Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt

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Introduction: Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt

About: I'm a writer and illustrator of books for children and Marvin is a craftsman, carpenter, and retired building contractor. We build various things for our Funny Farm and I write about them.

This yurt is based on the original yurt design, employing a center ring and tension cable (I use two), but it is a twelve-sided all-wood yurt built using wood-framed panelized construction, which includes roof panels in addition to radial rafters similar to the traditional yurt.

A panelized building system means that the main structural components of a building are constructed off-site and then transported to the site for assembly. Everything can be constructed inside a shop or barn in almost any kind of weather. Working off-site allows the use of power tools that might otherwise not be available for a yurt being built outside of the grid.

I assembled pre-manufactured yurt components for several years, but this was the first yurt that I built from scratch. We decided to share the basics of the primary components - the foundation, floor panels, wall panels, rafters, and roof panels - and their installation here. People with enough skill and knowledge will be able to take this information and work with it. A yurt is truly "thinking outside a box."

Thanks everyone for voting for our yurt in the Tiny House Contest! We're delighted to be one of the three first place winners! If you want more information about building this yurt from scratch, read to the end.

Step 1: Follow a Plan

Here are the floor and roof plans for our yurt.

Step 2: The Foundation

You’ll need a solid foundation to attach to and support the yurt structure. I used concrete posts with brackets, then beams around the perimeter. The center post is at the same level as the top of the beams. Other options are concrete stem wall with traditional floor construction, slab, or wooden pier posts. The trick is to get everything lined up and level for the 12-sided structure.

Step 3: Pre-cut the Lumber

I pre-cut all the lumber for the floor, wall, and roof panels. Then I'd pretty much just be fastening them all together then adding plywood sheathing.

Step 4: Build the Floor Panels

Twelve matching floor panels were assembled, insulated and sheathed. Hardware cloth was fastened on to keep critters out of the insulation.

Step 5: Build the Wall Panels

Wall panels employed a template to make the building go quickly. I allowed for windows in three panels and one door.

Step 6: Build the Roof Panels

Like the floors, my roof panels were also insulated. I attached ice and snow shield as a temporary roofing system. You can install shingles on at this point if you choose to. Keep in mind that everything you add, adds weight. You can just frame and sheath the outside of the roof panels and call it good for now, as I did with the wall panels.

Step 7: Prepare the Rafters

Rafters were cut from full dimension 3x5 milled lumber I had, but the book calls for lumber yard 4x6 beams. The ends are now cut for the fascia, and the other ends are invert-cut to fit against the corners of the ring assembly.

Step 8: Build the Skylight Ring and Tower

A tower holds up the ring that the rafters attach to; the skylight fits over it. We'll post another Instructable about that later, but you'll see how it goes together in the assembly photos.

Step 9: Assemble the Floor Panels

Once all the components are done, assembly can happen in a day. The floor panels took two old boys about an hour.

Step 10: Assemble the Wall Panels

The wall panels took about an hour. Then I added the first cable and tensioned it.

Step 11: Set Up the Ring Tower

Our yurt has a 6-foot skylight, but we recommend a 3-foot version that you can build easily and for not much money. I already had a 6-foot dome skylight, so I used it. It was no easy chore to get it and the tower lifted and set into place!

Step 12: Bring in the Rafters

Once the rafters were secured, which took us about two hours, I added blocking and a second cable.The cable isn't shown here, but you can see holes near the rafter ends where it goes.

Step 13: Install the Roof Panels

The roof panels, with more help than before, took about two hours. They weighed roughly 120 lbs. each.

My next steps are insulating the ridge spaces and adding more ice and snow shield, then the skylight dome.

Step 14: Flash and Install the Skylight

We were literally finishing this yurt after I posted this Instructable! Once the roof panels had rigid foam insulation stuffed between them and more ice and snow shield installed, we flashed the wooden ring in preparation for the skylight.

We had a 6-foot skylight with eight sides for our dodecagon yurt...which meant some interesting finessing. In the book we're going to publish, we demonstrate a 3-foot skylight with twelve sides, which will be a whole lot more straight forward.

But anyway, the skylight fit snug and was screwed in. The tower can now be disassembled.

Step 15: Here's the Complete Materials List

This materials list (with prices in Lane County, Oregon, U.S.) will give you an idea of everything that goes into this structure if done the way we built it. We'll be tweaking this list before it's "done," but it's close enough now.

Step 16: That's All for Now. More Soon!

Here's a photo of the Three Yaketeers, aka Seniors Who Build Stuff. That's Wildcat Man in the middle, with Robin on the right and our dear neighbor Keith on the left. And of course, there's Jeep (our supervisor) in front.

October 22, 2018: our book is now available on Amazon.com! Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt has 176 pages of photos, drawings, plans, and instructions - enough for anyone with a few basic construction skills to build this yurt. We are publishing both a color and a black and white edition, since color turned out to be pretty spendy. Meanwhile you can read more about the yurt and the book on YurtYaks on Facebook and on Wildcat Man's blog. Thanks for reading and thank you Instructables for allowing us to share this news.

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    35 Comments

    0
    seedoneuniversallove
    seedoneuniversallove

    Question 5 months ago

    Hi , This is amazing ! Thank you :) Could this be done with 12 walls still for a 30 diameter yurt ? would it stand and fit in a truck ? How many loads dit it took you ? how did you carry it on the road ? Lots of Joy and a wonderfilled day to you !

    0
    Wildcat Man and Robin
    Wildcat Man and Robin

    Answer 5 months ago

    Hello Seedone,

    The short answer to your first question is yes. But you probably don't want to. The answer will follow further below. The twelve walls would be about 7'9" wide. Still manageable. And would fit on a trailer bed.

    Now to the moving/hauling issue. Since we built our walls/floors/roof panels in a barn fairly close to the site, the moving was done in small hauls on a pickup truck.

    The endeavor of getting everything on a truck is a math problem that you
    will have to solve. But I will give you some simple math to think about
    your project. There are three main parts that take up the bulk of the
    space required: floors, walls, and roof panels. The math: walls of 2X4
    framing — 4" X 12 = 4' by 8' ? length// floors of 2 X 8 framing — 8" X
    12 = 8' by 15' length// roof of 2 X 6 framing — 6" X 12 = 6' by 17'
    length. If you stacked them all on one pile (not recommended) they
    would be 18' high. So they need to be stacked in halves. Beams and
    skylight and materials wouldn't be too much space, but have to be worked
    in.

    Now to why you probably don't want to go with 12 sides. I'll just reference the roof panel. That panel is a structure that is 17' long with one end being 7'9" wide and 6" deep. To get it on the roof, unless you have a bunch of weightlifters around, you'll have an issue.

    Read over the upsizing a yurt in our blog. If you haven't read the book, you probably should. It will guide you through the process. https://wildcatman.wordpress.com/2019/03/14/scaling-up-the-size-of-the-yurt/

    0
    AdamW266
    AdamW266

    2 years ago

    Hey, where did you guys get your $296 Dome Window / sky light?
    Thank you :)

    0
    mooncheeseize
    mooncheeseize

    2 years ago

    Hi there,
    Just wondering what the external sheathing material is? is it some sort of red plastic fixed to the plywood? Many thanks

    0
    Wildcat Man and Robin
    Wildcat Man and Robin

    Reply 2 years ago

    It's just painted plywood. I guess it looks a bit shiny in the photos!

    0
    mooncheeseize
    mooncheeseize

    Reply 2 years ago

    I see thank you ! Also what are the green cover strips on the exterior made from?

    0
    Wildcat Man and Robin
    Wildcat Man and Robin

    Reply 2 years ago

    Green flashing material, adjusted to the correct angle and pre-drilled for screws. I did this because it will be a while before I put the siding on the structure.

    0
    joshpit2003
    joshpit2003

    3 years ago

    Awesome project guys. Thanks for sharing.

    I was wondering though: For the floor panels, why use a hardware cloth instead of just sheathing the bottom side as well?

    0
    Wildcat Man and Robin
    Wildcat Man and Robin

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thank you! Floor panels wouldn't need anything if they weren't insulated, but ours were. I used hardware cloth instead of sheathing to save about $200 and to keep the weight down. But sheathing would work fine and would be a lot easier to install.

    0
    strublewd
    strublewd

    3 years ago on Step 1

    have you completed the detailed ring drawing yet?

    0
    Matthew27
    Matthew27

    3 years ago

    Same type of construction principle as Deltec prefab homes from NC. I helped my brother build one back in the 80's.

    0
    Wildcat Man and Robin
    Wildcat Man and Robin

    Reply 3 years ago

    Yup! Deltec is one of a number of yurt kit mfr's we have listed in our book for people who aren't able or inclined to build their own parts. I've assembled pre-built yurts as well, for a different company, but this is the first time I built all the components, too.

    0
    mialjojo1
    mialjojo1

    3 years ago

    How many square feet?

    0
    Wildcat Man and Robin
    Wildcat Man and Robin

    Reply 3 years ago

    Multiply the radius (8, half of diameter is radius) by itself to square the number: 8x8=64 x pi (3.14159)= 201 square feet. Edit: you lose area at each corner, leaving about 190 square feet. I'll post something about that soon.

    0
    LilacLisa
    LilacLisa

    3 years ago

    I like it! For me, it would be my She-Shed! :)

    0
    kilgore64
    kilgore64

    3 years ago

    Nice concept and I appreciate your sharing, but it seems like this is more of an enclosed gazebo than a yurt. One of the key features of a yurt is portability. This seems like a pretty permanent structure that probably weighs in excess of two tons.

    0
    aebe
    aebe

    Reply 3 years ago

    There has been a commercial outfit building wooden yurts since the '70s , they advertised in the Mother Earth News and other places .

    An immobile wooden yurt is a long shoestring away from the traditional yurt , but it is accepted .

    0
    Wildcat Man and Robin
    Wildcat Man and Robin

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks! I appreciate your comment. As posted, this structure is built like a traditional yurt by employing a center ring and tension cable (I use two), as well as radial rafters. It's certainly a departure from the traditional yurt, but isn't a gazebo either.

    You can indeed disassemble this structure the same way you assembled it. We transported all the parts to the site on a small truck and had it together in about eight hours. The entire structure is primarily assembled using screws and bolts. If rudimentary plumbing and electrical systems were installed, as in a tent-style, they would be "unplugged."

    For people who love the idea of living in the round, but who also desire a permanent structure that can pass local building codes, this might be the structure for them.