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Living in a yurt brings life closer to the natural world. Hearing the geese in the middle of the night as they fly south in the fall, or listening to the wind in the trees late into the night. The roar of the swollen stream after a big rain or the rustle of a December snowfall as it lands on the roof. The yurt becomes just one room out of many in your home as you create living space both inside and outside -- under cover and open to the elements of the seasons.Traditionally (in Mongolia), yurt dwellers tend to live out-of-doors, and the yurt comes to fill the role of a single dry and warm room in a large 'house,' most of whose rooms are outside.
The yurt is also a warm, cozy, enveloping space to nest into. The walls are low. The stove at the center radiates its warmth quickly to the entire round space. The split sapling lattice walls are almost entirely unprocessed in their short journey from the forest. And an absence of excessive windows are conducive to a feeling of protection from elements just outside in which people connected to the land spend all our days.
The space is small, and with a small wood stove in the center you're never too far from the heat. I'd say with three (+/-) cords of wood you can keep it 70 degrees all winter, though factors such as snow depth (more makes for more insulation) and whether or not you're home during the day (uses more firewood) will affect that. It's at times harder to not overheat the space and have it up over 80 degrees by accident with a good fire going.
It takes 30-45 minutes in the winter to bring the temperature from 35 degrees back up to 70 degrees after being gone for the day. With a good fire banked for the night, I find on the colder nights (around 0 outside), I only occasionally stoke the fire once in the night. Warm blankets and a bed raised off the floor make for a cozy night's sleep. You'll want an airtight stove that's not too small--it's about a long slow fire, not a quick hot one. I recommend the Tempwood stoves--they stopped making them 30 years ago but they still turn up on craigslist, especially near where they were built in western Massachusetts--but there are other great stove manufacturers.
Yurts get much harder to heat as the area and height increase. I have experimented with placing heat-retaining objects around the woodstove, like stones, bricks, or water-filled containers that can double as tables/counters to help hold the heat longer as the fire diminishes. I found that they took up too much space and didn't offer enough difference in holding heat to make the loss of space worth it.
insulation is a fire-resistant, reflective, flexible, micro-cell
polyethylene foam. It is 1/4 inch thick, with an r-value of 8. The
extremely low flame rating of 10 and smoke rating of 15 is achieved
without the use of toxic flame retarding or hazardous core materials.
For what it's worth, I've experienced several times the yurt holding a couple tons of snow. Two pieces of advice here: be careful of heavy blowing snow--two feet built up on the leeward and none on the windward roof side will eventually lead to a roof ring inversion (in theory: I've never experienced this). In general, I rake off the snow within a few days of a storm to lighten the load and provide insul around the base. Secondly, we will provide you with four rafters to place vertically in the holes in the bottom of the ring if you're going to be gone from the yurt for an extended time in the winter.
I have tried the whole range of electrical, gas, kerosene, very low-amperage electric, etc.
I have run heavy duty 10 gauge extension cords from an external power source, either from a neighboring house or from a power box at the power lines. A medium-gauge extension cord up to a few hundred feet will run a small refrigerator, lights, a radio, and a laptop computer comfortably. I tend to not use appliances that use electricity to generate heat (stove, water heater, space heater, toaster, iron, clothes dryer, etc.) because of the high increase of energy draw required (and wood is local and free if you're willing to work for it).
Solar power is another good option for providing electricity in a yurt. We're working on creating a 'sun box' that will set next to the door (a good place to sit down and take your shoes off) and hold batteries, charge controler, inverter...with outlets and usb charger on the outside.
There are several ways of dealing with the bathroom situation in a yurt. All methods center around the bucket humanure collection system. I've opted for the simplest: a 5 gal bucket in a little plywood box with a store-bought toilet seat lid on top that gets emptied into a large composting container when full. This system has lived in a variety of places: in an outhouse that doubles as a storage shed, in a nearby hemlock glade (My very first winter I put a bucket toilet in a grove of young hemlocks and had the best view of the ice-covered woods from my throne...worth it, but so cold that one winter was enough), and at times, in the dead of winter, in a corner of the yurt. Sawdust used as covering and composting material essentially eliminates all odors, and the end product is fertile soil that can be used later. Check out the Humanure Handbook by Joe Jenkins-- you'll like it. I have also seen folks partition off a corner with a blanket or paper folding screen. I have seen photos online of folks who build a wooden room inside their fabric yurt (huh?)
It's important to investigate your town building code and zoning before putting up a yurt. Things to think about are "temporary dwellings," gray water and septic systems. Becky Kemery has an excellent resource on her website, www.yurtinfo.org, with a lot of helpful information.
The 20' yurt, I find, fits a couple and a toddler comfortably. With 2 kids one starts thinking about a cabin. After my second daughter was born, I had built a woodshop with attic, a shed that doubled as an outhouse, and a bakery. Our living space was expanded outside the yurt into the dooryard and we found nooks and crannies all over the farm for sleeping quarters.
The roof cover material is warranted for fifteen years.
Our standard roof cover is made from Duro-last, a super-heavy duty 40-mil welded polyester membrane. The seams are heat welded instead of sewn to decrease possibility of water penetration through the material. It has a Class A fire rating, -40 degree cold crack, and is mold and UV resistant. It comes with a 15 year warranty. For what it's worth, this happens to be the same material that some othr folks offer as their heavy-duty roof option at an increase in price. For those interested in an authentic look and feel, we can cover your yurt with treated canvas instead, but you'll only get three or so years out of it.
The walls are a high tensile 18 oz. vinyl with polyester thread inner weave. It is UV resistant and anti mildew. It resists cold cracking to 30 degrees below zero.
What kind of saplings do you use?
In looking for sites for a yurt, you'll want to consider moisture and sun exposure. A yurt will warm up quickly in the sun during the summer months, so some shade is nice. At the same time, a yurt that is deeply shaded may have more trouble with dampness accumulating inside. If the ground is prone to dampness, you'll want a platform that allows for good air circulation underneath. Better yet, put it somewhere else. If it's a dry soil type, a platform can be closer to the ground. A platform can be set up on a slope - this will mean one side of the yurt will be higher up, increasing the materials needed for the pillars on that side. This offers some storage space underneath, but might increase draftiness in winter. A more level site will be easier to insulate as the snow gathers along the base of the yurt.
For long-term living, a platform is recommended. I recommend you create it yourself or find a local carpenter to construct a circular deck for you. Frost footings are not necessary. Plywood works, as well as tongue and groove or planed pine or just rough-sawn. We have plans available to assist you in designing and building your platform.If you'd like to have a deck outside of the yurt, build it a step or two down for door clearance, etc.
Once we receive your deposit, we get right to work on customizing your yurt. We make every effort to facilitate folks ready to take the jump out to year-round yurt living. That said, if you're looking to move out to your land in the spring, please give us a heads-up as soon as you can, preferably before February. Ken delivers and raises nearly all the yurts himself, and we haven't cloned him yet.
Yes. We welcome visitors to the farm in NH to see a yurt in action. Give me a call at 603.499.2568 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roof height increases quickly from the wall to the center. The roof ring is nine feet from the floor in a 20' with five foot walls. At two feet in from the wall edge, roof height is above 6'. Even vertically privileged people don't seem to hit their heads on the roof.
That being said, we do have a 6' wall option.
No. We deliver and set them up throughout Vermont and New Hampshire, western Mass and southern Maine. For free. It takes less than a day to set up the yurt with you and your friends.
The yurt can be transported in one (full-size) or two (smaller) pickup truck loads.