sauna at home

Building a Customized Sauna With Multiple Uses

Massachusetts Builder Devises Own Creation With Personal Imprint

Saunas are a tradition for Gabriel Lortie in keeping with his family’s Finnish origins. While growing up, everyone—frequently joined by other relatives and friends—used the sauna his father built. Now he is approaching completion of his own custom sauna in the yard of his home in Middleboro, Massachusetts.

sauna construction

It is an undertaking in which he has drawn as well on his professional background. Lortie, 34, who holds a civil engineering degree, operates a commercial and residential building and design business with his father. Their work, which includes church steeple reconstruction, takes them around the greater Boston area and elsewhere in New England.

Lortie has had to balance the time spent on the sauna with his work and other commitments, he told during an interview inside the 500-square-foot structure. His ideas for what he wanted go back a few years but he’s had to do the building in stages and budget for the separate components.

Interval Between Original Sauna Foundation and Outside Construction

He put in the concrete after starting the design and layout, sometimes continuing to sketch what was in his mind wherever he was at the moment. The sauna foundation stood for four or five years with no blocks or anything else before he had the outside and walls built, Lortie said.

After erecting the exterior building, another several months were required to install the windows, shingles, and do the painting. He did the electrical circuit wiring himself from a manual. Lortie’s father, Bill, helped do some of the siding when he had time available. His youngest brother, Justin, who also has worked on their construction projects, helped to paint the trim and do other steps along the way.

During often weather-related company project lulls, Lortie has been able to hire regular work crew for parts of the sauna. “I had precut all the rafters and already arranged it all. They came and nailed it all together and we put the walls up.”

Plans for Additional Getaway Space for Work and Relaxation

building a sauna

His intention all along was to build a room connected to the sauna. But that concept has expanded to include having some additional space outside of his home and something of a retreat from daily pressures. “I’ve made it more of a little sanctuary” to do work, relax, socialize, have a meal, or even sleep, he said. Lortie is trying to do the different elements together instead of just building a sauna alone first, even though that requires more time. “I want to make everything work all at once.”

The sauna building eventually will have a TV room, a living room, and possible art studio to accompany the existing loft with a railing around it and slide into wall ladder. High definition wires and cables are going to the television.

Lortie plans to have a surround sound speaker underneath where he placed all the speaker wires. He moved all the wires out of sight to go into a closet which will have a receiver, Blu-ray player, RF connection, and electronic eye.

A wireless Internet hub additionally will be inside the wall. The wires will be sealed with expanding foam insulation to keep out moisture when the sauna’s in use, even if moisture collects on the other side of the wood.

“If you’re doing something for yourself, you kind of have the freedom to take your time and not worry about how much money you’re making or every hour you work. You know also that your work is yours and you can satisfy yourself over its quality and permanence.”