Hot tub installation is a huge investment that should be enjoyed to the last penny. As much as you may have comfort, relaxation, and luxury in mind, you should never compromise your safety by hiring a non-professional nearby to handle installation. According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, there are over 6,000 emergency room visits due to hot tub injuries yearly. Half of these injuries are caused by slipping or falling, 10 percent by overexposure to heat, and 2.5 percent by near-drowning. Seven percent of these accidents are serious enough to require hospitalization.
To forestall these accidents or electrocution, hot tubs must be installed in strict adherence to National Electrical Code mandating the inclusion of a fast-acting circuit breaker. As such, you cannot leave your installation to anyone who claims to be a hot tub contractor. The following questions will help you hire a certified hot tub installer near you to complete your job safely, satisfactorily and according to established standards:
Are You A Licensed Hot Tub Installation Contractor?
A license is proof of your contractor proficiency in installing or repairing your hot tub satisfactory. You should not hire a contractor near you without seeing a valid occupational license. Typically, hot tub installations are carried out by electricians and all states except for New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, and Missouri mandate electricians to obtain a statewide license. However, municipal authorities in these exempted states may require licenses for electrical contractors practicing in the area. Note, states like California, Connecticut, Florida, and Michigan provide a special license for hot tub installation contractors. You can contact your state's licensing department or consumer protection agency to determine the necessary licensing requirements for a hot tub installation contractor. It is advised that you verify a license presented by any contractor by contacting the licensing authority.
Are You Bonded and Insured?
Since each occupation has its inherent risks, it becomes necessary to put safety nets in place in the event of eventualities. For one, electricians, plumbers and other professionals involved in hot tub installation suffer work-related injuries, some of which are usually fatal. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in 2019, electrical contractors suffered over 20,000 non-fatal occupational injuries while plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning contractors suffered over 38,000 non-fatal occupational injuries. Thus, the case for an adequate insurance cover is justified.
General liability and workers compensation insurance are the least insurance requirements for contractors in the United States. While general liability insurance seeks to cover physical injuries to non-workers, property damages, and consequential damages, workers compensation insurance provides for the medical costs incurred and earnings lost by workers as a result of a work-related accident. Apparently, an adequate insurance cover is a great way to avoid a Person Injury lawsuit in the event of an accident. You should therefore seek to see proof of licensure and verify the same from the policy providers. Do not take this verification for granted because the contractor operate their business near you.
As for surety bonding, it is typically imposed on contractors to protect the interest of the client. This type of bonding requires the surety company to cover the cost of completing your project in the event that your contractor cannot. Although smaller projects may not necessitate a surety bond, the cost-outlay involved in a hot tub installation makes it essential that such a cover is put in place.
Bonding and insurance are vital credentials that you must ensure contractors have before agreeing to work with them.
What Kind of Hot Tub Installation Work Are You Specialized In?
Hot tubs come in different types, sizes, and designs, making it necessary that you match a prospective installation contractor's expertise and experience to your specific needs. Below are some hot tub installation specializations:
- Alcove Tubs: This type of installation involves fitting hot tubs within three-sided spaces specifically built for them - a big back wall and two smaller sidewalls. This is the most common and unsurprisingly cheapest type of hut tub installation. Alcove tubs are easy to install and are better suited for not-too-spacious bathrooms. The three surrounding walls may have tiled or panel-fitted surfaces to enhance firm installation.
- Corner Tubs: This category of installation deals with more expensive triangular tubs sitting in the bathroom corner. These kinds of tubs are more for relaxation and convenience and will typically have features for whirlpools and bubbles. Corner tubs take up ample bathroom floor space.
- Drop-In Tubs: In this type of specialization, tubs are basically dropped into ready-built decks like a shell. This deck structure, or a peninsula, is typically built by a carpenter or concrete worker. Since only the inside is on display after installation, only the interior has to be finished; the exterior does not have to since it is removed from plain view by the deck.
- Freestanding Tubs: This kind of specialization deals with stand-alone hot tubs, unconnected to any siding or wall support except the floor. These types of tubs require well-spaced bathrooms for the tub and its buffer room. The interior and exterior of freestanding tubs are finished since they are entirely on display. They carry an ancient appeal, fitting better into traditional homes, and are not the cheapest of hot tub types.
Who Will Do The Work?
As a homeowner, the responsibility of ensuring that all involved parties in your projects are adequately qualified and licensed falls solely on you. Some hot tub installations require more than just plumbers but also electricians and cement finishers. You must ensure that each of these subcontractors has adequate coverage and is licensed to work. It would help if you also asked for references from subcontractors that will be taking a substantial part in the project. Note, hiring contractors or subcontractors near you is more cost effective due to proximity.
Make your principal contractor understand that you want only professionals with the relevant experience, qualifications, and insurance working on your project. This will provide adequate cover for you in the event of property damage and will ensure you do not get into trouble with regulatory agencies for hiring or allowing unqualified workers.
Do You Offer A Warranty?
Given the considerable cost outlay involved in hot tub installation, securing a good warranty is extremely important. Manufacturers and service providers use a warranty cover to send a message of quality assurance and a promise to rectify original defects. It would be best if you discussed with a contractor what warranties they would be offering you on their service, apart from the all too well-known implied warranty.
In addition, ensure you specify that only hot tub brands with good warranty coverage must be considered when making tub purchasing decisions. Generally, tub manufacturers' warranties cover plumbing, cabinetry, shell, and controls, and run for around five to ten years. It would be best if you got written warranties from both parties, study the terms and conditions and clearly understand them. If services or quality are at par, it is advisable to go for the most comprehensive warranty contract.
Will This Job Require A Permit
In most localities, permits, usually issued after an inspection, enforce compliance to safety standards and local ordinances. Generally, local building regulatory authorities will require a permit to install a large hot tub. While average-size prefabricated above-ground pools and hot tubs do not require a building permit. However, requirements across counties, cities, and municipalities differ. You should make detailed inquiries on what permit is required and only consider hot tub installation contractors who have obtained it.
In some states, only hot tubs that are installed and stand-alone require a permit. For hot tub installations that fall under a more extensive remodeling, then a building permit suffices. Some of the state and local authorities where a hot tub permit is enforced include Contra Costa, Fremont and Sunnyvale Counties in California, Summit County in Colorado, Montgomery County in Maryland, and Oregon and Portland states. Note, a contractor you have hired near you will be conversant with the required permit, the office issuing it, and how to secure it.
Will You Provide References?
An installation contractor's inability to point you to jobs they have executed in the past is an indication that you should look elsewhere. Proven experts will typically have no problem providing you references of both past clients and projects. You can speak to these past clients for a detailed review of an installation contractor's work culture, professionalism, and job duration. With the owners' permission, you can also make in-person visits to assess past works, especially if these past clients live near you and there is a certain level of trust to allow you access to their private residence.
On another hand, you can avail yourself with more work samples by visiting a contractor's company website or professional profile available on the internet. If you would instead not ask them, then the Better Business Bureau, the Google Business Reviews, and Yelp are excellent sources of impartial business reviews and ratings.
It is not advisable to deal with a contractor who has no previous job experience or can not provide verifiable references.
Do You Have A Business License?
A business license validates a business' legality and authorizes commercial activities. Dealing with only licensed businesses will help you guard against the all too rampant business imposter scams. To obtain a license, a contractor will typically have to present any evidence of professional competence; a professional license, a business registration proof, a record of relevant tax filings, and other requirements which seek to thoroughly assess an entity's qualifications to conduct their trade correctly.
You can use the Office of The Secretary of State in your state to verify business license claims.
What Are Common Hot Tub Installation Problems?
To reduce installation errors to the bare minimum, it is advisable to hire only installation contractors with relevant experience and qualifications. However, defects still manage to occur in installations by professionals, which will typically necessitate calling them for a fix-up. Some of the most prevalent hot tub installation issues include:
- Tub cracks, usually due to compromised quality of the tub
- Drainage problems
- Peeling paint
- Tub leak resulting in mold growth
- Defective plumbing job
- Shedding wall or tub paint
How Much Does Hot Tub Installation Cost?
The cost of installing a hot tub comprises component costs such as the hot tub cost itself and the cost of installation work. Yet, prices from one state to another largely vary due to population and cost of living. Below are estimates of industry-standard price ranges of various hot tub installation work:
What Are The Factors Affecting The Cost of Hot Tub Installation?
In addition to the price variations influenced by the difference in location, some of the other determinants of the cost of a complete hot tub installation include:
- Cost of the tub, according to type
- Labor cost (Installation, Plumbing, and Electrical)
- Cost of obtaining a permit
- Accessibility of your installation site
- Level of preparatory activities required
What Qualifications Should A Hot Tub Installation Contractor Have?
Electricians and plumbers who install hot tubs go through an apprenticeship or attend a vocational or technical college. For entry into any of these mediums of training, a high school completion certificate or equivalent is necessary. Upon completing the apprenticeship training or vocational school and passing the required exams, candidates are awarded journeyman-level certification, which allows them to work independently. With enough work experience over time, a journeyman electrician or plumber will only need to write and pass an exam to earn the master electrician or plumber qualification, a credential required in some states for an electrical or plumbing contractor license.
In addition to the fundamental training received in technical schools and apprenticeships, electricians and plumbers may decide to further earn relevant advanced qualifications, which broadens their knowledge and skill set and opens up more job opportunities.
It is generally advisable to give preference to more experienced and more qualified electricians and plumbers. Seasoned experts will usually have less need to involve a third party or subcontract your job to another professional.
Do You Need A Hot Tub Installation Contractor or A Handyman?
To get quality service for the fortune you will be spending to install a hot tub, it is advisable to have your installation handled by qualified installation contractors from start to finish. For the marginal price reduction any handyman near you may be willing to offer you, the risks you are exposed to are just too much. Some of them are highlighted below:
- Your warranty and insurance cover will most definitely be invalidated if it comes to the knowledge of your insurance and warranty providers that you hired a non-professional to handle the installation.
- Depending on the specific type of hot tub you are installing, activities will typically involve plumbing, cementing, and electrical works that a handyman will not be able to handle adequately.
- Shoddy installation work may expose users to unforeseeable dangers such as electrocution and overheating. Moreso, handymen do not carry valid insurance coverages which may cover professional liabilities and consequential damages.
What Are Common Post Hot Tub Installation Expenses?
While it may be instinctive to jump in and start using your hot tub after installation, additional enhancement may double the comfort and appeal your tub has to offer. Some reasonable enhancement expenditures you may incur include installing enclosement screens, tub steps, lighting, Ozonator, and drink holder. These improvements will add to the functionalities of your hot tub.
Also, you will need to conduct routine maintenance to keep your hot tub in the best working condition. Some of the maintenance activities include cleaning the hot tub interior, inspecting the water chemical level, and cleaning the filter. You may choose to either do them yourself or outsource them to a professional tub maintenance company for monthly cleanups.
Does Homeowner Insurance Cover Hot Tub Installation Expenses?
Not typically. Fresh hot tub installations, as well as upgrades, are regarded as home improvement expenditures and are generally not covered by your homeowner insurance policy. This type of insurance policy provides compensation for damage or destruction to your home's structure. The coverage scope of more comprehensive insurance policies include the properties contained in the house. The accident or peril which resulted in the defect or destruction has to be one of those covered by your policies. Storm, fire, smoke, and theft are typically covered by default. When taking out an insurance policy, you are allowed to add more peril coverage to your policy.
Hence, if an existing hot tub covered by your homeowner insurance coverage gets damaged as a result of a covered peril, your policy provider may bear the repair or replacement expenses. It would be best if you made direct inquiries with your homeowner insurer before commencing such an expensive project. You can as well opt to add a new hot tub installation to your existing homeowner policy.
Can I Use Digital Payment To Pay My Hot Tub Installation Contractor?
Yes, you can. Due to the advancements in financial technology and its increased adoption, any hot tub installation contractor near you is more likely to accept than reject your offer to settle their bills via a digital payment platform of their choice. Moreso, this complies with the FTC's recommendation not to pay cash to contractors, especially where huge sums are involved.
Digital payments such as bank transfers, debit or credit cards, and mobile wallets are faster, cheaper, and more convenient than cash payments. Transaction records which qualify as proof of payment are equally digitized, hence easily obtainable and hard to destroy.