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Could “phase build” be the most liberating, empowering, motivating way to build your own authentic kicks ass sauna?

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98.6% of us are not professional builders.  And most professional builders are overly intimidated (and don’t return phone calls) from homeowners looking to have a sauna built.  And for good reason.  When it comes to building a sauna, there are big issues such as venting, moisture, insulation, off gassing, and Aufgussing.  If building an electric sauna, we have high voltage and water splashing. (220/221 volts, whatever it takes).  If building a wood burning sauna, we have clearances to non combustibles (even though fire good).

So, because most contractors want no part of sauna building, 98.6% of us undertake our own sauna builds. Obstacle is The Way.

We are not professional builders.  We have motivation and resources, like the Googlator and the book DIY Sauna Build Start to Finnish, but our time is scarce and choppy!

  • We have our day job.
  • We have kids’ baseball practice.
  • We have our inbox, and our social media feed.

How do we build our own sauna given all the demands of our time and energy?

Phase Build!

Yea, but really, how do we build our own sauna given all the demands on our time and energy?

Phase Build!

It’s so liberating!


You don’t need a construction crew: Shell your structure with a buddy or two, then take a deep breath before the rain comes.

You don’t need architectural renderings.  Frame your structure, then box out windows and door placements later.

You don’t need to take a sabbatical:  Break your sauna build project down into phases.  Attack each phase in reasonable work sessions that don’t drive you crazy.

What are the basic phases for a Phase Build sauna build?

  1. Frame your structure.  Don’t worry about stove placement, window placements or any of that noise.
  2. Sheath your structure.  Spend a day with a skill saw, table saw and a stack of 1/2″ plywood.  Cover walls and roof.  Then with tar paper stapled down, you won’t have to worry about rain, sleet or snow.
  3. Have a beer.  You’re doing great.
  4. Mark off windows and doors.  This takes serious right brain behavior.  Enjoy this journey.  Use cardboard to represent windows.  Use picnic benches to represent sauna benches.  Sit there.  Imagine.  Have a second beer.  Really feel it.  This is YOUR creation.
  5. Cut out and frame your window & door openings.
  6. Build interior common wall between hot room and changing room.  (same frame of mind as #4 above).
  7. Insulate, and apply vapor barrier and tape.
  8. Install tongue and groove paneling.
  9. Install benches, stove, windows, doors.
  10. Fire up sauna.

#4 is about when a builder or architect may laugh and call you an amateur.  This is when you tell them that you understand that field verification as the best way to do things down through the industrial revolution, Empiricism, atomic and nuclear age.

Phase I of a mobile sauna build
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2 thoughts on “Could “phase build” be the most liberating, empowering, motivating way to build your own authentic kicks ass sauna?”

  1. Thanks for the inspiration and ideas you’ve shared in the journal and book. We fired up our new electrically-heated back yard sauna for the first time Christmas eve. Cool-down room isn’t finished and the outside is still a mess, but the hot room is fully functional. It’s been a multi-month project, a bit longer than we thought at the outset, but with a very professional looking result. One step at a time, from deciding the placement of the building to connecting the heater to the power panel.

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