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Old 07-23-2012, 12:57 AM   #1
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Checklist for permitting your yurt:
  • If your yurt manufacturer has any stamped engineering designs, have copies of them handy.
  • Information on snow load, fire rating of materials, and R value of the insulation(s). Find a local, licensed architect to review your platform plans and give his wet stamp. The local architect or a plans router will route them through the system. These services are usually fairly cheap in the scheme of things, and WELL worth not bungling it up as an inexperienced building department novice.
  • Warranty information on materials (i.e. roof).
  • Does the design meet IBC code?
  • Are there any other yurts in your area? If so, ask the owners what process they went through to get a permit.
  • Tall walls, 6'9" or higher at the door are generally required for permanent structures.
  • astrofoil doesn't meet r-value codes in some areas. Ask the manufacturer for insulation that does where it is required (typically only in colder climates).
  • Egress is a common requirement, so an extra door or an operable window may be needed.
  • For a residence or detached bedroom or anything with plumbing, you will also need wastewater plans. Engineered septic or cesspool designs or plans showing how you will route into an existing system.
  • For a residence you will need to show your water supply, refrigeration, cooking means and a shower/toilet/sink. You will need to provide a floor plan and a full site plan, locating your waste water, set backs, driveway and house/yurt.
  • If it is not a residence, then get the help of a local router and make sure it is called something else. Most places will not allow two full kitchens to be on one property, thereby making for two full residences. You can have partial kitchens, but typically only a single sink (not a double chamber) and a hot plate or the like.

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Old 07-23-2012, 12:57 AM   #2
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Default Permitting a yurt

Just thought this would be a good thread to start. A lot of people have permit questions so here we can collect a lot of info to help people out in one convenient spot.
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Old 07-23-2012, 07:00 AM   #3
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Good idea... If we get enough info here, I will stick it to the top of this forum listing.

I would love to be able to get a list of engineered specs for each manufacturer, in PDF form for example, so when someone approaches their local zoning board, they have a place to send them if they are unfamiliar with yurts.
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Old 07-23-2012, 07:23 PM   #4
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Yurt companies pay A LOT of money for their engineering. It goes into proprietary information that they don't want to share with just anyone. So I expect you'll have a tricky time with that goal. BUT, most also have a basic, one - two page summary that they let go of a bit easier...
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:54 AM   #5
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I just sent in a request to Pacific Yurts, asking them for an engineering summary, let's see if we get any response.
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Old 07-25-2012, 07:00 AM   #6
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I wonder if Lee has time? I kind of doubt it - we're super busy in Alaska right now. Our usual summer season of 24/7 weeks! :-) But ask, you just never know ....
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Old 07-25-2012, 07:38 AM   #7
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After some thought, I don't think I will be able to get any kind of hard data in the area of engineering. The simple fact is, I would be asking too much for manufacturers to give me this data that includes a lot of proprietary design information so I could in turn publish it here on yurtforum.com.

While talking with Pete, he made a good suggestion that we might make a checklist of items that people should request from their yurt supplier. I think this is a great idea.

I think they would need to know some of the following:
  • Snow load (roof and ground)
  • Any engineering documentation they are willing to give
  • Fire rating on materials
  • R values of insulation(s)
I would love to hear what you guys think?
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Old 07-25-2012, 02:12 PM   #8
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There is a distinction to made here about what types of yurts we are talking about. Since everyone here so far is talking about the modern day, contemporary, North American yurt, I suspect that is what kind of yurt this forum will focus on, even if not exclusively. So that's what I will focus on here, clearly leaving handmade, more traditional yurts out of this summary.

Perhaps the largest benefit of the North American style yurt is the potential for predictability of the structure. It is only because of that potential for predictability, and the fact that some manufacturers have paid the costs of proving that predictability, that many areas now allow yurts to be permitted. Some yurt manufacturers have capitalized on that and have gone into business selling, on a mass level, yurts of inferior design, that are dangerous because they are not completely thought out, and these threaten the permit-ability of yurts on a large scale. It is a short sighted, greedy mindset, to say the least. Because of that, and to protect the permit-ability of these styles of yurts for future generations, as well as protect the industry as a whole, I think it's important that a manufacturer have full structural engineering specs run on their yurts. It's a belief that is shared by many in the industry.

That said, it's as you say Jafo. I doubt any manufacturer will give you, a public forum, their full specs. That would allow other people or companies to be able to easily ride off their costly and painstaking work. They can, however, show proof that they have the engineering done and provide a summary of wind speed, insulation, weight load bearing, and fire resistance ratings. That is often all on the summary page from the engineering firm that I mentioned. Moving into the future, I believe that this will be mandatory in most places, as more and more places begin to accept IBC (International Building Codes) or UBC (Universal Building Codes). In my experience, a company that has done this step is a company that has taken the largest first step in showing that they are a conscientious, reputable manufacturer.

Other things to be sure of is the reputation of customer service. Do they handle things when they go badly, do they just blow you off completely, or fight to escape responsibility?

Are there major complaints against a company with the Attorney General or the BBB of their area?

What is their warranty on the roof and the rest of the structure?

Do they know basic, universal building codes?

Will they help you wherever possible with your permit process?

Do their yurts meet IBC codes?

Look at the standard things included.

Ask for accurate shipping costs of the day (Estimates often tend to be low balled to avoid sticker shock - The yurt industry does not control shipping costs, but some companies have ways of significantly dropping your shipping costs)

If you're interested in catching water, ask about the gutter systems. Have they been tried and tested? Get feed back from other customers.

Insulation is a big one for you folks in colder areas. Will their insulation meet r-value codes? If they don't know, that's a red flag.

Good yurt companies stand head and shoulders above the bad. It isn't difficult to figure out. If you're paying the lowest price on the market, there's a reason for that. The company has not likely paid their dues in testing, research, etc. and you, the customer, will be part of their trial and error process.
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Old 07-25-2012, 02:23 PM   #9
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That was a great GREAT post Melissa. The ideas in this thread will go towards a final checklist I am working on. I am thinking that the top of the list should be: If the manufacturer will not give you any engineering specs, beware.

I have mulled it over about whether to have some kind of rating system for manufacturers and dealers here, but am a little hesitant. It is hard to validate what people say unless that is your business, such as the Better Business Bureau. I may see if they offer a way to link up with them so we can display the BBB ratings here. I already have BBB links in each manufacturers page so I am familiar with it a bit.
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Old 07-25-2012, 02:44 PM   #10
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Thanks Jafo. To be clear: Not all yurt companies are aiming toward a permit-able yurt. And if they are clear about that, and up front with their potential customers, then I don't think it's too horrendous if they don't have the engineering. Some manufacturers are more for camping yurts, or traditional yurts, etc. That's great, the more yurts the merrier and I'm all for people expanding on the concept. But as a permanent or semi-permanent structure, engineering is just common sense, especially if you are profiting from the product and people's safety is a factor.

The biggest concern are the companies that 'pretend' for lack of a better word, that they are every bit as good, every bit as tested as the companies that actually have done the engineering. Those companies always sell for significantly less; they can afford to because they are short cutting things. Because of that, they siphon a lot of business, which means there ends up being a lot of them out there. And then, when we start seeing major fails, the code officials aren't going to see "such-and-such yurt company" yurt failed. They're just going to see "yurt failed" and then everyone will suffer.

We looked at doing a rating system within NAYA... the companies that would get a bad rating may not do their work on their engineering and such, but they sure do their work trying to minimize bad publicity. I'd be careful on how you proceed with a rating system. Maybe just let others experiences speak for themselves. And arm people with the knowledge, as you're doing In NAYA, we just ended up devising a system where companies that didn't meet standards were not asked to be members.
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