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avocadofarmer 02-07-2017 10:31 PM

A foundation in insanity?
3 Attachment(s)
Howdy gents, first time poster here...

I've got a piece of property in Southern Ca thats fairly off the beaten path. It's got a sweet little creek running through it that never seems to go dry. Lots of nice oaks and sycamore trees and very private. I was looking around and thinking that it would be pretty cool if I could construct a yurt on the bank of the watershed (its quite large, no flooding concerns where I'm looking to erect the yurt) and enjoy the shade and sound and general ecosystem of the area.

The spot I like sits nicely in a group of large oaks and would be in a half shade/half sun setup which sounds pretty good to me. The issue with this site is the foundation. Unfortunately years ago someone was 'farming' here and the demise of that shoddy operation can be witnessed by the bulldozer path where they pushed a pile of cut avocado trees into the creek. The trees were pushed down a narrow ravine (10 ft wide or so) leading to the larger creek bed. They've been there for a good 10 years and are basically acting like a retaining wall.

My idea is to place some steel I beams across this little ravine, anchor them into the solid soil/rock that remains on either side, build a deck and erect a 25-30 ft dia yurt. The total distance spanned with the steel I beams would be around 35 ft at the widest point. From what I've seen most people choose to put their yurts on relatively flat or at least stable ground. If I had to put a concrete anchor in the middle of the ravine I imagine I'd have to dig 10-20 ft deep before I hit anything solid enough to use. To avoid this, I just thought of the I beam idea.

I've attached a few pictures, hopefully they can add to my words.

Any caveats or tips you guys might add?


Bob Rowlands 02-08-2017 11:06 PM

Re: A foundation in insanity?
Hard to make any reasonable comment based on photos. As far as I'm concerned, spanning anything approaching 35' would certainly require engineering. That is a very substantial gap.

HawaiiYurts 03-01-2017 07:07 PM

Re: A foundation in insanity?
Sounds like a pretty cool idea! The right I beams should span that distance no problem. Wouldn't be a bad idea at all to get an engineer involved all the same though. They are the ones who would see things you haven't thought of yet on the structural integrity front. Best of luck, hope to see some awesome pics soon!


Bob Rowlands 03-02-2017 12:38 AM

Re: A foundation in insanity?
I beams sized to free span thirty five feet will be immense. As a carpenter I've installed I beams in residential housing, including the one I live in. The concrete filled steel posts under those I beams are spaced no farther than about 18', and even those 12" I beams are expensive. An I bean spanning 35' is gonna have a web two feet tall and the chords will be at minimum 8", and weigh several tons. Additionally the cost of getting that delivered and installed amounts to some serious coin. This is not for any do it yourselfer. That would be lunacy. Getting an engineer in on that isn't just a good idea, its likely the law as well. No homeowner wanting to build a yurt spans a gap like that. Some wealthy client wanting a road to his five million dollar mansion might. lol

That said, folks in third world countries do whatever they want without engineers and authorities. Primitive to modern style suspension bridges typically span gaps that won't allow an intermediate pier. However in no way would I condone anyone even beginning to consider such. Planning a budget on such will curtatil any further thought.

HawaiiYurts 03-02-2017 01:23 AM

Re: A foundation in insanity?
There are ways to make that span. We were involved in making a bridge that spanned about 40' using I Beams. Cost was quite a bit, for sure. But on the mainland Cali, I would bet finding a deal on some substantial Ibeams wouldn't be too hard a challenge for someone motivated. It isn't always about doing it on the cheap, even if it is a yurt. But yes - I wouldn't attempt it without an engineer on board.

Gregorlo 03-02-2017 08:32 AM

Re: A foundation in insanity?
Where there's a will, there's a way! After you have an engineer sign off and you are building your platform and/or erecting your yurt, I would really enjoy lending a hand for the experience and knowledge.

I hope to erect a yurt on the CO/Utah border in the next few years and would like the opportunity to lend a hand on a project that transcends traditional building envelopes.

I have project management and GC skills too!

Either way, looking forward to hearing how you suss out a solution! I have a mentoring org for at-risk youth. Our premise is - if you can imagine it... you can do it!

... also, I love avacados!

Lori Fuqua Gregory
Golden, Colorado

Bob Rowlands 03-03-2017 12:57 AM

Re: A foundation in insanity?
Anyone interested in learning how to actually build a yurt from scratch should go to:

Clan yama kaminari

Click on 'make it' on the left side of the page. Plans for 12', 14', & 16' yurt there. I built the 14' and 16' versions.

Bob Rowlands 03-03-2017 09:41 AM

Re: A foundation in insanity?
Off topic.

As for covers, if you expect to live in your yurt for many years, I suggest going with a cover that isn't 100% cotton canvas. Mine is nearly four years old, and water immediately soaks it. The canvas still has plenty of structural integrity, but the waterproofing died a couple years ago. I'm guessing the solution is to coat it with paint or some kind of waterproofing renew? If someone has experience with that I'm all ears. :D

avocadofarmer 05-21-2017 11:13 PM

Re: A foundation in insanity?
1 Attachment(s)
Thanks for the input, gents. I ended up buying a big backhoe for other farm operations and shouldn't have a problem digging down to a depth of 20' to find soild ground to place a cement plug and support post. That should drastically reduce the size of the beam needed as well as the need for an engineer. I've been farming too long and have seen too many engineering types tell me I can't do something, I know better now!

Unfortunately I'm quite strapped for time and will only be able to do this with my free time, so pics will be quite slow. Just too cool of a spot, should be a fun build!

And for fun, here is a pic of the coolest thing I've ever owned.

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