How To Build a Mausoleum


Building your own mausoleum can be a rewarding, challenging and cost-effective way to create a personalized lasting monument to your life or the lives of loved ones.  This project is not for everyone.  Mausoleum construction is hard work.  It requires planning and attention to detail.

The first step is planning.   Study local laws and ordinances.  Some locations simply do not allow the construction of mausoleums by individuals or groups without permits, plans or experience in mausoleum construction.  Consult with the cemetery and all other relevant planning boards or authorities before construction begins.  Assuming the chosen location allows construction and proper burial plots have been assigned, construction can begin.

The location on which the walls will stand must be solid and level.  Use a level to check the grade.  A level, solid foundation will allow the structure to bear the heavy load of the masonry walls and the casket or other burial container.

The outer wall can be poured concrete or masonry blocks.  If concrete is chosen, make sure that thick wooden forms are used and that they line up correctly.  Before the concrete is poured, insert reinforcement rods or filler material.  Leave spaces within the walls for drainage pipes and grates.  Interior walls should be also constructed to form burial compartments.  Each burial compartment should have access to a drainage pipe and vent.  The compartments created by the walls that are not designed for burial should be filled with masonry or concrete.  Including these solid compartments will help the structure carry the weight of the roof.

The drainage system is a critical component often ignored in do-it-yourself mausoleums.  The vaults or burial chambers need to be sealed tight at their joints with caulking or similar joint compounds.  The remains inside will continue to decompose. Decomposition releases gasses and fluids.  The pressure from decomposition by-products will leach out of the vault if it is not sealed properly.  Even a sealed vault won’t be able to withstand the pressure of gas buildup over time.  A properly sealed vault with a drainage and vent system will help avoid property damage, health hazards and psychological trauma that no doubt will come from a collapse or blow out.

Once the concrete or mortar has cured within both the inner and outer walls, the plumbing and drainage systems should be checked.  If construction was careful enough, the pipes should be intact and the vents clear.  Run smoke through them to test for problems.

A stone or concrete roof is the final component of mausoleum construction. Assemble the roof on the ground.  If slabs are used to construct the roof, join them together with mortar or sealant.  Once the roof is complete hoist it into position with a crane and seal it into place with a sealant.


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