How To Build a (Semi) Solid Wall Yurt

The handbook, "How To Build A Yurt (solid wall design) is now available at or at www.robertflee.books.php. To purchase this handbook from Amazon or Smashwords, visit or and search for the title under the author's name, Robert F. Lee. The semi-rigid walled yurt described in this booklet can be constructed in less than 40 hours and assembled or disassembled on site in under three hours, by one person!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Building a Yurt: The Pioneering Process

It is hard to envision “success” as moving from an upscale home in the suburbs to a tent in the wilderness of central Manitoba, yet that is precisely how my wife and I define “arriving.”
Thirty-five years ago, and again 25 years ago, I walked away from a new home, my entire bank accounts & savings, and every piece of furniture, voluntarily, as part of divorce settlements. Twenty years ago, I built, with my partner, a $5 million business in less than two years, starting with a $45,000 per year personal services operation. Two years later, I sold my half of the company to my partner for $17,500 – 1/50th of the value. Ten years ago, I discarded a lakefront home and middle class house in the city in favour of a 64 square foot shack in the bush – a move I considered to be progress.
The principle that guided each of these so-called irrational decisions is one I learned early in life. What you own is less important than what you feel. In each case, I felt freedom, and owned piece of mind.
In June, at my wife’s suggestion, we will build our own yurt on an 80-acre plot of meadow and bush, in north central Manitoba. We will be debt free, free to travel, and unburdened by daily pressures. We will also be living in a glorified tent, in a climate that can cough up minus 45 degree winter days regularly.
For the past several months, we have evaluated a half dozen very reputable suppliers of yurts, from Colorado Yurt, to Yurtco, to BC Yurt. In the end, though, we felt that we needed a structure custom-designed for our environment. It will be built at a significant reduction in costs, with only a modest sacrifice in quality. But it will be ours, and it will be our home for the next several decades.
One of the critical considerations in designing, or buying, a yurt is the recognition that, for the most part, yurts will not meet building codes for permanent residences in most cities. They have fire rating issues, plumbing & electrical impediments, and structural discrepancies related to building codes. Yet, they are well-constructed, safe and comfortable homes for those who prefer to “live off the grid.”
Indeed, we will be living off the grid. No outside hydro, gas or water supply. But we will need minimal electrical power, will be relying on solar, wind, geothermal and biomass heating and lighting systems that we designed. We will rely on our market garden for 80% of our food, with another 20% coming from barter.
This is a journey for us that we want to share with others. We invite you to follow us each week as we plan, prepare and build our yurt. We invite you to share our lives as we spend our first year in our new home. Join us on our pioneer journey!