We’ve all felt the urge at one time or another to get back to nature and live a more natural lifestyle.
From cob houses to earth ships & cave dwellings, the call of the wild open spaces lives in all of us to a greater or lesser degree.
If only we can just find the perfect structure to call home.
And that is where yurts come into the picture.
Designed from sustainable and reusable materials, they are eco-friendly and have a low impact on the environment.
As an alternative form of accommodation, yurts rate highly for a variety of reasons.
However, as anyone who has attempted to construct an eco-friendly structure will tell you, most building codes and local building ordinances are less than friendly towards these types of projects.
In the same way that you would carefully consider the type of land, position, and location for a conventional building project, you have to be doubly careful when it comes to seeking out the perfect spot for your yurt.
Due to their unique design, there are several steps you need to take to ensure that you are going to have a successful project and number one is the location.
Which States Allow Yurts for Residential Accommodation?
The good news is that we found evidence of yurts being used for residential and commercial accommodation throughout all 50 states.
Some states are more yurt-friendly than others, but it is theoretically possible to build a yurt in just about every location in the country.
So, how do you go about deciding where the ideal location for your yurt is?
Research, Research, and some More Research!
This will be your first step in planning your dream home.
You may find that a yurt supplier will tell you everything will be fine no matter where you plan on building, but that is just not so.
You need to find a reliable and trusted company with the expertise and experience to provide you with a quality product.
That is where Yurts of America stands out. With over 30 years of experience in providing custom-designed, hand-made yurts to a discerning corporate and private market, they are a trusted name in the industry.
Here are a few of the more common issues you need to deal with when considering where to construct your yurt.
Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CCR’s)
Each piece of property comes with a set of rules and regulations that govern what you can and cannot do on it.
CCR’s are not the only rules though. You also have homeowners’ associations and easements together with state and federal rules and regulations that can restrict what you are allowed to do with your property.
So, the types of structure, height restrictions, setbacks, number of rooms, floor area, livestock, and pets that are allowed are all aspects of your research that must be done before you settle on a particular parcel of land.
County Building Requirements
The building code is there for a good reason and it has to do with safety.
However, local inspectors interpret things differently, so it’s not possible to cover all the permutations in one article. You’ll probably need a book to cover it all.
Your best bet is to make friends with the local building inspector. This is the person who will make or break your building project and if they are on board from day one, then your life will be made considerably easier.
The fire department and health department are another two elements to add to your list of people to consider. Inspections from these groups could cost you time and money if not handled appropriately.
Rules and No-Rules
Depending on where you build, you may have next to no official involvement in your build or they may weigh you down with paperwork and restrictions.
You can expect rural areas to be slightly more negotiable than say a major metropolitan area, where you will be hard-pressed to get away with anything that isn’t 100% to code.
Other areas may have very specific requirements related to the threat of fire or snow and these building restrictions can help save your life. It helps to have someone on board your team who knows the vagaries of local laws and the personalities involved.
Keeping your yurt cool in summer and warm in winter should be a priority for you and understanding local conditions will help immensely.
You also need to bear in mind that building on a foundation is desirable for its insulating properties but also means that the building will fall under different rules compared to you constructing it directly on the ground.
Yurts have very thin wall structures that are made up of canvas, wood, plastic, and bubble-wrap-like insulating materials. Regulations concerning insulation generally deal with the thickness of insulating materials rather than the actual effectiveness.
Thin reflective insulating materials outperform thicker non-reflective materials under certain conditions, but as far as the building regulations are concerned, the reflective materials don’t exist.
These are just some of the battles you may need to fight when getting planning approval from local authorities.
That is why it is important to build relationships with the right people to allow for a smooth and amicable flow of information and discussion.
A local engineering company also helps immensely with knowing just what needs to be done to bring your structure in line with building codes.
Company’s such a Yurts of America whose custom-designed structures make use of furniture-grade woods can assist immensely in these situations with their years of experience and contacts in many different areas.
What Building Codes Must You Follow?
It is important that you know beforehand just what building codes you need to meet. The county will be able to let you know if they are using the ICC (International Code Council) codes, or the UBC (Uniform Building Code)?
You will also have to comply with various engineering requirements that could include some or all of the following safety and efficiency requirements:
- Ground snow load
- Seismic rating
- Wind speed loads
- Sewerage disposal
- Water & Electrical supplies
Classed as an alternative structure, yurts have a unique set of additional regulations that govern them.
The intended use of the structure will also play a large part in what hoops you will have to jump through to bring the project to completion.
It is, therefore, possible to build a yurt just about anywhere in the country. Places like Hawaii are well known for their yurt-friendly rules, but a little persistence and patience will see your project take shape in just about any location.