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Picture a beautiful backyard oasis with an in-ground pool and an attached hot tub/spa where the water cascades over the wall creating a majestic ambiance. These types of combinations are becoming more and more common for luxury vacation homes and even some more fortunate backyard enthusiasts who happen to live in a warm climate. These glorious backyard getaways can be the perfect combination of fun and relaxation. If you are considering purchasing a home with one or adding one to your existing backyard, there are some things you should consider.
- Aesthetically appealing
- Adds value to home
- Fun for entertaining
- Easy maintenance due to shared system with pool
- Built-in and connected to pool
- Cannot be used year round if you winterize your pool
- May not be able to heat both the spa and the pool at the same time
- Limited hydrotherapy options
- Have to wait for the spa to heat up before every use
- Less efficient compaired to other options
- Costly Repairs
Now that you have seen the list, let’s get into the details.
What Are The Pros Of Owning A Connected Pool And Spa?
Let’s face it, in-ground pools and spas can be gorgeous. Just look at the fantastic design of the natural rock-incased spa above. It looks like the spa was built into a natural spring. A backyard like this would make anyone’s mouth drop in awe.
It is generally agreed that for an upgrade in your home to increase the value of your home it has to make your home more desirable and be a permanent addition to your home. Pools can be hit or miss depending on where you live. Where I am from in the mid-west United States, being unable to use a pool year-round means they do not add as much value to a home. But, if you live in Florida, it may be expected that you have a pool and therefore not having one may hurt your home value. Not perfect examples but you get the idea.
Unlike a portable hot tub, an inground pool and spa combination can add value to your home.
This is probably true for most pools and hot tubs whether in-ground or portable, but having a spa and a pool certainly adds fun and entertainment to your backyard space. When you have guests over they can relax on the patio, swim in the pool, or soak in the spa all in the same space together. Some of the best conversations I have had with friends and family have been while relaxing by the pool with my favorite beverage.
Now I will probably get some comments for this one but hear me out. I would argue that a pool should be easier to maintain than a hot tub. In this case, I am talking about a portable hot tub, not an in-ground hot tub. My reason for this assertion is that a pool has significantly more water volume than a hot tub which means it can absorb more chemicals, bather waste, and should therefore be more forgiving if you do not keep perfectly on top of water chemistry and cleaning.
Don’t get me wrong, a pool can and will become nasty, it should just take longer than a hot tub. If you have a party with a lot of people in and out of your hot tub, chances are the next morning you will open the cover and it will be gross if you didn’t take care of it the night before. We have all been there, a good shock will usually help get it back on track.
You could have 100 people in your pool and the next day it will probably still be perfectly ok. What does this all mean for your built-in spa? Because it shares the same water and filtration system with your pool, it should also be as forgiving on the maintenance side.
Built-in And Connected
A pool and hot tub are great on their own, but together they are even better, right? Seriously though there is a reason open concept kitchens and homes are so popular. It gives you a sense of togetherness in your home. Talking to your guests relaxing in your living room while you braise the short ribs you just pulled out of the oven allows you to spend more time with your guests, even though you have hosting duties.
Think of a built-in pool and spa as the open concept version of a backyard. You can be in either one and still connect with friends and family in the other.
What Are the Cons Of Owning A Connected Pool And Spa?
Limited Use In Colder Climates
If you live in Florida then this doesn’t apply to you, but if you live anywhere that experiences winter then a built-in spa can only be used when the weather is warm enough to use your pool. This is a significant drawback when compared to a portable hot tub which can be used year-round.
I love and prefer using my hot tub when the temperature drops and snow is falling. You will have to winterize your built-in spa at the same time you winterize your pool because they are connected and share all the same systems.
Limits On Heating Both The Pool and Spa
I have stayed at a few places on vacation that have had a built-in pool and spa. The spas all had a small four-button controller that put the spa into spa mode, turned on the jets, turned on the air, and turned on the lights. When put into spa mode, the water level in the spa would drop and it would start exclusively pulling water from the spa and stop pulling water from the pool into the filtration and heating system. This allowed the spa to heat up faster and run with the full power of the pump.
The huge downside to this is the filtration and heating system in the pool would stop working because all the power and flow is being directed to the spa. In many cases, this might not seem like a huge deal, but if it is a cooler time of year, the pool temp may start to drop while the spa is in use. So you may have to make some compromises if wanting to use both at the same time.
It is possible to design the mechanicals such that both the spa and pool can be run at the same time, but this type of system is going to add cost to your setup. My wife stayed at a house on vacation that was capable of this and it made the experience better.
It is expensive to plumb an inground pool and hot tub. The plumbing is usually hard to access or even impossible after the pool is installed. This means the jets and hydrotherapy systems in a built-in spa are vastly inferior to a portable spa. You will still get the benefit of soaking in warm water with a few jets to soothe your aches and pains, but back-pounding deep tissue massage is probably not something you will be able to experience. If you want or need that type of experience, then you should avoid a built-in spa and get yourself a portable one.
Wait Time For Heating Spa
When a built-in spa is in pool mode, the water temperature will be the same temperature as the rest of the pool. Unless you have the separate system I talked about previously of course. When you switch into spa mode, you will have to wait for the spa to heat up to hot tub level temperatures. The time required to heat will depend on the size of your heater. So this is something to consider if you are thinking about a built-in spa.
Less Efficient To Run
A built-in spa is going to be less efficient to run than a portable hot tub. The main cause of this is the inconsistent operation and temperature. When the spa is in spa mode, it will heat the water to spa temp. When turned off, that warm water is dumped back into the pool and lost into the much larger value of water. The next time the spa is used, it will need to be heated back up again. This warming and cooling cycle is inefficient.
Even if you kept the spa in spa mode for an extended period of time, it does not have good insulation or a cover that will help keep it at temperature. It will lose a lot of heat to the surrounding ground and air which is much less efficient than a portable spa.
Repairs Can Be Costly
With a built-in spa, all the plumbing is going to be in the ground. This is great because it hides the plumbing which looks good. But, if something major goes wrong with one of those plumbing lines, the cost to repair is going to be significant if not impossible. An issue with a plumbing line should be fairly low risk if designed and installed correctly, but the cost impact is going to be great. With a portable hot tub, the plumbing and mechanicals are behind removable panels which makes them much more accessible for repairs.
Should You Buy A House With Or Install A Built-in Spa?
Absolutely, it will provide luxury, entertainment, and value to your home. Just make sure you are prepared for the less luxurious aspects of owning one. The biggest factor, in my opinion, is considering how many months a year you can use it. I personally wouldn’t want a built-in spa where I am from if I couldn’t use it in the winter. A hot tub is great year-round, but especially good in the fall and winter when temperatures start to drop. That may or may not matter to you and that is ultimately your choice to make.
Hopefully, I have provided you with some good thoughts to consider and reasons why I think someone should or should not invest in a built-in spa/hot tub.