Yurts (and more interestingly to us, Gers) are front and center on the Milkwood research table currently. We’ve identified these structures as a likely cost-effective, climate-appropriate solution for our coming need for weatherproof, windproof, cosy crew-space come Spring at the Farm.
While there’s many solutions to easily yurt oneself if you have a reasonable budget ($8-$10,000), we need to find a solution more in the DIY realm. So we have searched far and wide, and here’s what we’ve come up with in terms of build-it-yourself-from-scratch Yurt and Ger resources.
Firstly I should clarify that I do mean a Yurt. A really truly, portable, cosy, weatherproof structure that, once the pieces are fully assembled, can be set up or pulled down in a couple of hours. Not a wooden hexagonal post house, not a cordwood-and-cob roundhouse. But a yurt.
More precisely, we’re looking at resources to aid us to build a Ger. A Ger is a Mongolian yurt (a yurt is more the Turkish term, apparently), which differs from a Yurt in various ways, the primary one for us being that it has a lower roof, upright poles holding the central skylight aloft, and is of slightly simpler construction.
Lower roof means easier heating, and warm crew quicker, with less wood burned, on a windy rainy night. Thumbs up for the Ger.
This is all coming out of us being really impressed with Dave and Phoebe’s DIY yurt which came to Milkwood last Easter. This was a 100% hand-made, home-made Ger constructed at a cost of under $3000 all up, made by a non-carpenter (read: he paid a carpenter to do the tricky bits). Which sounds pretty good to me.
So between Dave’s fine effort, which he constructed based notes he took in Mongolia (while staying in various Gers) and various other leads, here’s what I’ve got so far in terms of good build-your-own Ger + Yurt resources:
Online Build-Your-Own yurt / ger resources:
Build your own Yurt – A complete guide to making a Mongolian Ger: P. R. King (pdf) – Gotta love this title – not ‘how to’, not ‘why not try’, but BUILD your own yurt. This 1995 doc looks great, and has since been developed into a book.
More Build your Own Yurt resources from the same source (woodlandyurts.uk)
The Mongolian Yurt – A pdf of an article from a 1995 newsletter with some good info
The construction of a yurt – according to Ellisif Fkakkari (Monica Cellio)
Yurt Plans from campingyurts.com – these plans cost $20. I bought them and they are extensive + very detailed, and will be helpful no matter what exact version of construction we end up taking.
Instructable plans for building a yurt – some good pictures, worth a look
Yurt Forum – lots of owner-yurters here
The Complete Yurt Handbook – Paul King
Mongolian Cloud Houses: How to Make a Yurt and Live Comfortably – Dan Frank Kuehn
Yurts: Living in the Round – Becky Kemery
Simple Shelters: Tents, Tipis, Yurts, Domes and Other Ancient Homes – Jonathan Horning
While I admit that the aesthetics of the Ger aren’t as luscious as many of the super funky (mostly with a price to match) off-the-shelf yurts available these days, and won’t be the same experience as hanging out in, say, our friends Cam + Jessie’s yurt, the practicality and pragmatic shape and feel of a Ger will suit us best for this first project, i suspect.
Maybe once we’re yurt ninjas we can get fancy, but for now it’s about expediency. We need to design, manufacture and construct a warm common room by Spring on a budget of $3000 max, with the caveat that it needs to be portable so we can reposition it if needs be. So we’ll start with something that we know is achievable, and take it from there.
Know of any other excellent resources of this kind? Let us know! And we’ll share our final plan (and plans) here once the research session hands over to the construction phase…
Lead photo by Azelia Maynard, taken at Milkwood Farm, Easter 2012