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Thread: Thinking about getting a Yurt

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    Member Ronster's Avatar
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    Default Thinking about getting a Yurt

    So the wife and I are thinking about getting some property down on PWS and putting up a yurt somewhere outside of Valdez. Im thinking something along the lines of a deck on 10' stilts to make it semi bearproof. Am I barking up the wrong tree to think that a yurt might be the right way to go?

    I looked into the ones they have at www.yurt.com and it looks like they make them to support heavy snow loads and wind so I dont think that would be a problem. My main concern is how all of the material would hold up to the saltwater environment. Anyone out there with first hand experience? Thanks.


    Ron

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    http://orcaislandcabins.com

    been working for them for years.

    Tom


    Quote Originally Posted by Ronster View Post
    So the wife and I are thinking about getting some property down on PWS and putting up a yurt somewhere outside of Valdez. Im thinking something along the lines of a deck on 10' stilts to make it semi bearproof. Am I barking up the wrong tree to think that a yurt might be the right way to go?

    I looked into the ones they have at www.yurt.com and it looks like they make them to support heavy snow loads and wind so I dont think that would be a problem. My main concern is how all of the material would hold up to the saltwater environment. Anyone out there with first hand experience? Thanks.


    Ron

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    I've spent time in Pacific Yurts in many different climates. They make a quality product. But the snowload in PWS will crush you like a bug unless you're in occupancy all winter to keep the roof cleared.
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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    They have rental yurts across the bay from Homer.
    Might be a good idea to rent one for a weekend and decide afterwards if you like it or not.
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    Member Ronster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cresent Hills View Post
    http://orcaislandcabins.com

    been working for them for years.

    Tom
    Tom,

    Thanks for the reply. How do you deal with the snow load? To be honest, thats really my one and only concern with the Yurt. I wont be able to just drive down and get the load off, is the top slick enough to shed the weight or will it come down if its unattended?

    Ron

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    Member Ronster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    I've spent time in Pacific Yurts in many different climates. They make a quality product. But the snowload in PWS will crush you like a bug unless you're in occupancy all winter to keep the roof cleared.
    Do you have first hand knowledge of this happening or is it just your opinion? My first thought was similiar to your statement however I can see how a slick roof could shed the load instead of letting it build up. Just curious as I have never heard of one coming down.

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    Member Ronster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kasilofchrisn View Post
    They have rental yurts across the bay from Homer.
    Might be a good idea to rent one for a weekend and decide afterwards if you like it or not.
    Good point, thanks for the suggestion.

  8. #8
    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronster View Post
    Do you have first hand knowledge of this happening or is it just your opinion? My first thought was similiar to your statement however I can see how a slick roof could shed the load instead of letting it build up. Just curious as I have never heard of one coming down.
    Well, you mention going out of VDZ; don't know exactly where you're looking to find land, but the snow depth in Valdez arm far and away exceeds the heighth of your yurt. Even if the material was slick enough (it's not) to shed, where would it shed to? The snow down there comes with a lot of freezing rain/frost; it's not going to spontaneously shed from the yurt. I do have first hand experience with Pacific Yurts in big snow country in the Rockies, areas that got far less snow than PWS. They were set up on platform decks exactly as you propose. We had to keep the decks shoveled and roofs cleared to prevent them being crushed. I also have first hand knowledge of the type/amount of snow the area between Valdez and the Columbia Glacier receives... Pacific Yurts are stout, but they're not 20+ feet of heavy snowpack stout.
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
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    Member Ronster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    Well, you mention going out of VDZ; don't know exactly where you're looking to find land, but the snow depth in Valdez arm far and away exceeds the heighth of your yurt. Even if the material was slick enough (it's not) to shed, where would it shed to? The snow down there comes with a lot of freezing rain/frost; it's not going to spontaneously shed from the yurt. I do have first hand experience with Pacific Yurts in big snow country in the Rockies, areas that got far less snow than PWS. They were set up on platform decks exactly as you propose. We had to keep the decks shoveled and roofs cleared to prevent them being crushed. I also have first hand knowledge of the type/amount of snow the area between Valdez and the Columbia Glacier receives... Pacific Yurts are stout, but they're not 20+ feet of heavy snowpack stout.
    Thanks, thats exactly the kind of response I was looking for. With a yurt perched on a 8'-10' platform I figured that anything on the roof would slide off and down the drop and become a non issue. I also figured that I could reinforce the main beams during end of season shut down (6x6s to the main hoop) to keep it from coming down. The main concern that I had would be the fabric holding. And the area that Im looking at is 50-60 miles out and along the shoreline.

    Im still curious to know how the guys in Seward keep it from coming down.

  10. #10

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    Ron

    These are not my Yurts, I just passed on the info because I have know of Orca Island for several years. Give them a call or email. I am sure they would be willing to share with you.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ronster View Post
    Tom,

    Thanks for the reply. How do you deal with the snow load? To be honest, thats really my one and only concern with the Yurt. I wont be able to just drive down and get the load off, is the top slick enough to shed the weight or will it come down if its unattended?

    Ron

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    Try calling these people. www.nomadshelter.com They are out of Homer and make a pretty stout yurt but are only rated to 60 lbs per square foot snow loads. I have one and the snow sheds off but it is in the interior where the snow is dryer and not nearly as much accumulation as here in Valdez. I agree with iofthetaiga in that I would not want to leave it unattended. Bracing up the ring might work. And I think Nomad sells vertical supporting posts.

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    Maybe an 'A' frame on elevated supports, steep roof angle, minus the platform to catch heavy snow loads. (detachable deck that could be removed in winter, laid over). Bears are pretty good climbers though. The old timers wrapped their cache supports with tin or old stove pipe to keep the bears (and squirrels) from climbing up. That is a beautiful area with some real wx challenges. I rented a Shoup Bay cabin in the middle of May one year. The snow depth was still over the roof of the 8-9' outhouse. The cabin is built to take the snow load.

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    Design considerations hold that more than six feet of fresh snow becomes a WALL load, rather than a roof load. For example, it takes almost 12-feet of snow to equal one foot of water weight (32.4 lbs/sq ft). It is likely that a yurt design can accommodate roof snow loads. On the other hand, snow around Valdez sometimes reaches 60' to 80' feet in depth at the pass into the city. The circular shape of a yurt negates high wind problems, as there is virtually no "negative" wind side. Which is to say that the downwind side is the most critical because of the low-pressure, high vacuum condition that causes most building collapses. A yurt has virtually no downwind side, as it doesn't really have defined sides at all. As for "beefing up" the rafters, a 6x6 has a poor configuration, and is quite heavy. If you think that a nominal 6" rafter depth is really required, you'd be much better off to drop down to something like 4x6 for its better shear value. Just my $0.02 worth ........................

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    Member agp's Avatar
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    yurts were never meant to be a permanent structure. Why a yurt? with the price you pay for a yurt you can build a nice little cabin.

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    I'm not going to bad mouth anyone, but I have friends who have had a less than satisfactory experience with one of the local Alaska yurt manufacturers. More specifically, collecting your money to fund the yurt they are currently building for someone else, and then not building yours because they have run out of money. Then extorting you for the full amount of your yurt when they do not have the money to purchase materials for said yurt.

    Like I said, this is secondhand info, not my personel experience. Caveat Emptor...


    BTW, I agree with the previous poster. Yurts might be fine in the lower 48 and maybe up here as a temp shelter or a novelty, but a permanent building that you want to reside in? Build a cabin...IMO...

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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly 2 View Post
    Design considerations hold that more than six feet of fresh snow becomes a WALL load, rather than a roof load. For example, it takes almost 12-feet of snow to equal one foot of water weight (32.4 lbs/sq ft). It is likely that a yurt design can accommodate roof snow loads. On the other hand, snow around Valdez sometimes reaches 60' to 80' feet in depth at the pass into the city. The circular shape of a yurt negates high wind problems, as there is virtually no "negative" wind side. Which is to say that the downwind side is the most critical because of the low-pressure, high vacuum condition that causes most building collapses. A yurt has virtually no downwind side, as it doesn't really have defined sides at all. As for "beefing up" the rafters, a 6x6 has a poor configuration, and is quite heavy. If you think that a nominal 6" rafter depth is really required, you'd be much better off to drop down to something like 4x6 for its better shear value. Just my $0.02 worth ........................
    Generally, I agree with you Grizzly2, but I will say that when you get 5 feet of wet snow, that gets rained on for a couple of days and then freezes, you can get 100 psf pretty darn fast...and that is a ROOF LOAD, as well as a WALL LOAD!!!

    If the wall is stout enough to hold the load, the roof span still has to have the ability to handle the load as well..

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    I believe some of these are being used in that area.


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    Member Ronster's Avatar
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    Thanks for all of the reply guys, its great to soak all of this up before making a purchase. We did purchase the property so the next thing will be the cabin. Still thinking of a yurt (per say), but leaning more towards these guys www.smilingwoodsyurts.com/ at the moment. Still lots of time to plan and think of the direction that we want to go, but the thought of a wooden yurt is peaking my interest. Maybe Im wrong here (and let me know if I am please) but their prices dont seem to bad for a prefab unit. Would just have to finish off the inside with one of them.

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    When we were looking at building a cabin I considered yurts. My biggest reason for not going that route was bears. For a structure that sits unattended for long periods of time in bear country, fabric walls just didn't seem right. Granted, I've seen pictures of where a bear went through T1-11, but it just seems less likely to me.

    I also agree with dkwarthog on the snow load. PWS usually gets wet snow, way more dense than the typical 1 foot of snow equals 1 inch of water.

    Congratulations Ronster on your purchase. It sure is beautiful out there.

  20. #20

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    Someone posted the link for Nomad Shelters. May be worth talking to them and see where some of their yurts are used (ie. places with heavy snow loads) Made in Alaska. Good people.
    Whatever you decide, good luck!

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