It seems there has been some great interest in how our other Stolz family lives, yurt style. It is true that against our better judgement, when we come across something new and strange, what do we do? We gawk at it. So let me allow you to gawk at the yurt in the privacy of your living room.
In my original post on Yurt Life I gave a brief glimpse at how my brother-in-love Jair, his wife Mel, and their two kids, Nova and Asher, are living. They have chosen to live as off-the-grid as possible, and found the yurt to be an ideal home as they save money up to upgrade to building their Earthship. To live in a yurt you don’t have to love yak fat or be a hipster-woodsman, although Jair’s beard did get slightly out of hand at one point. They chose it because it was a cheap alternative, an eco-friendly way of living, and it is cool as heck.
Like everything else in life, having good contacts is a huge bonus. With the help of friends that own a lumber yard, and many friends for manual labour, they managed to save a fair bit of money in the building process. They built it from scratch.
I’m sure that many people would consider a yurt a “tiny home” but with the main floor being around 800 square feet with an additional 100 sq feet of loft space this place isn’t actually that small. And its about 24ft tall from the ground to the tip, which gives you that vaulted ceiling airiness.
One of the things that struck me when seeing this place was the amount of cross pieces required to make the wall portion. Here I thought they had bought them pre-made and just had to bolt them together, but I was totally wrong. They have 125 cross pieces making up the inner wall, each with 9 holes drilled in to them. That means Mel and her friend Dee had to stand at the drill press for hours perfectly aligning ever one of these holes. That’s insane!
The women, hard at work at the drill press
It took them about 3 months from start to “move in”, and then follow up, of course, the smaller random jobs that they can accomplish while living in the yurt. Jair equated the time to: building the base = 1.5 months of lazy work, the walls = 2 weeks of lazy work, the roof = 1 afternoon with 6 friends helping, and the insulation and cover = 4 long @#* days. And for a little extra motivation to get er’ done, while they were building their yurt, they squeezed their family into a 30ft trailer as a temp home.
The temp trailer settlement while the yurt was underway
Since they were willing to put in the hard work to build this place themselves, and to take the time to look for good deals, they built their home for about 13K. That was for everything from the gravel underneath, to the solar power, to the yurt cover (which is actually a slightly modified vinyl cone-shaped grain bin cover). And don’t assume that you couldn’t do it because you don’t have the know how, neither did Jair, but the Stolz men are industrious. They will learn what they don’t know and make it happen. They are amazing like that.
If this scenario seems dreamy to you, and you are keen on doing the same, there are a few things to keep in mind before you jump in head first. Yes, it is dreamy, they are living up in the woods, with no one around, living off the earth and sun, and doing what they find important for their family. But like boating and many other “odd” lifestyles, living off the grid comes with some harder duties, that may not be for everyone. Such as hauling a bucket of your poop out of the house to the compost area, lugging jugs of water in and trying to conserve it (meaning shorter showers, and efficient dish washing), or using a smaller solar power system, restricting you in your energy usage, and totally denying you the use of anything with a heating element (goodbye toast) or plugging in your diesel truck on freezing Canadian mornings. It is hard work but satisfying in a wholesome kind of way.
The temp bathroom, until it could be relocated to inside the yurt
What did they not expect about the yurt life. The beautiful snowy wonderland that surrounded them last winter, in the mountains near Golden, had them walking a lot more than foreseen. The entire driveway up to their place is about 1.5km long, but with the snow, the last 500 meters of that was completely impassable for about a 2 months period. They had to park their cars at that 500 meter mark and use a snow machine, quad, and their legs to get to and from their yurt. Even their 4×4 was useless. There was just too much of the white fluffy stuff.
It was a neat experience getting to stay in their yurt, and seeing all the similarities that yurt life has to boat life, just swap out snow for ocean. And it is nice to know that if ever we get real sick of what we are doing there is always the “winter getaway” option.
If you have more specific questions about what and how they did all this, feel free to ask and I will try and get the answers for you.