Do I need a permit for my Hot Tub? This is a question that I get asked quite a lot so thought I should really address this in a post.
The short answer is that it depends. Not the most helpful (yet) thing you have read but please do read on. It does depend on where you are located. If you are located in the UK for example, then no, you do not need a permit for a hot tub. You are able to build tubs and pools without a permit or planning permission as it is called over there.
In the USA?
In the USA, the building codes really do differ from State to State unfortunately. Even within the states that can vary from township to township. Therefore, one rule for one State is not necessarily the same for another. This is something that you are going to need to check with your local authority.
I have read that as a general rule, you do not need a permit for your hot tub if it is less than 5000 gallons in capacity. That said, if it were me, I’d be checking with the local planning department before I went and did anything.
For example, a quick Google and I found the following for State of Massachusetts
“The State of Massachusetts requires permits for all pools even inflatable pools that can hold more than 12 inches deep of water. Hot tubs also need a permit since they require a lockable cover.
All pools must have some type of barrier, such as a fence, around them in order to deter children. The fence regulation is very specific regarding the size of the opening in a chain link fence, the spacing of balusters, the height of the barrier, the gate and its latch as well as the ability to transverse from the house to the pool.
It is not permitted to be able to exit a house onto a patio or deck that connects to the pool area without having either a proper barrier or alarms on the house doors. Please contact Inspection Services for a pool packet which helps spell out all these complex rules and regulations.”
Pretty clear cut legislation there.
Circumvent the permit?
What is also interesting is that I have had customers that have somewhat circumvented the permit. How did they do it? By having a partly above ground hot tub rather than it being in ground. The in ground hot tub would require a permit but as long as it was not all in ground, then it did not require one.
The other variation, certainly for our DIY Hot Tubs is that you may not need to have a permit for the tub itself, but you may need to get permission for the electrical side of things. Especially if you are looking at a larger current draw which is required.
I’ve also seen that permits will only be granted in some areas for hot tubs that are in ground if they have a fence surrounding them with a gate that locks. Something to think about, especially if you are trying to frame a view and your local authority wants you to put a fence in the way!
Noise complaints and permits required?
I’ve also seen cases where neighbours have lodged complaints about hot tubs being too noisy. That said, this does tend to be on the plastic shell tubs where the pumps and blowers are above ground and somewhat out in the open. There tends to be a lot less noise on the tubs that are in ground and underground control rooms too.
Permit and Code Violation
When doing some research for this article I came across this fact on hottubinsider.com “around half of all hot tubs installed in the US have some type of electrical or plumbing code violation, even if they were installed by a professional. This is probably due to the fact that most spa technicians have expertise in hot tub hardware and equipment, but not in plumbing and electrical systems.”
I know this is more relevant to the plastic shell tubs again, but please don’t violate local codes!
In addition to general requirements, many States enact their own safety and permit requirements for both pools and hot tubs.
They have their own rules and these can vary greatly. Below are a few examples.
- Distance from property line: In states such as California and Minnesota, you’ll need to set your hot tub at least five feet from your property line.
- Safety barriers: Some states require that hot tubs be protected by safety barriers. In Washington, for instance, barriers with self-latching gates are required for all pools and spas more than two feet deep.
- Filling restrictions: In California, state and city measures may prohibit hot tub owners from draining and refilling their hot tub except in the event of leaks or sanitary issues.
- A choice of safety measures: In Florida, residential hot tub owners must implement at least one of several safety measures. These include things like an exit alarm, a hot tub cover and a safety barrier of at least four feet.
Hopefully, the point that I am getting across is that you are going to need to check with your City/Local Authority to see what the actual rules are for where you live.
What do I do if I need a Permit to build my hot tub?
The first thing that you are going to need to do is submit a plan to your local authority. That plan will outline the structural integrity of your hot tub and how you are going to build it. Really, the whole idea of permits is for safety. They are less interested on how many jets, pumps and blowers you are going to have!
Luckily, I am on hand with my ready-made structural designs that can be submitted to your local authority. These are available in my online shop here.
The designs themselves have been drawn up by a structural engineer (not me!) so that they confirm to the required building codes and structural safety standards required. However, these on their own in some States will not be enough.
Local Structural Engineer Stamp of Approval
Depending on where you are located and the local rules, you may need to have the drawings which you can purchase from my online store stamped by a local Structural Engineer who is licensed for your State.
Some authorities do not require this and the drawing from my store will be enough. Others, will require a licensed Structural Engineer’s stamp. The good news is that using my drawings and having a local engineer give them the stamp of approval is much cheaper than getting them drawn up yourself.
Also, my designs cover all the “how to build” as well as give you all the plumbing side of things that you wont get from the Structural Engineer. These guys specialise in making structures safe and not how to get the best performance out of your jets! That is my job!
Hopefully you have found this article useful, even if you are going to have to go away and do some local research yourselves.
If I can help you in any way, please do get in touch.
Happy Hot Tubbin’
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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