Building a New 20 Foot Gertee





Introduction: Building a New 20 Foot Gertee

In the spring of 2008 we built a 20x24' wooden platform for a whole new 20 foot gertee. The walls are 7 feet high, the center height is 12 feet, and there's a 4 foot wide roofring with a recycled plastic wndow covering the hole.

Some of the materials for this one were new, i.e. the white marine duck canvas outside wall cover and the 30' pool cover tarp used on the outside roof. Inside the roof is a layer of used parachute. In October I added an inside layer of painter's plastic and covered it with recycled and new RadiantGuard.

This gertee was Camp Redington's Alaskan Peoples Museum all summer. We began modifying it into a winter home in late September. The remodel is ongoing.

A special thanks to Tim Redington for his carpentry skills and especially for giving us a place to build our weird little huts. We never could have done this without his assistance. His quirky Alaskan pioneer's knack for recycling materials continues to amaze me.

This 20 foot model cost $600.00 in wood for the platform, $300.00 in lumber for the frame, approximately $300.00 for exterior coverings and another $300.00 in misc used and new materials. The cost of the recycled materials: priceless.



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    Since you live in a yurt, I have a couple questions, is a 16 foot big enough to live in or should I consider a 20 foot yurt. I have written off the deck. May build a platform floor inside the yurt, but I guess not right away. If the door is traditionally on the south side, where would you put the wood stove, on the north side or the west side. The winds come in from the west, sometimes pretty strong. On the east side the ashes would blow away from the yurt. I am thinking of a solid wall for the chimney. I am also thinking about building yurts to sell, but that's down the road a piece. Most commercial yurts are made for people with the big bucks. I want to make something more for the not so rich people, but still have some elegance in the structure and it would be a little more permanent than a lot of the home grown yurts. I like making outdoor furniture, the stuff made out of 2x4's or 2x6's rather than delicate upholstered furniture. I got a lot of ideas swirling around in my head, so am trying to sort things out and bring some of them into reality

    are you building these yurt-shaped structures yet?

    I have some of the walls made, Khana. But I have several problems, our climate here in Maine is wet, not good for yurts. I would have to construct a platform for the yurt, a building permit would be required. My other problem is how to cover it. I need a building which can be heated in winter and kept dry. I am not sure if this yurt would meet my needs. I also wanted it to be somewhat of a permanent structure. I would have liked to buy a pre-made cover from one of the yurt companies, but most of them won't sell only the shell. Right now, I am on hold as far as a building. I need another building, but don't know what I will do. I am worried about dealing with building inspectors, as I have other possible violations here. If I can find a solution to those possible violations then I can move forward with the Yurt. Money is always an issue here. If you need advice about building a yurt, maybe I can help. I am hoping to move forward with my issues this summer. I will post more info, when I get ready to build the yurt.

    nitepagn--- have you ever thought of a hogan like in the west. solid, made of logs or 4 x4's laid in an octagon shape. solid building, could have windows and regular doors etc. might be the answer to your problems. hunter

    I am thinking about putting up a yurt. Would be seasonal at best. I want to put in a sand base with cement blocks around the edge for the yurt to stand on. I have some of the Khana made cut from 2x4's. The roof rafter might be furring strips, Ultra cheap wood. Would be 16 feet round. The covering would be canvas or awning material, maybe with window opening of some type for air. I would be following one of the pdf's that I downloaded from the net. If you need a copy let me know. The yurt would be used for an exercise room, heated with a pellet stove for fire safety. A wood stove can be used, but there are fire risks. A kerosene heater could be used, but had bad luck with trying to keep them working ok.

    The difference between a 16 footer and a 20 footer is amazing. I think you'll find it much more livable in the long term to go with the bigger model. A wooden floor makes it feel a LOT more like a cute cabin and it doesn't need to be high off the ground. If there is air flow underneath you need to insulate it like any normal floor. Radiant heated floorboards would be superb. I ignore the traditional place to put the door, and highly recommend 2 doors as you may find it appealing to add a second yurt later on and it's a good fire exit. I'd love to have a solid wall for the stovestack and think it's a great idea. My door on this one faces northwest and I put my woodstove next to the doorway on the right because it's convienent for bringing in the wood supply. I also put my kitchen to the left of the door since it's easier to bring in my water. Building affordable and elegant yurts is a seriously worthy endeavor. Not only is it a viable aternative housing option for low income people, it also fits well within the green and sustainable lifestyle movement. You may find a lot of support for this project within your local community development agency. If you can design functional furniture to fit inside a round room you'd open yourself up to the entire yurt market, because fitting square edged furnishings into a round room is the most often heard complaint by new yurt owners. I've also found it's easier to place my heavy straight edged furniture in the center, using it to form my walls. This keeps the air flow on the outer walls and reduces inside wall condensation problems. My 20 footer is big enough to have 3 separate rooms, my kitchen and bedroom are on the left side (8x20') and the whole right side is the living/dining room (12x20') We'll be experimenting with covering the roof with moss this next summer, since ours is obviously becoming more of a permanent structure. We're also considering covering the outside walls with bricks or stones. I guess the best advice I have is to try anything you think is worth the effort. To me this is a great way to find out exactly what we need to be comfortable and safe, at the same time we're helping to save the planet by using as many locally harvested, recycled and produced materials as we can. Please be sure to keep us posted on your progress and any furniture designs you make! Too bad Maine's so far away, it would be fun to come help you with this. :)

    Thanks for the info. I was afraid the 20 ' would be a great idea. Will have to do that. I can do walls and roof rafters for the cost of the wood, I have a table saw and router, so I can smooth out the wood. I'll set up a jig so it will be easy to run through all the pieces. The only problem is the work shed has limited heat which makes it hard to work in. My heater goes through a 1 lb propane tank every 6 hours. Temp is now around 30 F all the time now, so heat in the shed is a must.

    The rigid panel for the chimney. I will use T-111, the one that is painted beige in color, is the best, cost about $20 a sheet. Will reinforce with 2x4's, insulate and put the T-111 on the inside too. I am also thinking about putting in slider window using the T-111 to give a sturdy wall section. Guess I would put the door on the East, stove on the North and the windows on the South. A Kitchen window and a living room window. I don't think it is wise to put a window on the windy west side. The wind howls in the winter. My trailer is aligned north and south and gets the wind broadside.

    Behind the trailer is an open almost level field about an acre in size which I own. This is where the Yurt will go. I think a secondary yurt off the first would be a bathroom, shower, if I have running hot water and a composting toilet. I hope to eventually generate my own electricity with solar or wind energy. I want to also have a few sheep for wool, goats for milk and chickens for eggs. Will also need a garden for food. Still not sure how I will get water without electricity, maybe drive a point into the ground with a pitcher pump. Would be nice to have it inside the yurt. I'm dreaming again.

    Are you aware of the coming Earth Changes and the big shift. One of the primary reasons for my interest in all this. If you want to know more go to http://zetatalk.com I can't tell you it is true or false, but I feel it will really happen. You have to decide for yourself. I also believe you are in a safe area.

    One thing I haven't figured out yet is what to do about the open ring in the ceiling. I would like it open for sunlight and air, but also need to be able to close it for rain and winter weather. Maybe the canvas is the best solution. Where did you get your plastic dome for the top.

    For furniture, the side toward the wall, keep it narrow 24' or less. for walls hang sarongs, if privacy is needed. Try to get wool felt for the roof, it will stay warm even if it gets wet. I think I would put the bricks on the inside of the yurt. Would help hold the heat in the yurt.

    Winter is just starting, I will keep you informed and will tale a lot of pics.

    I've been scoping the net looking at yurts or gers and I like how you did the roof. I hope to build one next spring here in Maine.

    It's not in the slideshow but here's how we covered the roof: I cut the parachute from one outer edge to the top circle, then I pulled it up over the roof beams and wrapped it tight round the edge of the roofring. Then I laid out the 30' round pool cover, measured and marked the center hole with duct tape, then I cut out the center. I pulled it over the top lining up the cutout piece in the center. Since the plastic skylight was screwed to the roofring, Tim had to climb up on the outside and unscrew the plastic, tuck the tarp and parachute tight underneath it and screw it back down. We didn't know if the roofbeams would hold his weight so he put a 12' ladder under the roofring for support, and then he did this thing where he "thought light." I'll see if I can find where I filed the pics of him on the roof and add them. Another thing is the round pool cover is not a good waterproof tarp and the best tarps are the heavy duty reinforced thick ones. A square tarp works fine and can be trimmed once it's up. They're a bit hard to find and cost about $150. for a 24x24, but it's a worthwhile investment if you want to stay dry. Good luck with yours! Hope you take lots of pics abd share them with us.

    Up here in Maine I own 2 acres and a trailer which I live in. Maybe you remember Roger Miller's song King of the Road. It's about Bangor, Maine. I am just outside of Bangor. Winter's a bit milder than Alaska. I want to build a real house with a wood stove and have settled upon a yurt. I don't have the $100,000 to build a real house, so a yurt is doable. I own my land, just have to get permission from the town. I have a small woodshop so will cut the wood from 2x4's or 2x6's. I can get some nice Douglas Fir as 2x10's. Am thinking that I will use that as it is nice and straight and has very few knots. It is also quite rot resistant, will treat it with Thompsons water seal, gives the wood a nice finish, too. Will tie the slats together with cording rather than nuts and bolts. Am trying to cut costs here. Want to use a steel cable to hold the rafters in place. The Door will be custom build and the roof ring will be solid, similar to the roof ring which you are using. I have decided to build a deck, which will be my big cost. The wall and roof coverings will need to be insulated, not sure on this stuff yet, will have to research that some more. Thanks for your advice.