Do you need Permits for a spas and hot tubs?
I get asked this question frequently, so here’s the best information I can give you on this. I can tell you though that permits for spas and hot tubs are generally required in most areas of the US.
According to the building code, (does not apply to all areas), a prefabricated swimming pool (and that would include hot tubs) installed above ground at a single-family residence does not require a building permit, unless the water capacity exceeds 5000 gallons. Therefore, most hot tubs and spas are exempt from building permit requirements. Note: the reference is made to “prefabricated”, meaning made by others. If you are using my hot tub building plans and starting a build from scratch, you would be well advised to get a permit. Permits for spas and hot tubs are generally easy to get. Just go to your local building department and ask for the proper forms you will need.
However, in order to install a pool, spa or hot tub, it is usually necessary to add some type of plumbing and/or electrical connection. These hook-ups, for safety reasons, are subject to building permit and building code requirements. Remember, electricity and water just don’t mix and even though you may be perfectly capable of making these connections, (more so any electrical connections vs any water connection), you should have your local code official sign off on all of your connections when the project is completed.
In many instances, permits for spas and hot tubs connections are over looked
As a result, at least half of all systems installed in the US have one form of code violation or another, even when professionally installed. These discrepancies occur because even though spa technicians are experts in the field of spa hardware and equipment, usually, they are not plumbers or electricians and consequently lack the license credentials common to those trades.
Typical safety violations often include buried gas piping without a rust-preventive coating; over-fused and double-tapped electric circuits; substandard electrical grounding; exposed and unprotected romex wires; and worst of all, lack of ground fault protection, a condition which can expose hot tub or spa users to fatal electric shock.
Plumbing for spas, hot tubs and pools is typically straight forward and most likely plumbing lines will be completely self-contained within the hot tub or pool itself. The results of any type of leak here will simply deplete the water volume in the unit. Some units may have a supply line connected to the homes water supply to accommodate maybe an auto-fill unit. This is something you’re more likely to find on an in-ground pool rather than a spa or above ground pool. The likely concern for this supply line is for those of you in cold climate areas, the chance of a water line freeze needs to be addressed.
Portable spas, hot tubs and pools should always have the plumbing lines pressure tested before being put into use. A leak near anything electrical will likely cause the GFI protection system to trip out power, thus protecting the bathers. More on this can be found in my hot tub building books available at www.custombuiltspas.com.
If your hot tub was installed without professional attention to plumbing and electrical safety requirements, I’d strongly recommend having the connections evaluated. This could protect users of the hot tub or pool while reducing your exposure to financial liability should someone be injured.
Custom Built Spas