Frequently asked questions

FAQ

Confessions of a Yurt Owner

Let me start off by saying, if you plan on living in a yurt, DONT buy a yurt with Velcro windows. Spend the extra money on a yurt with real windows; you will be so grateful in the long run.

We bought our yurt used, we got a great price, but the Velcro windows are a pain in the butt. Every time it rains we have to run outside to close the windows so water doesn’t get in, and usually we are too late. If we are asleep or away while the windows are open and a storm decides to come through we end up with a mini flood in the yurt.

Too much moisture in any home is bad because it can lead to fungal issues. We have resorted to just keeping our windows shut all the time, which sucks because I love fresh air. We hope to install real windows but it’s a difficult project because we do not want to compromise the yurts structure in any way. So if you plan on living in a yurt save yourself the headache and get one with real windows to begin with. As a yurt age’s tears and leakage spots can occur also causing moisture problems in the yurt.

we commune with nature in a very intimate way, with black bear, deer, raccoons & skunks, wolves & coyotes, weasel, mice, squirrels, an army of insects, garter snakes, birds and so on.  This interaction with nature is, for the most part, enjoyable. However, when the bear gets up close and personal, you don’t want to be cooking inside a flexible wall yurt, with plastic windows.  A solid wall yurt, raised off the ground is a must.

Squirrels offer greater resistance and, like raccoons, can wreak havoc on the tarpaulins.  Our yurt integrates so well into its surroundings that a raccoon family has torn holes in the roof tarpaulin, merely by climbing onto it.  Squirrels leave only pin-sized holes, but more of them.

Insects, like mice, pose a major problem.  No yurt should have carpeting inside, because of the risk of ant, tick and spider infestations.  As tightly as you seal the walls and flooring, insects find entrances.  With flexible wall yurts, mice are a major issue.  This problem is eliminated with well-built solid wall designs.

It is impossible to use standard glass windows in a flexible wall yurt.  Consequently, the norm is to install single-sheet heavy plastic windows, which transmit a great deal of the heat or cooling between interior and exterior.  A solid wall yurt, on the other hand, can accommodate standard window units (that open with bug screens).  Doors pose similar issues, and, more so, because most yurt vertical walls are 6’6” to 7’ – less than standard door frame height.

Other considerations include safe heating systems.  Open flame is very risky in fabric yurts.  With solid wall designs, flame retarding materials and fire-rated wall boards can be installed.  Yurts may be purchased with mounting for chimney egress, but pay close attention to sparks that may burn through the roof tarpaulin!

Other problems that may arise include condensation issues in cold weather, when warm, moist air rises and contacts the thinly insulated ceiling materials, condensing and falling inside the building.  If tarpaulins (particularly roof tarpaulins) are not skin-tight, wind causes the tarp to billow which, in turn, packs down any matt insulation used and reduces that R-value.

It’s pretty easy to keep a yurt warm in the winter as long as it is insulated. If it is not insulated then forget it, its freezing.

A soft walled yurt on a sunny day will be at least 20 degrees hotter inside than it is outside. So on a 50 degree day it is at least 70 degrees and on a 90 degree day it’s at least 110 degrees. Our yurt has been 130 degrees inside it before making it unmanageable to even be in there for a minute.

If you put up your yurt on a mountaintop, 100 acres from your nearest neighbour, this one will not be a problem. It is lovely to lie in bed at night and hear the owls and frogs and deer doing their night time thing in the woods around our yurt. You can hear it all, and when the sounds are good, this is a good thing. However, we can also here the neighbours coming and going, hear the folks down the road giving a party, and rainstorms make shouting a necessity. There is NO sound proofing to the walls of a yurt.

And don’t forget sounds go both ways. If you listen to music, fight with your spouse, or, say, have a really good time with your spouse, ahem, the neighbours will hear you. Sound goes straight through a yurt skin. So give your yurt a lot of space around it to compensate.

No, our yurt does not leak. It is tight as a drum. BUT having never been in a structure with absolutely no overhang before, I really didn’t get how rain would run down the long expanse of roof and then come right in through the windows. And because the yurt skin is a pliable fabric, the rain curves down, around, and vroom! Shoots straight in like someone pointing a hose through screen. I only had to test THAT out once. You HAVE to close the windows when it rains. OR you HAVE to have good awnings.

In addition, the windows open and close, at least on our yurt, on the outside. So, in order to open and close them, you have to be outside, too. It’s not a big deal, but it’s a bit of a pain in the patooty to run out into the rain to unroll and zip.

By the end of the first season the nylon webbing that wrapped around the outside became brittle and fell off.  I replaced it annually with rope.  The second season the muslin cover which we knew was supposed to be ‘sacrificial’ had given out.  We didn’t quite know what to do about that.  It was a lot of fabric to replace and where would you go to get a new cover?  Mongolia?  I tied some tarps over the south side where the worst of the damage was.  It was a crappy repair at best.  The tarps would get blown off by the wind in the spring and they would only last a year before they too succumbed to the sun.  Moisture was also getting trapped between the yurt and the layers of tarp that were laying on it.

The new cover lasted another couple years.  As it too gave into the sun we considered what to do next.  It was painfully clear that a tent is not a permanent structure.

No matter what we covered the yurt with we would be back at this place in a couple years.   Everyone still loved the yurt but the upkeep was getting to be overwhelming.

At this point the floor was starting to rot from the trapped moisture, the whole mouse management program was getting to be a real drag and the expense and effort of yet another cover was daunting.

I wanted to come up with a more durable solution that would take care of things once and for all.  We decided to take the yurt down and pack up all the salvageable parts to keep them safe until we had a new plan.

So I came up with our insulated log yurt to overcome all the above – the old saying is VERY true – YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!
Dave

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