Installing a sauna can be less complicated than you may imagine. Pre-built saunas that require minimal assembly are available and can be installed in less than half an hour. Kits that require assembly are also available if you have some woodworking skills. Building your own sauna from scratch is the ultimate challenge but is doable by anybody with basic carpentry skills.

Location is an important consideration when building your own sauna as its design will depend a lot on where and how it is to be built. Whether it will be in an urban or rural area, freestanding or installed in an existing room, and if it will be an interior room or exterior building are all factors that need to be taken into account. An ideal place for a sauna is close to a lake or river so that you can jump in the water after having one. Next to a swimming pool would also be a good place. If neither of these is possible, having a shower installed next to the sauna is an acceptable substitute. Saunas in rural places are almost always built separately from the house. City saunas are more practical to install inside the house with a shower nearby so that bathers can wash before going in and take a cold shower afterwards.

If you plan on converting an existing room into a sauna, the moisture produced by it will have to be taken into account. Both insulation and a vapor barrier need to be installed in the room to prevent heat loss and damage to the house from moisture.

Choosing a heat source is the next major decision to make. Possible choices are electric, wood-burning, gas, or oil. If you live in a rural location with a plentiful wood supply, a wood-burning stove is an excellent choice. Most sauna enthusiasts agree that a wood-burning heater provides the most satisfying experience. If you are building in the suburbs or a city, an electric heat source is the most popular option, and gas or oil heaters are also possibilities. Neither of the latter two choices are preferable, though, because many people complain about the odor they give off. Whatever your heat source, it must have the proper connections. An electrician or plumber might need to be hired, and installing the connections for the heat source is one of the first jobs that needs to be done.

Finally you need to decide where washing and changing areas will be placed. Ideally, there will be a shower just outside the sauna for washing before entering. Your plumbing facilities will play a role in this decision because the shower will need hot water.

In the next article, we will take a look at the actual construction methods.

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