Shopping for a new hot tub

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madbrain
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Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by madbrain » Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:47 pm

So, the hot tub that came with my house has finally died, and is not repairable. I am having it removed next week and some work done on my deck as well. I would like to replace it with a new hot tub.

I have found it very difficult to shop around for a hot tub, as it seems there is almost zero price transparency in this industry. The only place that provide prices seems to be Costco, but I'm not sure I want to buy from them because of the level of service (curbside delivery only, nothing else). The Home depot quotes some prices, too.

Even manufacturer web sites for big brands like Hot Springs, Sundance, Jaccuzi do not quote MSRP on any of their models. So how does one even know if they are getting a deal or getting ripped off ?

Surely some Bogleheads have bought hot tubs - I would be curious how you went around about your purchase, especially when it came to obtaining pricing.

barnaclebob
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by barnaclebob » Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:48 pm

Shop around at hot tub stores?

madbrain
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by madbrain » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:16 pm

barnaclebob wrote:Shop around at hot tub stores?
Yes, but it takes a lot of time, and even then, I would like to verify the quotes I'm getting make sense - I don't like sales people sizing up clients and charging some customers more or less, which seems to be clearly happening. I'm extremely wary of buying something this expensive when there is so little price data.

barnaclebob
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by barnaclebob » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:36 pm

Life can be difficult some times.

madbrain
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by madbrain » Fri Apr 21, 2017 3:07 am

So much for EMH !

Niemanterry
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by Niemanterry » Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:16 am

I would go to a store, pick out the brand and model that i wanted. Then contact other dealers who carry that particular model and shop price and installation. Almost like purchasing an automobile. Also, can your current ht be fixed with a new pump, parts, etc?

btenny
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by btenny » Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:45 pm

Are you really sure you want a new hot tub? Why? Do you use it a lot? Maybe 2 times a week? You do know that the electric for the tub is at least $50 per month and then the chemicals and maintenance is $35 per month? So $85 per month. You can go to the spa and get a rub down and set in the hot tub for this much once month. So I would not buy a new spa. Just my opinion.

But if you are sure I would go shopping in person to see what you like. I know that is a PIA but what other choices do you have. In Tahoe there are two spa stores and several spa repair places and more in Reno. So go shopping at the stores and see what they offer. My friends found that buying a spa that was on sale at a specific store was the way to get a deal. One store had several in stock and new versions were coming from the factory so they discounted the old version. But my friend also had to spend a lot for the removal of his old tub and installation of the new tub. He got all that work done on the same day as he needed a big crane to lift the tub over his house from and to the back deck from the street. So he paid for a big crane for 2-3 hours. Plus he paid for the tub removal and install crew and the trash fee for his old tub. So he spent $8K or so as I recall and that was 7 years ago. He said that the services were more than half of the total bill. I forgot. He also had to have a little electric work done to add a emergency shut off switch near the tub. The code changed.
I bet that it is more today.

Good Luck.

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Kenkat
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by Kenkat » Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:57 pm

I would shop first by brand and then price. There is some real junk out there and this is a fairly major purchase, so it pays to buy quality. There are a number of features that are overrated (number of jets, waterfall features, lighting and stereo) and underrated (pump horsepower and brand, filtration square footage, insulation) that will make a big difference.

I bought a Coleman / Maxx spa in 1999 and it is still going 18 years later. I've had some maintenance but overall it has been very reliable. I don't know the market well today but Hot Springs is one of the top brands. I'd start with a couple of hot tub specific dealers rather than big box stores like Home Depot or Costco.

madbrain
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by madbrain » Fri Apr 21, 2017 3:52 pm

btenny wrote:Are you really sure you want a new hot tub? Why? Do you use it a lot? Maybe 2 times a week? You do know that the electric for the tub is at least $50 per month and then the chemicals and maintenance is $35 per month? So $85 per month. You can go to the spa and get a rub down and set in the hot tub for this much once month. So I would not buy a new spa. Just my opinion.
I'm aware of the operating costs, and I'm sure I want a new one.
But if you are sure I would go shopping in person to see what you like. I know that is a PIA but what other choices do you have. In Tahoe there are two spa stores and several spa repair places and more in Reno. So go shopping at the stores and see what they offer. My friends found that buying a spa that was on sale at a specific store was the way to get a deal. One store had several in stock and new versions were coming from the factory so they discounted the old version. But my friend also had to spend a lot for the removal of his old tub and installation of the new tub. He got all that work done on the same day as he needed a big crane to lift the tub over his house from and to the back deck from the street. So he paid for a big crane for 2-3 hours. Plus he paid for the tub removal and install crew and the trash fee for his old tub. So he spent $8K or so as I recall and that was 7 years ago. He said that the services were more than half of the total bill. I forgot. He also had to have a little electric work done to add a emergency shut off switch near the tub. The code changed.
I bet that it is more today.
Thanks. I know the cost for the removal of my old one and installation for the new one already. It's more than a day's work. We'll be spending more than $8K altogether, but we have a bunch of work to do in deck repairs first - at least $3K. Electrical work would depend on the model I choose - some hot tubs use 1 breakers, some 2, and different amperage for circuits. There is a subpanel with 1 breaker already installed.

madbrain
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by madbrain » Fri Apr 21, 2017 3:55 pm

Kenkat wrote:I would shop first by brand and then price. There is some real junk out there and this is a fairly major purchase, so it pays to buy quality. There are a number of features that are overrated (number of jets, waterfall features, lighting and stereo) and underrated (pump horsepower and brand, filtration square footage, insulation) that will make a big difference.

I bought a Coleman / Maxx spa in 1999 and it is still going 18 years later. I've had some maintenance but overall it has been very reliable. I don't know the market well today but Hot Springs is one of the top brands. I'd start with a couple of hot tub specific dealers rather than big box stores like Home Depot or Costco.
Yes, Hot springs is the one dealer I have been to so far. There are a few suitable models that I like. I'm just not sure if I'm getting a fair price.
I have been to one dealer, looks like there are a few others not too far.

Jaccuzi seems to have a few options that would work too, but less clear in terms of reliability if these are as good as Hot springs.

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bltkmt
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by bltkmt » Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:23 pm

We have a Hot Springs Envoy and love it. Paid about $7k, but it has been 5 or 6 years. I also am aware of the cost to heat/maintain, but don't care. We use it quite often in the winter here in CT.

rebellovw
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by rebellovw » Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:29 pm

I love hot tubs. I have swim spa and love it. Hot Springs is a nice brand.

madbrain
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by madbrain » Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:35 pm

bltkmt wrote:We have a Hot Springs Envoy and love it. Paid about $7k, but it has been 5 or 6 years. I also am aware of the cost to heat/maintain, but don't care. We use it quite often in the winter here in CT.
Thanks. Interestingly, one member PM'ed me about a 2014 Envoy he paid $10k for in California, which he offering to sell me. That means he paid $3k more for the same hot tub. Now, I know 3-4 years can make a difference in price, but that would be a lot of inflation. That, or the dealers in California are asking much more than in Connecticut. Or the dealers are quoting whatever prices they feel like quoting - which unfortunately appears to be the case here. This is what prompted my post - the utter lack of price transparency in this market.

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Lemonaid56
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by Lemonaid56 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:50 pm

We are on our 3rd tub in almost 30 years. First was a major lemon (Marquis) which after enormous amount of phones calls and discussion we got it replaced by the manufacturer with us only to have to pay for shipping. Because we bought from reputable dealer they "ate" the shipping costs and even delivered it and helped setup.
Replacement tub turned out to be just as leaky right from the first startup! Dealt with it and repairs for a few years and finally after enough and the manufacturer just giving up on us and not returning calls we got rid of it.
We really enjoy the tub, since we live in Maine and I worked outside in the weather I found it a great joint relief and stress reliever. So we bought another one. Hot Springs. From our same dealer because through it all they have been helpful in every way.
Have had zero issues with this tub after 5 years. Works great and has never leaked!
I will say you should buy it through a dealer because its the "after sale" treatment that is most important. You might not get that from a Costco or HD. Maybe you never had problems before but the time will may come; and if you bought chemicals from them and had your water tested regularly it is worth every penny.
I see what others posted. You are either an enjoyer of tubs or not. If you enjoy them get one that you like the looks of and get it from a dealer that has a good rep and will back the warranty. Made all the difference to us.

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Watty
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by Watty » Fri Apr 21, 2017 7:31 pm

madbrain wrote:So, the hot tub that came with my house has finally died, and is not repairable.
If you have been happy with your current hot tub you might get another opinion on the "not repairable" part.

All the major components are replaceable so unless there is a problem with the fiberglass shell then it is still repairable. It could be that if it was an inexpensive spa to start with that it might not be worth repairing but that is different than it not be repairable.

It may vary by brand but in addition to the pump there is typically a "spa pack" with the controls and heater and a basic one would start around $500 like this one.

http://www.spadepot.com/EasyPak-2200-Di ... 4C185.aspx

In theory you can just slip out the old one and put the new one in. Of course in practice things will likely not line up or be difficult to get into place but it is not rocket science.

If you do get a new spa then make sure that it is installed in a way that makes it easier to work on.

I had an old hot tub that we did not use much. I had replaced the pump once several years before but the heater and control unit were old and needed to be replaced and there were places where the wood skirt was starting to rot.

We knew someone that was remodeling his house so we let him have it. He came and got it then stripped off everything but the fiberglass shell. He set the fiberglass shell into his deck and then replaced all the equipment and controls. He did the work himself. I never heard how much the parts cost but I would guess that it was in the ballpark of a thousand to fifteen hundred dollars. If you are handy you could basically do this yourself.

madbrain
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by madbrain » Fri Apr 21, 2017 7:50 pm

Watty wrote:
madbrain wrote:So, the hot tub that came with my house has finally died, and is not repairable.
If you have been happy with your current hot tub you might get another opinion on the "not repairable" part.

All the major components are replaceable so unless there is a problem with the fiberglass shell then it is still repairable. It could be that if it was an inexpensive spa to start with that it might not be worth repairing but that is different than it not be repairable.

It may vary by brand but in addition to the pump there is typically a "spa pack" with the controls and heater and a basic one would start around $500 like this one.

http://www.spadepot.com/EasyPak-2200-Di ... 4C185.aspx

In theory you can just slip out the old one and put the new one in. Of course in practice things will likely not line up or be difficult to get into place but it is not rocket science.

If you do get a new spa then make sure that it is installed in a way that makes it easier to work on.

I had an old hot tub that we did not use much. I had replaced the pump once several years before but the heater and control unit were old and needed to be replaced and there were places where the wood skirt was starting to rot.

We knew someone that was remodeling his house so we let him have it. He came and got it then stripped off everything but the fiberglass shell. He set the fiberglass shell into his deck and then replaced all the equipment and controls. He did the work himself. I never heard how much the parts cost but I would guess that it was in the ballpark of a thousand to fifteen hundred dollars. If you are handy you could basically do this yourself.
Thanks. I'm not handy at all, so certainly no way that I would do any of this myself.

I believe the shell is still OK. It's an old Sundance, at least 15 years old - it was put in by the previous owner. The Sundance tech that came told me there was a massive rat infestation inside, and there was nothing that could be done to fix it. I believe plumbing for the jets has been chewed. The spa had been leaking multiple times its volume before I stopped using it a while ago. I did not get around to trying to repair it until recently. The wood cabinet also looks rotten. It's sunk and attached to the deck and very hard to service, also. When I bought it, there was not even any access to the front panel. I had to have access cut into the deck ! The hot tub is too big for the space, too. It's 91x91 and there isn't even space for a cover lifter, which is something I really want. I could get a second opinion on whether the hot tub can actually be saved. I think it's near its end of life, though.

The tech suggested if I replace it that I don't sink the new one into the deck, and that is what I plan to do, but that means extensive work on the deck to add higher support. And I don't know what will be found underneath in terms of water damage. This is an elevated deck. The deck needs other repairs as well besides where the hot tub is.

Edit: just spoke to another tech and described the situation more in details over the phone - he thinks it's also very likely beyond repair, and he wouldn't touch it himself. Two of the side panels of the hot tub are completely inaccessible as they are in a corner and access to those would be needed. Even if the panels are open, to fix the plumbing, one would have to go through insulation first. Spa would need to be lifted to possibly fix that way. This tech I just spoke to did give me a referral to someone else who does this type of repair if the spa can be moved, but he is not hopeful that it can be done. Several contractors who quoted me for removal price told me the Sundance has to be cut up because of the way it's currently installed.

I liked the spa when it was working, but the original owner who put it in installed it in a way that makes it very difficult to service.
Last edited by madbrain on Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Watty
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by Watty » Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:22 pm

madbrain wrote: I think it's near its end of life, though.
It sounds like it since you don't like the way that it is set up anyway.

My current house had one built into the deck like that when I bought and it had a rat problem too!. Somehow they don't put that in the glossy brochure.

It would have required major work to dismantle the deck to get the spa out and the fiberglass had very little resale value even though it would have still been usable. I ended up just getting a Sawzall with demolition blades and cut it up into manageable pieces that I could haul to the dump.

madbrain
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by madbrain » Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:34 pm

Watty wrote: My current house had one built into the deck like that when I bought and it had a rat problem too!. Somehow they don't put that in the glossy brochure.
Yes. Imagine advertising a spa as rat-proof ! This would tip owners about the possible issues with spas. What next, cat-proof furniture ? I very much would like both of these, BTW. Unfortunately, my cat is indoor, and the spa and rats are outdoors.
It would have required major work to dismantle the deck to get the spa out and the fiberglass had very little resale value even though it would have still been usable. I ended up just getting a Sawzall with demolition blades and cut it up into manageable pieces that I could haul to the dump.
That's likely what's going to happen to my Sundance - it will be cut up.

rebellovw
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by rebellovw » Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:52 pm

Been there done that with the Rat thing - I made sure my new spa had no openings for critters. I also check outdoor BBQs as the grease will attract them - avoid outdoor BBQs that have large openings.

madbrain
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by madbrain » Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:53 pm

rebellovw wrote:Been there done that with the Rat thing - I made sure my new spa had no openings for critters. I also check outdoor BBQs as the grease will attract them - avoid outdoor BBQs that have large openings.
Which model of spa did you go with that has no opening ?

richdenver
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by richdenver » Fri Apr 21, 2017 9:20 pm

I went to a Home & Garden Show last year. They had a number of hot tubs with prices posted on each tub. I took a couple photos and here is what I have for hot spring.
Sovereign - Sale Price $12,799 and Show Special Price $10,699
Envoy NXT - Sale Price $17,299 and Show Special Price $14,979

rebellovw
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by rebellovw » Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:19 pm

madbrain wrote:
rebellovw wrote:Been there done that with the Rat thing - I made sure my new spa had no openings for critters. I also check outdoor BBQs as the grease will attract them - avoid outdoor BBQs that have large openings.
Which model of spa did you go with that has no opening ?

It's not what you are looking for - I have a swim spa. Thanks.

madbrain
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by madbrain » Sat Apr 22, 2017 4:01 am

richdenver' wrote::
I went to a Home & Garden Show last year. They had a number of hot tubs with prices posted on each tub. I took a couple photos and here is what I have for hot spring.
Sovereign - Sale Price $12,799 and Show Special Price $10,699
Envoy NXT - Sale Price $17,299 and Show Special Price $14,979
Thanks. My quote for the Sovereign was $11,095 - with $1500 discount - ie. $9595 , plus tax. That is just for the spa itself, not including cover lift or $100 extra for 4 person delivery. I guess this is better than you got quoted.

Somebody in the San Diego area got quoted $8,949 on it recently, so about $650 better than my dealer :
https://www.whatsthebest-hottub.com/for ... 129.0.html
(took a lot of online reading to find that one)

This is really more than what I wanted to spend. Dimensions are also on the high side at 7'9" x 6'8", but I believe I can make it work with the cover lift. Prodigy would be the next smaller one I'm considering in the same series (if converted to 220V) but I didn't get a quote on that yet. It's much smaller at 6'6" x 7'0". Both of these have 2 separate breakers for cleaning water and heater, and 6000W heater. This is more electrical work (needs to run extra wiring and replace the subpanel with Hot Spring's own) but more energy efficient, and it will heat the water faster and keep it warm longer when it's used very late at night in cold weather for an extended period of time. That old Sundance is so old that I can't even find how many watts the heater is, but it is on a 220V 50amp breaker.
The Sovereign and prodigy have a 5 year warranty on everything, and longer on shell.

Next more affordable series from Hot Springs I was looking at is Hotspot, I got a quote for the Rhythm (7'x7') for $8345 less $1500 discount, or $6845 , again before tax. That is more in line with what I was thinking of spending, but this only has a 2 year warranty on everything vs 5 on the Sovereign & Prodigy. And no separate breaker for heater, and only 4000W heater, so definitely not as nice.

I would spend less if I thought I could get a good reliable spa, of course.

Costco had a model called the Aquaterra Chesapeake on sale until monday for $4499. It's no longer for sale at all, unfortunately. It was 7' x 7'7" which would be more ideal for my space, which was the reason it was on my list. One Spa dealer is selling one on Craigslist for the same price and advertising as Costco return, but they most likely take it back if I don't like it, unlike Costco (I will find out tomorrow) so I'm probably not going to bite. That dealer gets very good Yelp reviews, though, just like the local Hot Springs dealer, but unlike the Jaccuzi and Sundance dealer which get a bad rep.
There are many spas that are sold for less than that amount from noname or less than reputable companies that I wouldn't consider, many with very limited warranties, like 1 year parts and only 90 days labor ! The 7' x 7'7" size is an uncommon one, though. Jaccuzzi J-365 is one in that size, but I was quoted $11,095 over the phone for it (ouch!) and they don't have an equivalent J-265 in their lower series. Ultimately I can live with the smaller 7'x7', though.

Regardless of which spa I buy, I would buy it with my Citi Costco visa which adds 24 months of warranty to purchases on top of the manufacturer warranty, up to 7 years, so I would have between 4 and 7 years of warranty total depending on which spa I buy.
Last edited by madbrain on Sun Apr 23, 2017 3:25 am, edited 2 times in total.

maroon
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by maroon » Sat Apr 22, 2017 10:07 am

Home Depot is having a spa sale through 4/30. I bought one of the 4 person plug-and-play spas for <$2K about a year ago and it's still working fine.

madbrain
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by madbrain » Sun Apr 23, 2017 3:26 am

madbrain wrote: Costco had a model called the Aquaterra Chesapeake on sale until monday for $4499. It's no longer for sale at all, unfortunately. It was 7' x 7'7" which would be more ideal for my space, which was the reason it was on my list. One Spa dealer is selling one on Craigslist for the same price and advertising as Costco return, but they most likely take it back if I don't like it, unlike Costco (I will find out tomorrow) so I'm probably not going to bite. That dealer gets very good Yelp reviews, though, just like the local Hot Springs dealer, but unlike the Jaccuzi and Sundance dealer which get a bad rep.
I ended up traveling 40 miles and buying this specific one from the dealer. He said if there was any catastrophic failure during the first 90 days, he would take it back, and that was good enough for me. I sure hope it doesn't get to that. Unlike Costco, he will deliver it to my deck rather than just curbside, and he will also hook it up to the electrical which is already there. Also, since he already has it in his warehouse, there won't be a 4-6 weeks lead time for delivery. I should be able to soak in it in about 2 weeks if all goes well with the work on my deck - maybe even earlier.

barelybarefoot
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by barelybarefoot » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:57 pm

madbrain wrote:
Sun Apr 23, 2017 3:26 am
madbrain wrote: Costco had a model called the Aquaterra Chesapeake on sale until monday for $4499. It's no longer for sale at all, unfortunately. It was 7' x 7'7" which would be more ideal for my space, which was the reason it was on my list. One Spa dealer is selling one on Craigslist for the same price and advertising as Costco return, but they most likely take it back if I don't like it, unlike Costco (I will find out tomorrow) so I'm probably not going to bite. That dealer gets very good Yelp reviews, though, just like the local Hot Springs dealer, but unlike the Jaccuzi and Sundance dealer which get a bad rep.
I ended up traveling 40 miles and buying this specific one from the dealer. He said if there was any catastrophic failure during the first 90 days, he would take it back, and that was good enough for me. I sure hope it doesn't get to that. Unlike Costco, he will deliver it to my deck rather than just curbside, and he will also hook it up to the electrical which is already there. Also, since he already has it in his warehouse, there won't be a 4-6 weeks lead time for delivery. I should be able to soak in it in about 2 weeks if all goes well with the work on my deck - maybe even earlier.
Madbrain - how are you enjoying your new hot tub? Thinking about getting one but haven't committed yet. Our house has a steep driveway so would need massive crane to lift tub onto our deck. Just thinking about logistics of getting this thing in our house makes me anxious. How did it all go?

madbrain
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Re: Shopping for a new hot tub

Post by madbrain » Thu Sep 14, 2017 6:26 pm

barelybarefoot wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:57 pm
madbrain wrote:
Sun Apr 23, 2017 3:26 am
madbrain wrote: Costco had a model called the Aquaterra Chesapeake on sale until monday for $4499. It's no longer for sale at all, unfortunately. It was 7' x 7'7" which would be more ideal for my space, which was the reason it was on my list. One Spa dealer is selling one on Craigslist for the same price and advertising as Costco return, but they most likely take it back if I don't like it, unlike Costco (I will find out tomorrow) so I'm probably not going to bite. That dealer gets very good Yelp reviews, though, just like the local Hot Springs dealer, but unlike the Jaccuzi and Sundance dealer which get a bad rep.
I ended up traveling 40 miles and buying this specific one from the dealer. He said if there was any catastrophic failure during the first 90 days, he would take it back, and that was good enough for me. I sure hope it doesn't get to that. Unlike Costco, he will deliver it to my deck rather than just curbside, and he will also hook it up to the electrical which is already there. Also, since he already has it in his warehouse, there won't be a 4-6 weeks lead time for delivery. I should be able to soak in it in about 2 weeks if all goes well with the work on my deck - maybe even earlier.
Madbrain - how are you enjoying your new hot tub? Thinking about getting one but haven't committed yet. Our house has a steep driveway so would need massive crane to lift tub onto our deck. Just thinking about logistics of getting this thing in our house makes me anxious. How did it all go?
I'm loving the new hot tub - been using it every day in the sun and have a tan for the first time in years without needing to get too far out of the house.
I sometimes use it at night as well. The bluetooth audio module has failed, though, and is in need of warranty repair, but no big deal.
I have sent you a video of the crane delivery via PM.

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