In-ground hot tubs are a major investment. They're considerably more expensive than above-ground tubs, can take weeks to build, and may also have fewer features and lower energy efficiency. Yet once construction is done, the tub should last as long as you own your home. Most say that they can increase the value of your property, though other experts warn that it's a double-edged sword as it can also make your home harder to sell
Most expensive type. In-ground hot tubs are the priciest kind, not so much because of the cost of the equipment as the cost of the installation. A permanent spa requires excavation of the site, plumbing, electrical work and sometimes gas hookups, all of which must be done professionally. Better Homes and Gardens editors estimate the total cost of an in-ground spa at between $15,000 and $20,000. However, you get the option of heating the water with gas rather than electricity, which will save on energy costs in the long run. While an in-ground hot tub could raise the value of your property, the experts at the Better Business Bureau caution that getting that extra value could be a challenge when it comes time to sell.
Built to last. Online buying guide What's the Best describes an in-ground hot tub as the most durable type. They're typically made of either poured concrete or air-blown concrete known as gunite that's applied over a web of steel reinforcing rods, which can be molded to virtually any shape. Concrete and gunite spas generally have a line of ceramic tile around the rim to make cleaning easier, and some are completely lined with tile. Construction of an in-ground hot tub will probably require a permit, and may be subject to local building and zoning restrictions.
Fully customized. An in-ground spa can be custom-made to any size and shape you like. You can also choose the exact configuration of water jets: their number and position, adjustable or non-adjustable, even their color. In-ground spas may come with a full array of options such as colored lighting, sound systems or waterfall features, but more extras generally equal a higher cost. Construction is time-consuming, too, taking anywhere from two to 12 weeks or longer.
Built to fit your landscape. The editors at Better Homes and Gardens note that an in-ground hot tub "can add a dramatic effect to your yard." Because it's built to your exact specifications, you can choose whatever style will fit best into your landscape. An in-ground spa can be built right into a deck or patio for easy access from the house, and you can choose the shape you prefer, as well as the type and color of tile. Since an in-ground hot tub can usually be used year round, the editors at What's the Best recommend considering "the view throughout the seasons" when choosing a site -- and that's especially good advice since an in-ground tub can't be moved once it's built.
In-Ground Hot Tub Reviews
1. Better Homes & Gardens
This guide from the editors of Better Home and Gardens discusses the considerations when choosing between an in-ground hot tub and a portable model. Choosing between an indoor and outdoor installation is also covered, as are helpful but sometimes overlooked topics such as zoning, user safety, and insurance.
Review: Planning for a Spa, Editors of Better Homes and Gardens, Not Dated
This site is run by What's the Best, a series of online guides for consumers contemplating major purchases. This comparison of the different types of hot tubs notes that for permanent installations, site selection is important as foliage and other factors can affect your view -- and your privacy.
Review: Hot Tub Buying Guide: Types of Hot Tubs, Editors of What's the Best, Not Dated
This online seller of chemicals and accessories for hot tubs offers advice on choosing between an above-ground or in-ground spa. Installation considerations, available options, operating costs and more are addressed.
Review: Planning to Buy a Hot Tub Spa?, Editors of PoolAndSpa.com, Not Dated
4. Better Business Bureau
Rachel Willard of the Boston BBB provides balanced advice for prospective hot tub buyers. Site selection, financing, picking a dealer, maintenance, safety and more addressed. Home owners are advised to talk to a real estate professional to determine whether an in-ground hot tub will make your property more valuable, or make it harder to sell when the time comes.
Review: Buying a Hot Tub or Spa, Rachel Willard, Apr. 29, 2014