You’re thinking about becoming the proud owner of a spa pool, but you’re not sure where to start your search. Perhaps the first decision you’ll make is whether your spa pool will sit above the ground (so-called ‘portable’ spas, like those in the Hot Spring and Endless Pools ranges) or within the ground (a built-in spa similar to a traditional in-ground swimming pool).
In-ground spa pools are usually made to measure, granting you extra control over size, shape and aesthetics, and the ground-level lip makes them easily accessible. But in other ways, such as installation, cost, features, innovation, portability, upgradability and maintenance, a portable spa pool may be a wiser choice.
Is an in-ground spa pool the right choice for you? Let’s take a look at what an in-ground spa pool is, the pros and cons of choosing one, and what your other options might be.
What is an in-ground spa pool?
As the name suggests, an in-ground spa pool is a spa that, like a traditional backyard swimming pool, is built into the ground.
Like in-ground swimming pools, in-ground spa pools come in two main forms: bespoke builds that are usually made out of concrete, and pre-moulded fibreglass models that are installed into an excavated section of your property. Fibreglass in-ground spa pools tend to be a little less expensive than concrete, but concrete grants you more control over the design of your spa.
In-ground spa pools can either be installed as standalone pools or as an addition to an existing swimming pool. In the case of an addition, the type of spa pool you choose will largely be decided by the type of swimming pool you already have.
Be warned that in-ground spa pools, no matter whether they’re concrete or fibreglass, are quite time-consuming, complex and costly to install. After gaining council approval you’ll need to excavate the site, professionally build or install the spa pool, secure the area according to local regulations (often with a pool fence), before finally filling the spa ready for use. It’s a process that can take a month or more, though there’s no denying the beauty of the results.
Pros of in-ground spa pools
Why choose an in-ground spa pool? A couple of the most compelling reasons include:
An in-ground spa pool allows you to treat your backyard as a blank canvas upon which you can paint your perfect spa. Obviously the available looks will be limited by the tools and talents of your chosen spa supplier, but generally speaking you can create whatever size and shape of spa in whatever colour and finish you choose – though keep in mind that the bespoke nature of such a construction will make it far more expensive than a pre-built option.
In-ground spa pools are (usually) built with the lip of the spa sitting at ground level. This can be ideal for people with limited mobility, such as the elderly, as you can simply lower yourself into the warm and inviting waters. Getting out can be more of a challenge, but it’s nothing that the inclusion of a sturdy handrail won’t fix.
Cons of in-ground spa pools
While there are good reasons why people choose in-ground spa pools, as a shopper you should be aware of the disadvantages of building your spa pool into the ground. A few of the major cons of in-ground spa pools, when compared to portable models, include:
In-ground spa pools are complex and time-consuming to install. For a custom build you’ll spend a lot of time in the design phase, then you’ll need to excavate the area and create or install the spa itself – a process that can take a month or more, and, depending on the accessibility of your yard, may involve temporarily pulling down fences.
On top of the obvious costs of bespoke design, excavation and installation, you also need to pay any fees relating to council approval, and any safety costs (fencing, spa covers, etc.) that local rules and regulations demand. When all these costs have been taken into account, in-ground spa pools tend to be far more expensive than mass-produced and above-ground options.
When you build a spa pool into the ground, it will stay in the ground. If you choose to move house you won’t be taking that spa with you. This means that in-ground spas simply don’t make sense for those who haven’t yet found their forever home, and definitely not for renters (unlike portable spa pools, which can easily be emptied and loaded onto the moving truck).
Features and innovation
In-ground spa pools generally feature quite basic technology – usually a heater, jets and a water filter. Custom constructions don’t allow for the economies of scale seen in mass-produced spas, which allow Hot Spring to invest in serious innovation. Spas in our Highlife collection, for example, feature automated water care, moving jets, touchscreen controls, backlit waterfalls, underwater lighting and ultra-efficient insulation, none of which are common in in-ground spa pools.
Changing or upgrading your in-ground spa pool is a rather difficult task. Unless you’re prepared to invest a significant chunk of change, you’re stuck with what you’ve got. Portable spa pools, meanwhile, are rather simple to swap out, and offer an ever-evolving list of features and innovations that make such an upgrade worthwhile.
In-ground spa pools can be difficult to clean and maintain. Because they’re installed below ground level, emptying the spa in order to give it a deep clean may demand the use of a pump. If the machine breaks down, you might find that the affected pipes and parts are hidden behind concrete and earth. Portable above-ground spas meanwhile are designed for easy access, and at Hot Spring we guarantee the supply of spare parts for at least 20 years.
Portable: your spa pool alternative
If you’ve weighed up the pros and cons and decided that an in-ground spa isn’t quite right for you, there is another option. At Hot Spring we offer portable, self-contained units that are designed to be placed on the ground, filled and enjoyed. Our models can be installed in two main ways:
The most common way for a Hot Spring spa pool to be installed, above-ground spa pools are simply placed on a suitable surface – one that is level and capable of taking the weight of a full spa. This can include pavers, grass, timber decking and even balconies.
A nice mid-point between above-ground and in-ground, built-in installation sees a portable spa pool being placed in a suitable spot, before decking or another type of construction is built around it. The result is an easily accessible and aesthetically pleasing spa that also enjoys all the perks that come with a portable model.