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Hot Tub Contractors

Gina Pogol | Improvement Center Columnist | December 13, 2011

Your first decision concerning your new hot tub is selecting the type you want: a portable spa or a permanent hot tub in-ground installation.

The portable versus the permanent hot tub

Portable, self-contained spas are easier to put in. They don't need external plumbing, electrical work, or excavation. Simply plug them in. When you buy a portable hot tub, the dealer will simply set it where you want it and you're good to go. Portable spas can be moved to a new home if you choose to take them with you. A hot tub contractor can build a step right up to your portable spa or add decking, a gazebo, or other structure to give you privacy and protection from the elements.

In-ground spas are higher-end hot tubs that can be set into an outside deck or sunk into a concrete floor. Your spa can also be installed semi-in-ground and you can have a wood or tile deck built around it. In-ground spas require hot tub contractors to do plumbing and electrical or gas work before you can use them. While an in-ground spa costs more to install than a portable hot tub, it is a permanent fixture and as such can increase the value of your home. Because you can choose less expensive sources of heat, in-ground spas may cost less to run each month.

Finding a hot tub contractor

You can go with the dealer's recommended installer, but you'll still want to check up on the company and get a few competing bids--experts recommend at least three. Here's how to go about looking for a few reputable hot tub contractors and getting bids:

  1. Ask your hot tub-owning friends about their installation experiences
  2. Call your state contractor's board for a list of firms and get bids
  3. Check with your local Better Business Bureau about reputations
  4. Fill out the form on this page for local hot tub suppliers and contractors

Once you have your three contractors, you'll want to interview them. Discuss your ideas (waterfall? lights? music?) and also be sure that anyone you consider has the experience and stability to do a proper job. They should discuss and understand the scope of your project before submitting a bid. Good contractors will also inform you about regulations and engineering issues that could affect your project. Ask for proof of liability insurance and Workers Compensation coverage, which protects you in the event of any mishap.

The bid

Your bid should include all warranties, payment terms, and the estimated start and completion dates. It should detail what work and materials will be provided as well as what is not included. Check the description of materials and work are of similar quality across the board when comparing estimates. The cheapest bid is not necessarily the best.