DIY Hot Tub – Case Study, Jeff from GA, USA

As a refreshing change, this article has actually been written by Jeff from Georgia, USA – not me! Jeff has very kindly put together some words and sent some amazing photographs of his DIY build.

Like pretty much everyone, he went down the DIY route to save the cost of a pool or spa builder. In his pursuit to get the hot tub come plunge pool he was looking for – he found me and my website.

Armed with plenty of information and purchasing the parts from me too – Jeff began his DIY Hot tub journey.

At this point, I would like to hand over to Jeff and his narrative.

You can also find me on my socials;

I started my pool project August 14 2023. I am a family doctor but I have a background in construction and DIY, but that being said I had never built a pool.

The local pool company quoted a price of $75k for a 10×15 plunge pool, (which is 5625 gallons)  and I felt I could take it on myself and save $. My final price ended up being $35k so I saved over half. 
 
As I began, I quickly learned I was in over my head, but then I found Andi and his advice and expertise have been priceless. His course and videos answered most of my questions but then I would always have something new pop up and he was quick to reply with the right answer.
 
I bought every part I could from him as well, and found this to be a huge advantage as he was available to support me in installation. Andi was invaluable, and with his help I was able to do everything on the project myself except the concrete walls and plaster.
 
This set of pics shows the site before I moved any dirt. I have a Kubota skid steer so this part went fairly quick and then I had some shovel work of course. It was easy to form, and I decided to do a deep end and a shallow end so we could have a place to swim around.
 
I had a great spot for my pump room, under the covered deck adjacent to the pool This was fairly easy to get to this point. Getting the dirt packed with my skidsteer and getting the rebar laid out right and bent were most important steps here.
 
Also, I used 6 gauge bare copper wire  for my bonding grid and made sure every piece was tied together. I used bonding lugs in all 4 corners. 
 
DIY Hot Tub
 
 

The next step was laying out the rough-in plumbing and setting the forms for the walls and pouring. I made a couple of errors on the plumbing, one of my floor inlets

I left too low which caused me some headaches later, and I ended up dropping the last 3 jets lower and initially capping the first one because I did not leave quite enough clearance for the width of block for the stairs I was able to source.

I have to mention it is very important if pouring walls to use either foam or duct tape at the end of your 2.5 inch jets so when you pull the forms, you dont have to go back and chisel concrete. After I installed the jets, I used hydraulic cement around them to make them as tight as I could. . Also I used 5,000 psi on the slab and walls for max waterproofing, without air in the mix. 

DIY Hot Tub

 

 

 

 

I used cinder blocks to make the steps, a viewing ledge, and a bench. I drilled rebar in about 2 inches into the slab, to make sure nothing would ever move.  I mixed quikrete (it took 80 bags) and core filled them.

I had not laid block in years but this went smoothly for me and a helper. I also used 2 inch rigid foam insulation around the entire concrete shell, adhered with construction adhesive and Tapcons, which I ultimately finished with stucco for a cost effective but good looking finish. 

Around this time I made my control room, I made a Trex base and did this in my shop, and it ended up being quite a bit heavier than intended, but a friend and I were able to carry it out and slide it in.

It barely fit, and only after I removed the metal roof I had used and put on shingles instead. The location is out of the weather but 1x a year I pressure wash the deck so wanted to protect against that. 

DIY Hot Tub

Once I had the control room in place I wired it all up, I trenched and ran about 120 feet of 6/3 with ground UF a 60 amp spa box and it took me the better part of a day to tie it all together. Then I used Henry 107 on all the exposed wall ties, and I used Hydroban latex waterproofing around the entire tile line for extra protection where there woul be no plaster. I then tiled the top band and used a 1 inch porcelain MSI for the coping. I beveled it so rain water would drain to the outside on a very slight decline. 

Finally it was time for plaster. I chose Quartscape NPT Anvil finish which in hindsight I would not do over. Also, ended up having a bit of a shady sub contractor who disappeared after the install and gave me some bad intel on the thickness.

My research showed it would be around 1/2-1 inch thick, he insisted it was 2 inches and so I set all my jets and returns to where he insisted. This caused me to have totally redo them all when they showed up and verified 2 inches was incorrect. 

This is the day of install and the next day once full. 
 
 

Over the course of 7-10 days quite a bit of plaster dust was created as it set up, which despite my brushing 2-3x per day I could not remove and the finish quickly became chalky. I was forced to drain the pool and do an acid bath, which did quite well. 

The light I used is very similar to the one Andi uses but I had already purchased it and was outside my return window. It is a nichless LED and was an easy install. It came complete with transformer and was an easy plug and play all I had to do was drop a 110 outlet by my control room off my 240 and put in a 15 amp disconnect.  
I did use sealer around it prior to filling, and put a Hartford loop in as back up for the wire. 
 
 
 
 
 

And this is the finished product. I am still struggling with the finish and I may end up using epoxy based paint, but I am also told that it will even out after some time, so we will see.

I did end up installing a Hartford loop after having a bit of water intrusion to my blower, but with Andi’s help I figured out that I had incorrectly capped one of the jets, (the one that I had initially thought was too close to the stairs).

So I chiseled it out, and using Hydraulic cement and a new niche it now functions perfectly as intended and the jets are strong. We had quite a time sorting this issue.

Due to the volume of water the electric inline heater doesn’t have the ability to heat in winter where I am located, but I have since installed a 150k BTU  propane Heyward heater and if all goes well it should take the water from 60 degrees to 95 in around 8 hours for around $36, so we can use it on a cool weekend in the winter.

I am still debating covers but due to it’s size I will likely just use a solar blanket and not go with a formal cover. 

It is interesting how different it can look depending on the angle of the sun and the lighting. 
 
 
 
 
 
All in all I am pleased with the outcome and I could have never done this without Andi’s help. He saved me countless $ and time, I can’t recommend him enough.
 
He is patient and makes himself available and genuinely cares that you have the best outcome. 
 
For reference this took me around 3 months in total working on it nearly every day, for a savings of $40k and knowing it was done right it was well worth it to me. 
 
Thanks Andi!
 
Jeff D, GA, USA – December 2023
 

Can I Help You?

If I can help you in any way I would love to hear from you. You can get in touch using the form below.

Thanks - Andi

 

Hi, Andi here. I own Buildahottub.com and also write all of the articles and info pages on the site. Some years back now, I built my own hot tub but struggled to find the information I needed. So, once my tub was complete, I started this website to help others in their own pursuit of hot tub and plunge pools DIY building information.

Today, I've helped over 1000 DIY customers just like you all over the world build hot tubs and pools. Have a good look around the site, there are lots of resources here. Please do get in touch if I can help you. - Cheers, Andi

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