The most common question I get about the yurt life, after, “Do you stay warm enough?” is “Are you planning to build?” Here’s where we’re at with that question:
Since about Christmas time, we have been discussing what changes we will make if spring and summer do come to the UP. We had some crises, as you know, that made us think about creating some different spaces up here to make life more livable. We talked about whether living tiny was a failed experiment for us. The running joke around these parts is when you are ridiculously frustrated by constantly bumping into each other or things, you say, in a cheery tone, “Tiny house!” It’s either mock it or freak out and start screaming sometimes. We started thinking about what would improve our space here without abandoning our goal of trying to live more simply. We are not quitters, so the thought of building, (like a house? nah), up here just seems crazy. Especially since we already own a home in another state (we’re renting it out, so I hope you didn’t hear that like when politicians mention they DO have a house in the state they’re running in and then you find out it is one of three of their vacation homes – I digress). We didn’t embark on this wild adventure to give up after less than a year, nor to add another mortgage to our debt. On the contrary, we wanted freedom, to live inexpensively, and, most importantly, lightly on the land. Building inspectors and a harsh winter might have impacted some of those things, but we were still really doing it.
At the time, we talked about getting a bank loan to put in a well and then, because it would be necessary to run the pump for the well, create a more substantial generator/battery bank.
Once I got my job, we considered building a garage up here with a master bedroom on top of it. My brother even said he would come out and frame it in when spring came. I thought this seemed reasonable. Then we could convert the yurt into purely living and entertaining space. We could bring some of our furniture from home and make it a comfortable space. We could invite over TWO couples at once! What a thought! Then our bedroom and the cat could be relocated to that space.
This one is much fancier than we were thinking, but you get the idea: garage on the bottom, a small space on top for living. No plumbing, bathrooms, kitchens, etc. This is more realistically what we were looking at. This would still involve another loan, which any sane person would try to avoid, if possible.
Bryan’s interest in that was waning when we got all the major issues resolved. Our toilet has never frozen again. The pipes never freeze. The water-pumping hasn’t frozen in months (knock on wood). It’s a hassle, but is it a hassle to the tune of $5000-$7500 for a well, plus the cost of revamping the generator/power situation? Probably not, especially once spring comes and we can go back to just flipping a switch and having the water pump. The snow in each building is obnoxious and hard on the yurt’s lovely wood floors. All along we planned to connect them, but we ran out of time and money this fall. That connection will be screen porch-like. In the summer, we will be able to use it for eating space, but mostly it’s purpose will be for storage and keeping the snow in there and not in the living space.
Yet, I still want some more space. I still want to have a bedroom separate from the living space and I want room to store some more things that are all up in our business all the time.
My mom suggested I check out Conestoga Cabins, which she has looked at seriously for some time. They arrive finished. They are freaking adorable, there are some that are the perfect size for just a bedroom or living space. Plus, at options under $15,000, they are affordable compared to building a garage.
Then we got thinking… which is always dangerous. We love the yurt. We love living in it and being in it. It has not failed us, nor been part of any of the problems. It’s beautiful inside. I adore the light and damn if it doesn’t hold the heat in much, much better than the stick-built cabin next door, which we painstakingly insulated for months. This morning it was -11 outside and it was 64 inside after a whole night without adding wood to the fire. As you saw in my last post, it has a nice, think blanket of snow insulating it all the way around.
This led me to the obvious solution: buy another yurt. We paid under $4000 for our yurt. It’s amazing. We love it. The family we bought it from, who own and run Laurel Nest Yurts, are helpful and willing to sell a complete yurt or one piece for one. We need something to live in this summer in Santa Fe (we’re campground hosting again and Bryan is working as a ranger at the greatest park south of the Porkies) since we are NOT taking this yurt down ever again. Since we got this one, Bryan has been anxious to build his own. It’s not too difficult. We can buy the cover and dome, the parts we couldn’t make ourselves and then Bryan can do the rest (since his last week of classes is APRIL 25th!!!!-is that a joke?). Then, when summer is over, we can put it up here and move our bedroom stuff over there, thus solving our space issue!
Of course, there is that pesky matter of the building inspectors. Even though they approved this yurt, with dragging feet, I highly doubt that will grant us a permit for a second one! That’s crazy to even think of. If we do a 12 foot yurt, however, it is small enough that you don’t need a permit, so that’s an option. The other option is this. It is a yurt on a trailer. This is a smaller one that what we would buy, but you get the idea.
Laurel Nest Yurts created it. When we bought this yurt, we considered having them make one of those for us instead. We decided against it based on the weight and our Honda’s towing capability. But we had to buy a trailer to get it home anyway and with all the gear we take with us for the summers, it’s probably about the same weight anyway. Plus, they’ve worked hard and lightened it up. They have one for sale right now that is 15 feet in diameter (big for a bedroom, in my book). It’s $5500 (already insulated, wood floors already down, platform done!) and would solve the business inspector issue. It’s a trailer, so they can’t require permits. Bingo. We’d plop it down right between the yurt and the a-frame, connected to the vestibule/porchy thing. Insta-bedroom space!
When I started thinking about just adding another yurt, paying all that money for stick-build structures seems insane so for now, I’m asking questions and trying to make a plan for this next addition to the yurt family.