Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hot Tub

After over a year in the making, our amazing hot tub finally became operational this past weekend. I don't want to steal Jesper's thunder, since he will probably (hopefully) write a post that tells the whole story of the building of our little lagoon of hot bubbly water. However, it's already become such a feature of our life style, I simply cannot wait to write a little about it.

First, to whet your appetite, here's what it looks like now.

We envisioned a hot tub in our yard before we bought this house, while we were renting it. We were inspired by my friend Kathleen Kingma's hot tub. It is a significant feature of her life style - wake up, hot tub, ride bikes, hot tub, sleep (food and beer thrown in as necessary). I realize Kathleen also works, but not usually when she has visitors. Kathleen's hot tub is sunken in, a nice aspect that changes the experience of the user in a way Jesper I both liked. Then we visited Gold Lake Spa, with its recessed stone hot tubs, organic in shape and evocative of mountain lakes. Ahhhh... that's the look we wanted. But how?

Brilliant Jesper to the rescue. He decide to build a hot tub completely from scratch! No pre-fab mold, no pre-made plumbing and electrical. Completely from scratch! Clearly, Jesper also lives by the motto "Go Big or Stay at Home"! Jesper found a manual for how to build a custom hot tub and he proceeded to design something better and fancier than what the author of the manual had ever contemplated! It's difficult to convey how complicated this project was, although I am hopeful Jesper's story and pictures from the beginning-to-now will help.

Jesper started the project in the late summer of 2007. Yes - I said 2007. The first order of business was to obtain a permit from Boulder County. This took awhile, since they had never seen anything like our proposed hot tub. Once permitted, Jesper dug a very large hole (something like 14x17x4 feet). Why so big, you ask? The hot tub needs space around it to house the piping and to pull air from, so it is surrounded by a vault large enough for us to enter to fix any leaks or other problems. Jesper dug this hole completely by hand, encountering a fair bit of asphalt fill in our nice little suburban back yard. He is an animal! Then he placed rebar and insulation upon which we poured a 6 inch slab of concrete.

Next up, building the walls of the vault. This got delayed until the spring of 2008 due to weather. Colorado has a very narrow window of opportunity for temperature-sensitive construction work; things like mortaring cement, gluing pipes, painting on waterproof sealants, etc. These activities can't be done if it's too hot (above 90) or too cold (below freezing). Out here in Boulder, that leaves about 3 months. So, in 2007, old man winter shut us down. Having learned this, Jesper started back up again in 2008 in earnest as soon as it was warm enough. He worked his hiney off, forgoing many bike rides and other fun things to get the hot tub done. I helped where I could (painting, grouting, mixing cement), but Jesper did the vast majority of the work.

We got delayed from time-to-time due to the extreme summer temps, well above 90. But in between the hot days, Jesper constructed the vault walls, then moved on to the actual hot tub walls, which required holes to be drilled in all the right places to allow piping in to the hot tub for water and air (bubbles!). Then he constructed all the plumbing himself and followed up with the electrical. Finally, Jesper constructed the decking to go on top and laid the beautiful Colorado Buff flagstone on top.

This all makes it sound easy, which it certainly was not. All along, Jesper had to learn how to do the next thing. The last few steps were only feasible due to some unusually warm winter weather in late 2008 and early 2009. On January 16, 2009, everything essential to the operation of the hot tub was complete and we filled it up with water. Once full, we turned it on, hopeful that all the electrical devices would work properly and that there would be no leaks. It was so exciting!!! We let it heat up and then next morning, January 17, 2009, Jesper opened the cover to a magical poof of steam!

The control panel read 104 degrees F. The hot tub was finally ready for us dip our toes in.

We still have all the landscaping to complete this spring (we have some fantastic ideas), but we have been using the hot tub a couple times a day. We've changed our morning routine to get up earlier so we can have a dip before work and we hop in before we go to bed. We both feel like we are on permanent vacation!



Justin Mock said...

That is really badass. Share some pics when the landscaping is added in.

Kim said...

Enjoy every minute of your hard work relaxing in the hot tub! Well done!

TitansFan said...

Wow! I can see you guys really put some hard work into that hot tub! I got my Hot Tub from these guys and it's great but I'd like to get something like that in the future. About how much did it cost for materials and how many hours did it take?

Hot Tub Specialist said...

You deserve a standing ovation for doing a great work on that hot tub. Good job for sharing your project to the readers too.

Retha Ison said...

This was definitely your biggest project of the year! And the amazing thing was you started it from scratch! And it was good that you got the resulted that wanted. Apology for my lateness and congratulations! Your hard work finally paid off! ;-)


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