I have to admit I am quite fond of in ground hot tubs. They look so much more esthetically pleasing, like they are aligned with the horizon and you are in the earth communing with nature. Ok, that’s a bit over the top, but the truth is it does feel better to be in a hot tub that is below ground, for whatever reason. There are many things you need to consider when creating your own artistic hot tub masterpiece:
The Ground: Will it support a hot tub? What do you have to do to ensure the tub will be stabilized? I know a few people who have cracked their liners with improper stabilization. Is sand and gravel enough or do you need to lay down some concrete or other things?
Children: Do you have a fenced yard? Can children wander in? What about your own kids? Do you need to fence the in ground hot tub off for safety, which can truly wreck the beauty of it in the first place. To get around this make sure you have a tight-fitting and locking, spa safety cover.
Surround: Do you want a rockery, tiled or earthy surround? What about sunken into a deck? Can you envision your yard with the tub in it? What will you have around it? When you plan your in ground hot tub ensure you plan the whole yard, even if you aren’t ready to do the rest yet. It will be important in the overall theme and design of your hot tub. Also, ensure the hot tub has no degradable parts, like wood. Rotting is never pretty.
Location: The first thing you should always consider is the location to electricity and water. The second thing to think of is the long, cold walk to the house. Generally, people keep their hot tubs close to the house for the second reason. It is unfortunate because often times the best privacy may be at the back of your lot. Are there huge trees nearby? Leaves can create havoc with the water chemistry and clog the filters. Look at shade too. If you are sitting in the hot tub in the glaring sun will you get sunburned or heat exhaustion? Be careful.
Repairs & Changes: You need to have access to the pump and the under workings of an in ground hot tub. You obviously do not want those items in the line of sight, so chances are you’ll hide them underneath. You need easy access. Many spa owners have the hot tub half way in the ground and half way above it in order to build in a door to access the "guts" of the hot tub. Ask a landscaper or the hot tub manufacturer or installer what they would recommend.
Features: Are you going to put in surround sound, a Hot Tub Flat Screen TV, lighting or even a wet bar? Plan this out in advance just so you have easily accessible inner workings in order for the least amount of hassle.
Timing: Have you done all of your hot tub research in time to have the hot tub dug in? In some States the ground freezes and just because you want one in time for Christmas it may not be able to be done before spring thaw.
My overall advice for researching and planning a new in ground hot tub is to ask questions, get professional advice, plan the whole yard and remember that hot tubs weigh at least 800 lbs without water, so it’s not easy to change your mind. If I was building a hot tub I would lay the hot tub in the ground, pack it in lightly and then wait a six weeks to see if there are any plumbing problems. It would be heartbreaking to see your in ground pool getting dug back up weeks after it was installed.