Can I install my hot tub myself? Your COMPLETE guide to what you can do

By Jon Filson

Hydropool Hot Tubs and Swim Spas

If you’re handy at all, any time you buy something like a hot tub, it’s a fair question to ask: How much can I do myself?

So it won’t surprise you that a common question that many dealers get is, “Do I need to install plumbing with my new hot tub?” Or “can I build the base for my hot tub?”

We have the answers. In this article we will guide you through the steps of an installation and spell out what you can do and what is best left to a professional.

We will consider:

  • Can I deliver my hot tub myself?
  • Can I build the base for my hot tub myself?
  • Can I do my own electrical hookup for my hot tub?
  • Do I need to do any of my own plumbing for my hot tub?
  • How much does a hot tub installation cost?

 We hope by the end you’ll have a solid understanding of what you can tackle and what to leave to the pros!

 

 

Can I deliver a hot tub myself?

The answer is yes, in theory. But if you’re buying a traditional acrylic hot tub, we wouldn’t. Here’s why:

  • It will likely negate your warranty.

You may shift the hot tub in a way that causes the plumbing inside to move, which could cause leaks. The same could happen for the electrical. If that happens, and you did deliver yourself, you’d be on the hook for it.  

  • Many stores will absorb the delivery charge if you’re buying new.

Delivery is something that can often be negotiated into the purchase. Don’t hesitate to ask for it as part of any sale!

When can I delivery a hot tub myself?

Here’s a funny thing: Many big box stores deliver, but just dump the hot tub on your lawn. You’re then left with moving it yourself anyway. If this is the buying option you chose, sure, you might as well throw it on your truck, take the risks, and move it yourself anyway.

Here’s when it’s possible to deliver a hot tub yourself: If you buy a rotomolded hot tub, you’re far more likely to be able to move it yourself (it’s one of the big perks of the styles). You could load it into a truck or ideally on a flatbed and then with a few buddies be able to put it in place. You’d want to be careful, because if you end up scratching it all up, is it worth it? But rotomolded hot tubs are made to be tough and durable. Most inflatable hot tubs can be delivered this way as well.

But they aren’t the nicest hot tubs, and those kinds deserve the white glove treatment. We would never advise that you move or attempt to deliver any kind of acrylic hot tub, because if you end up cracking the acrylic you’re going to need to replace the tub essentially (acrylic is the most common style of hot tub and the only kind that Hydropool sells).

Can I build the base of my hot tub myself?

Yes you can. If there’s one part of the installation process most people can do if they are reasonably handy, it’s the base. It’s a lot of work and not a lot of fun for everyone, but it’s doable by anyone with a strong back and a will to save a few dollars.

  • A base requires packed gravel with either poured concrete on top or paving stones work as well over gravel. You need the gravel so there is sufficient drainage in the ground for rainwater to move through it. You need to pound the gravel into place to ensure that it won’t move (and often, this means building a box around the gravel in the ground out of cinderblocks or treated lumber). You can do the compacting by hand or rent a machine. It’s work, we promise. But it can be done. A compacting machine looks like a push lawnmower, which you run over the gravel to compact it into place and is likely your best method. You can rent this from places like Home Depot.  Once complete, it’s a good idea to put pavers on top of your base to ensure a flat surface.
  • You can also build a deck. Provided it is sufficiently supported – which may require an expert to confirm – a deck is a suitable strong, flat surface. If your deck is close to the ground, this is less of an issue. If the hot tub will be elevated at all, you need a professional to confirm that you will have sufficient support.
  • There are also special pads that can be bought and placed on the ground underneath your hot tub with names like EZ Pad. We are reluctant to recommend any without having direct experience with them. But they will typically still require gravel underneath them to ensure the ground doesn’t move. Stability is crucial for any hot tub: Otherwise you get too much concentrated weight in one area, which leads to warping and all sorts of problems.  
  • Lastly, poured concrete is an option for the do-it-yourself type. With this method, you need to build a frame, set it in the ground and then fill it with wet cement, leaving the top slightly textured. Again, compacted gravel underneath is a good idea for drainage and to prevent shifting and it needs to be poured to a 6” depth to have enough support.

Here’s a tip: No matter what method you choose, you’re wise to select your model of hot tub before you begin the process. That way you’ll know what size you require.

Can I do my own electrical on a hot tub?

We don’t recommend this at all. In fact, we insist on the opposite: If at all possible, get your hot tub installed by someone who has been installing them for some time. The risks of getting this wrong include electrocution: It’s just not worth the $1200-$2000 it costs to hire an electrician.

The exception to this is if you buy a plug and play hot tub. Hydropool doesn’t sell those, but if you get one, then the electrical is taken care of for you, provided you have a plug-in that’s close enough to where you want the hot tub.

Do I need to do any plumbing for my hot tub?

This is an easy one: No, you don’t need to do any plumbing. Most hot tubs are self-contained and pre-plumbed units, so no on-site connections or additional residential water supplies or drains are required.

How much does a hot tub installation cost?

Delivery would be around $500 if the dealer doesn’t throw it in. The pad can be built for about $1000 if you hire someone (and much less if you don’t, there are videos online saying you can do it for $200 and we think that’s about right). Electrical you should pay for and can be $1200-$2000, depending on your specific situation.

Is installation part of purchasing or are there extra fees involved?

 

Building the steps to a hot tub is something anyone can do, but it’s also nice if the dealer throws that in. The hot tub shown here is a Hydropool 579 Platinum.

 

What a dealer may charge or include as part of their service can vary and depend on the type of installation involved. It will vary from dealer to dealer and depend on the local situation and possibly even what promotions they are having at the moment.

Our advice: Always make sure to ask and get a proper installation quote to ensure that you have budgeted enough and do not end up with an unexpected bill. You may need to talk to different contractors to do this, or be able to bundle the work through your retailer, but every situation is unique here.

What has the most impact on my costs?

The biggest effect on price is where you have to put the hot tub.

Inside Installations: The main concern is ensuring that there is proper ventilation to handle the moisture emitted by the hot tub and having proper drainage in the room. This is unique in every case, but in general it adds thousands to any bill.

Outdoor Installations: The closer the hot tub is placed to your home, the lower the installation costs will be. This is because the electrical wires that are connected to your home and the hot tub’s electrical panel are costly, so the closer it is to your home, less material is required not to mention less labour cost involved to dig trenches and bury the cables.

Above ground, installations are usually fairly simple and just require a concrete base pad and power supply, as we discussed. If you wish to install your hot tub underground, the cost will rise as the task is more complicated as excavation and structural support will be required.

How hard is it to install a hot tub?

Everyone’s situation is different, but it’s actually quite easy in most cases: That’s why so many people have hot tubs, after all!

There are many factors that can determine how easy or difficult the installation of a hot tub will be at your home, but one thing is certain - make sure to use professionals when you need them. This will ensure that the installation is done correctly and that your hot tub will be safe to use. A hot tub can weigh over 700 pounds alone and once filled with water and people can reach over 4,000 pounds. Making sure that you have the proper foundation to support the hot tub and safe electrical wiring is essential. Installation requirements will also vary depending on if your unit will be inside or outside your home.

We hope we covered everything you need to know to decide how much to take on with your installation, but if you have any questions,. They have done this many times before!

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