Pros and Cons of Adding a Hot Tub

Hot tubs come in a wide variety of options and can be found to fit most budgets. Check out these pros and cons to adding a hot tub.

 

Guest post by Peter Goldberg

Purchasing a hot tub for your home is becoming more and more appealing to those looking to spark joy in their outdoor space. Even the top local landscaping designs incorporate a steamy floral energy with hot tubs and water features.

Hot tubs come in a wide variety of options and can be found to fit most budgets. However, there may be some downsides to consider before adding a hot tub to your home. Check out these pros and cons to adding a hot tub:

Pros

Relaxation

Having a hot tub just steps from your back door can add an element of relaxation to your home. You can come home from work and let the stress of the day melt away in a warm, bubbling soak outside. Hot tubs also have palpable healing properties, as the warm water can help alleviate stress and loosen tight muscles. They are a favorable choice to have for those family members with chronic diseases or injuries that would respond well to heat. Having a hot tub allows for a daily opportunity to relax and unwind.

Entertainment

Not only will your family love a hot tub but your friends and neighbors will too! Adding a hot tub that is large enough for a handful of people is a great way to entertain in your outdoor living space. You can grill out for a party and then invite everyone to change into their suits to soak underneath the stars. Kids love hot tubs and having one creates a fun opportunity to play with the grand kids without the major upkeep of an outdoor pool.

Year-Round Use

Unlike swimming pools that are usually not used during the winter months, a hot tub can be used all year long. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting in a hot tub under the crisp air of a recent snow. Hot tubs are also used in the summer despite the warm temperatures under the clear summer sky. Due to its smaller size, it is much easier to heat a hot tub in order to keep it available for use all year long.

Cons

Purchase Price and Upkeep Cost

The initial cost of a hot tub can leave some buyers in sticker shock. Brand new hot tubs can easily cost thousands of dollars depending on the size and features available. You can save money by buying used but run the risk of dealing with problems that aren’t covered in a warranty. Other costs to consider are the regular amounts of chemicals that will be needed to maintain the water as well as the electricity fee to keep the water at premium temperature. Owning a hot tub definitely has some costs that need to be considered before purchasing.

Attract Insects

Along with upkeep can come some pesky creatures that can make your outdoor space not so pleasant. Having any sort of water feature  can make for a seemly inviting atmosphere for backyard dwellers like mosquitoes. Similarly, rodents such as mice can find a new home within a hot tub installation that can be more an infestation to deal with. Whereas this may not be a deal breaker and prevented by using repelling plants in your surrounding landscaping and adding repellent gel and inserts in your installation–creating a relaxing space in any backyard usually means it’s rid of annoying insects or rodents.

Tricky Installation

If you purchase a new hot tub the installation may be included in the price but there may be some hidden fees as well. Consider where you will be putting your hot tub and how it will fit into the space. Hot tubs weigh a lot and heavy machinery will most likely be needed to install them correctly. You may need to take out a section of the fencing to get the hot tub into the backyard. If you want your hot tub on a deck, a crane will be needed to lift the hot tub up onto the deck which can be another added cost.

Plan for Weight

The actual hot tub can weigh a lot but also consider the weight of the water that will be added to the hot tub once installed. A hot tub dealer will most likely help you with these logistics but you will need to verify that you have an adequate spot for your hot tub, especially if you are buying used. Calculate the total weight of the hot tub, the water, and the combined weight of the maximum amount of people who will use it in order to get a good idea of how much weight will be added to the property. A firm foundation of concrete will be needed for those hot tubs being added to a backyard. Decks will need to most likely be reinforced with extra beams in order to hold the added amount of weight.

Hot tubs are a great addition to any home and can be a good selling point if you don’t plan on taking your hot tub with you when you move. Taking a dip in the hot tub is a valuable way to physically feel better as well as provide an entertainment space that you can use all year long. Make sure that you plan for the weight of the total hot tub as well as the costs to upkeep it. Prepare for these pros and cons before adding a hot tub to your outdoor living space.

Image result for pictures of hot tubs and backyard

Leslie Sells Houses

 

Most Important Summer Home Maintenance Projects
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Before & After: A Seaside English Garden by Farlam & Chandler

Now a small breakfast terrace is at the rear of the house, and a floating deck allows the house “to breathe as it should,” Farlam says.

A garden in crisis greeted designers Harriet Farlam and Ben Chandler of Farlam & Chandlerin 2016. Dingy concrete paving slabs and a completely overgrown garden set a sad tone in the long, narrow space in the heart of the English harbor town of Whitstable, Kent.

“Unnecessary low brick walls enclosed borders planted with two tall bay trees, which were still in their plastic pots, their roots bursting out,” Farlam says. “The bay trees were growing up through two mature fig trees, and everything was smothered in Virginia creeper.”

The plan: “We lived with the garden as it was for a year, through all of the seasons, without touching it too much at all, apart from the immediate removal of the cherry tree,” she says. “This enabled us to really understand the light and how we would use and utilize the small space.”

The result: The courtyard was sited about a quarter mile away from the sea and was relatively protected from sea salt and wind. “Once we had an understanding of how the garden should function, we were able to create a plan for the garden, with the actual layout and bones of the garden very simplistic,” she says.

Photography courtesy of Farlam & Chandler.

Now a small breakfast terrace is at the rear of the house, and a floating deck allows the house “to breathe as it should,” Farlam says.
Above: Now a small breakfast terrace is at the rear of the house, and a floating deck allows the house “to breathe as it should,” Farlam says.

A sunken boardwalk made of English oak leads out from the breakfast terrace, journeying through “intense planted long borders” beneath the fig trees. “The path was inspired by a public footpath along the beach in Whitstable. Instead of traditionally floating a boardwalk above planting, we decided to sink our oak path, to create interest in the garden by changing levels but also to provide an increased sense of privacy. We made the path fairly narrow (just wide enough for a wheelbarrow), to encourage you to stop and pause to look and interact with the plants on route to the dining terrace,” Farlam says.

 Allium varieties include A. nigrum, ‘Mount Everest’, and A. atropurpureum.
Above: Allium varieties include A. nigrum, ‘Mount Everest’, and A. atropurpureum.

“The true character of the garden is formed with the layering of plants, which were selected to define the individual character of each area, but still be harmonious when journeying through the garden, the ‘journey’ being a very important aspect of the space,” Farlam says.

Foxgloves against a backdrop of Briza grasses.
Above: Foxgloves against a backdrop of Briza grasses.

Although the courtyard is buffered from sea salt and wind, a lot of the plants Farlam and Chandler chose (including lavender, rosemary, thyme, alliums, geraniums, angelica, iris, asters, fennel, and Erigeron) are salt tolerant. The fig trees provided the inspiration to use a lot of edible and medicinal plants, such as crabapple trees, valerian, angelica, and herbs.

Geranium pratense ‘Cloud Nine’.
Above: Geranium pratense ‘Cloud Nine’.

Before

“Despite how unloved the garden had first appeared, it still had a sense of magic and areas of privacy, which we wanted to retain as much as possible in the new layout of the garden,” says Farlam.
Above: “Despite how unloved the garden had first appeared, it still had a sense of magic and areas of privacy, which we wanted to retain as much as possible in the new layout of the garden,” says Farlam.

“The boundaries were completely overgrown with variegated ivy, making the garden feel very narrow and oppressive,” she says.

Concrete pavers held moisture, making the adjacent house feel damp and dingy.
Above: Concrete pavers held moisture, making the adjacent house feel damp and dingy.

After

 Two “characterful” fig trees frame the view of the simple dining terrace, which is reached via the sunken oak boardwalk through long borders either side,” Farlam says.
Above: Two “characterful” fig trees frame the view of the simple dining terrace, which is reached via the sunken oak boardwalk through long borders either side,” Farlam says.

Visible on either side of the dining terrace are the trunks of pleached crabapple trees, planted in the crushed shell surface. (The surface is a bespoke mix of crushed cockle shells with limestone chips and dust.) The crabapple trees provide both privacy and vertical interest.

“It was astonishing how many birds we had in the garden, we also didn’t want our new design to impact or discourage any wildlife. The existing fig trees were integral to this concept and we carefully cleared the shrubbery and trees around them to reveal them and allow them to act as focal points in the space,” Farlam says. “We stripped the boundaries of the ivy and painted the fences black, inspired by the fisherman huts on the beach, which immediately made the garden feel much bigger and the colors of the new planting pop against the dark backdrop.”

 Lavenders create loose sculptural balls in the gravel.
Above: Lavenders create loose sculptural balls in the gravel.

“The intensity of planting disperses as you pass beneath the two sculptural fig trees into a calm, refined palette of plants in the dining terrace, a simple rectangular space with centrally positioned table and chairs,” says Farlam.

The outdoor dining table and chair are by Danish design house Hay. For more, see Outdoor Furniture: Metal Lawn Chairs Made Modern.
Above: The outdoor dining table and chair are by Danish design house Hay. For more, see Outdoor Furniture: Metal Lawn Chairs Made Modern.
Cleft chestnut posts screen the rear area of the garden and the back gate from view from the dining terrace. Simple cold frames made from old sash windows create a utility area behind the screening. A potting bench and log store, with simple cold frames made from old sash windows, create a utility area behind the screening. A simple metal bench (also by Hay) is positioned to catch the last of the evening sun at the end of the garden.
Above: Cleft chestnut posts screen the rear area of the garden and the back gate from view from the dining terrace. Simple cold frames made from old sash windows create a utility area behind the screening. A potting bench and log store, with simple cold frames made from old sash windows, create a utility area behind the screening. A simple metal bench (also by Hay) is positioned to catch the last of the evening sun at the end of the garden.

The border in front of this screening is planted with less restraint than closer to the house, says Farlam: Thalictrum, purple fennel, eryngium, crambe, and poppies create “a riot of color and texture, loosely reflecting the plant palette found on the beach.”

Leslie Sells Houses

If you’re looking for more inspiration to design a small or narrow garden, start with our curated guides to Garden Design 101 for suggestions for Decks & PatiosPavers, and Perennials and Annuals. See more of our favorite Before & After projects:

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Most Important Summer Home Maintenance Projects

Being proactive when it comes to your home’s maintenance can save you time and money! Focus on maintaining these 5 areas

With the bright sunlight and warm temperatures that accompany summer, you may be spending more time outside — and you may be noticing areas of your home’s exterior that need repair. But there’s more reason to tackle your home maintenance projects this summer than simply cosmetic appearance. Maintaining your home will prevent major leaks and damage that may eventually require professional help, usually when its most expensive and inconvenient for you.

Being proactive when it comes to your home’s maintenance can save you time and money, and it makes sense to do it when you’re more likely to be outdoors in the comfortable summer months. Here are five areas of your house that are most important to keep updated.

  1. Windows

    Start by cleaning the exterior of your windows with hot soapy water and a sponge or squeegee. If you’ll need a ladder, make sure to review safety guidelines.

    While you’re washing, inspect each window pane for cracks. Double or triple glazed windows with damaged seals or cracks may need to be replaced. Think back: Have your windows had excessive condensation inside through the winter and spring? That’s another sign that the seal might have been compromised and that your window might need to be replaced.

    You’ll also want to inspect caulking and weatherstripping around your windows. Recaulk any spots where the caulk is loose or chipping away, or consider applying new caulk for a tight seal. Summer is a perfect time to do this because the warm temperatures and low humidity will help the caulk set perfectly.

    Finally, wash window screens and replace any screens that have rips or holes.

    1. Roof

 

Visually inspect your roof every summer for missing or broken shingles, shakes and panels. Again, if you’ll be using a ladder and climbing up to your roof, make sure you follow safety guidelines. If you have any concerns about using a ladder or moving around on your roof, or if you’re unsteady on your feet, call your roofing company. Most roofers will make inspections and do basic maintenance for you.

While you’re up on your roof, you’ll also want to check flashing and seals around vents, chimneys and skylights. Apply caulk around any areas that haven’t been re-sealed in the past year.

Algae and moss can plague even new and well-maintained roofs. Apply a moss killer designed for roofs or install zinc strips that can help keep algae and moss from taking hold.

Your gutters should be cleaned and checked for holes or other damage. Look for water stains around your gutters and downspouts that indicate a problem.

  1. Exterior

 

Check high and low over your exterior and look for holes, gaps and cracks in your siding. It’s less expensive to replace siding that is just starting to deteriorate than to wait until it’s broken down completely and impacted your home’s structure, insulation and inside walls.

While you’re walking around your home, look for any signs of pests. Termites and carpenter ants can be devastating to your home’s structure, while ants and wasps can be a nuisance and cause minor damage to your home’s exterior. Check vents and crawl-space access doors to make sure rodents and other wildlife can’t get in.

  1. Foundation

    Check your foundation for any cracks and signs that there has been a leak, such as water stains. Any small cracks can be repaired, but larger cracks should be inspected by a pro. Once you repair small cracks, re-seal the foundation with a good waterproof masonry sealer.

     

    Pull out any larger plants growing close to your home that might impact the foundation. Besides the risks of roots growing into your foundation, watering plants close to your home can cause water to pool around the foundation and lead to damage.

    5.Heating and CoolingYou’re going to want to make sure your air conditioning is ready for the heat ahead, so replace filters and remove and clean your unit’s fan and condenser. Make sure you turn off power to the unit before you tackle any work.

    At the same time, your furnace should be checked and readied for use again at summer’s end. Vacuum out the burner and blower cavities, and vacuum and brush the blower blades. Change the filter so the furnace is all ready to go when it’s time to turn it on again.

    Your home is a big investment, and it’s important to keep it in good “health.” Spend some of your summer days inspecting and making minor repairs and you’ll reduce your chances of needing a big repair later.

Your 6 Most Common Home Security Questions—Answered

home-security-laptop

Now that you’ve finally found that perfect home, you’re itching to get settled in and comfortable in your very own space. This is the fun part! You get to put your personal stamp on things and enjoy your new place to the fullest. But in order to do that, you want to make sure that your most important asset, that brand-new home, is fully protected. And of course you need to ensure that your loved ones are safe, too.

If you’re new to the world of home security, you might (understandably) have some questions about the best way to go about this.

Your parents, your friends, your co-workers, even a well-meaning neighbor are all going to have opinions on home security. But what actually works? What do you need to ensure you feel completely comfortable in your new space—when you’re home and when you’re away? We have you covered. Here are the answers to your most common home security questions.

1. How important is a home security system?

“For the utmost peace of mind, we always recommend a professionally installed and monitored home security system,” says Angela White, president of the Electronic Security Association.

Why is it so important? In a study by the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation, 83% of home invasion offenders said they’d check for an alarm first.

Plus, today’s modern systems aren’t the one-size-fits-all models your parents bought. You have a range of options—from smart home security systems that can be controlled from an app when you’re away to a simple system with motion detectors and window sensors—so you can choose what feels right for you.

2. Should I display security system yard and window signs?

It might seem like a small thing, but you should indeed display those security system yard signs and window stickers prominently. The majority of study respondents told AIREF that security system signs were effective at protecting the home.

Thinking about only displaying fake signs, without adding the security system? Resist the temptation. Fake signs can be easy to spot. Only a realsign accompanying a real security system will ensure real protection in the long run.

3. Are visible exterior cameras effective?

Not too long ago exterior home security cameras often stuck out like a sore thumb, prompting many people to wonder if their neighbors were secretly celebrities.

Today, they’re common outside homes because homeowners have figured out they can be a valuable tool. From being able to see who’s at your door, to just feeling safer knowing the cameras are there, homeowners have increasingly been turning to this relatively simple security strategy.

“I personally don’t think you can go too big when installing a home security system if it makes you more comfortable as a homeowner,” says Lee Walters, a security expert with 30 years’ experience in law enforcement and founder of FortifyMyHouse.com, a security education website.

Security cameras are just another effective “tool in your arsenal,” Walters says. And they’re affordable, too—as the technology has become more prevalent, the costs of purchasing and installing those cameras have gone down.

4. Should I leave the lights on when I leave?

We’ve all heard this one: If you leave the lights on when you leave, people will think you’re still at home. Many people even leave their lights on a timer when they’ll be gone for an extended period of time. But does it work?

“Interior lighting can be an effective deterrent,” Walters says.

The key is to develop a smart system that works for you. Try turning different lamps on at different times when you leave, so that your system isn’t predictable.

A better option? Try a smart home security system.

“All of the interactive technology now allows you to simulate that you are home and to check in to remotely monitor what is happening in real time,” White says. Interactive systems allow you to control lights from your phone, so you can illuminate different rooms at different times—and that’s far more convincing.

5. Should I leave the TV or radio on when I leave?

“It should appear that someone is home, and leaving the TV or even a radio on can do that,” Walters says. In fact, a study by KWG in Portland, OR, found some home invasion offenders weren’t willing to risk it if they heard noise inside.

And if you’re leaving your furry family members at home, the sound of a TV or radio might make them feel comfy. It isn’t an exact science, but many experts believe the sound of voices can help pets with separation anxiety.

6. Should I install a home security system myself?

DIY home security kits abound on the internet. Most of these kits work in similar ways: A security camera to record video (or send it to your phone) or an alarm that sounds if a door or window is opened. These kits—and professionally installed and monitored systems—seem the same on the surface, but you’ll be missing out on a ton of helpful features if you opt for the DIY.

Modern home security systems are like virtual butlers. You can check on your pets from your phone while you’re running errands. You can turn the lights on remotely when you pull into your driveway so you aren’t stumbling around in the dark when you walk inside. And if you need it, emergency services—such as the fire department—are just a push of a button away.

“If homeowners are looking for a trustworthy security company that can work with them to install a security system, we recommend that they visit Alarm.org to search for a member of the Electronic Security Association in their area,” White says. That way you’ll not only know what you’re getting in advance—and how well it will work—you’ll also have the option to personalize the system to make it fit your lifestyle.

In the end, the experts recommend not relying on one home security strategy alone. The best approach is a well-rounded one: Get the alarm system, but go ahead and leave the radio on, too. Because in order to feel safe, you need to be safe.

Leslie Sells Houses

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