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He tackles his sauna build with a full time job and two young children and the result is a lifetime of pride and enjoyment

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Guest post series continues.  We welcome Mike, from Northwest Minnesota, who has created his own authentic sauna backyard retreat.  For those of us busy with full time jobs and demands like a spouse who also works full time and young children at home, let us take a deep breath and share the appreciation for Mike’s commitment to his sauna building project.

Time is a construct.  “Not enough time” may just be another way of saying “I’m not sure I want to do this.”  And that’s ok.  Sauna building is not for everyone.  Yet for those of us who understand and accept the challenge, we are invariably rewarded with arguably the most beneficial improvement we can make to our homes or cabins.

Want evidence?  Enter Mike:

What compelled you to build your own sauna?

I first truly started to appreciate saunas in high school.  I would attend one of the camps of Voyageurs Lutheran Ministries (VLM) and would always look forward to taking a sauna.  Soon, I became a counselor for VLM, and then a canoe guide, leading trips into the BWCA. We had a ritual that after every BWCA trip we would take our group into the Camp Vermilion sauna.  Also our weekends usually always ended with a late night sauna and lake jump while working for VLM.  After my wife and I purchased our first home, I remember telling her that a sauna would look great in the corner of our property, just off the edge of our pond.  
Mike’s backyard sauna vision turned reality, just outside Marcell Minnesota

How did you find saunatimes and give us a few examples where the DIY ebook helped you out.

I found Saunatimes while trying to “Google” sauna building instructions.  The DIY ebook provided myself with a tremendous amount of help.  I have never really built anything before and do not have a background in construction.  I used the ebook to help me develop a layout that I wanted and then used it for several specs, from ceiling height, to sizes of the rooms, insulation, etc.  That ebook, combined with a lot of “YouTube videos” is basically what got me through the process.
Inside the sauna. Add on water tank to provide warm water for bathing.

What were the biggest 1-2 challenges for your sauna build?

The biggest challenge I had was time. I started when my kids were 0 and 2.  My wife and I both work full time and having never constructed anything before, everything just took longer than expected.  My other challenge was to be patient enough to fully write out a plan. Usually when I do things I just like to start doing them and then improvise while I go.  However, I knew I needed to have a well layed out blue print prior to starting, but in the end that helped and became less of a challenge.

What aspect to your sauna are you most proud of?

Honestly, I am incredibly proud of the entire thing.  I love it. It took me much longer to build than I anticipated, however it turned out much better than I anticipated.
Front deck overhang of sauna building

Any regrets or do overs?

Yes, the only thing I would change is that I would have layed a cement slab first.  I built a 12×12 base on 2×6’s and put the base up on blocks.  In hindsight, I should have just had a slab poured first.
Mike’s families Northwest Minnesota sauna with outside feed.

If  you could have a mobile sauna anywhere in the world, where would you bring it and go sauna?

I’d prefer a sauna in a very remote place, somewhere on the side of lake in the middle of the mountains. The deck of the sauna would allow one to just jump off the deck into the lake, preferably a 30 foot drop or so to fulfill my love for cliff jumping.
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3 thoughts on “He tackles his sauna build with a full time job and two young children and the result is a lifetime of pride and enjoyment”

  1. Great Job, Mike! Looks fantastic. The memories you have while building your sauna will never pass. Glenn’s DIY E-Book saved me as I confess I could be the world’s slowest sauna builder.

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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