Yurts (and more interestingly to us, Gers) are front and center on the Milkwood research table currently. We’ve identified these structures as a likely cost-effective, climate-appropriate solution for our coming need for weatherproof, windproof, cosy crew-space come Spring at the Farm.
While there’s many solutions to easily yurt oneself if you have a reasonable budget ($8-$10,000), we need to find a solution more in the DIY realm. So we have searched far and wide, and here’s what we’ve come up with in terms of build-it-yourself-from-scratch Yurt and Ger resources.
Firstly I should clarify that I do mean a Yurt. A really truly, portable, cosy, weatherproof structure that, once the pieces are fully assembled, can be set up or pulled down in a couple of hours. Not a wooden hexagonal post house, not a cordwood-and-cob roundhouse. But a yurt.
More precisely, we’re looking at resources to aid us to build a Ger. A Ger is a Mongolian yurt (a yurt is more the Turkish term, apparently), which differs from a Yurt in various ways, the primary one for us being that it has a lower roof, upright poles holding the central skylight aloft, and is of slightly simpler construction.
Lower roof means easier heating, and warm crew quicker, with less wood burned, on a windy rainy night. Thumbs up for the Ger.
This 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 of under $3000 all up, made by a non-carpenter (read: he paid a carpenter to do the tricky bits). Which sounds pretty good to me.
So between Dave’s fine effort, which he constructed based notes he took in Mongolia (while staying in various Gers) and various other leads, here’s what I’ve got so far in terms of good build-your-own Ger + Yurt resources:
Online Build-Your-Own yurt / ger resources:
Build your own Yurt – A complete guide to making a Mongolian Ger: P. R. King (pdf) – Gotta love this title – not ‘how to’, not ‘why not try’, but BUILD your own yurt. This 1995 doc looks great, and has since been developed into a book.
More Build your Own Yurt resources from the same source (woodlandyurts.uk)
The Mongolian Yurt – A pdf of an article from a 1995 newsletter with some good info
The construction of a yurt – according to Ellisif Fkakkari (Monica Cellio)
Yurt / Ger Notes – an amazing resource containing construction notes, a yurt calculator and enough other useful info to see out at least one entire rainy day.
Yurt Plans from campingyurts.com – these plans cost $20. I bought them and they are extensive + very detailed, and will be helpful no matter what exact version of construction we end up taking.
Instructable plans for building a yurt – some good pictures, worth a look
Not strictly a how-to but still very funky yurt foundation info by Bill Coperthwaite, the author of A Handmade Life.
[scribd id=98850825 key=key-24i7o9uarqxvb7f463aa mode=list]
Yurt Books detailing construction:
The Complete Yurt Handbook – Paul King
Mongolian Cloud Houses: How to Make a Yurt and Live Comfortably – Dan Frank Kuehn
Yurts: Living in the Round – Becky Kemery
Simple Shelters: Tents, Tipis, Yurts, Domes and Other Ancient Homes – Jonathan Horning
While I admit that the aesthetics of the Ger aren’t as luscious as many of the super funky (mostly with a price to match) off-the-shelf yurts available these days, and won’t be the same experience as hanging out in, say, our friends Cam + Jessie’s yurt, the practicality and pragmatic shape and feel of a Ger will suit us best for this first project, i suspect.
Maybe once we’re yurt ninjas we can get fancy, but for now it’s about expediency. We need to design, manufacture and construct a warm common room by Spring on a budget of $3000 max, with the caveat that it needs to be portable so we can reposition it if needs be. So we’ll start with something that we know is achievable, and take it from there.
Know of any other excellent resources of this kind? Let us know! And we’ll share our final plan (and plans) here once the research session hands over to the construction phase…
>> More posts about natural building + all things structural at Milkwood
Lead photo by Azelia Maynard, taken at Milkwood Farm, Easter 2012
Have you seen that movie the Weeping Camel about the Mongolian camel herders? They have the most beautifully decked out gers with lovely carpets and painted wooden furniture. Sigh…
Seriously check out the Celtic style roundhouses. Way easier to get the basic structure up (all you need is polewood and wire or if you want to get fancy, eye bolts).
They also have some nice options to extend them to make external “nooks” (bathrooms, showers, entries etc).
Harris has the book and we built the frame of one at Kotare in a day. Which just leaves the same challenge of the yurt of how to cover/insulate it.
Mike at The Yurt Farm in Goulburn would be happy to share his experience, I’m sure. He has had woofers there building yurts and a nice little stone one was built by a Korean from memory.
Thanks for contacting us at http://www.tentofalltents.com We are glad to see that your Ger project is up and running. I hope all the information that we sent you has come in useful. If you require any further assistance in the future please feel free to contact us at any time.
Saatia your beautiful Gers had me swooning! Wish we were in the market for an off-the-shelf one… but i think we have to stick with DIY for now…
You’ve reminded me how much I want to go to Mongolia – aren’t the Gers beautiful. A friend of mine used to make Dome Tents – not Gers but similar.
Reblogged this on Eremophila’s Musings.
We built a 20′ ger using the Paul King book, and loved it. Spent 3 years using it as a bedroom (ie, slept and stored our stuff in it, shared kitchen and bath with my Dad). If you want to use it in the winter, (experience with 3 winters in central Maine) the solution we came up with to insulate it was a layer of wool army surplus blankets, and a layer of cheap emergency blankets to reflect the heat back into the “room”. Unless you put something up over the emergency blankets it kind of looks like your living… Read more »
Thanks heather, good to know!
Some really useful tips in this forum. I’m looking to get materials to build a yert/ger with my Scout troop in Suffolk on our annual “frostbite camp” in a few weeks. Normally the Young people build natural shelters (bivvi). This year we’re at a different site that does not have the woodland to do this.I’m thinking that this will be an exciting challenge for them if I can get materials and a practise build in before…
You can get an awesome kit from here: http://www.weatherport.com/fabric_model/yurts/
I know it’s not building but you get all the materials and it was fun for me to install.
I’ve probably been aware of yurts for over a decade, but it wasn’t until recently that I decided to get one. Best decision ever. I have property in the mountains that I wanted to put a cabin on but then I stumbled onto yurt living. Ended up going with a 49ft yurt with a ton of living space. I could have saved money by building my own but I came across that yurt kit on simpleterra.com/yurt-kits/ and loved the design and simplicity of the set up. Six months later and it has modern amenities and is fun for escaping the… Read more »