least expensive is a soft-side inflatable one. These are made of vinyl and come to your home deflated. Then you just have to inflate it, add the motor and fill it with a hse. Once it’s plugged in, it’s a ready to go hot tub. You can get these for $500 or less.
Pros: Inexpensive, easy to move, less work for initial setup
Cons: Because it’s made of vinyl, this structure can puncture easily, which means you’ll have to replace it regularly.
Wooden hot tubs are the most common choice. Using redwood, cedar or teak, they have a round design with seating. It comes in pieces so you can easily get it to the room or space of your choice. They must sit on a solid base -- concrete or wood -- that can handle the weight of the tub and the water. These cost anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000.
Pros: Comes in parts for easy construction, very popular and solid material choices, appealing and will work with most home structures
Cons: It will require electrical and plumbing setup in the yard, and you will need to have a solid base for it.
Acrylic hot tubs are the heaviest and most expensive choice. They’re much heavier and cannot be transported in pieces, like wooden ones. They do require electrical and plumbing setup, like wooden tubs, but they’re much heavier and will require an extremely solid base. These cost anywhere from $11,000 to $16,000.
Pros: Very sturdy, can withstand the climate fairly well, has a very expensive and appealing look
Cons: Extremely heavy -- might require a new structure for placement -- and expensive to move. It will also require electrical and plumbing setup.
Depending on the type you choose, you can either DIY the setup or require a professional. This is especially true with the wooden and acrylic models, as construction and setup can be difficult as a DIY project. Some other costs you need to factor in will include:
Wooden deck: $6,900
Concrete patio: $2,200
Electrical outlets: $200
Plumbing trenches & pipes: $1,100+
Chemicals: $20 - $65 per month
Hot Tub Cover: $50 to $400 (for heavy covers, factor in an additional $100 to $300 for professionals)
With an above ground hot tub, you will need to factor in the cost of moving the structure. Most styles -- save for the inflatable ones -- require two to six people for installation and sometimes even a crane. That’s because most tubs weigh anywhere from 400 to 1,000 pounds. The company who sold the hot tub will usually set this up. So factor in an extra $100 to $150 for the initial delivery.
If you’re arranging to move the hot tub to a new home, then you will have to set up the move yourself. Depending on the size, there are a few options:
Professional large pallet mover & delivery truck -- $200 to $300 (includes operator and the truck)
Renting 4-wheel trailer -- $100 a day
Using a hand-towed crane -- $100 to $150/day
Professional heavyweight crane -- $150 to $300 per hour
Professionals will want to inspect the start and end sites. If they have to remove sections of the fence to get the hot tub in, you might pay an extra $100 to $200, not to mention the cost to repair the fence afterwards. This will mostly apply if you’re having a wooden or acrylic hot tub delivered to your new home. For the portable, inflatable one, you should be able to fit it into your moving truck -- you might cover it with fabric or other protective material to avoid poking holes in the structure.
In comparison to above ground styles, built-in (also known as in-ground) hot tubs are far more expensive. This is because installers will have to excavate the yard and install the necessary plumbing and electrical parts for the tub. Altogether, you’ll be spending anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 on the project. Here are some factors to consider with installing a built-in hot tub:
Location: Professionals will have to dig into your landscape to make room for the hot tub. This could affect your entire yard, so make sure you discuss the best location for minimal overall damage. Then factor in the cost to repair your landscape, anywhere from
Installation: Since a built-in hot tub installation is far more work than a portable one, it’s imperative you get a dealer who will help to walk you through the process. They can usually get contractors to help with the trench digging, electrical and plumbing installation. If you want a room for your built-in tub, they can set that up as well.
Materials: They are usually made of gunite or poured concrete. That’s why they have to be installed below ground, as a structure wouldn’t be able to handle the weight.
Size: The size of the tub you want installed should be determined by how many people will use it. For a family of four, a hot tub that holds 500 gallons and is about 7'8" x 7'8" x 40" should do fine. For a bigger family, you’ll have to go up. Here are some common sizes:
6' x 6' x 29" (120 gallons)
6'7" x 6'7" x 29" (275 gallons)
6'11" x 7'2" x 33" (350 gallons)
7'8" x 7'8" x 40" (500 gallons)
7' x 10' x 37" (650 gallons)
7'7" x 13'2" x 48" (1,200 gallons)
Electrical/plumbing: While these services will be costly to install, there are ways to save on the total cost. You can use alternative heating and plumbing systems, like a gas heater for the water. However, an in ground system isn’t as efficient as a portable hot tub, so expect to pay more on your monthly utility bills.
Surround: You don’t want the tacky look of a hole in the ground with concrete. So consider adding a surround, made of tiles, stone or bricks. It adds to the overall beauty of your hot tub and avoids potential mishaps with falls.
On the pro side of having a built-in hot tub, oftentimes these structures can raise the value of your home, depending on where you live. For the Northern states who have snow, only an indoor hot tub will yield more value. If you live in the South or on the West Coast though, a hot tub -- indoor or out -- could add significant value. The con of installing an inground style is you cannot take it with you.
It’s important to gauge the cost of the hot tub, as determined by its quality. There are compromises to be made with each type -- low tier is less expensive but requires more maintenance. Top tier are more expensive and durable. The average cost ranges for each tier are:
Low-end: $3,000 to $4,000
Mid tier: $5,000 to $8,000
Top tier: $9,000 to $18,000
Breaking it down by common hot tub brands, expect cost ranges like:
American Spas: $4,000 to $5,000
Aquaterra: $2,500 to $3,500
Aston: $3,500 to $5,000
Divine: $5,000 to $8,500
Evolution: $3,000 to $7,000
Home and Garden: $2,500 to $5,000
LifeSmart: $500 to $5,500
QCA Spas: $3,200 to $5,500
These prices mostly apply to above ground hot tubs. The price to install a built-in will be far greater, as noted in the section above. With above ground styles, there are a variety of choices to select from. When choosing one for your home, you should consider the number of jets you’d like, size, assembly required and how many people it can fit.
None of these costs include electrical/plumbing installation, structural installations or accessories.
Once you’ve got the tub installed, it’s time to think about accessories. Depending on the type of hot tub you have, some accessories you should consider adding might include:
Covers: To avoid leaves and other debris getting in your hot tub, you will need a cover. Depending on the size, you might also need a cover helper, which helps to manage taking the cover on/off and preventing damage.
Jets: If you don’t have enough jets, you can have more added. Just make sure you don’t overdo it.
Lighting: Lighting in or around the tub can help to avoid injury and potential mishaps if you get in the tub at night.
Drink holders: If you want to enjoy a beverage, get a portable drink holder than you can install on the side of the tub.
Ozonator: This injects sanitizer into the spa as ozone gas, which makes the spa easier to maintain.
Pump: This makes it easier to empty the hot tub, although most modern models have built-in drains.
Water access: This will make it easier to fill the tub -- might include a garden hose or an outdoor faucet.
Weatherproof stairs: Allows easy access into the tub. Make sure it’s made of durable materials and supported by concrete.
Some of these accessories -- cover, jets, lighting, ozonator -- might come with some models. Make sure to ask the dealer to avoid spending extra for something you won’t need. You also want to make sure and not crowd the hot tub with too many accessories. This could detract from its overall value and appearance.