Why a Yurt?
”So why did you build a Yurt?” Oh if I had a nickel for every time I have heard that one. Even after we attempt to explain our path of thinking and decision making, I wonder how many people still think... “so why again did you build a yurt?”
Long story short, there was an opportunity to buy some property near the “family”, so we did. The existing house on the property has been neglected for many years and has lead paint, mold and asbestos. We really don’t want to be the ones responsible to take it down, but after doing our due diligence, it’s time to say goodbye to the old girl.
Once we decided to not move forward with the house, we considered building. Since I am in the design field, I thought I could design something quickly. But, soon I found out that I am my own worst client. The location on the property and design have to be perfect with no exceptions. I also want the home to be built using the environment and quality standards that I require on commercial builds. We also want to do it once and do it right, which will take time, money and energy. And frankly, in this time of our life with the kids, I don’t have the capacity to take it all on. Maybe in a few years.
Then the idea of the yurt came up. Damon and I first stayed in one years ago, and loved it. We always had an idea in the back of our minds to build one someday. We were thinking “someday” like when the kids move out and we retire and want to downsize. But the good Lord had other plans for us. We found a yurt online that needed some work for dirt cheap. So Damon and his dad drove down to Missouri one weekend and took it all apart, loaded it up, and brought it home. It’s thrilling to pay cash for your living structure.
The work started in the spring of 2016. There was much to be done on the property before the yurt could even be started. The existing barn needed to be overhauled. A silo needed to be taken down. Damon and some friends had fun using sledgehammers, explosives, guns, and a tractor to finish it off. “We” (mostly Damon with a headlamp from 9:00 pm to 1:00 am) worked on picking up the fallen stays one by one. There was septic work, ground grading, tree removal, electrical....etc. before we could even start digging the footings for the yurt.
Even the selection of the canvas was a project. Who knew there were so many grades and weights of canvas and if you want fire retardant versus not. We cut each and every piece using the existing canvas as our pattern. Luckily, the previous owner who built and designed it himself, took immaculate notes which he passed along to us. He also was only a call away when we needed advice and had a question. We pinned, folded and rolled every strip. Then we heaved it into the truck and took it to a friend’s house. The friend has an industrial sewing machine and decades of sewing experience. It was rolled in such a way that we only needed to fold back a strip and have Linda sew in a line that was 8’ to 34’ long. It took three of us to move the canvas roll from the end back to the beginning with each strip. We also needed to stretch out long tables in front of and behind the sewing machine.
One day the UPS driver dropped off a 350 lb. roll of vinyl on our sidewalk. He asked what we were going to do with it. I told him that it was my new home. He thought I was joking. (He now delivers to us at the yurt and shakes his head in disbelief at what that roll turned into). The vinyl was measured, cut, heat welded, and glued to make the exterior layer of the yurt.
The post holes were dug and the foundation set. The platform was put back together board by numbered board. Family and friends helped us with erecting the lattice, windows, doors, dome, rafters, and putting up the different layers on the structure. Without so much help, we would not be here. The interior work then began (and continues). We scouted craigslist and the local building reuse-it store. We took the wall boards down from one of the barns that was on the property and used them for the walls in the yurt. (Thank you ”Fixer Upper” for making the ship lap look popular). We purchased used cabinets and appliances. Thankfully we hired out the mechanical, plumbing, and electrical. Also, we were able to move in one day from our previous home with the help of lots and lots of friends and family. Oh, what a blessings our village is! Again, without them, we would not be here. The process was long and tiresome (more for Damon and his Dad than for me and the kids). But we are here. Everyday gets a little bit easier and we continue to figure out the tricks of living in such a structure.