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Yurt living--what's it like?  RSS feed

 
Karee Freeland
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Hi, I'm new here and hope I'm doing this right. I'm considering buying a yurt and wondered if anybody with experience has advice for me?

1) I'm wondering if living in a yurt is actually comfortable. I've camped in one and loved it, but that's as far as my experience goes. My yurt would be in the woods in a moderate climate (mild winters, little snow--though I've seen it four feet deep here after a freak blizzard--and fairly hot, somewhat humid summers). I've heard a yurt is harder to cool than it is to heat, but I'm counting on the shade of the forest to help me there.

2) I don't know how to go about finding the codes in my area to see if a membrane-covered, semi-permanent dwelling complies; I'm hoping to avoid digging a septic tank/drain field, and will be using a properly installed & vented composting toilet. Would my pals and I really be able to put this thing up with little construction knowledge? Or should I hire a contractor to help me? How difficult is it to disassemble should I want to move?

3) Would you recommend a new yurt over a used one? Or vice versa?

4) Would a rocket mass heater be a good option for heat? Would I need a back-up alternative heat source? What about water heating? I've considered a combination RMH/outdoor water tank for winter/summer water options.

5) Slab or deck?

6) Would the wind in the trees be so loud as to make conversation or sleeping difficult? This isn't considered a windy place, but the wind in the trees can be pretty loud at times.

7) What questions SHOULD I be asking?

Thanks for any experienced advice you can offer!

--karefree
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Karefree,

I'll give this a shot, I've built both traditional Yurt and Gerr before, own a frame for 16' currently. So here goes.

1) I'm wondering if living in a yurt is actually comfortable. I've camped in one and loved it, but that's as far as my experience goes. My yurt would be in the woods in a moderate climate (mild winters, little snow--though I've seen it four feet deep here after a freak blizzard--and fairly hot, somewhat humid summers). I've heard a yurt is harder to cool than it is to heat, but I'm counting on the shade of the forest to help me there.
Among other things, I build traditional architecture, but oddly enough I live and sleep outside, (have most of my life.) 70 to -40 it don't matter much, so your question about comfort is hard to relate too. I like snakes and creepy crawlies and all things out doors. I love Gerr/Yurt living.

2) I don't know how to go about finding the codes in my area to see if a membrane-covered, semi-permanent dwelling complies; I'm hoping to avoid digging a septic tank/drain field, and will be using a properly installed & vented composting toilet. Would my pals and I really be able to put this thing up with little construction knowledge? Or should I hire a contractor to help me? How difficult is it to disassemble should I want to move?
Your local zoning office can answer you questions, but going through the state will help also and may be better to stay nebulous when seeking answers. I know in most area structures like this are considered "transient" and not taxable.

3) Would you recommend a new yurt over a used one? Or vice versa?
Your taste and quality of construction.

4) Would a rocket mass heater be a good option for heat? Would I need a back-up alternative heat source? What about water heating? I've considered a combination RMH/outdoor water tank for winter/summer water options.
You can finish them almost like a regular house, it's up to you and your needs.

5) Slab or deck?
No slab, not necessary. Deck or raised gravel pad and then your choice of floor.

6) Would the wind in the trees be so loud as to make conversation or sleeping difficult? This isn't considered a windy place, but the wind in the trees can be pretty loud at times.
I say beautiful and never has been a problem for me...but maybe I am not the best to follow on this, considering what I consider comfortable.

7) What questions SHOULD I be asking?
On the structure or the land? So many, and a lot depends on you.

 
Gemma Buell
Posts: 12
Location: Napa, CA
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Great questions Karefree! We too have considered a yurt and after a lot of research, we have decided that no matter the climate, we'll be comfortable. We love the idea of the space, especially in the larger ones. 24 or 30 is our goal. Nice kitchen/bathroom with loft to take up a third or bit more then the rest open space. Little houses are cute and all the other options are wonderful too but we've spent too long in very small spaces. We are hoping for a more tropical environment to be where we settle and this will be ideal.
 
Karee Freeland
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Thanks for the replies! I'll continue to do my homework, but things are definitely shaping up. =)
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Never actually been in a true yurt, but have spent a lot of time in a round straw bale house. I love the feeling of an open concept round house.

A rocket stove with bed(s) for the mass is a wonderful way to stay warm on cold winter nights. Hammocks are a great way to stay cool on hot summer ones. You will probably want an outdoor kitchen for the summertime to not put any extra heat into the yurt.

Hot water in the winter can be a stock pot on the rocket stove, or on the outside stove in the summer. Or you can get fancy--it just depends on what you want. A cast iron tub outside (set somplace with a good view) with a fire built underneath is a really treat.

When the wind is loud enough to not have a conversation, you won't want to talk anyway. It takes a pretty strong storm to get that loud.

No slab--deck or gravel or earthen floor. Whatever is easiest to keep it dry which will depend on the location.
 
dawn trueman
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I was just thinking that if the land had the ability to allow it, what about building up a retaining wall with tires or something else around the east-north-west side of the yurt with the option of an added porch in between the wall and the yurt.
You could extend the roof over the porch and store wood against the outer edge of the porch. Between the wood and the retaining wall it would block the wind and add insulation lowering heat costs.
Or you could just use the retaining wall around the yurt itself since most yurts seem to have no roof overhang at all. It would block the noise and the cold of the wind. (just make sure you build the yurt on a platform so it stays dry inside)
 
solomon martin
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Check out Shelter Designs website. Call them up, tell them I sent you. They build yurts in NW MT and will have all the answers for you. Good luck.
 
Alex Crowe
Posts: 1
Location: The Dordogne, France
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We've been living in one yurt, then two connected by a doorway, since 2009. We've gone for wooden tongue & groove flooring and wood burners. We had them from new, but you should be able to pick up a frame second hand. We've had various issues with covers - even polycotton not lasting as long as it should. But in the States (we're in France), I think you have more - and better - options.

The sound of the wind isn't something you need to worry about. It's the rain. When it's very heavy, you need to shout to be heard but it soon passes. WInd can be unnerving when it's very strong and you should be confident that trees won't fall onto you at night. Advice from someone who knows about trees will help, while you build up some knowledge of trees for yourself. The beauty of living so close to the rest of the world can't be understated. We're not just connected to the weather by our thin tissue. We're aware of the comings and goings of seasonal residents, like owls, golden orioles, cranes, midwife toads, deer and all the rest. We had dinner at a new friends' house the other night and it was strange not to know what the weather's like. (For example, the sun just came out from behind a cloud.)

Don't underestimate your needs for dry storage for wood, tools etc. In summer, it's far too hot to be in the yurt from 10am to 7pm. Our guest yurts are in shade, so they're fine (we have a small yurt camp), but ours are in full sun. We eat outside up to three times a day when the weather is good. So you should plan for that. I'd aim to be close to a natural pool for swimming. For an insight into yurt living, you could check out the blog I've been keeping since 2007: http://thedevolutionary.wordpress.com - we've made a good few mistakes you can learn from.

Good luck. I hope as much as possible goes well for you.
 
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