Q: My clients want a new deck with a hot tub in the center. They have settled on the deck design and materials but have yet to decide on a specific hot tub. Meanwhile, they’re anxious to get the project underway and want me to start building the deck. Is it a bad idea to frame first and have the hot tub placed in the completed deck later on?

A: Jason Russell, owner of Dr. Decks in Tacoma, Wash., responds: Because several variables need to be addressed before installing a hot tub, I strongly prefer to have it in place before I frame a deck. For example, How much clearance is needed to access the pumps and sides of the tub? How big are the access panels? How much of the tub will be above deck level? How will the electrical be hooked up if the deck is installed prior to delivery? If the tub has curved corners, what is their radius? And will there be enough clearance to remove the tub in the future if there are problems?

Unless you can answer those questions, you should wait until the hot tub is on site, hooked up, and running before you install any framing.