Why a Yurt?

Good morning RGB fans!  Sorry we have been out of communication for four months, but we have been focused on building our yurt.  The next series of blogs will tell you the good and bad, hard and easy in developing 5 acres and building a yurt.  What we thought would be pretty easy became very complicated quickly. We hope this will help you in not making the same mistakes we made. 

The yurt building blog series will be the following, so you don’t have a book on your hands:

  • Why a yurt and selecting a company
  • Getting your property ready, pulling permits, finding contractors, wood platform or cement foundation
  • How to build a Weatherport 24’ yurt with a loft and getting a good yurt building team
  • The inside planning and execution
  • Lessons learned and what we would do differently

Why a Yurt?

As you all know, we sold our home in Bend back in April and had spent the last year and a half exploring the west trying to find the next mountain town we would call home.  In June, we were exploring Montana and were in Red Lodge enjoying the beautiful area and considering moving to there when we got a text from our real estate agent in Sandpoint, Idaho.  She let us know that the property we were looking at could be ours, before it went on the market, if we put in a full price offer that day.   We had thought we were getting priced out of Sandpoint with the crazy sales in a couple hours site unseen and decided at a minimum this would be a good investment. 

We were very excited that afternoon we had an accepted offer and would close on June 28, 2021.  This amazing 5-acre parcel was 1.5 miles out of city limits, next to a great mountain bike and cross-country ski area called Pine Street Woods, Sherwood Forest and Syringa Trails.  We could bike 1.5 miles to the library, 1.5 miles to the grocery store, 2 miles to downtown and the lake.  When we arrived, we did not realize all the down trees and the abundance of dead trees and limbing that needed to be done before we could put anything on the property.  It was the driest and hottest summer in Sandpoint history so we were worried about a fire starting on the property and we had no water or other utilities. 

We headed to Home Depot and got hand saws, loppers, pole saws, clippers and got to work on cleaning up the property and building massive slash piles to burn after the first snow and rainy Fall.

Prior to buying our Sandpoint property we had been talking with the agent for 8 months at possible properties.  We had learned that all the good builders were booked 2 years out and there were several big developments in progress that had most builders and contractors booked solid.  Greg and I always loved staying at yurts in campgrounds in the Pacific Northwest and thought it would be fun to live in a round home.  It just seems more environmentally friendly to have a smaller footprint.  We wanted to live in the minimum amount of square footage and enjoy more trees and wildlife on our property.  After living in less than 25 square feet for 18 months, 650 square feet sounded like a mansion!  After selling almost all our possessions in Bend, we really wanted to have a small footprint and own the minimum to be comfortable.  With Bode gone, it is just the two of us and after living with so little we had a good idea of what we really need to be happy.  So I began my research on yurt companies and the most durable yurts that last the longest in cold and snowy regions.  I joined several Facebook Yurt communities (these groups are awesome and people are super helpful, we even got to tour several yurts I n Sandpoint from the group communications) and in the end Pacific Yurts in Cottage Grove, Oregon and Shelter Design in Missoula, Montana came back as the most popular and satisfied customers.  The Mongolian Yurts looked really cool but the only person selling them was a lady in Portland and reports in the Facebook communities said it was months to get one.  The big issue in the Summer of 2021 was the crazy wood costs, shipping issues and both Pacific and Shelter yurt companies were in such a big demand they could not deliver a yurt to us until January or March 2022 and the costs of the yurt changed weekly due to the cost of wood (prices constantly going up!).  Building a yurt in Sandpoint, ID in the months of January, February or March is a big NO-NO with snow and freezing temperatures, we needed to have our yurt up by October. 

I went back to the drawing board.  I found a company in Delta, Colorado that made their yurts from steel beams and no lattice!  This company had been in business for 30 years!  These yurts could handle extreme wind and snowloads from all parts of Alaska, were Artic Research Yurts and ski resorts across Oregon and Colorado had successfully been used in harsh conditions.  They highlight being that many of their yurts in Alaska have been up 25 years before any vinyl being replaced.  The yurts even had insulation of R-20 (a regular home is R-19)!  I called the company and even got a customer to call and get their satisfaction of their yurt in winter conditions.  I was excited that this yurt could survive Sandpoint, Idaho.  Even better, they customize and build to your specifications and can delivered in around 8 weeks!  Strangely, steel was more affordable than wood.  Later on, I will discuss questions I should have asked but did not think to that would later become issues we will need to resolve. 

We went with Weatherport and decided to get all the bells and whistles.  We got a 24’ yurt with a loft and 8 real windows (later we will discuss why that many windows may not be a good idea).  We wanted it to blend in with the property so we got a green yurt with a grey roof.  With a signed contract and their team working on a design it was time for us to get to work prepping the property and getting all the utilizes, designing the platform, get the permits and get everything ready for an end of August delivery. 

In our next blog, I will discuss the complexities of preparing a property.  To be on or off the grid and why we made our choices.  All the permits and research you need to do and the benefits of living in a smaller community!

Here are links to recommended yurt companies and Facebook groups: