Pool Build - Hot Tub/Spa help - Separate vs. Integrated

luckyc1423

Well-known member
Apr 8, 2017
82
houston texas
We built a pool about 4 years ago, and recently sold our house. We are now building a new house and designing a new pool. We loved everything about our previous pool.

We live in Texas but still use the hot tub quit a bit. The issue with the previous pool is that it would take the hot tub 2-3 hours to get to temperature (from a ~50 degree temp to 103 temp). That is entirely to long so over time we ended up not using it as much as i cannot pre-plan by 3 hours as to when i want to get in.

So we are tossing around the following ideas to fix this, please give us feedback

1) A separate stand-alone hot tub. This is the most ideal scenario however i am really worried about the looks of the pool since the hot tub would be stand alone as we are building a higher end pool. Does anyone have feedback on this and any links to builds or photos of people who have done this?

2) Build a hot tub out of the same material as the pool, but do not have it spill over into the pool. have it own its own heater and pump so essentially its a separate unit, but would match the pool. Try to find someone to custom make me a hot tub cover so i could keep this warm all the time.

3) Run like 2 heats in line to make the hot tub heat up super quick - i am worried about gas costs here as my gas is expensive.
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
15,762
Bedford, TX
Lucky,

You have just outlined the conundrum between having a standalone spa and an integrated spa.. Integrated spas are the most oversold and underused items in most pool builds.. My guess is that 50% of owners use them, and 50% are lucky if they use them once or twice a year.

There is no doubt that integrated spas are very visually impressive.. They make a pool build pop!! They are however, not as comfortable as a standalone spa, and as you point out, you can't just jump in whenever you want.

So the question is... Are you building a pool and spa to use or to impress your neighbors... ? If to use, then I would go with a standalone spa and come up with a way to disguise it, or make it a feature under some kind of enclosure with a roof, or ?????

There is no right or wrong answer here.. It just depends on what you want and how you intend to use it.

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

Oly

Gold Supporter
Jun 28, 2017
1,217
Fresno, CA
A stand alone spa is better suited for spontaneous use and for when you only have 20 minutes. It is at temp 24/7 and is separate from your pool sanitation and plumbing system.
 

Dtkokay

Active member
Dec 31, 2019
38
Houston, Texas
A standalone spa is sooooo much more comfortable than an integrated one. Contoured, perfectly smooth surface vs tile / plaster / Pebbletec. And a standalone spa is insulated.

If you want to find pictures of stand alone hot tubs, just hop on google and run an image search. "Hot tub structure" is a good starting point.
 

luckyc1423

Well-known member
Apr 8, 2017
82
houston texas
thanks for all the help here. the problem is those photos do not show a pool. i am having the hardest time finding good photos that show a pool incorporated with it somehow.
 

santacruzpool

Gold Supporter
Feb 24, 2015
708
Santa Cruz, CA
I think putting a stand-alone hot tub next to the pool is a better option - and it is what I recommend to friends when they ask my opinion (FWIW)

Here is a photo of a drop in stand alone tub built next to a pool - I have seen other similar installs...



I think the best idea would be to build a 3 sided raised wall that the hot tub could be sitting in - so that it is easy to service or remove as needed - that wall could have a spill over like the picture above and it would look built-in.





Here is a Youtube video I found as well...


Or some nice landscaping could be used like this:

 
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Dirk

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TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
4,758
Central California
santacruzpool: dead on! I won't rehash Jim's post, or similar comments he and I have made previously regarding standalone vs in-pool. If I was to build from scratch, it would look a lot like one of the pic's santacruzpool found for you. It's a no brainer: you get all the perks of a stand alone (which are MANY) and the aesthetics of an In-pool. The faux waterfalls are a nice touch, too. Why would anyone want to sit on a flat, uncomfortable concrete bench surrounded by six or eight jets (total) when they could have the true spa experience of multiple unique stations, contoured seats and loungers, on nice smooth fiberglass, with multiple jets (each)?

To be fair, you'll be caring for and balancing two separate bodies of water instead of one, so there's that to consider. But if want the hot tub experience, that's what it takes.
 

luckyc1423

Well-known member
Apr 8, 2017
82
houston texas
amazing feedback. i love the photos actually!!

Question - if it is in ground like that, and the spa motor goes out or something, how would i access it? would i have to dig up the ground and cement to get to it?
 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
4,758
Central California
You can customize an inground spa with custom seats and jets.
Assuming you could find a builder adept at this type of build (a big IF) and were willing to pay the premium I imagine it would take, that still doesn't solve the heating issue, does it? And you're still going to be laying on concrete (or tile). And I took one look at the underlying plumbing picture in one of those links... I wouldn't want to bury all that PVC in concrete, no way. And even if you're able to ignore all that, it seems you're still going to end up with a pale version of a stand-alone... Disclaimer: I've never been in one of those spas. Has anyone here at TFP been in one, or own one?
 

Dirk

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TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
4,758
Central California
amazing feedback. i love the photos actually!!

Question - if it is in ground like that, and the spa motor goes out or something, how would i access it? would i have to dig up the ground and cement to get to it?
I imagine you'd have to lift it out of the ground somehow. Or you could design in some sort of access, like a section of the deck would be Trex decking that could be removed to reveal a pit that could access the plumbing? Just spitballing, not sure how that would actually get done. A store that sells spas would surely be able to answer that question if no one here can.
 

Oly

Gold Supporter
Jun 28, 2017
1,217
Fresno, CA
Portable spas have an access panel for the motor and the electronics. You would have to design an enclosure that provides access to the panel and the ability to work in that limited space. As for other issues like plumbing leaks, a compromised shell or full replacement you would need a plan for that.
 

santacruzpool

Gold Supporter
Feb 24, 2015
708
Santa Cruz, CA
My preference would be a three sided area that allows full access to the 4th side of the tub - this would work in an elevated design like some of the photos I posted.

The drop in tub would be less desirable due to the issue of getting to the inside of the tub, and the corresponding issues with drainage and other problems that a three sided setup would solve. Having deck access to a drop in tub would be OK, but being able to move the tub in and out easily from the back side, and being able to get at the control panel and plumbing, would in my mind be the preferred option. If someone wanted a truly flush system then that would be harder to service, install, and access the internal parts.
 
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Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
15,762
Bedford, TX
The standalone spas that I am familiar with, really only have one side for any normal maintenance... This makes the three sided enclosure the perfect one to use.. If needed, you could replace the main components, like pumps, heaters, control systems, without having to move the spa at all.. And, if something really serious happened (Unlikely) you could just empty the spa and drag it out...

Monty... I loved those pics... Thanks for posting them.

Jim R.
 
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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
12,849
Northern NJ
I had a Sundance spa of late 1990s vintage. After about 10 years the glued PVC joints began leaking. Finding and fixing leak is in the plumbing required access to all 4 sides of the spa eventually. You cannot get to all the plumbing from the equipment access side.

If you intend to keep a stand-alone spa long term assume you will eventually need access to each side. If I bought a stand-alone spa today I would look for one with screwed PVC joints and not glued joints.
 

mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
12,925
Pleasanton, CA
The issue with the previous pool is that it would take the hot tub 2-3 hours to get to temperature (from a ~50 degree temp to 103 temp).
That seems excessively long. Did you have a small heater? A 400k BTU NG heater will raise 1000 gallons of water 50 degF in about 80 min.
 
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evansma3

Member
Jul 22, 2017
19
Pearland, TX
Yea, we use our integrated gunite spa all the time. We love it. But it only takes about 20 minutes to get to 102. Once it's in spa mode, the pump is no longer circulating water in the pool at all, only the hot tub. 2-3 hours seems crazy long and understand why you'd want to consider other options. Maybe it was a pump/plumbing issue though?