If you live somewhere with no rear or side access to your backyard—or you have the perfect space in your sun room but aren't sure if you can fit a hot tub through the door—you might think your only option is an inflatable spa.
Well, I have good news for you: limited access to your property doesn't have to be the reason you can't get a hot tub. They may be heavy and bulky, but there are actually plenty of ways to install hot tubs, even when property access is tricky. It just takes some smart thinking and careful planning, and you'd be surprised what's possible.
I was able to get a small spa into my San Francisco backyard, even though it had to go up 17 steps and through my house to get there!
Let's take a look at several options you have to make your hot tub dream a reality.
1. Check if you can remove a fence panel
If you have side access to your backyard, but no gate, removing a fence panel could be an option. Hot tubs are usually transported on their side, so you just need a gap of 3-5 feet to get through.
This is a very common solution that a lot of hot tub movers suggest—they may even be able to remove the panel for you and put it back as part of the job.
If you don't have direct side access from the street, but your neighbor does, consider asking them for permission to use their yard as a passageway to get your spa into position—you could even repay them by inviting them over for a soak once it's up and running.
Can't remove a fence panel? If you have some other property boundary like a wall or a hedge, there are small cranes that can lift hot tubs a few feet over obstacles.
Hiring one of these cranes will likely cost more than temporarily removing part of a fence, but will also be less intrusive to your property.
2. Get a hot tub that will fit through a door
In American houses, the average front door is 36 inches wide by 80 inches tall.
This is what I did, and it worked great!
If you go for this option, just be sure to also measure any interior doors (both height and width), as well as the width or narrow passages of hallways to make sure you have enough space.
3. Get a wood hot tub
There's more to consider before you decide if a wood hot tub is right for you, though. As an earlier version of the modern day spa, these tubs have a more rustic look and feel.
Wood hot tubs are generally round or oval, and have a bench running all the way around for seating, instead of dedicated seats or loungers. This means you are somewhat limited to an upright position, and can expect fewer features or jets than in an acrylic spa.
Did you know? You still need a strong, level base like a concrete slab for a wooden hot tub—they're heavy once assembled and filled.
They also have several unique benefits: for one thing, you can get a much deeper soak as many wood hot tubs are available up to 4 feet tall. The natural cedar wood also smells divine, and can give you a back-to-nature aromatherapy experience you just can't get in a modern spa.
I have another post on the best cedar hot tubs if you are interested.
4. Get your hot tub delivered by crane or helicopter
If none of the options work for you so far, perhaps some mechanical assistance could be what you need.
Many companies are able to deliver hot tubs via crane, so it's a case of seeing what's available in your local area.
Your local spa dealer may have dealt with this kind of delivery before, so they might be able to offer recommendations for local companies.
If you go this route, be sure to check that overhead access is completely clear. That means no trees or power lines can obstruct the hot tub site, the street where the crane would park, or any part of the lifting path in between.
You also need to consider if there's space for a crane to perform the lift without disrupting traffic. If any road closures are necessary, you'll need to coordinate with the relevant city department. Likewise, if any part of the lift will be over a neighbor's property, you'll need permission from them and insurance.
5. Build an in-ground spa
If you've got space but limited access, you might be wondering: can you put a hot tub in the ground?
The answer is yes!
In-ground spas are beautiful and very customizable: you can choose the exact size, shape and placement you want. However, they generally require significant design and landscaping work. Installing an in-ground spa can cost $15,000-$25,000+ depending on style and your location.
Undoubtedly the most permanent option, adding an in-ground spa is a real investment in your backyard:
6. Get an inflatable spa
Although inflatable spas are a last resort for many people, they can still give you some of the spa experience. Better than not having a spa at all, right?
If you find yourself out of other options, think about the benefits: inflatable spas are a lot cheaper than regular spas. They're also much lighter, which makes them extremely portable. This means they can go in many more locations than a regular spa.
On the downside, inflatable spas aren't as durable so won’t last as long, and are less energy efficient to run. They also generally lack built-in seating, so you'll have to be okay with sitting on the floor.
Here are a couple of options to consider beyond the classic inflatable:
Softub also make portable spas, in the 'soft sided' rather than inflatable category:
They are similar to inflatable tubs in that they're round and generally don't have seating. But at just 80 lbs empty, they are small enough to fit through a standard door and light enough to be rolled around, which makes moving them very easy.
Spa-N-A-Box is another kind of portable spa. It still has no seating, but does have hard sides which gives it an aesthetic closer to a traditional hot tub:
As you can see, there's a way to get a hot tub into almost every type of home! Hopefully one of these options can work for you.