Hot Tub Installation Guide

Posted by Nick Clamp in Hot Tub Installation Guides on 14th October 2020

Getting a hot tub installed in your garden can quickly go south if you don’t know what you’re doing.

But, make some simple preparations and bring in the right people for the job and the hot tub delivery and installation process is sure to go smoothly.

Follow this simple step-by-step guide to make sure your hot tub installation goes as smoothly as possible, from the first step to the last. 

Step 1. Do your homework

Photo © All Weather Leisure

Before you can start thinking about having a home spa installed you need to pick out the perfect model for you and your family.

So, measure up a few spots you’ve got in mind for your new hot tub to find out what kind of room you have to play with. If you don’t have the biggest space in the world to slot a spa into, check out our small hot tub guide to make sure you’re getting the most from the room you have.

Once you know what size spa you can fit into your garden, follow our step-by-step hot tub buying guide and check out the best buys in your free copy of the latest WhatSpa? magazine to find the perfect model for you. 

Be sure to pay particular attention to:

  • Finding a WhatSpa? approved hot tub supplier that offers full delivery and installation (avoiding any dealer that only offers kerbside delivery).
  • Making sure you’re not overpaying for bells and whistles you don’t really need.
  • Thoroughly wet testing your shortlist of home spas.

Do you need planning permission to install a hot tub?

It’s also important to check whether you need planning permission to install a hot tub in your area at this stage.

Unless you live in a conservation area or in a listed building, you more than likely don’t need to worry about building regulations. However, be sure to double check – especially if you’re planning on building hot tub housing, which might be a different story.

Step 2: Pick the perfect position

Photo © North Spas

To get the most from the hot tub you’ve got your eye on, you’re going to need to pick out the perfect place for it.

The best position for your home spa will tick all these boxes:

A solid foundation

The surface you sit your hot tub on will need to support its weight once it’s full of water and people. Concrete, gravel, and paving stones all provide a strong foundation, while spa pads and plastic tiles are affordable ways to even out a bumpy surface for a hot tub to sit on.

Decking is another great location for a hot tub. Just be aware that the cross-members supporting a deck you’re planning on placing a hot tub on should be 4” x 2” and no more than 18” apart. A good hot tub dealer will check that for you during a site survey to make sure your decking is a stable enough foundation for the home spa you have in mind.

Nearby water, power, and drainage

Unless you’ve gone for an inflatable or portable spa, your new tub will need to be wired into a dedicated power supply. So, be sure to have one installed within reach.

Your hot tub will also need to be within easy reach of a garden hose and close proximity of a drain for when you empty and refill your spa as part of your regular maintenance routine.

Access to the access panel

Wherever you put your spa, there needs to be at least two feet between your hot tub cabinet and any surrounding walls so you can get in and out and of it safely and comfortably. There also needs to be four feet of clearance on the side of your hot tub that contains the access panel so technicians have enough space to perform ongoing maintenance to your spa’s components.

You should also make sure your hot tub is further than three metres away from any overhead power cables.

Privacy

It’s also well worth considering whether the spot you have in mind is tucked away from where neighbours will be able to see. If it isn’t, be sure to think about how feasible it would be to build a hot tub shelter or grow some plants to give you plenty of privacy.

Easy access

The closer your hot tub is to your house, the more likely you are to use it – especially in the depths of winter. And a clear path to your hot tub’s steps will mean less dirt and debris will be dragged into your hot tub on mucky feet.

A view

Looking out onto a border of blooming flowers as you soak in your spa is a bit more picturesque than staring at the side of your house. If you’re lucky enough to be able to pick out a spot for your hot tub with a view, don’t underestimate how much it improves the experience of every soak.

If you have children, it’s also crucial that you install your hot tub somewhere you can see it from your house and the rest of your garden to help ensure accidents don’t happen.

Away from trees

Place a hot tub under a tree and you’ll forever be scooping leaves and debris out of it. If an otherwise perfect spot for your hot tub has a tree hanging over it, consider having it cut down to save you this constant headache.

Step 3. Plan your landscaping

It’s important to think through how your hot tub is going to change your garden’s appearance before you commit to a spot.

The most important thing to keep in mind here is how you’re planning on using your hot tub. Expect it to be the centre of your social plans? Make it the focal point of your garden. Want to create your very own garden spa Shangri-La to relax in at the end of each day? Tuck it into a private spot that’s well away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Other import questions to ask yourself are:

  • How easy is it to get power to the area?
  • Is there a spot to install an outdoor tap nearby?
  • How easy will it be to drain the wet area?
  • Could noise from the area bother your neighbours? 
  • Will you need to install lighting or protection from the rain?
  • Will a hot tub stick out like a sore thumb in the area you’ve picked out or blend in nicely with its surroundings?

Keep in mind here: a lot of these issues can be solved with hot tub housing, which both protects an outdoor hot tub from the elements and blocks it from view.

No matter where you place your hot tub, be sure to avoid these common landscaping mistakes:

  • Don’t surround your hot tub with gravel or grass, or else dirt and debris is inevitably going to follow you into your hot tub on feet and potentially cause problems with the jets and vents.
  • Don’t place an above-ground hot tub on a surface that gets slippery when wet.
  • Don’t plant herbaceous or deciduous plants around your hot tub, or they’ll constantly shed leaves into the water. 
  • Don’t opt for colours, materials, or styles that clash with the rest of your outdoor space and instead pay close attention to linking the area in with the rest of your garden. 
  • Don’t try to do your own landscaping. While there are some home improvements you can comfortably do yourself, landscaping is something that should always be left to the professionals.

Another option you should weigh up now is whether to sink your hot tub into the ground. This will require ground excavation, which will mean your hot tub installation will take longer and cost more. However, an in-ground hot tub can make for an eye-catching style statement.

Depending on which direction you choose to go with your hot tub, the installation process could be nothing more than clearing a space on your patio and installing an outlet (and not even that for inflatable hot tubs) to wholesale landscaping work.

If you’re planning on having your garden landscaped as part of your hot tub installation, it’s well worth asking your hot tub showroom to recommend a landscape gardener or architect. Any contractor that comes recommended by a local dealer will be familiar with designing spaces with hot tubs in mind. Plus, they’re likely to have a good relationship with the retailer, meaning the installation is likely to go as smoothly as possible.

Step 4: Get the foundations in place

Photo © Urban Cedar

A hot tub can weigh up to two-and-a-half tonnes once it’s full of water and people, so it’s crucial that you install it on a sturdy base that can support this considerable weight.

If you choose to place your hot tub on a concrete base, make sure it’s at least four inches thick. And if you opt to place it on decking, the cross-members supporting the deck should be at least 4” x 2” and no more than 18” apart.

If you choose to partially or fully sink your hot tub into the ground, make sure to build in an access point for an engineer to get access to the equipment bay for servicing later.


Step 5: Electrical installation

Your hot tub needs to be hooked up to a permanent electrical supply, so be sure to make plans around this.

Do you need an electrician to install a hot tub?

Under the ‘Part P’ law introduced in January 2005, it’s a legal requirement to have all the electrical wiring work for your hot tub done by a fully qualified and Part P-registered electrician.

The only exception is if you buy a plug-and-play hot tub. Because these models can be plugged straight into a standard three-pronged socket they don’t need any dedicated electrical installations to get up and running.

Any good hot tub dealer will know several sparkies that are au fait with the ins-and-outs of hot tub electrics and up to speed on all the regulations they need to follow, so ask yours for a recommendation.

Be sure to arrange for your electrics to be installed before your hot tub is delivered. Once they’re in, flick the isolation switch to the ‘OFF’ position, coil up the SWA cable tail, and tape off the exposed wires at the end of the cable to keep water out until delivery day arrives.

Once your hot tub has been delivered, wired, and filled, your electrician will need to conduct a few tests to ensure it’s Part P compliant. Then they’ll issue you with a Part P certificate which you’ll need to keep on file, as all electrical works will need certification evidence if you decide to sell your home.

Everything you need to know about ‘Part P’

Any good hot tub retailer will work with your electrical contractor to make sure all the electrical requirements are met during your home spa’s installation. Just so you’re aware, here’s a quick rundown of all the boxes that need to be ticked so you can double-check the installation is all above board:

  • The hot tub must be hard-wired on its own fused spur back to your household consumer unit (i.e. the tub should not be sharing a supply with any other appliances).
  • The hot tub should be protected by a sufficiently rated MCB (mains circuit breaker) and should cover the maximum amperage pull of the spa plus 25 per cent to allow for brake torque (i.e. the extra rush of current when pumps are first started). So a hot tub that has a maximum current draw of 20 amps should be fitted with a 25amp MCB.
  • The hot tub should also be protected against earth faults by an RCD (residual current device). This is a trip switch, which prevents danger of electric shock from damaged or waterlogged cables and connections. A suitably rated 30mA RCD is recommended.
  • Outdoor cabling should be protected from damage by either laying protective ducting (PVC pipe) below ground or by using ‘steel wire armoured’ (SWA) cable. Your electrician will calculate the size of cable required depending on the loading and the distance from the mains supply. Six mm2 3-core SWA cable is perfectly suitable in most cases but always consult a qualified electrician first.
  • An IP65 (waterproof, minimum 45-amp) rotary isolation switch is also recommended so that the hot tub can be isolated outdoors in an emergency or for service work. This is simply a rotary on/off switch but should be sited more than two metres away from the hot tub so that bathers cannot be in the spa while touching the switch.
  • Leave a tail of SWA cable from the isolation switch that is sufficiently long to feed inside the spa cabinet and reach the load box within the hot tub equipment bay.

Optional: A site survey

If you’re not sure the spot you’ve picked out for your new spa is totally suitable, any good hot tub dealership will be able to carry out a site survey of your property to make sure. They’ll also walk you through everything you need to know before delivery day and look out for anything at all that could cause headaches during the installation.

It’s a big red flag if a dealership doesn’t offer a site survey, so think twice about going with any retailer that doesn’t.

Step 6. Delivery day

Photo © All Weather Leisure

Hot tubs are big, bulky, and heavy. Delivering them is a complicated process that can be very costly to put right if anything goes wrong. So, it’s crucial to go with a reputable home spa dealership that’s handled hundreds of deliveries before.

If there’s easy access to the spot you’re having your spa installed from the street outside, then your dealership’s delivery team will just need to park their truck up and slide your spa into place with a ‘spa dolly’ or ‘spa sled’ – no crane needed.

You might be surprised how cleverly a hot tub delivery team can work around obstacles as well, with fence panels being able to be removed and spas being able to be squeezed through slots you never would have imagined they’d fit through. If there isn’t an obvious path into your garden, it’s still well worth taking your dealership of choice up on its offer of a site visit in case they can find a way of getting your hot tub in place without you needing to shell out for a crane hire.

If there isn’t an unobstructed path between the road outside and your garden, your hot tub will need to be lifted into place with a crane. You’ve got two options here: a contract lift or a crane hire

If you go with a contract lift, the crane company will be responsible for everything, including writing method statements and risk assessments, liaising with transport authorities for road closures, and providing a banksman and insurance cover. 

A crane hire is considerably cheaper, but leaves you responsible (and on the hook from a legal perspective) for the entire operation.

We always recommend you opt for contract hire from a reputable local crane hire company, as the money you’ll save isn’t worth the huge risk involved if something goes wrong – not to mention the hassle of getting all the right paperwork in place. 

Step 7: The final steps

Photo © Hot Tubs Hampshire

Once your hot tub is delivered, placed in situ, filled with water and the electrical supply is installed, your hot tub installation team should ‘commission’ the hot tub and check that everything is fully operational before ‘handing over’ to you with a thorough training of how all of the hot tub features work.

Reputable dealers will fill it up and ensure that your water is safe and balanced with the appropriate water care products. They also provide information about testing and maintaining clean water, and will lead you through the process before leaving you alone to enjoy your new pride and joy.

Ensure that the spa has a comprehensive instruction manual written in clear English, as this is a legal requirement for all electrical goods.

Keeping it simple

Not everyone wants the full spa and landscaping works. If you want to keep things ultra-simple then there are a number of affordable spas on the market that offer ‘plug and play’ practicality.

Many hot tubs manufacturers are now producing models that can run on a 13-amp supply. They will still need to be connected to a waterproof outdoor socket which is RCD protected for those who don’t want the hassle of putting in a dedicated electrical supply. We’ve recently published a comparison of 13 amp vs 32 amp hot tubs.

All you have to do is find a sturdy, level surface, fill your tub with water, balance the water to make sure it is clean and safe and away you go!

About the author

Nick Clamp

I am the Editor-in-Chief at WhatSpa? Media Group and my job is to keep you informed about the very latest hot tubs on the UK market... the best job in the world! When I'm not being deluged with press releases and hot tub brochures I enjoy keeping fit and participating in endurance events including triathlons and distance running.

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