Thursday, September 21, 2023 / by Amy Brown
Many homebuyers are trying to combat rising home prices but would also really like to enjoy rural living. A yurt can be a great option for some but they pose a lot of questions. So I’m here to answer some of the major ones.
You don’t have to be a hippie to live in a yurt and you don’t have to be off grid. There are actually some very beautiful yurts out there and even some that people have installed hardboard siding on for a more permanent structure feel.
So what is a yurt exactly?
A yurt is a modern version of an ancient nomadic tribal shelter with the portability of a tent and stability of a cabin. Yurts are built on a deck or permanent foundation with a wooden frame structure covered in insulation and then a canvas wrap. Yurts have wood stoves, can have A/C, and you can build them out with full kitchens, bathrooms, and lofts.
Pros of the Yurt
1. Less Money to Build and Easy Permitting
Probably the biggest Pro of the Yurt is how much money you can save building a yurt compared to a traditional home. The amount of home that you get for the material and the cost input that you have to spend, it’s significantly less expensive than a modern stick frame home. Depending upon the size, yurts range in price from $10,000-30,000 for the basics. You’re skipping a lot of difficult technical steps that require a lot of tools, usually professional labor, in more remote places which is where Yurts generally end up. When you hire a construction crew you know you’re paying top dollar for someone. When you start penciling up what a nice structure a yurt can be versus the cost input on a traditional home, it’s really night and day for a lot of folks. Also, in NC, the only permits that you need to pull are those for your utilities like your septic system and a permit for building a deck. Very easy and not a lot of fuss. Just make sure that the land that you choose has no restrictions that would dampen your efforts and you should be all set!
2. Lower Maintenance
I think another really great Pro is that Yurts are low maintenance structures. In tough conditions where you’re getting a lot of snow over the winter and gutters that want to rip off your house, and roofs that need to be replaced, the list is actually surprisingly long. You don’t think about it when you purchase or build a regular stick frame house especially because when you do, it’s brand new, but over the years that modern style of construction gives you a building that degrades constantly. The beauty of the Yurt is the outer structure of it is very simple. There’s no eaves, no gutters, very little exterior maintenance to keep up with. It will generally take care of itself year after year. You free up all that additional input of time and money that you normally would have to put into a house that again continues to save you down the road and let you live a life built around yourself, not just constantly pouring your energy into a structure.
I consider this to be a big Pro of the Yurt. I know it depends on what you’re doing and the kind of build, but the element of portability. Yurts can be quite portable. It is a structure that can be taken back down without damage, and set back up again. You can actually take it back down, carry the components by hand through the forest up a trail if you wanted to, and then set it back up in another spot. We have we have a lot of people who will plan on living in the Yurt for three or four years and then want to build a bigger structure after they’ve had time to save up their money because they’re no longer wasting everything on rent and then they plan on building a bigger house. They can put the Yurt where they want with the nice view and then go ahead and move it three or four years down the road off to the side.
3. Great Resale Value
There is the side benefit of being portable, if you’re in a position where things in the end didn’t work out you can take it back down and sell the Yurt to someone else. Resale value on Yurts is fantastic, you’ll generally get almost all your money out of. If you build a traditional house you cannot take that house back down, if you drop 300k into a building the only way you can get that money back is to sell the property it’s sitting on. But if you spend thirty thousand dollars on a Yurt and live in it for three years, given inflation and material costs going up, there’s a good chance three, four years from now you could turn around and sell that yurt for the same thirty thousand dollars that you paid for it. That’s a common thing, I’ve seen Yurts for sale that were purchased three years ago that are selling for more than what they originally paid for them. There’s a lot of demand for Yurts, they’re very popular and they don’t lose their value as fast as a lot of other things.
4. Less Taxes
A lot of times counties will tax you on the value of the structures on your property but not in NC! A yurt is not considered real estate and cannot be taxed or sold as such. For that reason, the tax value that you pay will be on the land and any outbuildings or additional structures that it holds.
5. Strength and Flexibility
While they may look to someone who doesn’t know any better like a tent that got put up, a Yurt is a very strong and flexible structure. Because of the roundness, and the fact that that the entire outer structure is so smooth, there’s no Eaves sticking out to grab the wind that rips your house apart in a hurricane, it does great against those kinds of forces. It’s part of part of what makes the Yurt do so well. The basic structure is good for 50 pounds of snow load per square foot on the roof. That could be several feet of snow. They’re also rated for roughly 100 miles an hour of wind.
6. Quicker to build
For anyone who’s on a tight time frame, a Yurt gives you the ability to raise your structure faster than most other structures. Plus, it could be a fun event! I’ll put in a caveat here, you can raise the yurt in a weekend if you’ve got your platform ready. The platform is an important piece of the project that usually is going to involve putting in some foundation posts and building out a beam and post structure with a round deck on top of it. That does take some work so plan a couple more weekends for that at least. People will work on that ahead of time and get it ready, and then get the Yurt up in 1 weekend with friends. It can also be a real community building experience, like an old school Barn raising. The nice thing about putting up a yurt is more hands make it easier. If you’re trying to hire a bunch of rookies to come help you frame your house you’re going to go backwards, but a Yurt is going to come as a kit, so lots of hands makes it go up quicker. You can get a big barbecue going and before you know it your yurt’s up and people enjoy the experience. A lot of folks these days don’t have an opportunity to do things with their hands so to be able to spend the weekend with friends building something that you can look back on and remember is a fun thing to be able to do with a Yurt.
7. Connection to Nature
The connection with nature that you get in a Yurt is undeniable. Hearing the wind and the rain is somewhat of a lost connection with modern housing. Being able to look up through that center skylight and see the stars is pretty spectacular.
Cons of the Yurt
1. Not obtainable through traditional financing options
It’s difficult to get financing for a Yurt from a bank because they’re non-traditional. The easiest way is to find a yurt company that also offers financing or to pay in cash. Expenses can add up quickly though when you are putting in the finishing touches and features like faucets, wood stoves, patios, or if you opt for glass windows and wood or hardboard siding so either make sure that you are being frugal with your expenditures or have fun doing some DIY projects like building shelves and shopping for antique fixtures.
2. Harder to Control Temperature
When it comes to regulating temperature, there is a difference between a yurt versus a traditional house. The temperature is going to be more variable in a yurt. If the yurt is warm, it’s going to cool down faster because the insulation is thinner requiring the heater to run for longer and more often. Hot, summer days will bring the issue of added humidity which can be regulated by cracking the top air vent and not strapping your yurt up too tight during the initial build. But I have seen many yurts with mini split air conditioners that stay cool without any problems. True, there will be a significant added expense for heating and cooling but many yurt lovers believe that far outweighs the initial construction cost with the added benefit of portability and resale value.
Take a look at the following site for a list of reputable yurt companies.
And have fun with it! Homesteading can be a reward unlike any other…it wakes up the primal in all of us!