Introduction: Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt
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."
Step 1: 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 2: Pre-cut the Lumber
Using a cut list, 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 3: 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 4: 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 5: 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 6: 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 7: 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 8: 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 9: Assemble the Wall Panels
The wall panels took about an hour. Then I added the first cable and tensioned it.
Step 10: 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 11: Bring in the Rafters
Once the rafters were secured, which took us about two hours, I added blocking and a second cable.
Step 12: 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 13: That's All for Now. More Soon!
Now you know the basics of the floors, walls, rafters, and roof panels for this kind of yurt construction. As shown in the above photo of a yurt I assembled, you can add a porch or just a wrap-around deck. Some people build 2-3 yurts and connect them together into one house. Yurts can be two-story as well.
In September, 2018, we are publishing a book about this 16-foot diameter, 12-sided yurt. Stay tuned! Meanwhile, we hope this Instructable takes away some of the mystery of how to build one of these amazing structures.
(Photos by Robin Koontz, copyright © 2018)
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