Eagle River Weather

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Yurts on a Square Base

Most yurt companies will tell you that it is impossible to erect a yurt on a square base, and this is absolutely true. However, the circular base needed for the yurt can be attached to a square platform. Here is a brief outline of how we were able to accomplish this.
The first thing you need is a square base. Our square base came in the form of a garage but could also be a deck, cement platform, or other foundation. Our garage roof has a slight slope to it, about one inch, to allow drainage. The top of the garage is covered with tar paper. (A tar paper deck, classy I know.) If you live in a warmer climate and use tar paper you will may want to cover the tar paper not under the yurt. This will keep it from melting in the hot sun.
The first step we took was to attach wooden anchors to the top of the deck. This allowed us to have something to tie our circular yurt deck to. This picture shows these anchors.

If I remember correctly these are pressure treated 1x4's. We put a layer of tar around the bottom perimeter of the board, kind of like a tar sandwhich, to seal them up, and then screwed them down into place. In addition to the parallel beams you see we also made a ring of beams on the outside perimeter. The next photo will illustrate that a little better. We also put giant screws through the perimeter 1x4 anchors and through the roof, all the way down into the garage, and anchored into some free floating boards below. Hard to visualize? Let me know if you need more info. We used this extra bit of anchoring because of the high winds we get around here. We didn't want the whole deck, yurt with it, blowing away.
In the next picture you can see how we laid out the 2x6's to get ready for the floor boards.

Lastly, is this picture you can see the completed yurt deck.

We put down insulation between the joyces and completed the wiring before we put the floorboards down. We also made sure the bottom edge of our drip edge was sealed up with the garage roof as much as possible. We wanted as little water seeping under the yurt as we could manage. We sealed it up with expanding spray foam and silicon caulking.
If I had it all to do over again there are a few things I would do differently.
  • Have a surface other than tar paper.
  • Get bottom side of the drip edge closer to the top of the garage so it was easier to seal it.
  • Level the deck. It has a one inch slope to it, the same as the garage roof. This was great for roof drainage and made construction of the yurt deck easier, but it made hanging doors and putting up shelving inside the yurt really tricky
I apologize about the lack of clarity in the photos. I didn't think I was going to be writing about this or helping other people do it when we were putting it together and taking these photos. I hope you find this useful and good luck with your decks.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Last Days of Fall

Fall is coming to a close here as the leaves are dropping and a snow line is forming in the mountains. Here is a picture of Nicki and Leo on our last tundra walk of the year.

Can you find Leo in the picture below? (You might have to click on it.)

Snowline is down to 2000 feet and is supposed to be lower tonight. Snow on the yurt?

We had ice on our freshly weatherproofed railing. Got that sealant on just in time.

And finally, here is Leo enjoying his first snowballs of the year up at Hatcher Pass.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Getting Your Yurt Ready for Winter

As cold weather approaches us (or is already here) many yurt dwellers worry about staying warm. Here are a few things you can do to help retain the heat. Most of these are things you can do after you have erected your yurt and after winter has already come.
Yurts are full of gaps where warm air can escape out into the cold. While, you will probably never be able to completely seal up your yurt, you can reduce the amount of drafting. Most holes occur at the top and bottom of the wall and around windows. By using ratcheting buckles and long straps, you can cinch up the gaps around the walls. Here is a picture of a ratcheting buckle with a 100 foot length of 1 inch wide strap.

Buckles can be bought at most hardware stores and the strap had to be special ordered from a sporting goods store. Most buckles come with a pre-attached strap that will have to be removed or tied into.
The straps are simply put around the perimeter of the yurt at the base of the wall and the bottom of the roof. You can see those straps in place above and below the door of our yurt.

Tightening the buckles sandwiches the wall fabric between the yurt frame and the strap. This closes off any gaps between the yurt frame and the wall fabric.
Another ratcheting buckle can be used on the rope that is attached to the bottom of the roof fabric that the wall is hung off of. This rope can often sag over time or be stretched during high winds or as the yurt expands in the sun. Sagging can create gaps between the wall and the roof. By adding a ratcheting buckle to this rope you can easily take up any slack that might occur. You can see the buckle in the upper left of this photo.

On the inside of the yurt adding more insulation and weather stripping can decrease the amount of heat loss you experience. Weather stripping around the door frame and door is a great idea.
A more ambitious project is to add foamboard insulation to the ceiling. Pie shaped wedges can be cut from foamboard and wedged into the space between the rafters. Here is a picture of one of the wedges half way removed from it's place in the ceiling.

I used in inch R-tech foamboard. R-tech has a reflective side that I painted over with latex primer to keep the inside of the yurt from looking like a solar oven. While this paint works it ended up being very fragile and flakes off easily if it is bumped into. I cut the pieces with a hacksaw blade with out the hack saw. I taped the cut edges with white duct tape to keep the foam pieces from crumbling and getting every where while installing it. If you have a yurt whose rafters are not anchored to vertical supports, you can get away with cutting all the wedges uniformly and push the rafters into place around the foam. If, however, you have those vertical supports to increase your snow load, like we do, you will need to measure each space between the rafters and cut the foam to match. If done correctly the foam wedges will stay up with friction. It is hard to quantify how much the foamboard helps, but as I was putting the foamboard up snow fell on the yurt. The snow on the roof above the foamboard took a lot longer to melt than the parts of the roof with no foamboard. If you have another questions about this process, just let me know.
And, finally another use for the ratcheting buckle. We have fairly high winds during the winter, and that wind can cause the wall fabric to flap quite a bit. The flapping can cause sagging in the wall fabric and a lot of noise on the inside of the yurt. This buckle and strap is simply put around the perimeter of the yurt at the center of the wall. Here is a video we posted earlier in the year of that strap at work.

Make sure you talk to your yurt manufacturer about all of their insulation ideas and acessories. We have a full wind and snow load kit from Pacific Yurts. We also have their insulated window inserts for all our windows and use them all winter long.

Good luck this winter if you own a yurt and if you are a prospective yurter, winters in a yurt can be cozy and warm with the right preparation.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Family, Berries, and a New Yurter

We just wrapped up a great visit from my mom and her friend Jeanette. One of the highlights was our awesome fall hike and blueberry picking trip. Here is a picture of our visitors and intrepid travelers still smiling despite the fact that I just made them climb 2000 ft.

On our way down we found a great blueberry patch and picked to our heart's content. Here is a picture of the view and the fall colors we enjoyed while picking.

Here is Ranger guarding our spoils.

Mom and Leo excited about berries!

And, it looks like Leo is going to have to share those berries next fall. Nicki is about 4 months along, due in early February, and it is going to be a girl!

Now we need to figure out where in the yurt we are going to put her. Time to change the floor plan!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lakes, the Fair, Musk Ox, and Banana Mobiles

I used one of my days off to go and hike up to Eagle and Symphony Lakes. These lakes are really cool because they are right next to each other but Eagle Lake is glacier fed and Symphony is not. So Eagle has this bright, opaque, blue color and Symphony is clear.

We also went to the fair. Here we are on the big slide.

Here is my blue ribbon puzzle.

Here is the blue ribbon cabbage. Almost 126 pounds.

My mom and her friend Jeanette are up visiting and waited for a long time to get on this Ferris wheel.

Leo after too much fun.

We also got to visit the musk ox farm in Palmer. Here is the beautiful 800 pound ox named "little man."

Always looking for new projects, Leo made a banana mobile.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Yurt Floor Plans and Loft Plans

I have had a number of people asking for the floor plans of our yurt. So here we go:
  • We have a 30 foot Pacific Yurt with the tall wall option.
  • Our yurt sits on top of a 30 foot square garage with a roof over hang of 2 feet on 3 sides of the garage to form a deck around the perimeter of the yurt.
  • Our washer, dryer, shower, water heater, and furnace are located in the garage.
  • We have a stairwell that leads from the inside of the garage to the inside of the yurt.
  • The yurt has internal walls with a lid that forms our loft.
  • Most of out furniture is from IKEA.
  • Drawings are to scale as close as I could get them.
  • Lines for the walls are not drawn to thickness but to the center line of the wall.
  • Click on the floor plans to make them bigger and easier to read.
Here is the main floor of the yurt with the loft taken off.

Here is the loft. Part of the loft over hangs the kitchen and another part of it does not entirely cover the kids bedroom.

If you need a visual on all of this to compare to, visit our yurt walking tour on youtube. Some of the furniture has been rearranged since the video was made but the major appliances and walls, of course, are all in the same spot.
I hope you find this helpful. Let me know if you have questions.