Thursday, January 07, 2010
Santa Claus prefers you have a Christmas tree.
I made this startling discovery at about 1:30am on Christmas morning. The weather was kinda rough, with high wind advisories for the north Georgia mountains where I live, and about midnight Christmas eve I noticed that the wind was really getting rough. I remember thinking that it was a good thing…a VERY good thing, that my yurt was far more than just “a tent”, and that Pacific Yurts design was actually an engineered structure designed to stand up to winds of over 100 MPH…because it sounded like the windspeed might approach that…or at least 50-60 MPH, still very high to be in a “tent”.
So…I snuggled down under the covers, and slept like a log…right up until Santa arrived at about 1:30am, discovered I didn’t have a Christmas tree up, and decided to deliver one.
A hint about Santa’s Christmas Tree Delivery Service…you really want to get your own tree…Santa delivers trees that are a wee bit too big!
I awakened to the sound of an 80 ft pine tree falling…right on my three month old yurt. The sound was horrendous…I have never gone from sound asleep to completely awake in such a short time…milliseconds.
Looking up, the first thing I saw was my 6 ft in diameter, heavy, ceiling fan swaying wildly, looking like it was going to fall…and it was almost right over the bed…and me. I scrambled out of bed…and out from under the ceiling fan…and listened to see if there were any sounds indicating the tree hadn’t stabilized yet and might shift and fall further. Thankfully, except for the wind, it was quiet.
I started out the door to look at the tree to see how big it was and how stable it seemed to be…and found the tree had the door blocked. The only other way out besides breaking windows would involve an 8 ft jump from my back French doors as I haven’t built the deck yet…and I really didn’t want to jump in the dark, not knowing exactly what I might land on…so I called 911 to help me get out.
While waiting I started inspecting the inside of the yurt trying to determine the damage…and frankly I expected the worst…a crushed lattice wall section, broken platform, crushed interior bathroom walls as it fell mostly on the bathroom…I didn’t know what I would find, but I knew it would be bad…and here I was with no insurance and no money in the bank for major repairs. I felt sure I was done, I just wasn’t sure HOW done at this point.
As I looked around while waiting on the fire department (well over an hour, with trees down all over, across roads, and they had to cut their way to my place), my original pessimistic assessment began to seem worse than the actual damage.
Sure…there WAS damage. There is no way an 80 ft tall pine tree can fall directly on a structure and do no damage unless the structure is solid poured concrete…but, at least on initial assessment, in very poor light, the damage seemed pretty minor…eight shattered rafters, three more rafters that were compromised enough to make me nervous, two holes in the top cover and ceiling insulation, one three light tracklight bar…and that was pretty much it, at least from the inside. Oh yes, there was one broken 12×12 ceramic tile on the bathroom wall. I was sure a look at the outside would reveal more damage, but I was feeling good so far and hoping additional damage wouldn’t be too bad.
When the fire department got there, they cut away the part of the tree that was blocking the door…and discovered I was still trapped as the door was wedged shut. They were about to use their chainsaw on the front door to cut me out of the yurt but I talked them out of it, not wanting more damage done. They checked the tree and made sure it was stable and not going to finish crushing the yurt, made sure I had someone coming in the morning with a ladder to get me out through the back door, and left…after telling me that the tree wasn’t a big tree…it was a BIG tree, and would probably need a crane to get it off without doing more damage…a crane meant dollars so I was hoping they were wrong.
So…I called Dave, a friend of mine, and asked him to come over in the morning to help “cut wood”…he asked if I was nuts…wasn’t I aware it was Christmas day? I told him the wood was a tree on the yurt and he decided that was OK…he’d come help on Christmas…LOL.
Yes…I called him at 4am…if I was up EVERYONE oughtta be up…LOL…just count yourself lucky I didn’t have YOUR phone number!
Christmas morning my son got off work and brought a ladder so I could get out of the yurt…and Oh boy! I was shocked!!!
I looked at the size of the tree, saw where it had hit the yurt, guesstimated the weight and force it probably hit with given the momentum it must have had when falling, and was amazed there was ANY yurt left standing, much less the relatively minor damage I found, both inside and out. My main thought at that point was, “Yurt-1, Pine Tree-0…damn, those folks at Pacific Yurts sure build a strong structure.”
Let me take a moment here to talk a bit about Pacific Yurts of Cottage Grove, Oregon. I first “discovered” yurts several years ago, and after doing some research I thought they were a really good, functional, economical structure, but one that I had no need for as I already had a house, and didn’t want a vacation cabin elsewhere. I forgot about yurts.
Fast forward to October 2008. My house burned down and I found myself needing to re-build, and the criteria for what I wanted to build always led back to yurts. I wanted something unique as a primary residence, and yurts certainly fill that requirement. As I live a very frugal lifestyle I wanted a home that was very economical to maintain, and, again, yurts did the job. Finally, I wanted to build a place that I could pay for with the insurance proceeds left from my burned house after paying off the property and the yurt worked there as well.
So, having decided on a yurt, I had to decide which yurt manufacturer I wanted to buy from…and there are a bunch of companies out there, none of which were close to me so I could visit and look the company over…and I wanted my decision to be more than a good guess….I wanted more than a guess to be the basis of buying a $15,000 to $20,000 yurt kit, and spend that much more, at least, to finish the inside. Thank God for the internet. There I found 15 to 20 companies that sold yurt kits, located from Virginia to New Mexico, Oregon to Alaska…and one in Canada. Hmmm…which one to go with?
After doing detailed research, including talking to owners of various companys’ yurts, I narrowed my selection to three companies and, finally, Pacific Yurts.
Price-wise, the three companies were very close…cost wouldn’t be a deciding factor.
All three companies offer a variety of options, some functional, some aesthetic, and none of them offer the exact combination of options I would choose if I could custom specify EVERY detail. My perfect yurt would be a mix and match of options from each of the three top companies…but Pacific Yurts came the closest to hitting all my “want” buttons, only missing one of my “wants”, and they impressed me as the most stable and innovative of my choices, being over 30 years old and being the company that came up with many of the ideas for innovations each company offers…and I’d rather have the original than an imitation. Also, Pacific Yurts, while in Oregon, had a customer that had the same size yurt, the same options, and even the same color, within 75 miles of me here in north Georgia, so I could go look at one. The sale was almost made as soon as I saw the yurt in real life, not a web site or sales brochure, but there was one more thing, a total intangible, that finally made the sale.
The people. The Pacific Yurts team.
I can’t name all of them I have dealt with, but I remember them…every single one. There was the woman who answered the phone when I first called them…Stephanie I believe. I hadn’t decided on a yurt yet, much less Pacific Yurts, and I told her so…but she still didn’t rush me. She spent almost an hour answering questions and ended the conversation by getting my address to send me more information…which came two days later by priority mail.
Then there is poor Rob Kimball, who must have cauliflower ear from all the time he spent with a phone pressed to his ear, answering new questions I had come up with since our last conversation…which was, often, just the day before. Rob and I have never met but we’ve talked enough to know each other well enough that I ought to send him birthday and Christmas cards and invite he and his family over for dinner. Never did I feel I was being sold anything while talking to Rob. He never “sold” me anything…instead he did exactly what every good salesman should do…he helped me solve a problem.
Once I had decided to buy a Pacific Yurt, it was Pete Dolan who I tormented on a regular basis. Pete is Pacific Yurts’ go to guy for technical questions…and I assure you, if you have a yurt question, Pete has a good answer. From questions regarding platform construction to roof loads…Pete KNOWS yurts.
Then we have the “shipping guy”, Scott Hammond…who doesn’t consider his job done just by making shipping arrangements…he makes sure you have all the information you need to get the kit safely delivered and unloaded…which can be involved when you are having a freight company make a residential delivery to amateurs who don’t deal with receiving freight on a regular basis. Scott makes it easy.
Last but not least is the company owner. He doesn’t leave taking care of customers to the “hired help”. He took a personal hand in helping get me “made whole” after the tree crashed onto the yurt Christmas morning, going WAY beyond the call of duty getting me what I needed to get back into my yurt as quickly and painlessly as possible.
The tree hit the yurt December 25, a Friday. Frankly I didn’t expect to even be able to start to make arrangements to get the parts needed to put the yurt back together until Monday, January 4. The biggest time of the year for the yurt business is, I think, spring and summer, and I expected Pacific Yurts to be closed from Christmas through the new year, so I left a message on their voice mail on Saturday, December 26, and settled in to wait a week to hear from them.
Monday morning, the 28th, my cell phone rings at 11:30am, 8:30 am pacific time, and it is Pete Dolan with one question, “What can we do to help?”
The bottom line is the repair parts were shipped on Tuesday, December 29th, and will be here Wednesday, January 6, a week and two days later than I thought I would be beginning to make repair arrangements…and by next Wednesday or Thursday the yurt repairs will be finished and I can quit borrowing a friend’s couch. This week Pacific Yurts proved I made the right choice in choosing them to buy my yurt from. Thanks Pacific Yurts…it is greatly appreciated.
Next installment I’ll tell y’all how easy the repairs went and post some before and after pictures.