Some bloggers have a regular feature called, “What I’m Into,” or something along those lines, in which they list, well…what they’re into. Usually there are lots of links, and references to television and movies and music. Unfortunately, I can’t really do that. My pop culture knowledge is limited to what I can pick up from my ten-year-old nephew. And he’s pretty sheltered.
What I’m into these days is building a yurt.
This isn’t just a hypothetical yurt. It’s my next home, so you’ll understand that I’m very, very pleased to report that the building process is going well. We plan for this thing to be our primary shelter from snowmelt through summer through winter through summer again, while we cut down some of our own trees and use them to build a timber frame cabin.
If you haven’t ever heard of a yurt, then you’re in the same club I was in three months ago. It looks something like this.
The original ones were semi-portable dwellings used by nomadic peoples in Central Asia, but now we use the word to describe any building in that shape. I was just sent an article about a $75,000 dollar yurt sold in the Neiman Marcus catalogue, which was supposed to make you feel like you were living inside a bottle, like the star of I Dream of Jeannie. Our yurt isn’t really going to be like that. Nick has designed our yurt himself, following the original principle of extendable latticework held by a tension band.
There’s something of a craze now, for yurts, especially among the eco-minded. They’re sturdy, efficient, easy to put up and potentially zero environmental impact. You can buy one for around $5000, and put it together yourself. Drawbacks include: living in one room, trying to arrange a bunch of rectangular furniture in a round space, living in one room, having no running water in your house, living in one room with three children.
So, there’s that.
But, as I was saying, the building process is going really well. Here’s that ten-year-old nephew, helping us prep the sticks for the extendable/collapsible latticework called khana, which is what we think is cooler than a wall.
We’re making all this out of free or cheap wood Nick got on Craigslist. I like to call our budgeting process Water From a Rock. In one particularly nail-biting evening, drinking too much diner coffee, Nick and I capped the yurt budget at $1000. Two thirds of that will go to the tent fabric needed for the outer covering, which we’re buying new. Another couple hundred goes to our pot-bellied stove and stovepipe. The rest of it pretty much needs to show up by magic.
Fortunately there’s a lot of magic in the world. The floor will be made out of pallets, decked with plywood cut from joists that failed to be good enough joists. The pallets will be set up on 2×6 sleepers we got for free on Craigslist. Nick figured out how to join the khana sticks together with bent nails so we don’t have to buy nuts and bolts.
I can’t tell you, yet, how we did the insulation and roof rafters, because we haven’t done them yet. I’ll post again about a yurt when that set of tiny miracles comes in.
There’s more on this now! See About a Yurt: Part Two.