How to set up a yurt kit, part 1

 Posted by at 6:29 pm  Yurt Yak
Aug 272010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hi folks!  When we last talked, I had gone over the beginning of the construction phase of erecting and living in a yurt.  For folks who are new to the yurt section of, this construction section is about starting with a piece of raw land and finishing up with a livable yurt.  For information on yurt living go to  “Let’s Go Yurting Now >> Yurt Living” .

For you long suffering loyal readers who have waited patiently for the next essay on erecting a yurt…you know, the one about erecting the actual kit…here it is.


Days late.

Weeks late…

…months even.


So anyway…are you ready to erect that yurt the freight truck brought you?  Have the crates been sitting on your land for lo these many months, waiting for my yurt erection post?


It has a pretty clear instruction book, you know.

At least it does if it’s a Pacific Yurt.

Oh…you say you wanted a good laugh, eh?

(no, I’m not Canadian, eh.)

Important note on this blog section:

Everything on about yurt construction that came before this yurt kit erection section, and everything that will follow it, is intended to give details for specifically how to start from scratch and build a yurt the way I did.

That is not true of this section on actually erecting the kit portion of the whole job.  I know Pacific Yurts provides, and I assume other reputable companies do as well, a clear, easily understandable book of instructions on how to set their kit up.  If you buy a yurt it will be in the items you are mailed ahead of delivery.

Use it, not this blog section, when actually setting the kit up.

This portion of is for information purposes for folks who are thinking of purchasing a yurt and are curious as to just what is involved in setting it up.  It is an overview, not detailed instructions.

If this section generates questions that are not answered here, you have several options:

Ask them in the comment section below posts.  I read the comments and answer questions if I can.

Email me if you would rather.

Call me at 678-995-8339

Or contact Pacific Yurts at 800-944-0240

My salesman was Robert Kimball, and technical questions are answered best by Pete Dolan.  Both are well informed on their product, are patient when questioned over and over, and are poster children for good customer service, as are all the folks I dealt with at Pacific Yurts.

Now…back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Depending on the size kit you ordered, the shipment can consist of up to 2 crated pallets, 1 pallet with a roll of lattice wall section(s), 3 bundles of rafters, and, if you got the snow and wind kit, 3 bundles of tie-down studs, weighing over 3000 lbs total, and the freight company is not responsible for unloading it, so have a forklift or 4-5 friends handy to help.

Bribe ‘em with a promise of plentiful adult beverages…but don’t let ‘em imbibe until the pallets are safely off the truck!

Erecting the kit is amazingly simple.  The instruction book from Pacific Yurts will give you a short list of tools they say you need, but my short list is even shorter…hammer, large flathead screwdriver or flatbar/prybar (with hammer to open crates), battery or 110V powered screw gun with Phillips tip (or, if you are frisky…REALLY frisky, a Phillips head screwdriver with a #2 tip), a skill saw if you got the snow and wind kit (or handsaw…see frisky comment above), and a pair of pliers.  Oh…and 2-3 friends for 2-3 days.

That’s it.  After erecting the kit you will need more to finish the inside, but that will get the yurt up.

Tell your friends you are going to build a place to live and dry it in completely, using a screwdriver, a hammer, and a pair of pliers and watch them laugh.

Then let them watch you laugh when you do it.

Now…it’s not Christmas, but open all the crates anyway.  You are excited and want to see what you’ve got, and it’s a good thing to familiarize yourself with what is where and what it looks like before the instructions tell you to get this or that and you don’t have any idea what this or that looks like.

The doors (and convenience panel(s) if you got any) are on the crated pallet that looks like this.

Be careful when uncrating this pallet.  The dome for your yurt is the very top item and it scratches relatively easily, so take care when prying the crate apart.

The door(s) are the bottom item(s) in the same crate.

The wall sections are the palliated round bundle, like this one.

Remember that round platform we built in earlier posts on building a yurt?

This one?

Put the wall sections, any convenience panels, and the doors on the platform.  Go ahead…I’ll wait.

For my yurt, I have one single door, one French door, and one convenience panel.  Imagine a clock face.  My front entry door is at 6 o’clock, my rear French doors are at 12 noon (or midnight), and my convenience panel is at 3 o’clock.

The number of wall sections in the roll will match the number of doors and convenience panels you ordered.

Hey, Bob!  Whoa!  What is a convenience panel?

Ooops…sorry.  A convenience panel is an option offered by Pacific Yurts.  Basically, it is a door frame with a single wood panel permanently affixed to the frame in place of a door.  I don’t know every possible use for it, but in my case I got it for two reasons.  First, while I heat with a hydronic radiant floor, I may in the future want to install a wood stove, either for ambiance or as supplemental heat in the case of a power failure, or both.

While Pacific Yurts has a flashing kit for running the stovepipe through the wall, it involves cutting a hole in the wall material, something I didn’t want to do…and putting the chimney through the roof is a bad BAD idea in a yurt, so I got the convenience panel as a location for the stovepipe to pass through the wall.  Remember though, wherever you have Pacific Yurts cut material for a specific panel location, you are stuck with that location.  Have your interior planning complete enough to be absolutely sure where you want the panel when you order your yurt…or it might wind up as a bath accessory in your shower!

Also, the convenience panel is the perfect way to mount a window unit air conditioner if you decide you need one.  I hope I’m not going to need it, but since I just got settled in on September 28 of last year and haven’t gone through July and August in the yurt yet, I may change my mind.  If so, I have a perfect place to mount it.

The panel is big enough to do both.  The stovepipe can be turned toward the wall immediately above the stove and exit the yurt about 3 feet above floor level while the A/C unit can be mounted higher up on the panel.

I haven’t done either…yet…so there are no pictures.

OK…remember way back in a previous post I cautioned you to keep track of the exact center of the yurt, and the exact centerline running from 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock?  Now is when the centerline comes into play.

Assuming your 6 o’clock is the center of your front door, set your door in place, centering the door over that centerline you kept track of, and secure it in place temporarily by running one screw through the threshold into the subfloor and holding it erect with a 2×4 attached to the top of the door frame and the floor.

Alternatively, if you don’t want it screwed in place temporarily, you can have a friend hold it while the rest of the walls go up.

Use a lazy friend.  The walls and doors will take over an hour and you don’t want to lose a hardworking friend for that long.

Repeat this for each door and convenience panel in your package.

More lazy friends needed.

Next, you unroll the wall section package.

Attach the wall sections to the door frames using hardware supplied by Pacific Yurts…

Pacific Yurts supplies ALL the hardware needed to erect their kits.

All of it.

Right down to the last screw.

Push out the bottom of the walls until they are up against the drip edge you installed while building the platform, then adjust the lattice, sliding it left and right, until it is expanded evenly.  If it is uneven, where it is spread too wide the walls will be too short, and where it is squished (highly technical construction term) too close together the walls will be too tall.

Confession time here.  You CAN take this left/right adjusting thing a bit…too…far.  I’m usually way WAY laid back, but when I’m doing something that 1.) I’ve never done before, 2.) Costs more than a good fishing rod, 3,) Comes with good instructions, and 4,) Will fall on me in my sleep if done wrong, and that will hurt real bad…my laid back attitude goes away…far, far away.  I get obsessive and do something usually foreign to me.

I follow directions.  I overdo following directions.  I overdo to the point that I got out my tape measure and actually measured the distance between each rivet around the top, all the while happily adjusting back and forth until I got the spacing right.

Exactly right.

EXACTLY…like to the quarter inch.  Then I sighed contentedly.

All that is not necessary, close is good enough, but I had to tell y’all that I had gotten a wee bit obsessive about it.  After all, confession is good for the soul, right?

We will keep this little flaw of mine just between us, OK?

At this point you have a circle of lattice, with doors installed.  You erected the walls and installed the doors for a 706 square foot home with 2 friends, in less than 2 hours.

How cool is that??!?!?

Next, rummage around in the three hardware boxes that come packed with the kit and find a coil of steel cable.  Actually, there will be either 2 or 3 coils of cable.  The standard kit will have 2 coils, and the snow and wind kit option will total 3 coils.

Right now you want the heaviest duty cable…the difference will be obvious.

The cable will be strung around the top of the wall, lying in the “V” between the tops of the lattice pieces.  It really doesn’t matter where you begin and end, hooking the hook into the loop, but the connection doesn’t lend itself to good interior design so I hooked the ends together over the French doors at the back, the most out-of-sight place I could think of…but you can hook the ends together anywhere.

Lookin’ more and more like a yurt, eh?  Just wait till the next step is done…

Now it’s time to install the center ring and rafters.  Before starting to do so, set up a 2 section high set of scaffolding in the center of the yurt, and place two 2×4 or 2×6’s across the top to rest the center ring on initially.

A safety warning:

Some have said the entire kit can be erected with just ladders.  Perhaps, but I don’t see how, and it certainly cannot be done safely! Please either rent (Home Depot) or cobble together a homemade scaffold setup that is about 10 feet high.  If you home build something, build it strong.  After the center ring and rafters are up (relatively light and only one person up top) there is the roof material to install…over 300 lbs plus 3 people.

First you want to get the center ring lifted, and held, in place, and the best way to do that is to install 4 rafters, at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock.  2 people can do this, but I suggest 3, 1 on the scaffolding and 2 on the ground.

Start by using tape to mark the exact spots on the cable at the top of the walls that those 4 rafters will connect to the wall, and use a spot of tape to locate the correct holes on the center ring.  You don’t want to be trying to figure out the correct hole while holding the ring and a rafter up…they are light, but not THAT light.

Now the 2 guys on the ground get ready with a rafter each, prepared to feed the end with the steel pin to the person on top of the scaffolding.  First, 1 rafter is fed, the man on top puts the pin in the hole on the center ring, and the man on the other end pushes the rafter up and toward the center ring until the ring has lifted enough for the slot at the wall end to slip over the cable.  Now do the second rafter, the one a quarter way around the wall, the same way.  Next, the guys on the ground need to be a bit speedy as the guy on the scaffolding has to hold pressure against the center ring so it doesn’t slip off the pins in the rafters already in place.

Rafter three’s steel pin is pushed into the appropriate hole in the center ring, then the other end’s notch is slipped over the cable, and repeat with rafter 4.

Now relax a minute…have some coffee.  You were rushed, a bit anxious, and wanting to finish that part before the whole thing came crashing down.

It wasn’t going to, but you weren’t real sure about that.  Take a breath.

BTW…the whole center ring thing took only about 15-30 min, max.

Next, with one man on top and one on the platform, put up the rest of the rafters…all 48 of the rest (there are 52 total in a 30 foot diameter Pacific Yurt).  The third guy can follow behind with a screw gun and bag of included screws that lock the rafters to the cable.

After about 5 hours work for 3 people, starting with this…

The end of a long, hard first day

…you will have this.  Congratulations!

The article on erecting the kit will be a two-parter.  This is part one.  Look for “Setting Up the Kit, part 2” within a week.

Editor’s standard request:  This blog, on yurts in particular and the other topics in general, is a discussion, not a lecture series.

Comments, criticisms, and questions are welcome, encouraged even, in the comment section at the end of all articles.


All about Bob the nutjob!

Bob is a N Georgia blogger, homesteader, yurt liver, self-sufficiency nutjob, pig farmer, political activist, politician baiter...and the best damn cook you know that doesn't make a living at it.He can be followed onTwitter. You can also "Like" our Facebook page.

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