Oct 202010
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So…can a yurt really be your primary residence, or are they limited to being a weekend cabin type structure?

After seeing a yurt, perhaps staying in a rental yurt in a state park or vacation resort area, your intrigue has become curiosity and finally a desire to live in a yurt.  That is a great decision…I know I love living in mine…but the question of living in one as your primary residence always comes up and I’ve never seen an answer…from other yurt owners or from yurt companies…that I feel really answers concerns satisfactorily…so here are some thoughts based on my experience.

Yurt companies really cannot answer the question, primarily for legal and liability reasons, so don’t get mad at them for not giving you definitive help in deciding if you want to make a yurt your home.  The legal issues that are varied all across the country make it impossible for a company to give a thumbs up or thumbs down on your particular situation.  If they make a mistake and someone buys from them based on their advice, then runs into problems with local laws, they leave themselves open to liability, so they HAVE to leave the decision up to you.

I don’t have that restriction, so I can give you my opinion, based on experience, on issues you might face and possible solutions.  Also, besides legal issues about erecting and living in a yurt, I’ll be addressing insurance issues as well.

So…let’s see if I can answer some of your questions, OK?

Are yurts a livable long term option?

The first thing that might occur to you after you’ve had a yurt experience…either camping in one or seeing one on TV or in a magazine article…is the question, “Yurts are really cool, neato, and peachy-keen, but are they REALLY livable long term?”

Well, you can read about my first year of yurt living, September 2009 through September 2010, in my post “Yurt living one year in…thumbs up or thumbs down?”,  but the short answer is a definitive and resounding yes, long term living in a yurt is not only doable, it is great!  Space is a bit limited with a large yurt (30 feet in diameter) being about 700 square feet, and you need to learn small space living, but it is not just doable, it is very comfortable…and for families bigger than a couple some folks have hooked two or more together, one for kitchen, living, and dining areas and one for sleeping and bathroom(s).

Would you call a yurt “affordable housing”?

I hate to sound repetitive, but the answer is, again, a resounding YES!  Obviously costs will vary from area to area, but my 30 foot yurt from Pacific Yurts cost me about $45,000 to build from bare ground to livable home.  Breakdowns of costs of various stages of the actual yurt will be in separate posts that will follow.

This cost included building the platform on a crawlspace foundation, buying, shipping, and setting up the yurt kit itself and all interior construction separate from the actual yurt (bathroom, kitchen cabinets and appliances, plumbing, heating, and cooling, etc).  It does not include land costs as I already owned the property debt free, site preparation as I built on the spot where my house had burned down the year before, or well and septic system installation as the ones that had serviced my previous house were still useable.  This cost also does not include the cost of landscaping, decks, or porches beyond a basic 5×10 entry porch because those costs can be so variable, depending on your taste.

So…a 700 square foot home, with ceramic tile kitchen floors and countertops, ceramic tile bathroom and custom shower, and a professional grade kitchen, can be built for about $65.00/sq ft.  A friend of mine who is a homebuilder said he wouldn’t touch this job for less than $150,000…plus the $18,000 I paid to buy and ship the kit itself.


So yes, a yurt IS affordable…very much so.

Can I get a loan to buy and build a yurt?

You are going to hate this answer, but it is yes…and no…and maybe.

Up until 1968, when Fannie Mac and Freddie Mae were instituted (I know, I know…its Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  That was my small attempt at humor.), and before the big boys like Bank of America and Citibank started the bank consolidation craze, you could probably walk into your local bank, ask the loan officer for loan for a yurt, offer a reasonable down payment, and if you had good credit you would get a loan.  Now, thanks to the Federal government making “improvements” in our banking system, the chance of getting a home mortgage on a yurt is slim to none, and slim just got on his horse and left town.  The fact is that most banks sell their mortgages to other, bigger, banks, and those mortgages have to meet certain criteria and yurts don’t meet their standards.

That takes care of the “no ” part of the answer.

The “maybe” part of the answer is that a few banks still make a few mortgages to a very few customers who have good credit, are able and willing to make a good down payment, do a pretty fair amount of business with the bank, and who want a mortgage with terms the bank is willing to hold in its own loan portfolio, typically along the line of 7 to 10 years maximum.

The “yes ” part of the answer is for folks with good credit, who have a good relationship with their bank, can make a substantial down payment, and who are willing to have a loan with “car loan” type terms in interest rate and in length of loan.

Unfortunately, when it comes to housing, especially alternative housing, in the phrase “all others pay cash”, “others” includes folks who want a yurt.

Do yurts meet “code”?

In a word, no, or at least “no” as it relates to primary residences.

Almost everything about a yurt, from the lattice walls to the light weight rafters to the reflective insulation, fails to “meet code” with any code types that I have looked at, including the SBC (Southern Building Code), UBC (Universal Building Code), and another UBC (Uniform Building Code).  This does not mean that a well constructed yurt kit, designed, manufactured, and sold by reputable yurt company, Pacific yurts for example, is an inferior, unsafe structure.  The fact is, in practice that performance of the yurt “parts” that do not meet code actually exceed the performance of a structure “built to code”.

I’ll give you two examples.  At 1:30 AM on Christmas morning of last year an 80 foot tall pine tree was blown down and fell onto my yurt.  At the point on the tree that first struck the yurt the tree was approximately 10 to 12 inches in diameter, and fell across the yurt about half way between the edge and the dome.  In my opinion if the house had been a standard, stick-built, built to code house that third of the house would have been crushed.  Instead, I wound up with a few holes in the top cover, eight broken rafters, and ABSOLUTELY NO DAMAGE TO THE LATTICE WALL or the doorway which was struck also.

You can read details about the delivery of my 80 foot tall Christmas tree, and the subsequent repairs, at Yurt-1, pine tree-0, part one and at Yurt-1, pine tree-0, part two.  I’m going to buy my own Christmas tree this year.  Santa Claus has no concept of proper sizing.

Building codes say my lattice wall does not meet their standards and is not safe.  My experience with the pine tree last year says otherwise.

Another area where a yurt does not meet code but in practice actually exceeds the results that building codes are supposed to be striving for is in insulation.  Building codes require that three areas…walls, roof, and foundation…be insulated to a specific level and approved insulation materials are measured in R-factor.  The problem is that the insulation used by Pacific Yurts and other companies, while actually doing a FAR better job than traditional insulation, does not have an R-factor to measure, therefore it typically doesn’t met code.

An explanation of how insulation without R-factor can exceed R rated insulation:

Heat moves, or is transmitted, in three ways; conduction, radiation, and convection.  Traditional insulation deals only with conducted heat, and R-factor only measures the efficiency of insulation on conducted heat.

The insulation used by Pacific Yurts and most reputable yurt companies is a double layer of, basically, bubble wrap, with a reflective aluminum “skin” bonded to both sides.  It is not very good at stopping the conduction of heat, thus there is no effective R rating, but it is extremely effective at stopping radiated heat by the reflective aluminum skin reflecting heat back toward the source, reflecting the heat inside a house back toward the interior during the winter, and reflecting the heat back toward the outside in the summer.

The bottom line is that this insulation, while not meting code, is far more efficient at keeping you comfortable and at keeping your heating and cooling bills low.

Since yurts don’t “meet code”, how can I build one to live in?  Don’t I have to build something that meets code to get a building permit so I have the government’s permission to build my own house on my own land?

Sorry…a little bit of sarcastic political comment in asking your question for you…LOL.

The degree of difficulty in building a yurt for a primary residence is probably most dependant on where you live…both geographically and demographically.  In areas where state and local governments, ESPECIALLY local governments, are used to having free reign to tell the citizens how to conduct their lives you are going to have more difficulty circumventing oppressive rules.  I think folks in places like Maryland, Massachusetts, Delaware, etc will find it hard to get a yurt permitted or get the authorities to turn a blind eye to a yurt being built without a proper permit.

Demographically, I think the more rural your location the more likely it is that you can get a yurt either approved or ignored.  Here in Georgia, had I tried to build my yurt as a primary residence in Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cherokee, or 5-7 other counties that make up metro-Atlanta, I would have had rough going.  Instead, I live in a rural county with a county government that is still aware that they are public servants, not rulers.  Initially I got the standard, “Codes are there for people’s protection.” line, and was told that I could get a variance from codes (probably), but that it would probably take me a year and cost me $10,000 in legal fees.

Remember, in MOST jurisdictions the only thing the authorities can do if you don’t get a structure permitted is to refuse to allow the power company to hook power to your yurt.  This gives you some wiggle room, especially if you are planning to be off-grid to the point of not needing electricity.  Unfortunately I, and most others, do not plan to be that off-grid, so you have to do some legwork and planning.

First, check to see if there are any other rules that could cause you to not get power, and if there are resolve those issues first.  Where I live, in addition to permitting issues, the health department has to sign off on your septic plans before you can get power.  Originally, I had planned to use an incinerating toilet in the bathroom of my yurt, but when talking to the local health department official I found that while incinerating toilets are legal in Georgia, there had to be a backup system, either a septic tank or by being put on a sewage system, in case the incinerating toilet failed.

I found it interesting that an incinerating toilet had to have a conventional sewage system as backup in case of failure, but a conventional sewage system did not have to have a backup in case of its failure.  I did not push the issue though as I wanted to win the war, not one small battle.

Since my house that burned had been hooked up to a septic tank the health department official pulled  the installation record for the original septic system and found that it met current standards and I would be able to use that.  One challenge overcome, now back to planning and zoning.

Back at the planning and zoning office I asked exactly who was going to be protected from what that made meeting code and getting a permit so critical.  The answer was the same answer you’ll probably get wherever you try to build a yurt, and will fall into one, two, three, or all (if you are lucky) of the following reasons:

First they told me that meeting code was necessary to protect the bank’s investment.  Well, I had to answer for that.  First, it’s the bank’s job, not the county planning and zoning department’s, to protect their investment and get the finished product inspected by their own inspector before approving a mortgage if they felt that need to do so.  It was not the taxpayers’ job to pay inspections to protect the interests of a private business (bank).  In addition, in my case the point was moot as I was building the yurt of my own pocket with no bank loan involved and the only one taking a financial risk was me.

Next they told me that meeting code was necessary to protect my homeowner’s insurance company’s interest.  Again, I pointed out that it was the insurance company’s job to look after them self, not have the taxpayers spend money to look out after them.

I’ll be addressing insurance issues later.

Last, they told me that meeting code was necessary to protect home buyers.  I pointed out that I was not a contractor, did not build spec houses to sell, was building the house for me, planned to live in it until the day I died, and that I did not need the county protecting me from myself.

I concluded by summarizing that first, yurts were not bad structures, just different from what building codes addressed, and second, absolutely no one was being put at risk beside myself, and that I was willing to accept any risks involved.  It also didn’t hurt to point out that my Pacific Yurt was not some dream pulled out of someone’s head, but an engineered structure.

I also implied that if I were going to spend $10,000 on legal fees it would be to sue somebody, not to dance around various hearings trying to meet unreasonable planning and zoning requirements.

In the end, I danced a little, and they gave a little.  I had planned to live on my property in a 29 foot travel trailer while building the yurt.  I paid $50.00 for a trailer permit, got a temporary power pole installed, built the yurt, and got the power moved from my temporary power pole to a meter base at the yurt setup as the power company required for trailers.

Are there other options to “get around the rules”?

Of course there are.  There are always options if you think creatively.  For example, you can build backwards.

Most people, especially the type to have yurts, usually have some kind of out building.  It might be a barn, it might be a workshop, it might be a chicken house, or it might be just a tool shed.  Be creative, use your imagination.

Build that first.  And get power to it.  Unlike a primary residence a barn or workshop does not have to meet health department standards by having a proper bathroom and septic system, and at least in my county a building permit is not required if the outbuilding is going to be less than 200 square feet.  So, build a 10 by 20 tool shed, install a meter base to power company specs on the outside, install a breaker box on the inside, and run your yurt when you get it built from a sub-panel in the yurt connected to your main panel in the tool shed.

Remember, every time government makes a rule they have just allowed you to do everything the rule does not address.  Find the gaps, the loopholes, and use them.

OK, so I can find a way to build a yurt.  Now, what were you going to tell us about insurance?

Well, some really good info..in my next post, next week.

Folks, I give you all the information I can, and it is as accurate as possible.  I am not the be-all and end-all knows everything expert.  Please, if you have any additions, corrections, or comments use the comment button at the end of this post and let me know.  If I don’t have the answer I’ll get it for you or maybe another reader will chime in.

Alternatively, you can just leave a comment saying “Hi!”…it’s nice to know someone is reading this stuff…LOL!

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.

  128 Responses to “Can a yurt be built…legally…as a primary residence?”

Comments (128)
  1. I love everything about living in a yurt! I’m a single mom hoping to work my ass off this year save save save and buy a tiny piece of land in Sarasota area in Fl. Wondering how the rules might be in that state?

  2. Because it is a fairly exurban area I would normally say you were going to have a hard time with the planning and zoning people…but Florida will sometimes surprise you.

    I’d start checking now…anonymously…and see how the attitude towards alternative housing is.

  3. Living in a yurt in Hawaii would be amazing, that’s what Im hoping and planning. Right now Im living and working in Las Vegas, saving all the money I can to make this happen. I have friends in Hawaii that own land and I was curious on the regulations of having a pacific yurt on hawaiian land.

  4. I’m afraid I can’t help you on Hawaii…I have never talked to anyone who has one there. I can take a guess though.

    Hawaii is a state where the government believes in exerting a lot of control…that the state knows what is best. I think you’ll have some problems, but that is just my opinion.

  5. Thanks for the information. We are considering a yurt on land we own in Starksboro Vermont. We need to start gathering information and asking questions to see what is possible.

  6. Janice, I will soon have a start to finish guide to researching, dealing with legal pitfalls, foundation choices, platform errection, kit set-up, and interior build out of a yurt. Watch for its release to be announcement here on JuicyMaters.

    Thanks for stopping by. Keep coming back.

  7. Regarding Bob’s question, there’s a great resource in Hawaii – the company is Yurts of Hawaii, website http://www.yurtsofhawaii.com. They emphasize their ability to get a yurt up from structure to permitting, permanent residences included.
    I’m working in somewhat less exotic southern Ohio to get a yurt approved as a permanent residence. We’ll see. I appreciate your logic, especially about the insulation. I couldn’t figure out why our building codes guy was so opposed to the foil, or why it didn’t have an R value.

  8. Thanks so much! I am just now learning of yurt’s and this helped to know that my curiosity is worth investigating. Thanks for all the info!

  9. I live in the SF Bay Area and want to buy a little piece of land and build us a yurt on it. Marin county said, that’s illegal; in Napa and Sonoma it’s legal apparently but I haven’t spoken to them, Contra Costa county said maybe, it would have to comply with codes, so would basically have to be built from normal buildings – walls, shingle – no!!! Sheep’s wool insulation has a good proven R-value and is more sustainable than bubble wrap and aluminum.

    Anyways, point being, when you have that “start to finish guide to researching, dealing with legal pitfalls, foundation choices, platform errection, kit set-up, and interior build out of a yurt. Watch for its release to be announcement here on JuicyMaters.” – I would love to read it! Please keep me in the loop.

    I’m trying to figure out if they’d let me have a yurt as a ‘studio’ if we don’t have another primary residence on the land.

    Then there’s the matter of the compost toilet…



  10. I love your site! My husband and I recently moved to Colorado (he grew up here and I am a newbie) and I have been researching yurts for about 6 months. Do you know anything about the regulations in CO? I know Colorado Yurt Company is about 5 hours from us and I am wondering if they could help answer some of our questions. Thanks for the great website!

  11. Hio Nicole…glad you’ve discovered JuicyMaters, what I hope is the best yuret resource on the net.

    Unfortunately, the information here is usually generalized in nature, not state specific, so I can’t help you on Colorado’s regulations (except to say the information you want is probably found at the local city or county level).

    Before buying my yurt I investigated the companies I had to choose from and settled on three possibilities that were, in my opinion, the only companies I would even consider doing business with, and Colorado Yurt Co. was one of the three. For various reasons I finally settled on Pacific Yurts, and have been happy enough with them that when I purchased a second your, which I am setting up now, I again chose Pacific. In my mind they just cannot be beat in product quality AND customer service, both pre- and post-sale.

  12. Really helpful. Looking forward to next article on insurance.

  13. Loved this post! I hadn’t thought of all these details. THANK YOU!

  14. Hi Silvia…glad you stopped by! Keep coming back.

    There is more to come on the legal aspects of building a yurt as a primary residence soon. Keep an eye on this site for more info on this and other yurt related information.

  15. Cali is not very user friendly. Campgrounds can have Yurts but private citizens seem to not be able to erect and use a Yurt at will. If you have any info. on this subject it would much appreciated.

  16. I would expect things to be rough in CA…they don’t seem much interested in property rights out there.

  17. My friend lives in a Yurt that is nicer inside than most condos. Full insulation, a full mini kitchen, custom cabinets with all the premium mini appliances like you would have in a high end RV. Expensive counter tops. Textured sheet rock loft over the kitchen and walls. Modern (and expensive) state of the art incinerator type composting toilet, pellet stove fireplace. Full on demand hot water, modern plumbing and very nice shower. Full home cinema, carpet and wood floors. Computer room. Again, built to the highest standards by a single guy for him to live in. It basically has two levels.

    Full electrical with panel done better than any electrician would do. Cabling is run perfectly. The yurt sits on a foundation so the floor is off the ground and insulated. Again, you don’t know your are in a “tent” and again it’s nicer than almost any NEW apartment.

    Everything is new.

    He just got a notice from the county that he has to remove the wood stove and tear the yurt down as it was not built to code and cannot be a permanent residence. He has until December to comply. They are also going after the solar panels and 10KW wind turbine installed “without proper authorization”. So apparently its illegal to be off grid too??

    I am very pissed off about this. It’s his fully paid for property after all! It’s out in the woods on a hilltop (not like its in the middle of a housing development). It’s not squatting on another person’s property or public property.

    Just the Nazi county people poking their noses into other people’s business. This structure was built with far more responsibility and care than any contractor could do.

    The guy is a computer programmer, has a job, pays all his taxes and yet they still come after him?

    Any ideas on how to fight this? Any stories of other people having been in a similar situation?

  18. A lot depends on where he lives. If he is in aa rural area (and I’m talking rural attitude, as well as rural location) his best bet would be several steps.

    First, file for a variance. Until that hearing is held it is likely that their tear down order will be held in abeyance, giving him some time.

    Second, try the issue in the court of public opinion…and this is where a small, rural community works in his favor. If civil discussion with officials goes nowhere, make it uncivil and very public. Very public. Emphasize that he wants HIS choice of housing on HIS property, with HIS money, with no one at risk except himself.

    Where I am I was told I could probably get a variance “but I would probably spend $10K on legal fees to do so.” I told them that if I was gonna spend $10K on a lawyer, it would be to sue the county, not beg the zoning folks for a variance.

    If you are loud…VERY loud, and can get the ear of the editor of the local paper, you would be amazed at how effective you can be if you make the local officials look silly and petty. Don’t forget, the prime job of EVERY elected official is to get re-elected, and if you can subject them to very public, very continous public ridicule you knock down their electability…and they know it.

    Edit: I just noticed you are in the Coeur D Alene area. That county is, I think, either the biggest or second biggest area of Idaho. Even so, I’m thinking you are in a county of under 50K people, and in a county that size I think you have a good chance.

  19. Sad to hear stories like that of Gavin’s friend. I wish him luck!

    Anybody know about yurting in Nova Scotia, whether one is likely to encounter opposition?

  20. Great job here. I enjoyed your interaction with the readers’ questions just as much as the article itself.
    We are in the beginning stages of researching building a yurt in South Carolina, in the Charleston area. We are curios to know if you or anyone else has tackled this feat. Our structure will in a flood zone, close to the beach, so it will sit high up on a deck/stilts.
    Thanks for any more information you can provide.

  21. Hi Robby…glad you stopped by…keep coming back!

    From the floor joists up, I don’t think you’ll see any difference building on stilts at the beach, then you would on any crawlspace based foundation.

    As for from the floor joists down, I’d hesitate to give you too much advice because I’m sure that in a sandy-based soil like you’ll be working with, the way I built mine would be inappropriate. While I have a fair amount of building experience. Besides building my yurt, it’s all been either into good red Georgia clay or onto bedrock. I’m not sure how to work in sand.

    you have probably already considered this, but my usual advise to put all systems (hot water, A/C, etc) in the crawlspace would be inappropriate for you because of possible flooding, unless of course you use some REALLY tall stilts/legs…LOL. That is going to maake space a real challenge, as yurt living is a matter of constantly looking for a way to maximize space, and not having a srawlspace will make it a slightly bigger issue.

    It’ll be worth it though. I love my yurt and have never wished I’d opted for other construction for my home.

    Have a great day and a Merry Christmas, and…

    Keep coming back to visit JuicyMaters!

  22. I am considering a move to Fairbanks Alaska in the near future. The Yurt is sounding like a wonderful alternative to even a cabin. I am just curious if they really endure the -40 to -60 degree temperatures that the interior regions get to? Also can you like build a garage and then place the yurt structure on top of that? So that you can store a car, snowmobile, maybe the septic system and water well? I know that many people in the region have dry cabins because it is really hard to dig septic tanks and water wells because the temps tend to freeze up water. You have any recommendations? Oh, and if you are not recommending Pacific than who would you recommend for the kits? And who would you recommend for instillation – I am a single woman….but I will be working a the base – so, I might be able to recruit a few of the guys there…:/ 🙂

  23. Hi Clara. I’m glad you stopped by JuicyMaters! Keep coming back.

    Moving to Fairbanks, eh? Good for you. I lived in Alaska as a kid (Air Force brat) and have been back a couple of times, but never to live there again. I often wish I had. My dream life has been to have a hunting/fishing lodge so far back in the sticks in Alaska it was only accessable by bush plane, snowmobile, or dogsled. Oh well…too late now…

    To your questions:

    I love my Pacific Yurt. In my opinion Pacific is the ONLY company I would do business with. And yes, you CAN live in a yurt as far north as Fairbanks. I cannot remember the guy’s name, but there is a Pacific Yurts yurt almost identical to mine that is up near Fairbanks. If you give Pacific Yurts a call and ask for Pete Dolan he can probably put you in touch with the guy.

    As for building a yurt on a platform constructed as a garage/storage area below, yes…it can be done. Here is a family living in a yurt in the Anchorage area. (The moved from the Pacific Northwest so the wife could go to medical school in Anchorage).

  24. Hi Clara, I’ve got a 24′ diameter yurt listed for sale over at:
    Currently it’s at the bottom of page 3 – Owner built 24′ diameter yurt – $4,000.00

  25. Thank you SO much for this post. I can’t wait to make this happen for my family. Hubby and I have been planning to build a big new house and considered living in a camper during the process… one day we randomly look at eachother and decided to trade the camper for a yurt to beat the frozen winter pipes and after doing some googling on yurts decided to scrap the big house and just pimp out a big yurt. Funny how life works… can’t wait to be livin’ in ‘The Round!’

  26. Fantastic! Another convert to an awesome way to live!

  27. My husband and i love yurts, hope to get one one day, we r in GA also. Do u mind telling me what county u r in. I love this site, thanks for it. 🙂

  28. Hi Marilyn…glad you stopped by. I am in Pickens Co…and yes, yurts are GREAT, aren’t they?

  29. I’ve just had a terrible run with the town I wish to put my yurt up in in central NYS. The Town and Planning Boards are dictators, live in the fifties still and are serving only their own interests. They continue to spout rhetoric as it it’s gospel. When presented with stats gleaned from around the state they simply ignore it. I’m SO fed up with these morons. They basically have a 940sf ordinance, instated about 20 years ago to keep single wide trailers out. They don’t care that they’re discriminating against the poor, seniors or anyone else wanting to build a small home. I haven’t figured out one way to get around their stinkin’ rules. They won’t allow me to call it a retreat…I’m tempted to go ahead and put it up but a lake cottage went up in the township and they actually forced the person to tear it down…another township less than 100 miles away did the same thing. One other yurt went up in the same township about 6 years ago…they got away with it by simply applying for a building permit for a deck and for a shed. The yurt went up and no one said anything…it was tucked into the woods on a dirt road. Mine would be 200′ off a main road but quite visible so I tried to do it by the rules. I’ve had three opportunities to present a reasonable argument but there’s no reasoning with these guys.
    I need to find another township that’s very nearby, I really don’t want to leave my vital and outstanding community (this town was the next one over, just outside of my sweet little town). My needs are specific: I need a former trailer site and I need to rent.
    I guess I just needed to vent and find solace here. Wish me luck.

  30. Hi Vesla…sorry youi are having so much trouble trying to live in a yurt…they are great, economical homes.

    My county tried to give me grief and told me I would have to apply for a variance, that it would probably take a year and cost me about $10K in legal fees to get the variance. I told ’em if I was going to waste a year and $10,000 it was going to be spent suing them rather than begging for permission to build MY home on MY land with MY money. Told them I would let THEM explain to a jury why I had to get their permission to make my own home choice.

    They decided to back off…told me to go ahead. Gave me a $50.00 trailer permit so I could get power and never said another word.

  31. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely well written article.
    I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your
    useful information. Thanks for the post. I will definitely return.

  32. liked the read a lot…thinking how in los angeles once i get land to put in a yurt or 2….

  33. Getting it approved in LA County…or any large metro area…will be a challenge.

  34. I am glad I found you. My husband passed away 5 months ago. I have decided to return to WI, I currently live in Spokane, WA. I plan to build a 30′ yurt in the country and use solar power for some heating and hot water, including wood burning stove. I am researching Everything! I’m not sure what to do about refrigeration and how much solar power would be needed. It will be an adventure to say the least. I can use all the help I can get. Thank you in advance, Bob. 🙂

  35. Thank you for the information! This gives me some idea of what I may have to deal with in my plans. By the way, I found this site by doing a search on yurt building.

  36. Thanks for stopping by, Janette…and now that you’ve found us, keep coming back. We love adding to the JuicyMaters family!

  37. Great site and great info! I know building a yurt will be very difficult in malibu county (Los Angeles) but do you think it’s possible? I’ve seen many airbnb.com rental yurts as secondary homes if that says anything.

  38. Hi Krystyna…thanks for stopping by, and keep coming back! There is always room for more in the JuicyMaters family.

    If Malibu Co is where Malibu is, I think you will have problems putting up a yurt there. I’m not familiar with the county but I’m guessing its rather hard to “hide” there by building in a way out-of-the-way location where you wouldn’t be noticed.

    If you’ve seen them in that county on airbnb, your best bet would probably be to discretely contact a couple of the owners and ask them what they had to go thru to build theirs.

    Sign up for our newsletter and keep up with what is going on in the JuicyMaters world.

  39. I’m in the planning and “due diligence” stage of my search for a yurt AND yurt friendly property of Fannin\Gilmer counties area. Your blog is chocked full of great info! Thanks very much for taking the time to put this out there man!

  40. Hi Alex…and welcome to JuicyMaters! We are always glad to have additions to the JuicyMaters family!

    I don’t know how extensively you’ve read JM so far, but I’m right south of where you are looking, down here in Pickens County, right up on the Gilmer county line. You are welcome to come down and see a Pacific Yurts yurt up close and personal…two of them, actually. I’m just finishing up adding a 16 foot yurt to my original 30 foot one to get more space. It was just me when I first built mine, and that is plenty of space for one person, a couple, or a couple with a small child, but not long ago I married a gal who has a daughter that will be 15 in February, and a single 30 foot yurt is a bit tight for a couple PLUS a teenaged girl so I’m building her a 16 footer for a bedroom.

    I’m not sure how much of a hurry you are in but I’ll have a Kindle book on yurts, start to finish (including legal, insurance, and financing issues) scheduled to be published March 1.

    Also, if you haven’t, sign up for the newsletter. It has info on yurts, homesteading, and cooking in it. You might pick up some ideas.

    Have a great day, and keep coming back!

  41. Thank you Bob for this insight and your positive approach! There’s indeed always a solution when it comes to yurt living and sharing these experiences is definitely helping. Happy Yurting!

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  43. I thought the information was quite useful and will allow me to consider building a yurt. I will have to check if is legal on leased land.

  44. You will hate the answer.

    It depends.

    It depends on the local county tax assors office. In some places a yurt is looked at as a “temporary structure” even though you are living in it permanently. My guess is that in most places this is how it will start out, as most governmental types simply can’t believe someone would want to live full-time in a tent…LOL…and figure its a passing fad you will get over.

    At some point they will see that 1. You are serious…you are going to STAY there, and 2. They are missing out on tax dollars. At that point you might find your tax status changed OR you might find that they have decided to more strictly enforce zoning laws.

  45. Thanks for sharing your experience, Bob! I just found JM and am excited to have found a site for reference as I am highly interested in yurt living. In your article, you mentioned researching building codes in several North Georgia counties. I am in close proximity to you, residing in Gordon County, and was curious if you had inquired about erecting a yurt as a permanent residence in my locality. Additionally, I have yet to purchase the land on which to put the yurt, so if there is an area of N. Ga better suited for this purpose, I may be open to moving. Any information you can provide is greatly appreciated! Thanks and have a great day.

  46. Hi Matt…glad you like the site…new members of the JuicyMaters family are always welcome.

    Sorry, but the only county I actually got into detail with was Pickens, as I already had my land here. With few exceptions though I think if you stick with small rural counties up here in north Georgia you’ll be able to work something out. Gordon County is a maybe…it may be too big and unresponsive to the taxpayers.

    One smallish rural county that I think you’d be wasting your time with is the communist land of Murray County. My in-laws are there, and from what I have seen the county leadership there considers themselves dictators, not to be questioned…not public servants.

    I don’t know where you live now, but if I were looking in Gordon I think I’d be looking out around Sonoraville somewhere, stuck back off of 53 a bit, like back where Sheriff’s Meat Packing is.

  47. Hi thank you for sharing your experience. We live in Austin, Tx however we only have access to county services due to the location of our address. We have a septic tank and live in a mixed use neighborhood. Any ideas, insights and suggestions regarding how to navigate the building permits, electric company, water and home ins. would be greatly appreciated.

  48. Hi Mary…welcome to JuicyMaters.

    I’ll start at the end of your question, the part about insurance. I built my yurt knowing from the get-go that homeowners insurance was going to be a problem, and I was right. From the time I first laid my head down in my yurt on September 28, 2009 until about 6 months ago I was living insurance free. Had my place burned…like my previous home…or worse had someone gotten hurt on my property and sued, I would have lost everything.

    Fortunately, 6 months ago the insurance company that has insured every car I’ve owned and every house I ever bought since I started owning cars 40 years ago finally agreed to write me a homeowners policy (and an accompanying umbrella liability policy), and that company is based right near where you live, in San Antonio, Texas…USAA (United Services Automobile Association). If you qualify for membership (they are a mutual company, not stockholder owned and insureds are “members” and must qualify) they…and only they, based on my 6 year search…will write you a homeowners policy. Nobody else considers a yurt a permanent structure one would live in as a permanent residence.

    The mixed use neighborhood…or virtually any “neighborhood”…will probably be an issue. Neighborhoods mean more, and closer, neighbors, and the more there are the more that can/will complain about someone building a “tent”. I can’t see any urban/suburban government letting folks build a yurt without a hard (and expensive) legal fight. The further out, more rural the property, the higher the likelihood that you will get it done.

    Again, thanks for visiting JuicyMaters…keep coming back!

  49. Thanks again Bob for your super comments. We’ll be sharing “yurt” insurance tip – they might be getting some business… 🙂 Happy yurting – Yves

  50. Hi Bob,….thanks for your prompt response. I get where you are coming from about the challenge of building in a mixed use neighborhood ..or any area considered to be in a hurdle. I am going to try anyway….the nice thing about my area is the fact that people build and kind of do their own thing…so I am believing no one will care once it is all said and done. I will keep you posted!


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