A hot tub is a wonderful luxury to enjoy at home. There are few better ways to relax. But for the reality to match your expectations, be sure to plan ahead. The benefits of a hot tub may be clear, but choosing the right model can be a little complicated. Before you make a purchase, ask yourself these four questions.
1. Is it going to be safe?
Often, the more desirable tubs are taller and can be difficult to climb into, but for safety reasons, easy access is important. After all, when you're retreating to the tub for a peaceful dip, the last thing you want is to slip and fall on the way in. To make entering and exiting easier, you might install the hot tub in-ground. Similarly, consider incorporating the tub into a new or existing deck. Also, insist on such basic and essential safety features as automatic shut-off and a strong, locking cover. These are not bells and whistles to skimp on; they'll offer peace of mind while promoting the well-being of your family and neighbors.
2. Is it going to be private?
Ideally, the hot tub would fit into a private area of your property (while still being close to the required utilities). For a clearer sense of the privacy afforded by a location you're thinking might be suitable, mark out the dimensions of a tub using garden hose or a length of rope. Track the sight lines from different vantage points around the yard, inside the home, and even off the property. In addition, keep in mind that in some areas, building codes require hot tubs to be surrounded by a fence. Perhaps building that barrier would contribute the extra degree of privacy you feel is missing?
3. How much will it cost to install and maintain?
Standard two-person spas start at about $4,000, while six-person tubs go for $8,000 and higher. Many dealers provide installation at five or ten percent of the product cost (and because both water and electricity are involved, professional installation is strongly recommended). Often the largest expense for a first-time hot tub purchaser is site preparation. Even an empty tub can easily weigh close to a ton. Be smart and consult with a qualified contractor or structural engineer to make certain that, whatever the support structure, it's going to safely carry the hot tub load size. With regard to maintenance, what primarily determines cost is whether or not you hire out the work or do it yourself. For many home spa owners around the country, worrying about water chemistry is a pesky, time-consuming chore.
4. Is it worth it?
Doctors don't usually prescribe “30 minutes of spa time,” but hydrotherapy goes back thousands of years, with more and more studies showing its link to good things like joint pain relief, increased blood flow, and better sleep. There's also the relaxation factor and the fact that, well, hot tubs are fun! So why do some folks never move beyond the planning stage? Many fear the allure would fade too quickly, and while there's no way to know for sure, it's a question-perhaps the most important one-to ask yourself.