Monday, December 21, 2015

The spa project

Having a spa is not only a luxury that I've always enjoyed, but is a real boon to an athlete.  I use hot baths to loosen up pre workout and to unwind afterward.   Often, just to get warm in the cold months.

A number of challenges to get a spa at Sky Castle, the Sewanee house.  #1 was getting it on a 12' high deck near the edge of a cliff.

First, I chose a spa.  Decided to buy from a Chattanooga dealer instead of from the Nashville area.  Tri-state Pools had a good reputation and BBB A+ rating and had been in business 25 yrs.  They seem to have a good service dept. as well.   I looked at many spas, Vikings, Artisans, Hot Spots, etc... and noticed a big difference 'under the hood' with the Hot Springs Spas.   While most other spas like the Viking, were constructed on the inside of raw unpainted framing lumber, the Hot Springs Spas were all painted and well insulated.  They also carried a 5 yr parts and service warranty, best in the business.  The drawback was they were more expensive, almost double that of a budget spa.

I went with the 3 person Hot Springs 'Jettsetter' model.   It's dimensions 5'5 x 7' fit the dimensions of my deck perfectly.  It had three unique hydro therapy seats, and just the right amount of jets.  It really could fit 4 people, but is perfect for one or two.  You can select any of several color lights for under water or the top of the spa with a selector button.  Pretty cool.  It has a silent flow pump and heater that work really well... which I found out when I left the top open by mistake all night, and it stayed right at 105º.

I made a cash deal and got the Jettsetter about $1000 less than asking price (which was $7K + tax) and I was responsible for picking it up, which I did without incident.

The deck
I used intuition to upgrade the load capacity of the deck.   The main beam under the spa would be a 2x2x10 glued and bolted.  It was heavy and I needed help hanging it before getting the vertical supports under it.  I also put 4x4s under the wall plate and used 2x2x8 support beams under each end of the joists... which, with a few new added joists, were 11" apart.  In addition to lag bolting these joist support beams, I bolted 4x4 blocks under them for additional support.  Clayton, my architect friend looked at it and said it was ok but near capacity so I overkilled it by putting a 6x6 vertical support under the weight center of the main beam, and X braced it on 3 sides.  It is way more than I need.  But... with friends warning me that I'd go flying over the bluff as my deck tore away from my house, a little extra support wasn't going to hurt.  It's totally solid.  It would hold a truck.

The lift
My neighbor Larry has a big 4x4 John Deere tractor and he put forks on it for the lift.   The main issue was that the approach to the deck was off camber.  When he approached the deck, we had to level the tractor by putting 6x6 lumber under the downhill tires.  The tractor didn't have quite enough lift and the right angle to just set it down, so we had to yank it off the pallet.  What a relief when we got it - undamaged.  It was scary.

The wiring
Was going to go with a big company but I took Geoff's recommendation and hired Mark.  He scoped it out and said it would take about 3 hrs.   He quoted me a good price and I helped where I could.  He did a good job but the 3 hrs turned into almost a week.  The wiring was neat, and the placement good, the box well placed and the inspection approved.  Good that I had one circuit in the panel to use for the 50amp 230v breaker.  None to spare without sacrificing something.

The roof
Since the spa sits below the great chestnut oak which my house was built around, I decided that it needed protection from falling branches and things, so I put up a stout little metal roof.   Turned out well.

Now.. I'm enjoying the hell out this spa.  Feel like I'm living in a resort in the lap of luxury.  It's a great addition to my home life.  I built an oak table to put my computer, drinks, towel and/or reading material on.  The placement is perfect... just enough room to walk around it on all sides and to store the cover on either the side next to the house or the back rails.   It's just great.   Thanks to my Dad who contributed to the cost of the spa, perfect way to celebrate the holidays and the end of a wonderful and memorable 2015.

The lift



The roof and table

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