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Purchasing A Used Hot Tub Experience & How To Move A 850+lb. Hot Tub Yourself Safely!


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#1 dotdog2

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 08:41 AM

I have found this forum so helpful I thought I would share my story so it may help other do-it-your-selfers on a budget trying to get the most value for their money and add to the quality of the board.

I have a Hot Springs Envoy. I searched Craigslist in every city within four hours from me. I found many Leisure Bay spas for $2-3K but learned I should stay away from them here on the board and I thought they looked cheap. There were several of the Costco tubs and a small variety of other quality tubs.

I wanted a HotSprings large tub since I knew they were among the best tubs out there. The dealer wanted ~$13,000 for the same tub new and then there was the cost of hooking it up to the electrical. The dealer offered me a running floor model of a LimeLight for $9K out the door but it is only ~350 gallons and I wanted to be able to party in my tub! In addition to the $9K I still would have had to pay for electrical hook up and chemicals.

I got the four year old 450 gallon Envoy in absolutely mint condition for $4.5K with all chemicals, cover, ozone, etc. The tub looks new except for some wear marks on the cover from sun exposure. It has the dual Moto Massage. The tub has a 5-year warranty and had a year remaining but that is now void as HotSprings only extends the warranty to the original purchaser of the tub. I had an electrician come over and paid him $100 to install the 2-pole 240V breaker in the panel and had him explain to me how to wire everything else up. I do know a bit about electrical but itís not rocket science and if you can follow directions you canít screw it up. It would have cost about $300 more to pay the electrician to do all the work. I purchased the sub panel with the 20amp and 30amp GFCI breakers from my local HotSprings dealer new for $225 with tax. I purchased all the wire conduit etc. from Home Depot using the exact same gauges and colors as in the HotSprings instructions, I actually substituted black for blue wire, I think. I had my electrician mark the posts in the sub panel where the different colors needed to be from what was not crystal clear from my prior reading of the tub manual. The total cost of the electrical was $550 including the; electrician, HotSprings sub panel, all conduit, wire, 50Amp breaker, etc. My tub is about 70 feet from the main panel and the Sub panel is about 10ft from the tub. My electrician even pulled out two large size 15 amp breakers for other parts of the house and replaced them with the half size breakers since there was not enough room for the 2-pole 50amp breaker as it takes two spaces in the main panel and I only had one available. The electrician even drilled the 1" hole in the brick to the exterior from the main panel in the garage with a hammer drill.

The tub weighs 850+Lbs. dry. When I picked up the tub from the guy I bought it from I paid $150 to the local dealer in Shreveport, LA to meet me at his house and move it onto the 20'x6.5' tandem axle flat trailer I borrowed from a friend to haul it back to my home in south Louisiana. The tub rode on the trailer with one side cocked up on one of the wheel wells of the trailer as the tub was wider than the flat part of the trailer and I needed the tub to sit over the tandem axles of the trailer so all the weight was not on the trailer hitch and the rear axle of my truck . The spa movers assured me this was just fine and it was how they moved spas all over the place on the interstate for about 15 years before they bought a high flat top trailer. He assured me there had never been a problem from moving it that way unless I drove like an ass or got in a wreck. I did 70mph the whole way home pulling with my 2000 Nissan Pathfinder that has about 200hp through a massive storm the whole way home. FYI, 70mph is really pushing it. The tub was strapped down with heavy duty yellow trailer straps and the folding cover was folded in half and tucked in the tub with the end hanging out the back of the tub towards the rear of the trailer. The cover was further strapped down with a regular 500lb thin trailer strap. The truck was guzzling gas but there were no problems.

In Shreveport three, not so athletic, Hispanic gentleman lifted one side of the spa and slid a 2' x 4' metal dolly with four 8" or larger wheels under the spa into the middle, very similar to the flat carts at Home Depot or Lowe's. Any tool rental company in your area should have these and the rental should be less than $75. I suggest borrowing one as they are quite common and easy to find with a little looking. The Spa guys then put two 8'x2' pieces of 3/4" plywood end to end and slowly rolled the tub effortlessly from one plywood sheet to another over the grass, moving one plywood sheet in front of the other as they rolled the spa off of one sheet and onto the next. I was amazed how they rolled it down the hill and onto my trailer using one of the pieces of plywood as a ramp. To get the dolly out from under the spa after it was in position on the trailer, they just lifted one side again and pulled the dolly out from under. I wouldnít have believed this was possible nor easy, for that matter, had I not seen this done first hand. I couldnít believe it.

When I got home with the spa I had to move it from the front driveway to the back deck going through a 5' wide gate and making a 90 degree turn. To move the spa I borrowed a similar cart from my old apartment complex. It was a real piece of **** but was steel and had four sturdy plastic wheels. I went to Lowe's and purchased a 4'x8' 3/4" plywood sheet for $12 and had Lowe's cut it into the two perfect 2'x8' pieces for free. I then scheduled for 8 of my friends to come over in the evening a few days later when they were all available. We got the spa off the trailer the exact same way the Spa guys in Shreveport put it on, worked flawlessly and my plywood did not even creek under the load of the 850+lb tub rolling off the trailer, it did flex quite a bit. After rolling the tub effortlessly onto the sidewalk, we tipped the tub up putting one side in the grass and removing the dolly from underneath the tub. We then moved the dolly to the side of the tub resting on the grass and put the first 2'x8' plywood sheet under the dolly. We lifted the tub from the edge on the grass and rested the lip of the siding of the tub on the cart. THAT PART IS VERY IMPORTANT OR THE TUB WILL NOT BE STABLE ON THE CART AND IT WILL BE VERY DIFFICULT TO PUT THE TUB ONT THE CART ON ITS SIDE as the cart will want to kick out from under the tub as you turn it up onto it. Trust me, we tried it the other way, not cool.

One guy then held the dolly down as the other seven of us lifted from the other side that was still on the sidewalk. We put a few towels down on the dolly so the siding of the tub would not get scratched. The tub tipped up perfectly on to its side on the dolly and would safely stay there with no one touching it. We then put the other piece of 2'x8' plywood at the other end of the 2'x8' piece already under the dolly in the direction of the back yard with about two inches of the next sheet of plywood tucked just under the plywood sheet the dolly was on at the moment. Keep in mind the two front wheels of the dolly were steerable. With everyone having a hand or two on the tub so it could not topple over, we then, very easily rolled the dolly with the tub to the back yard over the grass and through the gate moving the tub 8' at a time moving each consecutive sheet of plywood to the direction we needed to go in front of the plywood sheet the tub was currently sitting on just after we rolled off of the previous sheet. We easily made the 90 degree turn with 6Ē or less to spare on either side of the tub. When we got to the deck, which is 1ft above the ground on a slight hill, we turned the tub back down on its side at the edge of the deck, resting the high side of the tub, that was highest in the air as it rested on the dolly, onto the edge of the deck. We then lifted the side still on the dolly up with six of us and removed the dolly from under the edge of the tub that was still on the dolly. We then moved the dolly onto the deck and out of the way. Next, the eight of us lifted the edge of the tub, now on the grass, and slid the tub all the way onto the deck by just pushing it. It slides very easily. We then moved everyone onto the deck and lifted one side high enough to put the dolly back under the tub and into the middle. We then easily rolled and steered the tub to where we wanted it on the deck then lifted one side and removed the dolly. It all took about 20-30 minutes from trailer to deck and my wife had a trough of ice cold beer waiting for the guys when we were done. It was safe and simple with so many people. My friends were all saying it couldnt be done before we started moving it. They were amazed like I was. Just two of us were able to lift one side of the tub high enough to get the dolly under the tub if you donít need to put the tub on the dolly on its side. You will need an extra person to slide the dolly in and out from under the tub if you do, so you will need three people just like the guys in Shreveport moved the tub onto my trailer.

I built my deck the weekend before. It is 20'x12' and was built with two 2"x10" collars linking each set of three posts with 1/2" carriage bolts at each post. There are 12 posts under the deck, 4"x4". 3í into the ground. The posts under the tub are about 6' apart square. On top of the 2"x10" collars are the 2"x6" floor joists of the deck spaced every 14" there about running the 20í length of the deck. Then on top of that is 5/4" x6" x12í deck board. Sheís rock solid. It looks over a lake. The tub sits about 5' above the surface of the lake and about 10' from the shore line. I do own many tools but they can all be rented. The total cost of the materials was about $1400 with the framing nail gun and two-man post hole digger rental from Home Depot. The holes can be done in about an hour so you only need a four hour rental. I had the nail gun for two or three days.

I thought paying a bunch of greedy movers $450+ (the lowest I was quoted from a few movers) to move it just as I did was ridiculous.

All in all I paid $4,500 for the tub, $150 in Shreveport to move it, $550 for the subpanel and electrical connections, about $1,400, about $150 in gas to drive the tub home, Beers for the guys $20, $300 on 5 new Tri-X filters, and additional chemicals I have purchased $150. All in all this adventure has cost me ~$7,220 and I have an awesome back yard to relax in with the wife. To buy new and pay someone to do everything I did in two weekends would have cost me almost $20,000.

I told my local dealer what I was doing and was strait forward with them when I went to look at their new tubs and they have been more than helpful and are great to deal with since I bought the used tub. Their attitude has not changed one bit. The hourly rate for the dealer here is $150 per hour which is just ridiculous. You canít justify this. I feel horrible for the people who have to pay since they donít have the time or know how to work on the tub themselves. Some Ferrari mechanics, my doctor (who went to school for ten years), and the mechanics who work on my friends $150K+ AMG Mercedes donít charge that much. I do understand that I am an exception and have a thorough background in physics, engineering, plumbing, hydrodynamics, electrical engineering, and have no problem tearing into this sucker if there is ever a problem or a leak. I found a website that sells every single part for the tub at half the cost of the retail prices. Keep in mind, I don't care what anyone tells you, this is still just a tub shell with simple plumbing, pumps, valves, jets, and lights. The magic happens in the circuit board and if something goes wrong there it more than likely has to be replaced anyway. I did replace three of the stationary jets in the tub that unscrew with three of the jets that spin. We enjoy those seats much more now as the single stationary jets blasting away in the same spot gets old quick.

My way is not the method for all and I understand and respect those who donít want to screw with the hassle of a used tub and the DIY process, nor may they have the time. This is my first spa and I wasnít about to spend a fortune finding out if we are ďsoakersĒ or not. Money was not an issue for me but I save when and where I can and get a kick out of telling people I built all this. It was very fun to do with a few friends over two weekends.

One thing I will recommend, noÖinsist, to anyone out there, If you buy a used hot tub, follow Nittro's Decontamination procedure to the letter regardless of how you think the tub was maintained before. There is a ton of bad **** you want nothing to do with that could be lingering in the tub and at the very least, not doing so, will likely cause you to use way more chemicals than you need and make the water hard to balance. I use test strips but find them to be very inaccurate for anything other the Free Chlorine and Ph. I purchased a Taylor K-2006 Complete test kit online and find it to be much more accurate and the wife thinks it is fun. We use Bleach and the other chemicals as suggested in Nittro's spa maintenance procedures. The chemical maintenance was a bit over whelming at first but at the one month mark I have a good understanding of it and have it under control. My understanding has come from the use of the search function and reading old threads on this board.

We love the tub and have used it almost every night since we got it. We have had it for about a month now. I donít know what the elec. bill will look like but the soaking is worth it. Canít wait till it gets cold out! Well, that is my story. Hope it helps you out with getting a tub, Jim cool.gif

#2 Dnepr Dave

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 09:17 AM

Good write up! I too bought a used tub and am very happy with it. I haven't noticed an increase in the electric bill in the year I've had my spa. Our electric bill has a section that tells me how much electricity I used last year during the same month, sometimes it is more sometime it is less from month to month.

Did you get a cover lifter with your spa? I made one for my spa for 1/10 the cost of buying one. It cost me $20.00 and 45 minutes to fabricate it and it looks just like a $200 one I saw at the garden show.

Dave
2005 Caldera Kauai

#3 shovelhd

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 09:23 AM

Jim,

Where did you find the tub?

My story is very similar and the tub related costs are also very similar, except for the $150/hr. which is way high. My local Jacuzzi dealer gets $85/hr. They have also been fantastic to deal with. Good dealers are just good dealers and think about future sales not just today.

#4 BigDfromTN

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 10:18 AM

Good Job!!! Both on the Deck, Spa, and Write up! Since you say your not a writer etc etc, you must have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night. (sorry couldn't resist)

I agree with every thing you say.

I got a used 2002 Caldera Geneva. The thing had been left running (the last they knew), but when I first looked at it. The thing was dead as a hammer and nasty inside with lots of brown junk all in the water. I studied on it a while, asked a couple questions on here and decided to go for it. I and wife are like you. We did not want to spend a ton of bucks not knowing for sure we would be good soakers. I did a pad out of pavers and added to my patio. I used the pavers then decided to pour concrete for the other part of the patio after the pavers were done under the tub. Ended up better looking, easier, and cheaper than the pavers would have been for the same area. Did the wiring myself after getting an estimate of $2500.00 to do the job by an electrian that gave me a "family" discount. Once home had to order all new contol box and replace a 30 amp GFCI. Tub came with some chemicals.

All told for Tub, patio, spa pad, wiring, patio table & chairs, Patio rug, umbrella, hauling, plastic spa sled (home made), fuel to haul it 120 miles etc etc. I am out about $2,200.00 Mind you I got the tub on a "I will remove it for it" basis from an uncle that never used it.


Thanks for sharing your story and experience. I shared a bit of mine not to try and one up you, but to let others know it can be done and agree with you.

Enjoy your soaks and the view. I wish mine was lake side...... but its not!
2002 Caldera Geneva

bigdfromtn at gmail com.

#5 East TX Spa

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 12:21 PM

Excellent write up, although Senor Tony might not appreciate your classification of him as being not "athletic"! Haaaaaa!!!!!!!!! happy.gif

Tony has been with us for 23 years and has moved close to 10,000 spas during that time period. He makes it look sooooo easy.

Congratulations on your spa and we hope you enjoy it for many years!



Terminator
26 Year HotSpring Spa Dealer
"Jus' layin' low and chucklin' in my stomach wif da fidgets!"

#6 dotdog2

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 08:30 PM

QUOTE (Dnepr Dave @ Sep 17 2009, 10:17 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Did you get a cover lifter with your spa? I made one for my spa for 1/10 the cost of buying one. It cost me $20.00 and 45 minutes to fabricate it and it looks just like a $200 one I saw at the garden show.

Dave


Yes, it came with the cover lift. I saw a few posts about how to make one and it is very easy. Thanks though. If I have to replace it ever I will go that route.

QUOTE (shovelhd @ Sep 17 2009, 10:23 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Jim,

Where did you find the tub?


Shreveport, Louisiana

QUOTE (BigDfromTN @ Sep 17 2009, 11:18 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Good Job!!! Both on the Deck, Spa, and Write up! Since you say your not a writer etc etc, you must have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night. (sorry couldn't resist)

I agree with every thing you say.

Thanks for sharing your story and experience. I shared a bit of mine not to try and one up you, but to let others know it can be done and agree with you.

Enjoy your soaks and the view. I wish mine was lake side...... but its not!

Thank you sir! Enjoy your soaking as well. Thanks for sharing your experience also!


QUOTE (East TX Spa @ Sep 17 2009, 01:21 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Excellent write up, although Senor Tony might not appreciate your classification of him as being not "athletic"! Haaaaaa!!!!!!!!! happy.gif

Tony has been with us for 23 years and has moved close to 10,000 spas during that time period. He makes it look sooooo easy.

Congratulations on your spa and we hope you enjoy it for many years!



Terminator


Now this is hysterical! What a small world it is we live in. The internet sure makes it smaller. That sure is Tony in the picture. He and two of his assistants moved the tub for me as I described. They were awesome guys. Tony had all kinds of great advice I didnít even ask for. I meant no harm in the comment. I know that is understood though. Forums are absolutely wonderful! Depending on what you do, they can make you or break your business, at the least put a dent in sales.

I want to add that the Dealer, East TX Spa, was fantastic to deal with and even though he knew he was not ever going to get my business he still talked on the phone with me several times recommending things for me to do and answering many questions in great detail. He made arrangements to move the tub for me with one day of notice and at a bargain price. He knew I was on a budget and that I had my back against the wall, if you will. I would have been SOL if not for the East TX spa dealer. He told me if I have any trouble with my local dealer or any questions to call any time.

I am young and donít mind doing things the hard way to save some money but I can assure you that when I am older and would rather spend some of that hard earned money on a new tub I will call East TX Spa and offer them a shot at my business. I was that impressed and highly recommend them! Keep up the great work! Jim

#7 shovelhd

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 05:33 AM

QUOTE (dotdog2 @ Sep 17 2009, 08:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (shovelhd @ Sep 17 2009, 10:23 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Jim,

Where did you find the tub?


Shreveport, Louisiana


I meant where was it sourced? Local dealer? Local paper? CL? eBay?

#8 dotdog2

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 10:06 AM

QUOTE (shovelhd @ Sep 18 2009, 05:33 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I meant where was it sourced? Local dealer? Local paper? CL? eBay?


I found it listed on CL. It was originaly purchased around Shreveport

#9 shovelhd

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 10:34 AM

QUOTE (dotdog2 @ Sep 18 2009, 10:06 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (shovelhd @ Sep 18 2009, 05:33 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I meant where was it sourced? Local dealer? Local paper? CL? eBay?


I found it listed on CL. It was originaly purchased around Shreveport


Another CL success story. I got mine 25 miles away and had it moved.




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