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Dave and Phoebe’s DIY Yurt

April 12, 2012 | Appropriate Technology, Building, Natural Building | 14 comments | Author:

Over the Easter weekend we had a little shindig at Milkwood Farm, with camping and artists and lots of food. Dave and Phoebe brought their yurt, which they made themselves, from scratch, for under $2,000. It was an amazing and a beautiful thing.

‘Oh yes’, i thought, when Dave said they were bringing it… ‘I know all about yurts – hole in the roof, concertina walls, all that’. But actually I had no idea just how gorgeous in it’s simplicity and elegance of design a hand-crafted, DIY yurt could be…

This yurt is based on the traditional family style of Ger that Dave saw and stayed in while traveling through Mongolia. He then brought his scribbled measurements, notes and observations home and started building his own.

Suffice to say, like any owner-builder project, this yurt is full of ‘next time i’ll do it this way’. But despite the learning curve, it’s a wonderful space and now the fully transportable home for Dave, Phoebe and their 6 month old son.

And so the yurt got set up on the Milkwood creekflat on Good Friday. If you were in a rush, Dave rekons they could set this thing up in under 2 hours. But we weren’t in a rush, so there was rather a lot of talking and snacking as well as setting up. But they were in by dinner!

The yurt version of ventilation. Tuck the sides up.

Of course we all wanted to have a look inside and hear all about how this yurt had come to be, so then Dave and Phoebe had to give us a tour…

Hand made door
Dave explaining yurt-building to the crowd...

The cookstove and heating system, made from a beer keg and modeled on the traditional Ger cookstove (which are usually made from recycled stuff)

In short, we’re sold on this structure as a seasonal solution to creating a crew common room. It’s beautiful. It’s cheap. It’s sturdy. It requires some skill to make but not a ridiculous amount, and can be constructed from scrap and recycled materials.

Stay tuned for a yurt-building skillshare at Milkwood Farm in the early spring!

Many thanks to Rebecca Conroy and Azelia Maynard for the fine photos. Thanks to Dave and Phoebe for welcoming us all into your lounge room. And thanks to Imogen Semmler for organizing the shindig that caused us to appreciate the ways of the DIY yurt…

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  • healingtheearth April 12, 2012 at 8:16 am | Reply

    Oh Oh WOW. That is so cool. We are now encouraged to put one on our land in the Wairarapa NZ.

  • Georgina April 12, 2012 at 9:02 am | Reply

    It’s great to see others building yurts! I built a yurt back in my student days ( nearly 20 years ago!) that I lived in, in Canberra. I had not been to mongolia but spent lots of time looking at photos and books to work out how to build one. People knew about tipis but yurts were a mystery to most. It was in storage for a while then used as a guest room when we moved to the blue mountains. I have since sold it to a friend in katoomba as we have progressed to building an earth home in the mountains!

  • Floyd Chris Constable April 12, 2012 at 9:35 am | Reply

    awww man…missed an aweome weekened by the looks….wanna live in a yurt now..

  • Mary April 12, 2012 at 9:39 am | Reply

    Reblogged this on Upwey Permaculture Class Notes Feb-Mar 2012 and commented:
    A very cool looking Yurt House. A rocket stove will go nicely in one of these!

  • Wynn Te Kani April 12, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Reply


  • ocksblog April 13, 2012 at 5:35 am | Reply

    very cool! I went to a poetry event that was held in yurts on top of a tower block in London a while ago. It’s a really cosy environment for sitting around and chatting. I would love to have one but there’s not much open land where you can just pitch a yurt without knowing the farmer here in the UK

    1. milkwoodkirsten April 13, 2012 at 9:54 am | Reply

      Yep we used to live in a clear-span warehouse in Melbourne of 600 m square… this yurt would have kept us snug in winter there… if only we’d known!

  • Harris April 14, 2012 at 10:20 am | Reply

    Looks great, quick, easy and cheap. However, I’ve just attended a workshop on reciprocating roof roundhouses. A traditional European building similar to a yurt
    But with the bonus of eaves outside to provide additional space. They can be built portable or permanent and require less timber for the frame.

    Check out:
    For the story of tony wrench in wales who built one to live on the commons. Also, Bomun Bock-Chung at sheltercraft in NZ has built them around NZ and is running workshops in this and earthbag. He also tells me he used to wwoof at Milkwood back in the day.

    Roundhouses all round
    Kia Ora from APC 11 in Taurangi

  • shandy April 21, 2012 at 7:48 am | Reply

    Deep cover? Totally blown … :-)

    1. milkwoodkirsten April 21, 2012 at 10:32 am | Reply

      Dude! Yurts are the new black, especially for those of us without the luxury of converted containers ;)

  • […] Dave and Phoebe’s DIY Yurt ( Share this:TwitterRedditPinterestFacebookStumbleUponEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  • […] been mulling over yurts primarily, but recently, the beauty and economy of reciprocating roof roundhouses are got us […]

  • […] Dave and Phoebe’s DIY Yurt ( […]

  • […] is all coming out of us being really impressed with Dave and Phoebe’s DIY yurt which came to Milkwood last Easter. This was a 100% hand-made, home-made Ger constructed at a cost […]


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