If you visit a sauna regularly, you’ve probably considered saving yourself the recurring cost and inconvenience of leaving your home for a 15-45 minute session. Can you put a sauna in your backyard?
It is possible to install a sauna in your backyard; however, there are other less expensive options. Installing an outdoor sauna is much more difficult than an indoor alternative as it may require power and water to be run through the yard, additional insulation if you live in an area with extreme weather, construction permits, and HOA approval.
Keep reading to learn more about outdoor saunas, including the potential legal and structural requirements. If you’re still interested in an outdoor sauna, there is also an overview of the types of sauna available to you.
Can a sauna be installed outside?
You used to visit the sauna at your gym regularly, but now you’re thinking about installing one in your home. Is it possible to install a sauna in your backyard?
It is possible to install a sauna outside, but there are definitely several factors you need to take into consideration before getting started:
- Building costs – In addition to the costs of the sauna itself, chances are good you’ll need to run both water and electricity from the house to the sauna location. Even if this is a short distance, you’re looking at bringing in multiple professionals and probably even digging up your yard.
- Local weather – If you live in an area with very cold winters or extremely hot summers, you’ll need to consider weatherproofing your new sauna which will add to the expense.
- Privacy – While you may love the idea of relaxing in the privacy of your own sauna, how private will it actually be? Think about neighbors, passers-by, and even road noise that you might be contending with.
- Permit/HOA requirements – Depending on where you live, you may need to obtain permission for the construction of any kind of outbuilding, even on your own property. HOA’s may have specific rules banning such installations to maintain the cohesive appearance of the neighborhood.
Keep reading to learn more about the ins and outs of constructing a sauna in your backyard, plus some ideas for the type that might work best for you.
Can you build a sauna in your yard?
The first question you should ask yourself before getting attached to the idea of your backyard sauna oasis is this: can you do it – is it even legal?
Assuming you own your home (because why increase the value of someone else’s property?), it’s possible you will be able to build a sauna in your yard – but there are restrictions. Most cities make a distinction based on the size of the structure in question, but you will need to do some local research to find out what is allowed in your area. Additionally, there may be restrictions based on the age of your home and where you plan on building said sauna.
For example, if you live in a protected historical district, you may not be permitted to add contemporary structures to the footprint.
You should also consider where you plan on placing your sauna building. Check with your local statutes to determine how much space must be left between the new structure and any property lines or easements.
Building a sauna is not an easy task, and really only falls into the “do-it-yourself” category if you have experience with construction or similar installations. If you are not experienced with carpentry, construction, or electrical work, it is advised to look for other options besides building your sauna yourself.
Despite the relatively small size of the final result, you may find yourself in need of a professional contractor to coordinate the project.
Do you need planning permission or permits for a backyard sauna?
Once you’ve determined you can legally build a sauna in your backyard, you need to consider the permits or permissions that you will need to obtain to do so.
Before beginning building your backyard sauna, you may need to obtain a municipal permit for the building construction. You will also want to get written permission from your homeowner’s association (if applicable).
Most residential areas allow construction of buildings 120 sq ft or less without a permit. You’ll need to either consult with a building contractor or contact your local permitting department for your specific requirements. While you’re talking to them, go ahead and find out if you’ll need permits for any electrical or plumbing work that will need to be done.
If you belong to a homeowner’s association, you will also need to check if there are any restrictions on installing an outdoor sauna in your neighborhood as there may be property rights issues, issues with visibility and privacy, and if you choose to have one built, you may need permission for the construction.
Are outdoor saunas expensive to run?
The cost of running an outdoor sauna is also something to consider before installing one in your backyard.
Outdoor saunas require more energy to heat up and maintain than indoor saunas because they are not protected from the weather. This means you will need to spend extra money to insulate the sauna.
The basic construction of an outdoor sauna is also more expensive because they use special materials to better insulate the sauna and allow it to function properly while it is exposed to the elements. This includes any electrical and water components.
How to build a sauna in your backyard
Once you know you can build a sauna in your backyard, it’s on to the slightly more exciting bit – how to do it.
Depending on your skill level, there are several types of saunas that may be available to you, including:
- Pre-assembled saunas
- Outdoor sauna kits
- Converting an outdoor shed
- DIY sauna
Keep reading for an overview of each of these, including a basic skillset requirement and a general cost.
If you’d like to avoid the hassle of constructing your own sauna, then there is the option of purchasing a pre-assembled sauna (also called prefab) that can be placed on your property and plugged in.
A pre-assembled sauna is the most straightforward installation option and costs an average of $5,500 to $14,500. Costs vary based on the style, type, size, and type of wood. You will also need to ensure the location is level and any electrical and plumbing are taken care of.
While you will need to choose from a selection of stock designs instead of customizing the sauna to your yard or lifestyle, there are several styles to choose from, including cabin, barrel, pod, and luna.
For many people, the ease and comparative simplicity of this type of sauna make it the ideal choice.
Outdoor sauna kits
The difference between a pre-assembled sauna and a sauna kit is that the kit only contains the materials required for the interior (functional) portion of the sauna. Most sauna kits can be used either in a large room inside your house or in a freestanding building you have constructed for the purpose.
A sauna kit allows you to customize the exterior appearance of your sauna while relying on professional construction for the interior. A kit costs $2,400 to $8,900, although this does not account for the cost of the sauna building and insulation.
If you’re interested in building your own sauna but want something a bit simpler than a complete DIY project, you can purchase outdoor sauna kits that can be assembled and placed in your backyard.
Using an outdoor shed
Another option for those looking to build their own backyard sauna on a budget is to repurpose an outdoor shed as the basis for your sauna.
You can convert an outdoor shed to a sauna using a sauna kit for about $2,400 to $8,900. This option can be a time and money saver if the shed is in good condition and can easily be retrofitted.
This option has several benefits: you can use an existing structure so you don’t have to do any construction, it is likely cheaper than purchasing or assembling a sauna kit or building from scratch, and you can customize the shed to fit your specific needs.
Even if your shed already has power and running water – a real win! – it likely isn’t insulated so you’ll need to do that before installing your sauna.
For that want a fully customized experience, there is also the option to DIY your own sauna.
A custom-built sauna is likely to run you $12,000 to $34,000 as you will have to purchase materials and hire a contractor or handyman to assist with building it. This means you should carefully consider if this option fits your needs before attempting construction.
The benefit of going the custom or DIY route is that you can design every aspect of the sauna from size and shape to the type of wood and insulation used.
It also provides more control over certain aspects of the sauna than kits as you can customize to fit specific needs such as fitting more people, extra lighting, or additional features not found in a traditional sauna installation.