How Many Choices Does it Take to Get to a Yurt?

I have been reading, comparing, exploring, calling, and emailing like a mad woman, trying to get the most information as possible about our future yurt.  I discovered that there are an endless amount of possibilities.

Which company should we purchase from? What diameter should we chose? Which type of
insulation? Which type of warranty? Which type of platform to place the yurt on? Which type of windows and how many? French doors?yurt-exterior-with-view Full-light doors? Half-light doors? Colors? Should we get a water catchment system? The list goes on and on.

All these decisions have to be made before we even purchase the yurt.  The crazy part is that from what we’ve gathered, the best, most reputable companies, with the most options are all too far to take a drive to see a showroom, all residing in Colorado, Montana, Washington, and Oregon. That means that we can either scrape together some time and money (from our yurt budget) to take a road trip out there, or we have to decide from pictures, videos, and phone calls alone.

A friend informed us that there is a yurt on a public property in the town where we want to live. This was good news for a few reasons. The most important reason being that the hardest part of this process is getting building permits, and getting the town to approve such a structure. Since it is out the box, the codes are simply not written for such structures. Some towns have no interest in having anything other than stick-built houses, not wanting to mess up the look of their neighborhoods. Then if a town would be okay with the appearance of a yurt, there are still many hurdles to jump in order to use one as a permanent residence.

When we found out that a yurt was built in our town, even though it wasn’t built to be a permanent residence, we were hopeful! This shows that the town is not against the look of these structures, that some building permits might have been approved, and that they might already have some clue as to what a yurt is when we go talk to them.  It will be much more simple for us, “Yeah, we want to build a yurt like that one over there!”.

A 20 year old yurt in our chosen town.

Another reason this yurt’s public existence was good news, was that we could go see it in person, and make sure that we really like the feeling of being in that space. So we popped by, and as soon as I saw it, butterflies fluttered in my stomach. It was beautiful! It certainly did not look like it was 20 years old, and when we walked inside, it was toasty warm, and felt so nice and peaceful. We looked at each other with smiles from ear to ear. Chris began walking all around the perimeter, looking underneath it, pulling at the seams, checking out the structure and how they have it put together. I started measuring out how big our bedroom would be, where the kitchen would be, and so on.

Prior to coming, we found that most companies make yurts up to 30 feet wide, and only a few make them larger. We had originally thought that a 30 foot (706 square feet) would suffice for our needs, at least for the near future (you can always add another yurt with a connector onto your property…definitely something to think about for the future). But after watching a few video tours of 30 footers, we thought that they looked a little too small.  When we saw this 30 foot yurt in town, our suspicions were confirmed. After a little more research, we found a yurt company, Shelter Designs, that has larger sizes and just as much quality. We decided on a diameter of either 35 feet (962 square feet) or 40 feet (1256 square feet), but we are leaning heavily towards 40 feet. Those extra square feet for not much extra money seems worth it.yurt-layoutthealoha-960x300

Then there’s the interior, where we have only begun to scratch the surface.  At first, we
put together some rough sketches of layout options showing where we’d want our kitchen, living room, bedroom, and bathroom to be. We discovered that one of the websites, Rainier Yurts,  offers countless layout designs.  After talking to the woman who drew them, she said that while they do not offer any interior work in their business, they provide those drawings to show how to put a square world into a round one.

yurt-layout-applegateShe thought of layouts that were perfect for us, and I honestly don’t think we would have gotten there on our own. We were still thinking in square terms; divide the space up into varying degrees of quarters, squares, and lines. Yet, she pointed out with her sketches, that you are not limited to that type of thinking in the round. You can concoct a zig-zag pattern, place a single square or a circle in the dead center, make the kitchen round by hugging the wall, oh the possibilities!yurt-layout-boca-raton

Luckily, there is no rush when it comes to designing the interior. It has to be done last, so however short or long this process will take, it’s the last thing to have to plan.

First, we need to find out if we can even get building permits in the town we desire. Then if that’s a possibility, we need to find out if one of the few properties available will be a good investment, and if one is, we will buy it. Then however long this takes, we will be able to order our yurt. Meanwhile, we will have at the very least the whole winter to tweak our interior design.

Our heads are buzzing with loads of information so much that both of us were lying awake last night for hours thinking about everything.  I wasn’t even upset about the lost sleep, it felt like I was watching a good movie as my mind floated over insulation, diameters, and interiors. All we know is that we are on the right path, and the research part of it is half the fun!

5 thoughts on “How Many Choices Does it Take to Get to a Yurt?

  1. Hello, Rebecca! If you don’t mind my asking, where are you geographically? I’m just curious because I’m in New England and wonder how well a yurt would do in heavy snows. You are obviously further along on your quest than we are. =) Great post, btw! Thank you for sharing!



    1. Hello Lisa! We are in Connecticut. We will probably be ordering our yurt from Shelter Designs which is based in Montana. They have a snow and wind kit that makes their yurts more structurally sound than most houses. They are built to handle extreme snow loads. They also have an Arctic insulation upgrade, which we will be getting because more insulation never hurts! But most yurt companies I’ve found so far have some sort of snow support system. Many yurts are used along ski slopes where building codes require a higher snow load rating. And thanks for your kind words! Where in New England are you?


  2. I’m so happy I found your blog! My husband and I are also looking into yurts as an alternative to buying a stick built house when I’m finished with school. So far my favorite floor plan is The Indiana (it’s on the rainier site) but the Boca Raton is looking good too. Best of luck, and I look forward to seeing your progress!


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