Guest post series continues. We welcome Andrew and Laurie who purchased a boat access lot on Tomiko Lake in Northern Ontario. Rugged, beautiful wilderness offers an ideal backdrop for a spacious wood burning sauna. All materials require boat transport. Extra work, but well worth it! Welcome Andrew and Laurie.
What compelled you to build your own sauna?
My wife and I purchased a water-access lot in the Canadian Shield in 2008. It turned out that we were fortunate to have neighbours that most can only dream of having! The first few years as we worked on our property we spent many wonderful evenings with them in their sauna. Eric being of Finnish descent, built his based on his parents and friends’ saunas. This led us to what we finally built-based on our experience with theirs and what we wanted to do to make it ours!
How did you find saunatimes and give us a few examples where the DIY ebook helped you out?
My wife and I were a military couple, so for the most part we could only be at the lake when we were on leave. Therefore we had to plan ahead for everything to prevent wasted time when on site. So when we were at home much of our free time was spent researching what ever our next tasks were. My wife discovered your sauna site and E-Book and the rest is now history!
As for your DIY ebook, it really helped us find out what we needed to do and suggested how to do it properly the first time. The use of the foil vapour barrier, the need to slope the floor, and how to make and install the sleepers, cement board and drain. How to finish the cement board floor properly (we went the extra mile with the waterproofing paint to further seal the floor to our liking and it gives it a nice smooth easy to clean surface).
What 1-2 challenges were biggest for your sauna build?
I would say that my lack of carpentry skills and basic building knowledge was the biggest challenge for me to overcome. I have an older brother that helped us out. My wife and I came up with many floor plans and ideas and he was able to suggest improvements and then planned the build from there. This provided us with the time to work through what exactly we wanted. When we started building in the fall of 2016, he would be there for a couple days to get me started and then leave for a couple weeks while I carried on. When I ran out of work I could do on my own, he would return for another couple days before leaving me again to my own devices….I had to learn or nothing would have been accomplished in his absence.
What aspect to your sauna are you most proud of?
The final floor plan is what we are most thrilled with. Especially important is the inclusion of a comfortable sitting area (with exposed beams), the covered deck outside and views provided by the two windows that look out over the lake from the sauna itself. Our design allows us and our guests a comfortable sauna experience in all weather conditions and especially in the dead of winter!
Any regrets or do overs?
1. I managed to forget to drill extra horizontal drain holes in the bottom foot of the drain pipe to allow better water drainage from it. 2. Now that I have more experience with installing tongue and groove cedar, I would love a do over on installing the cedar in the sauna itself. I know I could do a far better job of it.
If you could have a mobile sauna anywhere in the world, where would you bring it and go sauna?
A wonderful spot would be in Eureka, Nunavut (on Ellesmere Island). I did a polar bear dip there years ago as icebergs floated by and I can still feel how cold the water was….a sauna would have really made it a complete experience. I would probably go back into the freezing water a 2nd and 3rd time!