For tricky hot tub installations, sometimes a crane is the only way to get your spa into place. With the help of a crane, you can lift a hot tub onto balconies or rooftops, over fences or garages... even over your house.
The good news is that hot tubs are easy work for crane operators. They are not heavy compared to most crane jobs, and it's a quick operation (the actual lift only takes a few minutes).
But keep in mind that crane installations do count as a difficult delivery, so you can expect to pay extra for the service, beyond what you would pay for a regular spa installation.
So roughly how much should you budget for crane hire?
The average cost to move a hot tub by crane
These numbers are based on estimates we've gathered from a few different locations in the following countries:
Of course, the cost of a typical spa lift varies widely. The main deciding factors are where you live (you'll find the higher prices in large cities or other high-cost-of-living areas) and how difficult the lift is.
That depends on:
- The size and weight of the spa
- The type of crane needed (based on how far and high it has to reach)
- If any road closures are necessary
- If any overhead cables need removing temporarily
For example, an easy lift over a 5' wall with plenty of space for the crane to park would put you at the lower end of the range. But if you want to get a spa onto a third-floor balcony, and the only access is a major road with power lines obstructing the lift, you could be quoted at the upper end (or even outside) of these estimated ranges.
In some cases, a crane lift might not even be possible.
Crane companies typically charge by the hour, with a minimum of 2–4 hours per job. This includes the time it takes to get to/from your location, so it's worth looking for nearby crane services.
How much does it cost to crane a swim spa?
It costs around $500–$2000 to move a swim spa in the US (you can estimate the prices for your country by adding 50% onto the local cost to crane a regular spa).
That's because swim spas are significantly larger, heavier, and more difficult to move than hot tubs. A typical swim spa can weigh 1,500–3,000 lbs. Due to their size and weight, cranes are much more common with swim spa installations.
Did you know? Around half of all swim spa deliveries are crane assisted.
Do you need a crane to move a hot tub?
Do all hot tub installations use a crane? Absolutely not!
In fact, only around 5% of hot tub installations actually need the services of a crane. The rest can be maneuvered into place on the ground using a combination of spa dollies, sleds or sliders, and winches.
It makes sense to rule out all these easier options first. A crane lift is an expensive and complex operation compared to other methods of moving a spa.
Is a crane suitable for your hot tub installation?
Unfortunately, not all hot tub placements are possible by crane.
The main things to check ahead of time are:
- Obstructions: Phone or power lines may need to be removed before the lift. Trees could also be a problem, and might need to be trimmed back.
- Access: If there isn't space on your drive for the crane to operate safely, it will have to park in the street. There must be enough space for the crane to perform the lift. If you could block any traffic, you'll have to get permission from the relevant city department for a temporary road closure—especially if you live on a major road. The associated permits and labor will cost extra on top of the cost of the crane rental.
Luckily, it's only in rare cases that there's simply no way to get a spa into position by crane. But you might find it becomes so expensive that it's not worth it. At several thousand dollars, a complex crane installation could outweigh the cost of your spa.
What to do if you can't use a crane
If a crane is not an option, a helicopter can be a good alternative. Helicopter deliveries cost more on average than a standard crane installation. However, this isn't always true—it could actually be cheaper than some complex crane installations.
If you don't want to go the helicopter route, we have another guide with some other creative options for installing a hot tub when you have limited access.
How to pick hot tub movers for a crane delivery
For a complex hot tub delivery, you can't just hire any spa movers—or any crane service. Look for companies that:
- Are licensed & insured: This one should be obvious. You need to be covered in the event of any damage to your (or your neighbor's!) property.
- Have prior experience: There are certain considerations you need to take when placing a spa by crane. Find a team that specializes in moving hot tubs by crane, or at least has done this type of job before.
- Will do a pre-delivery check: Professionals will be able spot obstructions or potential issues that you might miss. To avoid nasty surprises on the day, pick a company that will visit your home ahead of time to confirm everything is good to go.
If you can't find any services directly, try contacting a local hot tub retailer. They may already have connections with movers or crane companies who can do this type of installation, and could even get you a better rate.
In the UK, always look for 'contract lift' rather than 'crane hire'. This way, everything will be the responsibility of the crane hire company, and not you as the customer.