Before installing an outdoor hot tub, whirlpool or spa, there are several steps you will need to take to ensure your project will be in compliance with local zoning and building regulations. Your proposed hot tub must meet setback requirements. If your home is a landmark, next to a landmark, or in an historic district, changes to your property may require special review.

Process Overview

  1. Determine Zoning

    The first step in installing an outdoor hot tub is to determine how the property is zoned and if there are any special development considerations for your project. Zoning staff will be able to tell you the zoning of the property and if there are any special conditions which may affect your project. If your project requires special handling, our staff will inform you of the requirements and next steps.

    Find out the zoning for your property.

    Who to Contact

    Zoning at Building Permits: (608) 266-4551.

  2. Draw a Plan

    Consider these points when planning your hot tub installation project:

    • A hot tub, whirlpool or spa may be located in the rear yard of your property, either free-standing or installed into a deck.
    • A free-standing hot tub should be at least three (3) feet from the rear lot line of your property.
    • A hot tub in the rear thirty-five (35) feet of your lot most likely meets zoning requirements in your neighborhood.
    • A hot tub located along the side of your house requires a setback from the side lot line. The setback must be a distance equal or greater than the minimum setback required for the home. Check with Zoning staff for this setback distance.

    If your lot is on a corner or is irregularly shaped, the setbacks may be different than described. Zoning staff can review your site plan to help you determine where you can install your hot tub.

    With these requirements in mind, you need to make a drawing (site plan) of your entire property with the location of the hot tub and deck to show to Zoning staff. The site plan must be drawn to scale. Using a scale of 1″=20′ usually works best. Show the measurements of the lot, house and any other structures, and hot tub. Also show the distances from the hot tub to the lot lines and distances to all other structures.

  3. Submit Building Plans

    Where to Go
    Where to Go

    Building Inspection Permit Counter by appointment only
    Madison Municipal Building
    215 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd Suite 017
    Madison, WI 53703

    What to bring

    (Note: All plans are required to be drawn to scale)

    • Site Plan
    • Structural plans (only if hot tub is resting on an existing deck or floor system)

    Note: If your project cannot conform to building code, follow the variance procedure. See the Petition for Variance Application for more information. Please contact Building Inspection at (608) 266-4551 with any questions.

  4. Pay Fees

    After obtaining Zoning and Building Plan approval, either you or your contractor can apply for the building permit.

    You will need to pay for any plan review costs, building permits or other fees that may apply to your project.

    Where to Go

    Building Inspection Permit Counter by appointment only
    Madison Municipal Building
    215 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd Suite 017
    Madison, WI 53703

    Once the plans have been reviewed and approved, the permit can be issued. If the plans have not been approved, new plans need to be submitted correcting the items listed in the withholding letter. Minor projects can be approved at the counter. More complex projects may take 10 – 15 business days to review.

  5. Get Permits

    When your plans are approved and your fees have been paid, the Building Inspection will issue the required permits for your project.

  6. Schedule Inspections

    Once the work permitted is completed, but before covering up or building over any permitted work, you will need to call and request an inspection. Inspections are required to ensure that all work was completed correctly. View required inspections.

    Call for an inspection request: (608) 266-4551.

  7. Completion

    After your final inspection, your project will be considered complete.

Related Forms & Handouts