The building codes of most U.S. states vary, but typically, a building permit is only required for a pool, spa or hot tub with a water capacity of more than 5,000 gallons. This exempts most hot tub installations in most areas of the country.
However, if you are building a custom spa or hot tub from scratch (it is not prefabricated or pre-made) at a single-family residence, you will probably need electrical, plumbing and/or mechanical permits. This is due to safety concerns about electrical and plumbing hook-ups, which often required adherence to building codes.
Even if not required in your area, since electricity and water are not friends, it is a good idea to have a local official sign off on all your hot tub’s connections.
Safety Codes for Hot Tub Connections are Frequently Violated
Hot tubs have unique electrical requirements and it is the owner’s responsibility to make sure that a hot tub’s electrical connections are made by a licensed electrician in accordance with the National Electrical Code, as well as local and state electrical codes at the time of installation.
However, around half of all hot tubs installed in the US have some type of electrical or plumbing code violation, even if they were installed by a professional. This is probably due to the fact that most spa technicians have expertise in hot tub hardware and equipment, but not in plumbing and electrical systems.
Safety violations include substandard electrical grounding; exposed and unprotected wiring, and worse, lack of ground fault protection, which can expose hot tub users to electrocution.
Pools, hot tubs and portable spas should always have their plumbing lines pressure-tested before use. If you are not sure if your hot tub or spa was installed in accordance with electrical and plumbing safety guidelines, to protect your family and avoid liability in case of an injury, have your hot tub connections checked by a professional.