What makes for good in ground hot tub designs?

In Ground Hot Tub Design

In ground hot tub designs? What is that all about? Few things are as relaxing and luxurious as soaking in a hot tub, but when it comes to creating a backyard oasis, the design of the hot tub itself can make all the difference. While above-ground models can be functional and convenient, in-ground hot tubs have a certain charm and sophistication that elevate any outdoor space.

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From custom shapes to unique materials, the design possibilities for in-ground hot tubs are endless. In this post, I’ll explore some of the most stunning in-ground hot tub designs to inspire your own backyard oasis. Whether you’re looking for a sleek and modern look or a more natural aesthetic, you’re sure to find inspiration here.


What I don’t want to discuss on this article is the prospect of dropping a plastic shell hot tub into a hole. This never works well as they are designed to be above ground and not in ground. For a true in ground hot tub, you are going to want to consider building on – don’t worry, with my help it is easier than you think – read on!

What is an In Ground Hot Tub?


An in-ground hot tub is a type of hot tub that is built into the ground, typically in a backyard or outdoor area. Unlike above-ground hot tubs that sit on a raised platform or are freestanding, in-ground hot tubs are constructed into the ground, creating a seamless and integrated look with the surrounding landscape.


In-ground hot tubs can be made from a variety of materials such as concrete, tile, or natural stone, and can be customized to fit any shape or size desired. These types of hot tubs are a popular choice for those who want to create a luxurious and spa-like atmosphere in their outdoor living space, and they often blend seamlessly with other outdoor features like pools and patios.


What makes for a good design?


A good in-ground hot tub design depends on several factors, including aesthetics, functionality, and safety. Here are a few key elements that can make for a great in-ground hot tub design:

  1. Integration with the surrounding landscape: A well-designed in-ground hot tub should blend seamlessly with the surrounding landscape, creating a cohesive look that enhances the overall beauty of the outdoor space.
  2. Comfortable seating and ergonomics: The hot tub should be designed with comfortable seating and ergonomic features that allow users to fully relax and enjoy their soaking experience.
  3. Efficient heating and water filtration systems: The hot tub should be equipped with a reliable heating system and water filtration system to ensure that the water stays at a comfortable temperature and is always clean and safe to use.
  4. Safety features: A good in-ground hot tub design should incorporate safety features such as non-slip surfaces, sturdy handrails, and a safety cover to prevent accidents and ensure peace of mind.
  5. Lighting and ambiance: The design should also consider lighting and ambiance, such as mood lighting, waterfall features, and other elements that can enhance the overall atmosphere of the hot tub area.

By incorporating these elements into the design, an in-ground hot tub can become a true oasis of relaxation and rejuvenation in any outdoor living space.



What materials should I use?


The choice of materials for an in-ground hot tub design depends on personal preferences, budget, and the desired style and aesthetics. Here are some popular materials that are commonly used for in-ground hot tubs:


  1. Concrete: Concrete is a popular choice for in-ground hot tubs due to its durability and flexibility in design. It can be molded into any shape or size, and can be finished with a variety of textures, colors, and patterns to achieve a custom look.
  2. Tile: Tile is another popular material for in-ground hot tubs, offering a variety of color and design options. Tiles can be arranged in intricate patterns and shapes, and can create a stunning visual impact.
  3. Natural Stone: Natural stone, such as granite, marble, or slate, can create a beautiful and natural look for an in-ground hot tub. These materials are durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions.
  4. ICF Blocks: Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) blocks are a type of building material that are lightweight, energy-efficient, and offer excellent insulation properties. They are easy to install and can be moulded into any shape or size, making them a popular choice for in-ground hot tubs.

The choice of materials will depend on personal preferences, budget, and the desired style and aesthetics. It’s important to consider factors such as durability, maintenance requirements, and cost when choosing the materials for an in-ground hot tub design.


What are the heating options for my in ground hot tub designs?


There are several heating options available for in-ground hot tubs. Here are some of the most common ones:

  1. Gas heaters: Gas heaters are a popular choice for in-ground hot tubs because they can heat the water quickly and efficiently. They are powered by either natural gas or propane, and can heat the water to the desired temperature in a matter of hours.
  2. Electric heaters: Electric heaters are another popular option for in-ground hot tubs, especially for those who don’t have access to natural gas or propane. They are powered by electricity and can be less expensive to operate than gas heaters, but may take longer to heat up the water.
  3. Heat pumps: Heat pumps are an energy-efficient option for heating in-ground hot tubs. They work by extracting heat from the air or ground and transferring it to the water in the hot tub. While they can be more expensive to install than other heating options, they can be more cost-effective in the long run due to their energy efficiency.

It’s important to choose a heating option that meets your needs in terms of efficiency, cost, and environmental impact. Consider the climate of your area, the size of your hot tub, and your budget when selecting a heating option for your in-ground hot tub design.

What are the plumbing considerations for an in ground hot tub?

Plumbing considerations for an in-ground hot tub are crucial to ensure proper water circulation, heating, and maintenance. Here are key aspects to keep in mind:

  1. Location and Accessibility:

    • Choose a suitable location for the in-ground hot tub, considering factors like proximity to the main pool (if applicable), ease of access for maintenance, and integration with the overall landscape design.
  2. Plumbing Layout and Design:

    • Collaborate with a professional plumber to design the plumbing layout. Plan for efficient water flow, proper drainage, and easy access to plumbing components.
    • Determine the placement of supply lines, return lines, drains, and jets. Ensure balanced water circulation to prevent dead zones.
  3. Pump and Filtration System:

    • Select an appropriately sized pump and filtration system based on the hot tub’s water volume and desired flow rate.
    • Incorporate multiple drains and skimmers to help remove debris and ensure efficient water filtration.
  4. Heating Method:

    • Choose a suitable heating method based on energy efficiency and heating speed. Options include gas heaters, electric heaters, heat pumps, and solar heaters.
    • Plan for the integration of the heating system into the plumbing layout.
  5. Jet Configurations:

    • Determine the number and type of jets based on user preferences and hydrotherapy needs.
    • Properly position jets for optimal water circulation and effective massage experiences.
  6. Valves and Manifolds:

    • Install appropriate valves and manifolds to control water flow, redirect water to different areas, and facilitate maintenance.
  7. Materials and Insulation:

    • Use durable and corrosion-resistant plumbing materials to ensure longevity and prevent leaks.
    • Proper insulation can help retain heat and prevent energy loss.
  8. Overflow and Drainage:

    • Incorporate an overflow system to manage excess water and prevent flooding.
    • Plan for a drainage system to remove water when needed for maintenance or repairs.
  9. Access Points and Shut-Off Valves:

    • Install easy-access points for maintenance and repairs. Consider placing shut-off valves at critical points to isolate specific sections of the plumbing system.
  10. Winterization:

  • Include provisions for winterization to prevent freeze damage to plumbing components during colder months.
  1. Water Treatment and Sanitization:
  • Integrate a water treatment system to maintain water clarity and safety. Consider options like chlorine, bromine, ozone, UV sterilization, or saltwater systems.
  1. Bypass System:
  • Incorporate a bypass system to redirect water flow around heaters or other equipment when necessary.
  1. Backup Systems:
  • Consider adding backup systems, such as secondary pumps or heaters, to ensure continued operation in case of equipment failure.
  1. Consultation and Inspection:
  • Consult with a professional plumber or pool contractor to ensure that the plumbing design meets local codes and regulations.
  • Regular inspections and maintenance are essential to keep the plumbing system in optimal condition.

Proper planning, design, and installation of the plumbing system for an in-ground hot tub are critical for creating a functional, efficient, and enjoyable spa experience.

What are the landscaping considerations for an in ground hot tub?

Landscaping considerations for an in-ground hot tub are crucial to create an inviting and harmonious outdoor oasis. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

  1. Location: Choose a location that offers both convenience and privacy. Consider proximity to your home for easy access and electrical connections, as well as privacy from neighbors and street view.

  2. View and Scenery: Capitalize on any scenic views or natural features in your landscape. Position the hot tub to take advantage of these views, whether it’s a picturesque garden, a serene lake, or a mountain vista.

  3. Accessibility: Ensure a safe and slip-resistant pathway from your home to the hot tub. Incorporate steps, handrails, or lighting as needed to make access easy and secure.

  4. Surroundings: Enhance the atmosphere around the hot tub with suitable landscaping elements. Plant shrubs, trees, or tall grasses to create a natural screen or windbreak for added privacy and aesthetics. Potted plants and flowers in the vicinity can add color and fragrance.

  5. Hardscaping: Consider incorporating hardscape elements like a patio or deck around the hot tub. Use materials that are slip-resistant and complement the overall style of your landscape. Pavers, natural stone, or wood decking are popular choices.

  6. Seating and Lounging: Create seating and lounging areas adjacent to the hot tub. Comfortable outdoor furniture, such as lounge chairs and waterproof cushions, can provide a relaxing space for socializing and sunbathing.

  7. Lighting: Illuminate the area around the hot tub with suitable outdoor lighting. Consider soft, ambient lighting for relaxation and safety, as well as task lighting for maintenance and nighttime enjoyment.

  8. Shade and Shelter: Depending on your climate, you might want to incorporate shade structures like pergolas, umbrellas, or retractable awnings. These provide relief from the sun and can extend the usability of the hot tub area into different seasons.

  9. Water Features: To enhance the tranquil ambiance, consider adding water features like a small pond, waterfall, or fountain nearby. The sound of flowing water can create a soothing backdrop to your hot tub experience.

  10. Maintenance Accessibility: Ensure that you have easy access to all sides of the hot tub for maintenance and repairs. Avoid planting shrubs or installing permanent fixtures that obstruct access panels or equipment.

  11. Privacy: Depending on your location and personal preference, you may want to install privacy screens, trellises, or fencing to shield the hot tub area from prying eyes.

  12. Local Regulations: Check with your local authorities regarding any permits or regulations for in-ground hot tubs and landscaping. Compliance with zoning, safety, and environmental codes is essential.

  13. Theme and Aesthetics: Consider an overall theme or style for your hot tub area that complements your home’s architecture and your personal tastes. Whether it’s a tropical paradise, a Zen retreat, or a contemporary oasis, your landscaping choices should align with this theme.

By carefully planning and executing your landscaping around the in-ground hot tub, you can create a beautiful, functional, and tranquil space that enhances your outdoor living experience.


What does an In ground Hot Tub cost?

The cost of an in-ground hot tub can vary significantly based on various factors, including size, materials, location, features, and additional amenities. Here are some general cost considerations:

  1. Size: The size of the in-ground hot tub plays a significant role in determining the cost. Larger hot tubs will generally cost more.

  2. Materials: The choice of materials for the hot tub’s construction can greatly affect the cost. Common materials include concrete, gunite, fiberglass, and acrylic. Concrete and gunite tend to be more expensive due to their custom design and durability.

  3. Location: The cost may vary depending on your geographical location and local labor and material prices.

  4. Features: The inclusion of features like built-in seating, jets, lighting, and advanced water circulation systems can add to the cost.

  5. Accessories: Additional features like covers, steps, handrails, and spa surrounds can also increase the overall cost.

  6. Customization: Custom designs, shapes, and unique features can add to the expense.

  7. Installation: The installation process, including excavation, plumbing, electrical work, and landscaping, will influence the total cost.

  8. Permits and Regulations: Costs may include permits and adherence to local building codes and safety regulations.

The cost of installing an in-ground hot tub could range from $10,000 to $15,000 if you are building this yourself. Get a Spa builder involved and this could be $25,000 or more.

However, high-end, custom-designed in-ground hot tubs can cost considerably more.

Keep in mind that ongoing operational costs, including heating, electricity, and water treatment, should also be factored into your budget when considering the overall cost of an in-ground hot tub.

What is standard size of in ground hot tub?

In-ground hot tubs come in various sizes, and there isn’t a single “standard” size because they are often customized to fit the homeowner’s preferences and available space. The size of an in-ground hot tub can vary widely based on factors like the number of occupants, design, and available area. However, I can provide you with some general size guidelines:

Depth: In-ground hot tubs typically have a depth ranging from 3 to 4 feet. The depth can be adjusted to accommodate different seating arrangements and comfort levels.

Diameter: The diameter or width of an in-ground hot tub can vary. Common sizes include 7 to 8 feet in diameter. Smaller models might be around 6 feet in diameter, while larger ones can exceed 8 feet.

Seating Capacity: In-ground hot tubs can range from models designed for 2-4 people to larger ones that can accommodate 10 people or more. The number of seats is often a key factor in determining the size of the hot tub.

Customization: Many in-ground hot tubs are customized to fit the available space and the homeowner’s preferences. This means the dimensions can be tailored to create a perfect fit for the designated area.

When considering the size of an in-ground hot tub, it’s essential to factor in both the size of the hot tub itself and the surrounding area, including any decking or landscaping. The goal is to create a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing installation that complements your outdoor space.

What to do with a broken in-ground hot tub?

When you have a broken in-ground hot tub that you need to deal with, there are several options to consider. The most appropriate choice depends on the extent of the damage and your specific circumstances:

  1. Repair: If the damage to your in-ground hot tub is minor and can be fixed economically, you may choose to repair it. Common repairs might include fixing or replacing jets, plumbing, or the heating system. Get in touch and I can help assess the extent of the damage and the feasibility of repair.

  2. Replace: If the damage is extensive or if your hot tub is outdated and not energy-efficient, it might be more cost-effective to replace it with a new, energy-efficient model. Newer hot tubs often come with improved features and technology.

  3. Repurpose: Depending on the damage, you might repurpose the in-ground hot tub area into something else, like a garden bed, patio, or seating area. This option is especially viable if the hot tub is no longer functional or if the repair cost is prohibitive.

  4. Sell or Give Away: If your in-ground hot tub is still in reasonably good condition but you no longer want it, you might consider selling it or giving it away. There could be individuals or organizations interested in taking it off your hands.

  5. Dispose: If the hot tub is beyond repair and there are no takers, you’ll need to dispose of it properly. Hot tubs can be bulky and challenging to transport, so it’s best to consult with a local waste disposal or recycling center to determine the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of it. Some materials from the hot tub may be recyclable.

  6. Check Local Regulations: Before taking any action, it’s important to check local regulations and requirements for hot tub removal and disposal, as there may be specific guidelines that need to be followed.

In all cases, safety should be a top priority when dealing with a broken in-ground hot tub, especially when disconnecting electrical and plumbing systems.

How long does it take to heat a in ground hot tub?

The time it takes to heat an in-ground hot tub to your desired temperature can vary depending on several factors, including the size of the hot tub, the starting water temperature, the heater’s capacity, and the outdoor temperature. Here are some general guidelines:

  1. Heater Size and Power: The power of the heater plays a significant role. Hot tub heaters are typically rated in kilowatts (kW). The higher the heater’s power rating, the faster it can heat the water. Common residential hot tub heaters range from 1.5 kW to 5.5 kW or more.

  2. Hot Tub Size: The volume of water in the hot tub affects heating time. Larger hot tubs will take longer to heat than smaller ones.

  3. Starting Temperature: If the hot tub water is already relatively warm, it will heat faster than if you start with cold water.

  4. Outdoor Temperature: The surrounding air temperature can impact the heating process. In colder weather, the hot tub may lose heat more quickly, which can extend the heating time.

  5. Insulation and Cover: A well-insulated hot tub with a high-quality cover will retain heat more effectively, reducing heating time.

  6. Heating Element Condition: The condition of the heating element can affect heating time. If the heating element is worn or malfunctioning, it may take longer to heat the water.

As a general estimate, it can take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours to heat an in-ground hot tub from ambient temperature to the desired temperature (usually around 100-104°F or 37-40°C). However, these times are approximate, and actual heating times can vary.

To reduce heating time and energy consumption, consider the following tips:

  • Maintain the Hot Tub: Regularly clean and maintain your hot tub, including cleaning the filters, to ensure efficient operation.
  • Use a Hot Tub Timer: Use a timer to start heating the hot tub a few hours before you plan to use it. This can help save energy and reduce wait times.
  • Invest in Energy-Efficient Equipment: Consider upgrading to energy-efficient heaters and pumps, which can heat the water more quickly and save on operating costs.
  • Keep the Cover On: When the hot tub is not in use, keep the cover securely closed to retain heat.

Keep in mind that these are general guidelines, and the actual heating time for your in-ground hot tub may vary based on the specific conditions and equipment in your setup.




In-ground hot tubs can be a luxurious addition to any backyard, providing a relaxing and therapeutic experience. When designing an in-ground hot tub, it’s important to consider the style, materials, and heating options to create a customized experience that meets your needs and preferences.


By choosing the right materials, such as concrete, tile, natural stone, CMU block, or ICF block, and the best heating option for your needs, you can create a beautiful and functional in-ground hot tub that enhances your outdoor living space. It’s important to work with experienced professionals who can guide you through the design process and ensure that your in-ground hot tub is built to last.


At this point, I would like to offer my services as a custom in-ground hot tub designer. With my expertise and experience, I can help you create the in-ground hot tub of your dreams, tailored to your unique needs and preferences. Whether you’re looking for a simple and modern design or a more intricate and luxurious hot tub, I can help you bring your vision to life.


To learn more about my services and how I can help you design a custom in-ground hot tub, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Thank you for reading, and I look forward to the opportunity to work with you.

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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