Well Worth the Elbow Grease

Yesterday I recounted all of the freebies we’ve scored on Craigslist, so I thought I’d give a little progress report on our biggest find – the hot tub.  Here’s what it looked like after the hubs gave it a good cleaning and started working on the plumbing.


After he got the guts fixed, he scored a super deal on supposedly ‘oops’ paint at the box store and started updating the exterior as well.  Here’s a few shots of the difference.



And here’s the finished product, looking pretty darn good for investing less than $100 when a new tub this large would have run us $10-15,000!


Unfortunately, it’s sitting in the garage unused until we move to the new house since there isn’t an outlet for it at the rental and we learned it’s illegal to have a hot tub in your garage in Anchorage!  Who knew?!  Ironically the 220 plug at the new house has been the most expensive part of this venture, bringing our total to approximately $450.  Now we’ll just have to see what it costs us to run!  Wonder if the hubby can rig a generator to a treadmill the dogs run on.. wouldn’t that kill two birds with one stone? 🙂

Big Plans for the Back Yard

Although the house is still under construction and we won’t move in until late fall, we’ve already been thinking about what we want the back yard to look like.  The builder will install a 20′ x 12′ deck off the family room – where the three ‘pink’ footers are in the picture below.  We specifically requested an additional slider door be included in our Master Bedroom rather than just a window so we can have back yard access on that side too.  The builder will provide basic ‘steps’ at that door for now, but next season we plan to build a deck to match the one on the other side.


We had originally planned to continue the deck out the entire length of the house, but we decided it would be easier and more cost effective to have the two decks with a ground-level patio in between so that the hot tub could sit lower than the deck which eliminates the need to ‘climb’ into it.  Plus I won’t fret about the deck being stable enough to support a full hot tub!

I also like the idea of breaking the space up into different areas for different purposes.  I’m envisioning something like this on our ‘private’ Master Bedroom deck for lounging and a dining set on the deck off the family room.  On the patio below I would like to make something like this where guests could sit and relax near a fire pit which will be made from this free washing machine tub we snagged on Craigslist last week!


The plan is to use pavers like this or stamped concrete like this on the patio, then use landscaping stones to create a spot that the drum will slide into.  Eventually we’d like to have one or both decks screened in or at least covered by a pergola with some sort of rain protection to extend the usability in our short summer season.  But that of course is a year or five down the road.

Beyond the decks and patio we plan to have grass for the dogs.  Depending on when we get into the house, we might buy some of the ‘end of season clearance seed’ to put out and see what we get, but most likely we will have the yard hydroseeded next spring.  I was stunned to find out that they charge just $395 if the area to be seeded is less than 3,000 sq. ft.  Um, yeah!  Sounds good to me!  Definitely better than the Craigslist ad I saw for free sod if you come cut up and haul off some guy’s yard!  I might be thrifty, but I know my time is valuable and I’d spend a whole lot more digging up, hauling and replanting his old “who knows what’s in it” grass than paying the out call to have fresh, weed free grass growing within 2 weeks!  Knowing us we’ll measure out everything before we schedule and make sure we’re just under that figure. We should be able to do an L-shape around the back and side of the house well within that figure.  🙂

I don’t have much landscaping beyond the deck-patio-deck and lawn planned for the back yard, but I will probably put a small flower bed along the bedroom side of the house for perennials like bulbs and hostas.  Our garden will be to the right of the deck off the family room in the alcove created between the side o the house and 3rd bay of the garage, which you can see on the right edge of the photo above.  Watch for a post about that plan next week!

I’ll Take That As a Yes!

In my last post I mentioned that we planned to add a hot tub to the back of the house near the slider in our Master Bedroom.  We originally thought we’d purchase a smaller close-out model as our ‘joint’ Christmas present to ourselves, but while browsing Craigslist recently I noticed that they tend to pop up for FREE with only minor issues.  Apparently many people get them or inherit them when they move in and don’t want to maintain them, so they want someone to haul it off to make room for other things.  Works for us!

We’d called about one advertised as ‘working but has a crack due to water being left in it over the winter and freezing’.  Apparently so did a lot of other people and we were too far down the list to end up taking it home.  It must have been fate because the other night I spotted another post for a free hot tub that said it ran, had a new pump and heater, but had a small leak.  I emailed the contact and asked to come take a look the next afternoon.  Luckily, I was the first to do so because the gal said we had first dibs before she responded to other emails.

The hubs went to look at it after work Monday night and made arrangements to come back when the lady’s boyfriend was off work since he owned a nearby equipment rental business and could load the massive 8 PERSON tub on our 4-wheeler trailer with a forklift!  So, later that afternoon the hubby went back to their house with our trailer in tow and came home with this.


It’s in desperate need of a good scrubbing, but upon inspection of the inner workings it seems to be in great shape albeit home to many creepy crawlers – who didn’t seem to faze my hubby from inspecting every nook and cranny.



From what my jet engine mechanic husband can tell, it just needs a fitting on this pipe (photo on the left) next to the power box replaced so it looks like its match on the other side (photo on the right), and a new plug.

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Hubs estimates the fitting to be under $15 and thinks the plug should run less than $50!  There is a hot tub store nearby so we plan to take it by there to confirm the parts needed and order them.

The standard cover was included, although it too needs a good pressure wash.  The new heater is still in the box, so we’ll keep it as a spare if everything works fine when we fire it up.  It also came with a box full of chemicals to maintain the PH and whatnot.  I haven’t checked for expiration dates on any of it but I’m sure there’s enough in there to get us started and figure out what we’d need to have on hand.


I’m sure this will be one of the first items ‘set up’ upon move in, and plan for it to be in use when we do finally have a house warming party!  We plan to build a deck off our bedroom to match the builder provided deck off the dining room and have a lower area between them covered with pavers or gravel for additional seating.  The hot tub will sit on a paver or concrete pad just to the right of the deck off the bedroom so it’s an easy step down into it rather than having to climb in and out of it on the deck.  That plan also eliminates the need for extra support beams and braces when we build the deck, saving money yet again.

Now I’m on the hunt for ideas on how to update the worn exterior paneling on the tub, which I’m thinking can be lightly sanded and restained or painted.  I’m sure Pinterest will have a host of ideas for that rather large project!   But the elbow grease will be well worth it in the end! And the hubs and I will be singing Phil Vassar’s “Hot Tub” song while enjoying the fruits of our labor! 🙂