To design my yurt and decide whether to purchase a ready-made kit or build from scratch, I first have to decide on the appropriate size. Do I build a yurt the same size as a normal house, do I build the same size as a typical apartment, or do I build a yurt sized like a tent?
Because my wife and I will be the only people living in this Mongolian tent, we decided to scale our unit like that of an apartment, rather than a house. For a one-bedroom apartment, average sizes run from 460 sq. Ft. To 600 sq. Ft., while a typical house will be at least double that size for a 1- or 2-bederoom residence.
But there are other considerations in making the decision on size. In a house or apartment, hallway space takes up about 5-10% of a typical home. In a yurt, there are no hallways. In an average house, as much as 15% of the space is consumed by unusable corners, clear space around entranceways and stairways. Again, there are no corners, no stairs and minimal need for entranceways, since the yurt will have a “great room” design. So, if you want the equivalent of a 2-bedroom apartment for space, reduce your yurt size by 25%. That brings a 2-bedroom unit down to around 600 sq. Ft.
Because yurts have no interior support walls, and a framework considerably lighter than a conventional house, clear spans need to be considered. Most North American yurt suppliers offer maximum sizes up to 30-32 feet in diameter. This size, it appears, is the maximum area to ensure solid structural design.
We have decided on a 28 foot diameter (605 sq ft) structure, since we anticipate little need for a large second bedroom, and we wish to enjoy maximum space for many indoor activities during the cold winter months.
There are a half-dozen quality yurt suppliers in Canada and the USA, with \Colorado Yurts and Yurtco being , in our view, the premier suppliers. On a 30-foot unit, prices begin at $7,800, with costs rising to more than $18,000 once additional features such as extra insulation, domes, roof supports, long-life fabric, upgraded windows, etc. are added in.
While this is significantly less than the cost of a new home of a comparable size ($32,000 -80,000), it is a price that can be significantly reduced if you construct your own yurt. In fact, the design which we settled upon can be constructed for well under $6,000!
In the next blog, I will discuss the preliminary factors you need to consider before choosing a design or location, including zoning & building codes, water supply, location, terrain and intended use.