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How to Pick & Prepare a Place for a Hot Tub (Outdoors, Indoors)

Choosing the right place for your hot tub is a very important decision, but there is nothing complicated about it

Choosing the perfect spot to install a jacuzzi is a crucial decision. Your new hot tub adds that finishing look of luxury to your home, whether placed indoors or outdoors. Since preparing the chosen space for the hot tub costs money and time, you should devote some thought to the issue before making your final choice. After all, you don’t want to install the jacuzzi, look at it, and then decide you need to move the entire kit and kaboodle to a different location.

This article is not like what you’ve read before

But how do you decide on the perfect spot? Most of the articles which provide guidance on this topic are not very helpful, if only because they are written in such technical language that you can barely understand the advice given. But we have reviewed and summarized the leading manufacturer guides, expert advice, and customer experience. From all these sources we’ve culled the most useful and clearest instructions for installation.

Choosing your hot tub hotspot

Most likely you already have a place to install your new hot tub. We will consider the full range of outdoor and indoor options. Let’s anticipate how the hot tub might look in different kinds of settings.

Source: Instagram

Installing a hot tub outdoors

The most popular locations are also the simplest: either in your backyard or anywhere close to your house. The advantages here are:

  • you don’t need to do extensive research on what the hot tub will require for these locations
  • you can buy a larger model
  • it’s easier to place the hot tub in your preferred position or angle
  • you can enjoy fresh air and a beautiful landscape as you soak

Possible places

You can choose almost any place (we will cover the details later), but the key is to have a firm foundation (max 10x10ft / 3x3m), that can bear the weight of your chosen model. A hot tub cannot just be dropped on your grass plot (or even pressed soil) without proper preparation. Given the weight and constant water use, it’s easy for your hot tub to shift, with the risk of injury or damage. Besides, the first step into your hot tub should start on a comfortable surface, since the whole purpose of a hot tub is relaxation.

These are the kinds of surfaces which help make your experience perfect.

Wide stone or concrete paving around the house

This paving is perfect for hot tubs. The material is usually already at the required standard, so you need only to ensure that the surface is level and the paved area can accommodate the dimensions of the hot tub.

Placing your hot tub close to the house means a shorter walk, shorter electrical cables (which helps prevent power overload) and your house itself provides cover from wind and sun.

Deck around the backdoor.

Most houses have a deck around the entrance doors or along the wall. Consult with your contractor or any building specialist about how much weight your deck can handle. Even if a standard hot tub is too heavy, you still have the option of getting an inflatable 1-  or 2-person model, whose weight most decks are built to take.

Alternatively, you can build a custom deck and create a great setting for your hot tub. We advise hiring a specialist for this project, though.

Any ground space (with preparations)

If none of the above options are suitable, you can prepare an appropriate spot from scratch.

Cheaper but longer option

The most durable solution is a concrete slab, which you can pour at your chosen location. A smooth slab gives a finished look and a solid platform for your hot tub. The average cost is between $150 and $200.

  • Here are brief instructions for pouring a concrete slab. As you will see, it’s not that complicated:

Measure the dimensions that fit your hot tub. Remove the sod  to a depth of three inches. Place 4-inch-tall limiter bars. Pour the concrete into the space in two to three layers, smooth with a long straight bar, and leave for at least 72 hours. Gravity aligns the slab.

“After looking at all the options I felt the easiest and cheapest way to go was to pour my own slab (around here you can’t find anybody to deliver just one yard of concrete). I bought some 2×4’s stakes and rebar. I made a 8×8′ form and staked it, then made a 1×1′ grid of rebar used broken bricks to elevate it off the ground. It takes about 36 80# bags of Quikcrete. I rented a cement mixer for $40 for the day from a rent-all place, although some Home Depot’s rent smaller ones. You can rent a bull float from Home Depot as well, which you will need to float the slab once poured. I made the cement in 3-4 bag batches, even though the mixer could have handled more. It is a two-person job at this point as one person dumps the mixer and the other shovels the cement into the corners of the form. Make sure you have a long board so you can screed off as you go along. Don’t try to pour the whole thing and then screed – you won’t be quick enough! The best thing about a poured slab is the ground can be irregular, just as long as the top of your form is level your good to go. Two day job max and a total cost of $160-180, depending on mixer rental and cost of Quikcrete, rebar, etc.”

Faster but more pricey

If you don’t want to do a lot of work, you can use Pre-fab Pads instead. It’s simple, but more expensive. You will need six pads for most models, which will cost between $450 to $500. Pads can be placed straight on your grass plot, but the surface MUST be level. It’s also best to use gravel for backing under the pads.

Some options:

1SpasHandi Hot Tub Pad
2Handi Spa Hot Tub Deck Foundation


Building permits to place a hot tub

You don’t need one. Hot tubs are not subject to building regulations.

However, if you want to build a separate building for the hot tub, there are certain restrictions you must follow in order to avoid permit requirements:

1. Only single level building;
2. Not higher than three meters;
3. Structure must be closer to your house than to the  road;
4. All additional buildings around the house should occupy less than 50% of the area compared to when the house was built

So you are almost entirely free to create a place to relax in the yard. However, if you want to build a gazebo or a fence, you will need a permit.

Some neighborhoods do have rules about building pools, but hot tubs are not usually included.

Delivery access

Whatever location you decide on, bear in mind that the hot tub has to be delivered on that spot. The delivery truck can’t drop it off and then you see about moving it to the location. There are several possible delivery options: by trailer, flatbed truck, or by cart. And, depending on the accessibility of the location, you may also need a crane to put the hot tub in place.

Hot tubs are typically delivered on their sides resting on a wheeled base. For a standard delivery, you will need to have a clearance width of at least 42 inches and a clearance height of at least eight feet from the road to the place where the hot tub will be installed.

If your chosen location isn’t accessible for a standard cart or truck delivery, ask the seller about the possibility of using a crane. This is a special option, but some companies have it. This may be necessary if you want to put your hot tub on your balcony, roof or backyard.

Water & electricity

Outdoor water connection is through a standard garden hose. This can be used for both filling and draining the hot tub.

It is very important to use a proper electrical connection for your hot tub. Never use extension cords – instead, connect the hot tub directly to an external power source. Read the hot tub guide on electrical requirements.

There are two main kinds of hot tub connections

120V connection

This option is often called Plug and Play, because a hot tub can be just plugged into an outlet. This voltage is not too high and does not require additional outlets or safety features. However, the power must not be less than 15 amp GFCI. 

240V connection

240V models are more powerful and heat quickly, so most of them have to be wired directly to the power supply. You must have more than 15 amp GFCI (38-60, depending on a hot tub ). You will also have to connect an RCD (residual current device) six feet from the bath. For this type of work, you should have an electrician do the installation.

Typical mistakes

  • Blocking access to the equipment panel when placing your hot tub next to walls or fence. This makes repairs difficult.
  • Placing your hot tub within ten feet of overhead power lines. Not a good idea.
  • Putting a hot tub in a breezy spot. This makes your water cool down faster. Ensure the tub is blocked by some kind of barrier – e.g. by trees or a fence.
  • Not catering for mosquitoes or hot sun. Try a canopy with a bug-net.

Winter season

Except for inflatable models, hot tubs are built for winter weather. So don’t let that factor into your decision to put your hot tub indoors or outdoors. Every hot tub model has a “non-freeze” mode (or some other title with the same function) so the only  real question is whether your hot tub capacity provides you with comfortable temperatures in any season.


Hard-wired 240V models maintain temperature efficiently in cold weather. If you live in a cold region like Saskatchewan with winter temperatures often falling below 10*F, and you still want to soak in your hot tub, you will need a powerful hot tub with 3kW-5kW heater, which are 240V. A good example of a winter-approved hot tub would be the AquaRest 300.

If none of the above options work for you

An excellent solution for relaxing is an inflatable hot tub. They are equivalent in most ways to a standard hot tub and have a number of advantages, such as:

  • portability
  • cheaper
  • easier to install

An empty inflatable hot tub weighs about 65 to 100 pounds. That means you can carry the tub to any place you want by yourself. It’s good for use in cases of limited space, especially inside the house.  When an inflatable hot tub is filled with water and has two persons inside, its typical weight is 2,500 lbs. Most floors can withstand this.

SaluSpa Miami, for example, can accommodate four people. This inflatable hot tub is big enough for a family with a couple of children, or very roomy for two adults. You can find out more about this and other inflatable models on the site

SaluSpa Miami Inflatable Hot Tub


Inflatable hot tubs have specific advantages and disadvantages, but they almost always can give you the option to place a hot tub where standard models can’t be installed,

You can inflate it, drain it, and deflate it pretty quickly. It’s especially handy if you want to soak a couple of times a month when you throw parties.

Installing a hot tub indoors

This is a trickier issue because of the additional issues you need to consider.  Regularly using a hot tub in a room that hasn’t been properly prepared can lead to long-term damage to your home, ruin your vacation, and even affect your health.

If you live in an apartment, don’t put in a hot tub without the permission of the landlord. 

U.S. residential building codes specify a floor live load of 40 Lb/ft². For example we take SaluSpa Hawaii Hot Tub as the most lightweight (1,938 Lb when 80% filled) among the inflatable spas with bigger area (34.88 ft²). 2000 Lb / 34.88 ft² = 57.3 Lb/ft². It’s close to normal but more, than permitted,so it cannot be used in its entirety. Even 100 gallons in a hot tub, because of its small area (approximately 10 ft²) will be 83,45 Lb/ft². 

In that situation, one solution may be to not completely fill the hot tub (this will not violate the permit). You may be able to find a compromise with the landlord.

Possible places

Once your heart is set on it, there is nothing impossible, even something as simple as installing a hot tub. Let’s take a closer look at some additional options.

Basement

This is a popular place and may be a good option as it is separated from the main living area of the house. The basement floor can support a hot tub of any weight. (After all, it’s supporting the entire house.)

However, it’s very important to remember that a hot tub is a massive source of moisture. The heat from the bath reacts with the colder room temperature, and condensate forms on the walls, ceilings and windows. Together with steam, this can lead to mold and rot. Quality ventilation is therefore essential for indoor hot tub installation (believe me, you’ll regret it if you don’t have it). As a last resort, you can instead use an in-room exhaust fan.

Broan-NuTone 688


To ensure that moisture does not appear, we also recommend using a fan heater to equalize the room temperature in order to prevent condensation. It’s also advisable to add a dehumidifier.

Electric Space Fan Heater

hOmeLabs Dehumidifier

Ground Floor

If you have a basement below your ground floor, call your contractor or consult with your Homeowners Association about how much weight your floor can handle. Bear in mind that wooden floors are a bad choice for hot tubs. Choose rooms where you have a concrete floor or a tiled surface.

The best place in your ground floor is the bathroom. Usually, a bathroom already has ventilation. Most other rooms in the house will be damaged by moisture. But if you can’t put the hot tub in the bathroom, a dehumidifier can help (check out our advice for the basement).

Custom room

If you have enough money, you can create a custom room for all your hot tub needs. Here’s what you can do to make a perfect hot tub room:

  • Build the room closer to the ground.This is safer and has fewer problems
  • Use cedar, teak, ceramic tile or FRP for walls. These materials have the best resistance to moisture
  • Make the drain on the floor and additional pipes to connect with the hot tub. It saves you more time and prevents problems from a wet floor.
  • Wire all electrical connections outside the room, at a safe distance from water and moisture.
  • Install an  in-room exhaust fan. When your room has a constant temperature, there is no condensate on the ceiling and no water drops falling on your face.
  • Don’t forget about ventilation ( fan heater and dehumidifier). This is probably the most important consideration when placing a hot tub indoors

Summary of what you’ll need to install a hot tub indoors:

Fan heater

Dehumidifier

In-room exhaust fan

Moisture-resistant tile for walls


Typical mistakes

  • Failure to prep the floor and all walls to prevent excessive humidity.
  • Inadequate ventilation. This can be dangerous to your health and the stability of your house.

Summary

Choosing the right place for your hot tub is a very important decision, but there is nothing complicated about it. You just need to consider the specific requirements for each option.

For outdoor locations. you can install any hot tub that you choose and you don’t need any special permits  to put the hot tub outdoors or to build cover constructions. It’s not a problem to use hot tubs in winter (except inflatables, which won’t work in a cold winter).

When placing a hot tub indoor, it is important to evaluate the structural capacities of your floor as well as the ventilation system

If, for any reason, the size and weight of the hot tub are unsuitable, consider buying an inflatable hot tub.

 FAQ

❓ What is the best surface to put a hot tub on?

It depends on your conditions and resources. The best possible variants are:

  • A wide stone or concrete paving around the house
  • Deck around the backdoor
  • Any ground space (with some preparations – you can find them in the article)

👾 What building permits do I need to have to place a hot tub?

Air jets work using a blower (which inflates the hot tub) that in turn pumps air through a series of tiny holes. When there is enough air to pass through the holes in the hot tub, a force is created which results in a gentle, tickling, and a pleasant massage effect. They are comparatively cheaper than hydro jets. You don’t need a building permit. Hot tubs are not subject to building regulations. However, if you want to build a separate building for the hot tub, there are some restrictions that you must be aware of (Learn more in our article).

☄️ Can you put a hot tub anywhere?

It is important to have a firm foundation (max 10x10ft / 3x3m) that can bear the weight of your chosen model. You cannot just place your hot tub anywhere, like on the grass (or pressed soil). Given the weight and constant water use, it’s easy for your hot tub to move, increasing the risk of damage and injury. You have to prepare a proper place before you place your tub somewhere.

❄️ Can I use a hot tub outdoors in the winter?

Before considering a model, you must have a clear set of requirements. Answering the following questions is crucial in determining the right Jacuzzi for your needs. Why do I need a hot tub? Top of the Best Hot Tub Vacuum Cleaners 2020 To use the jacuzzi outdoors in the winter, make sure that it has a “non-freeze” mode. Turn it on at the first cold snap. Inflatable hot tubs can be used outdoors provided the temperature is above 40°F.

✏️What should I put under my hot tub?

You need to prepare a suitable surface for the hot tub. There are 2 ways that you can do this: a concrete slab (cheaper but long-lasting option) and Pre-fab Pads (faster but more pricey).

💥 Can I put an inflatable hot tub on my balcony?

Only in some cases. According to U.S. residential building codes, permitted floor load on the balcony can be from 30 Lb/ft² or more. Before installation, ask technical specialists what kind of load the floors on your balcony can withstand, or you may be in for another surprise. 

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