In-ground hot tubs fall under what is considered a “custom” hot tub and installation usually requires a permit and the work is almost always performed by a licensed contractor. They are most commonly installed in tandem with an in-ground swimming pool. The pricing ranges from $5000-$25000 depending on size and sophistication. Moreover, in-grounds are available in two ways. The first option and least expensive of the two is to go with a prefabricated shell that can be vaulted or dug in the ground. The benefit of purchasing an in-ground as a prefabricated shell is that you can find more ergonomic seating that is more comfortable and contoured to your body. They are also available in a large array of colors since they are manufactured similar to a traditional hot tub shell made of acrylic and fiberglass. The installation is typically faster as the prefab shell is manufactured offsite. Jets can be placed in desired locations throughout the inside of the hot tub.
The second option is to go with a concrete hot tub which is also referred to as a gunite hot tub. Concrete hot tubs are fully custom in a sense that they can be built in any size or shape you want. There are a host of features that can be added to the design such are water features, vanishing edges, LED lights, clear glass walls, etc. There are zero limitations if your budget and timeline permits. Furthermore, the aesthetics of a concrete in-ground are second to none as they can be integrated seamlessly and exquisitely in any backyard landscape design. Finally, similar to the prefab shell method described above, you can place jets in desired locations throughout the inside of the hot tub.
In both cases above, the equipment (pumps, heater, filter, etc..) is typically located some distance away from the hot tub itself and usually housed in a structure (small shed or doghouse) for ease of service.
Below is a simple pros and cons list for this type of hot tub when compared to a traditional hot tub;
- Aesthetically Pleasing– An in-ground can be integrated seamlessly and exquisitely in any landscape design making it look more permanent and not an afterthought.
- Fully Customizable – The sky is the limit here with size, shape, and features. Furthermore, you can pick and choose how many jets and where they are placed inside the hot tub.
- More Expensive – In ground units are usually 2-4 times more expensive than traditional hot tub. They can also take between 1-4 months to design and install.
- Less Performance – In ground units usually have between 5-15 smaller jets and run on one jet pump. Traditional, above ground spa, can have up to four jet pumps and 100 jets making them more therapeutic.
- Less Comfortable – In ground spas are usually limited to one bench seat versus a traditional hot tub that has seats with different heights and a more ergonomic fit for maximum comfort and support.
- Less Efficient – In-ground hot tubs cost more to heat than a traditional hot tub because they typically need to be pre-heated prior to every use versus a traditional hot tub that is kept at a set temperature and covered at all times.
- Less Convenient – In-ground spas are usually installed further away from the home making them less desirable to use during the colder months of the year. Traditional, above ground spas can be butted up close to the house or on a patio right outside a door or slider making them more convenient to use during the colder months of the year.