This last weekend I had the privilege to add a new skill to my construction resume when I and group of dynamic and great individuals put up a round, vinyl sided house called a yurt. If you are now thinking to yourself “a vinyl sided building in a landscape where temperatures can reach 50 below??… that’s crazy!” your thoughts are actually right on track, it’s a little bonkers. However, with the proper heat and insulation yurts can be a warm and comfortable way to get through life in the Interior.
The construction day was marked by beautiful skies, great company, strong coffee, pizza, and some local brew. I’ll head into some details of yurts (if you’re into that kind of thing, and I’m just learning for the first time), but first, here’s the timelapse of the day. I think the timelapse is pretty fun!
The yurt is originally a Mongolian structure associated with nomadic horse herders of Mongolia .and appeared for the first time in records near 500 BC although yurts have likely been around since 1000BC – that’s quite awhile! (although, to put it in perspective, Bristlecone pines may be 5000 years old, meaning they germinated ~3000BC). The structure is easy to take down and move which benefited the lifestyle of the Mongolian horse herder.
As you construct a yurt you, the builder, quickly gain appreciation for the efficiency of the dwelling. It is amazing that 6-8 untrained people could put up the bulk of the structure in just 8 hours! This yurt (http://www.nomadshelter.com/) was constructed on a raised platform with the about 10 inches of foam in the floor providing rigidity and insulation (~R50). The windows and doors were framed, and lathe which supports the walls was stretched between each of the frames. Stretched on top of the lathe a 3/8 cable hooked onto 2×4 rafters which joined into the central ring at the peak of the building. The tension of the boards on the cable holds the whole thing up; we found that 2 guys could sit on the peak with no stress the the building. It’s amazing that with NO nails you can support the weight of 300 pounds of man!
Once the rafters are on, the roof insulation and cover are put up and extra insulation is stuffed into the roof cavity. The walls are hung and insulated and finally the outer cover is put on. Adding in a few windows, a door, a roof cap with a stove pipe, and a stove will ensure your yurt is ready for the Fairbanks winter!
The images below were taken by Chris Behnke, the yurt owner. They show up close some of the key pieces of the yurt.
So, the next time you’re at local ski resort and they put you up in one of these round, wonderful buildings you are now equipped with all sorts of conversation starters 😉