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Comprehensive Costs

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Old 08-11-2014, 03:26 PM   #1
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Default Comprehensive Costs

Hi again, I was hoping someone could help me with figuring out comprehensive costs. I understand the question seems akin to "how deep is a hole?" but I am actually looking for a check list. I know I need land, a septic system, a well, a platform, a deck, interior partitions, all of my plumbing and

heating

, household appliances, a driveway, a wood stove, and the yurt itself. When I start adding up numbers, I'm in the $75,000 range, easily (allotting $25,000 for land). I can buy a foreclosed house for that much money where I am (Rensselaer County, NY). I am just wondering if the benefits outweigh the cost. If I live in the yurt for ten years (much longer than most do, I believe), that's $7,500 a year. That's $625 per month, which is about equivalent to a low rent. I just feel like I should be able to do this for less money...?
We are pursing the yurt as an affordable home alternative; not an extra camping getaway because we have extra money to burn. (My congrats to those of you who do!)
Please share any figures you may have and hopefully convince me that the yurt is worth it!

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Old 08-12-2014, 09:20 AM   #2
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Default Re: Comprehensive Costs

If you can buy a liveable home for $75K, in an area where you can make a living, do it. From a financial perspective, home ownership is the best investment you'll ever make.
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Old 08-12-2014, 09:21 AM   #3
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Default Re: Comprehensive Costs

If you look at a yurt the same way you look at renting a regular house I'm afraid there will be some disappointment. I think it really depends upon the persons values who is doing the looking. Trying to fit the familiar vinyl siding house way of living into a yurt gets expensive and possibly absurd really quickly.

A good piece of land to put the yurt is monumentally important. Once that is covered, some of the ways people save money by living the yurt lifestyle is by finding cheaper less impactful ways of doing things. For example:

No septic = Humanure composting style toilet and grey-water tank for sink and shower run-off

No Well = Use rainwater catchment, gravity-fed plumbing, water storage tanks, and other methods

No elaborate plumbing = Simple inexpensive plumbing, underground piping kept to a minimum if at all.

No paved Driveway = crushed stone is much cheaper and can DIY or drive over the ground long enough and it will turn to hard-pan

Efficient Woodstove = wood heat will cut your winter costs considerably if you DIY

No powerline = save on electricity and hookup costs by using solar, wind, or hydro energy to power your yurt. The technology is readily available and fits right into the yurt lifestyle.

Going "off-grid" or "back-to-the-land" may sound daunting to someone without experience in these areas. But, I have seen folks go from being a retired college professor from the big city, to yurt living DIY chicken farmer in a matter of 2-3 years. They do this by putting sweat equity into the land, their shelter (in this case a yurt), and figuring out their own system of doing things.

You can too, with a little help from your friends of course.

-Cheers
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Old 08-12-2014, 09:41 AM   #4
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Default Re: Comprehensive Costs

Good post steve.
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Old 08-12-2014, 10:36 AM   #5
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Thumbs up Re: Comprehensive Costs

Great post! Thanks for putting it in perspective. I forgot about all of the cost savings. It seems like an investment.
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Old 08-12-2014, 10:40 AM   #6
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Default Re: Comprehensive Costs

Steve, do you have any resources regarding the rain catchment system? Can we drink that water, if we add a filter? If we used a 1,000 gallon tank, will it grow algae if it sits in there? What if there's a drought? Anyone, please feel free to comment. That sounds like a perfect solution to me. But I have a small child and wouldn't want to risk making her sick.
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Old 08-12-2014, 02:34 PM   #7
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Default Re: Comprehensive Costs

Hi all! Great questions, it is good to be thinking about all of these big picture costs as they are a reality. This summer we had a couple in NW Montana purchase a used 30'

Shelter Designs

yurt and set it up on their property. They have been maintaining a very thorough and comprehensive blog about their yurt journey and all it entails. For instance, their last blog entry was "How do you ____ in a yurt?" and they answer all kinds of questions about eating, cooling, water, toilets, cooking, etc. They are completely off grid and living a very comfortable life. Check the blog out at Montana Bloggers - Sean and Mollie Busby and enjoy reading about their experience. Thanks!
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Old 08-15-2014, 11:45 AM   #8
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Default Re: Comprehensive Costs

Quote:
Originally Posted by klhandler View Post
Steve, do you have any resources regarding the rain catchment system? Can we drink that water, if we add a filter? If we used a 1,000 gallon tank, will it grow algae if it sits in there? What if there's a drought? Anyone, please feel free to comment. That sounds like a perfect solution to me. But I have a small child and wouldn't want to risk making her sick.
It is possible to collect the water from the roof and run it into a cistern. Putting that holding tank underground makes the most sense here in NY, to keep it from freezing. I have restored hundred year old + houses with gutters leading to rainwater cisterns in the basement. This is no new idea

For the yurt we're building now, we've brought in a back hoe to dig out underneath where the platform is going (rental cost ~$200 a day). The site is on a fairly steep side hill which makes this quite a bit easier. Just now waiting for the rain to stop so we can finish building the frame for the root cellar. The root cellar will be 10' wide 4' deep and 6' tall. Once the structure is built we'll fill over it will a few feet of soil.

This is where we put the water holding cistern it's built in because it's too big to fit through the door. In this case it is only a 275 gallon tank, I've found that is enough for one person for the winter. That includes dishes, drinking, and ~3-4 showers a week. Using a humanure style outhouse saves a ton of water as opposed to flushing.

So, yes I do think 1000 gallons would be enough for a winter with 3 people. For showers I use the woodstove to heat the water which takes a long time. But, for a family one could also use a propane on-demand water heater. There is a unit out there for less than $200 that comes with the shower head and heater all ready to go. That would be the only water heater you would need.

Algae growth will happen eventually so it is good to clean the tank out with a bleach solution in the spring and fall. One advantage of burying the tank is that it will be in the dark and algae really needs sunlight to grow. As far as filtration I would suggest doing your own research to where you feel comfortable with your system. I just add a cap full of regular bleach to the main tank when I fill it and then boil my drinking water. Obviously, I can't suggest that to everyone because I don't know where you're water is coming from...

In the event of a drought I pump my tanks full from a nearby stream. If you don't have access to that, and the rainwater can't keep up... You may need a well.

-Cheers
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Old 08-15-2014, 09:12 PM   #9
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Default Re: Comprehensive Costs

Very good post Steve.
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Old 08-15-2014, 10:16 PM   #10
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Default Re: Comprehensive Costs

With proper filtration and a U.V.light you can make the water safe to drink.Around these parts we use a cement septic tank to hold water under ground and pump it from there. for a toilet we rent an out house for 86.00 bucks a month,or you could just build your own. Some areas you can have water brought in for a few dollars a pop. And solar is not that hard to install,with the internet there is not to much you can not learn, and you already have a good source of info right here.
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