Building a Yurt


I have spent the last year trying to develop the most inexpensive way of building a yurt. Really, given some ingenuity, you can build the frame of the yurt for free (sans allot of your time). The one thing I can't get around is the purchase of canvas tarp. I will provide both the method of least expense and the method for those who don't own or even want to invest in a table saw. This is only the first in a series of Blogs that will walk you through the planing and building of a yurt. And a step by step tutorial for Building a Yurt. So first things first the planning stage.

1. What are you going to use your yurt for?

Are you building a yurt to be that really cool camper with the yurt, or are you building a yurt for a lifestyle change? I will outline below a few of the different philosophy for building a yurt. Approaches I have discovered while studying the fine art of Yurt building.

Camping Yurts: These are generally short term, more tent style yurts. Meant to be put up for family outings, or Holidays like Sukkot. You don't plan on staying in it for very long. These yurts can often be found in a strange (But way cool) pop up configuration, or your more traditional canvas over a wood frame design. They don't have any insulation because you want them to go up and tear down quickly. If they have windows, they are clear plastic, sown into the canvas. Many times, to cut down on expense, people will use vinyl canvas instead of cotton.

Permanent Yurts on a foundation:. You see these being built more as a less expansive alternative to building a house. People build foundations or decks, run water and electricity, and do everything needed to make them to code. Many times you see them with support poles running from the ground to the bottom of the ceiling joist providing the support for the ceiling instead of the walls doing this work. Sometimes made from canvas but more often than not you are seeing more permanent building materials being used in the walls and roof. These are not really yurts. They just look like them.

Nomadic living Yurts:Often made like camping yurts, but with added insulation and better quality canvas. People build these to live in. The people of Mongolia have been building and living in them for hundreds of years. Granted, it is a complete departure from the lifestyle we are used to today in America. If you can get over the fact that it's a really nice tent; I intend to prove that you can live comfortably in one and enjoy many of the comforts of living in a traditional house. (But keep a smaller foot print.)

Now that we know what the different yurt building styles are and what we intend to build in this blog, the next question is.

2. How big do you want to build your yurt?

This will depend on preference and how much space you want to have in your Yurt. Personally, I don't like being cramped. And I hate living in my stuff. When studying the different size yurts people build, I saw that people tend to build them anywhere from 9' to 30' diameter. The house I am renting at this moment has an excessively large living room ~30'x13'. So, having the floorspace of my living room, I thought to myself "I could make this liveable". To simplify things, the floor space of a 17' 8"x 17' 8" square room will have roughly the same space as a 20' Yurt. After doing the math, I realized a 20'-25' Yurt is what I would want. So I set out to build a yurt in that range. If your anything like us, now comes the BIG Question

3. Whats your budget?

The first thing you need to do is pull together a list of materials needed to build a yurt. Spend some time and think it through or borrow mine. Whichever works best. This question will effect every aspect of you build your yurt, because it decides not only the kind of wood you will use, but the quality as well. Being on the poor side, I found that ripping down 2x4 studs is the cheapest way to buy the planks you need for your walls, But I found an even cheaper way to build them. Look for construction sites that are putting up hardy siding. The pallets they send this siding out on is 12'. You will have to disassemble the pallet because the wood is such poor quality you will have a lot of waste, but 2 of these 12' pallets should give you all the wood you need for the walls. Also, the craigslist free section is a great place to look for free, used construction materials.

As time progresses, I will have more and more of this Blog/Tutorial up and ready for you to follow. I hope you can learn from my mistakes, and celebrate with me in my triumphs.

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