There is the easy way to build a yurt: seek out a quality supplier of yurt kits, select your options & size, and then make your purchase. There is a more difficult way to build a yurt: tour the yurt demonstrations of a variety of suppliers and build based on those model units. Then there is the road less travelled: design & build your own. This is the option my wife and I have chosen.
Conventional, commercial yurt walls are constructed using lattice wrapped with pvc tarpaulin material. A thin aircraft cable is interlaced in the top openings of the latticework, and tightened using a turnbuckle. This structure holds the walls inward in a circle, while the weight of the rafters resting on the cable pushes the walls outward. Stasis, strength and stability thus are achieved.
Our wall structure begins with a 2*3 framework installed around the inside perimeter of a 24″ by 84″ piece of 7/16″ thick oriented strand board. Since our yurt is twenty-eight feet in diameter, with a circumference of approximately eighty-eight feet, 44 sections are needed. Each section meets the next at an eight degree angle, requiring that one of the two vertical 2″ by 3″ studs is cut with an eight degree taper.
To lay out the bottom plate, forty-four 2-foot lengths of 2 by 3 are cut in a slight “vee” shape, at an eight degree angle, as well. Each wall segment will meet the next at the point of the “vee,” with a one-foot extension extending into the adjacent section base. By fastening the wall to these bottom plate segments, a solid circular frame is created.
As each section is placed standing adjoining the next, a top plate, identical to the bottom plate segment, is secured along the top 2″ by 3″ horizontal piece of the wall.
After making sure that all wall segments are vertically plumb, metal joining plates are fastened to join the segments at the top and bottom of each wall segment.
Next, windows and the main door are framed in place, in the same manner as a conventional wall and door or window buck are installed.
For our yurt, we purchased the 7’6″ high by 94′ long tarpaulin from a New Brunswick supplier. The fabric intentionally was ordered longer than the actual circumference of the yurt, to allow for gathering and darts around the doors and windows.
Prior to installing the tarpaulin around the perimeter, window and door edges are caulked and sealed. Along the bottom of the wall segments, a strip of Velcro is fastened. The tarpaulin will extend one inch below the bottom of the wall, so that water will run off and away from the floor. After wrapping the tarp around the yurt walls and temporarily holding it in place, six 15-foot long ratchet tie-downs are connected and tightened along the upper perimeter of the walls, permanently fixing the wall tarp into place.
Walls are now complete.
The next article will describe how to construct the roof rafters and install the assembly onto the yurt.