One Project Leads to Next . . . to a Hot Tub

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; When not hot-tubbing or free-lance writing, Delany, a resident of Pismo Beach, has another life as a member of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors

My odyssey to a hot tub began the day after the house officially became mine.

On that day I had a 40-foot Modesto ash removed from outside the dining room. Growing within 10 feet of the house, branches brushed over the roof. It was a brittle tree and large branches had broken during heavy winds. The roots were lifting the paving near the house, causing rainwater to drain toward the house rather than away. A messy tree, leaves dropped all year. It was too close to the house even for a good tree.

Without that tree, the house became much brighter. Other plants in the yard began to grow rapidly without the competition of such a large tree. I noticed that the tree branches had rubbed away some of the roof shingles. It was an old roof, so I figured replacing it soon would be a good idea.

When we first bought that house in 1970, a 10-by-12-foot enclosed patio adjoined the master bedroom. It was a miserable room, built of aluminum with thin insulation. It was cold in the winter, hot in the summer and noisy when it rained. I never liked that room. It was as dismal as my marriage that had just failed.

A new room and a new roof seemed like projects that should be done together. I decided to replace the room with a "stick-built" room that would actually be useful and enhance the house and my life. I designed a room with insulation, good light for reading and sewing, enough electrical outlets for my computer, TV and VCR and other electrical gadgets, storage and a work surface built-in and privacy.

There would be a special place to display a stained-glass window I had built several years ago. Elegant French doors opened to the outside. It would be a cozy, convenient and comfortable room for working and relaxing. It would be on the same footprint as the old room.

I drew plans for my room and took them to the Building Department in Pismo Beach, where I live, for a building permit.

My two teen-age children, a few friends and I embarked on actually building the room. With only a few minor glitches, the room was completed in about six weeks. Roofers replaced the roof. After painting the exterior of the new room, we decided to paint the entire house to improve its appearance.

The new room converted my originally L-shaped house into a U-shaped house, enclosing an ideal spot for a protected patio. The fourth side was a fence with rapidly growing citrus trees and a windowless wall on my neighbor's house.

I had a large cement patio built, and, sheltered from the wind and peering eyes, it soon became an entertainment center, a place for outdoor eating, reading and relaxing and a private place for sunbathing.

But as with most home improvement projects, one thing led to another.

Who doesn't enjoy a hot tub, a good soak? I certainly do, but a hot tub was way beyond my means, and I didn't want my patio monopolized by all that paraphernalia. The bath tub inside the house wasn't a good substitute either, because it didn't hold enough water for an adult to comfortably submerge.

I looked at several old tubs with lion claw feet. Maybe I could get one of those and put it somewhere in my yard, perhaps under the trees elsewhere in the yard. Outdoors there would be no problem with overflowing water. Privacy would be a problem, and I couldn't find a small water heater. I decided against an outdoor porcelain tub.

Time passed. My children graduated from college, found jobs and moved away.

While shopping for supplies for my drip-irrigation system at the local farm supply store, I saw immediately that my problem was solved.

Displayed in their parking lot were black plastic Rubbermaid watering troughs in assorted sizes. They are sturdy, smooth and lightweight. The sides slope gracefully, just like on the antique, free-standing tubs.

For a mere $69 plus tax I bought one of the smaller models, wedged it into the back of my Dodge Colt hatchback and drove it home.


My tub holds 100 gallons of water if I fill it to capacity, which, of course, I don't. The bottom is long enough that I don't have to bend my legs when I sit in it. The sides are 25 inches high or shoulder height for those sitting inside. My tub can be easily moved into the garage when I'm not using it.

Hot water is no problem. A plumber installed a hot-and-cold laundry faucet with a hose bib on the outside of the house. I simply attach a garden hose to the faucet to fill my tub. A drain hole near the bottom of my tub facilitates draining the water into the garden. Bubble bath doesn't seem to bother the plants.

On the evenings when I'm soaking in my tub, gazing at the stars in the clear California sky, I marvel at how far I've come these last few years.

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