Design & DIY

Considerations for buying and installing a hot tub

Some cottagers prefer to rough it when they leave the city, but for those who like a little luxury, it doesn’t get much better than a hot tub. Totally frivolous, but totally awesome. Who doesn’t love a good soak in hot, bubbling water? Combine the relaxing effects of a hot soak with some friends and some libations, and well, there’s really no better place in the world. But installing one at your cottage is a pretty big deal when you factor in the cost, the placement, the maintenance. So if you’re thinking of installing one, here’s a rundown of things to consider before you take the plunge.

Do your research

There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to hot tubs, and some brands are better than others. Because of the variety of tubs available, doing your research is key. Expect to talk to two or three dealers before you make up your mind. Even better, talk to people in your area who’ve installed hot tubs, and base your decision on their experience. The more you know up front, the happier you’ll be with your final decision.

How much?

It’s a great idea to take a serious look at your finances before you commit, and be sure to set a budget before you visit a dealer. Hot tubs are big-ticket items, and they also require an ongoing expenditure to keep them running, so figure out whether you’ll want to keep it running all winter long. And don’t be afraid to negotiate with your dealer.

Where should you install it?

The closer you install the hot tub to your cottage or house, the lower your installation costs will be. The electrical wiring from your house to the tub can really add up if you place it far from the house.

You’ll also need a solid base for the tub. Keep in mind that as the ground freezes and thaws, little shifts can cause cracks in your tub. Which is a major problem. These things weigh upwards of 5,000 pounds, so you may need to dig down four feet to get to ground that isn’t affected by frost. This will all add to installation cost.


Hot tubs require maintenance and may be the biggest challenge to installing one on a rural or vacation property. The pH levels should be monitored weekly, and salts or chlorine should be added accordingly. Filters should be cleaned every month or so and the tub should be drained and refilled every three months.

If you don’t make it to your cottage that often, you may need to get someone to maintain it for you. That’s not impossible if you have a willing friend nearby, but it can certainly add to the expense.


Few things are as fun as hot-tubbing in the winter. But if you’re not getting up to your property very often, you’ll need to decide whether you should shut it down for the winter or not.

If you’re going to get up there once in awhile, then you’ll need to consider getting someone to maintain it for you. And you’ll want a really good cover to keep it as well insulated as possible.

And if you’re closing it for the winter, then be sure to follow directions on winterizing your hot tub. Make sure all water is drained from the tub and the plumbing to avoid damage from freezing.

Property Value

While it may not be the best reason to add a hot tub to your vacation home, keep in mind that it will add to your property value. If a hot tub is built into a patio or pool area, it’ll be a key selling feature for prospective buyers.