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Corvi&Alexis2018 10-09-2017 11:14 PM

Insulation questions...Permanent yurt in Burleson County Texas...
We are looking to start building our permanent yurt home in the next few months. It will be 24 feet in diameter. We will not be connected to local utilities. We will have some solar power. We do not want air conditioning in our yurt. I found Len Charney's book "Build a Yurt". It has been a great in helping me to understand the basics of a yurt. I am about halfway through it right now with many notes in the margin.

A bit of background info to help answers to my questions:
We live on the edge of Central and East Texas. Our climate here is mostly hot and humid. The average temperature from April to mid-December ranges from 80F - 120F with a humidity factor of 80%-100%. The higher end temperatures being from the months of May - October 1st approximately. Our "winter" is more like everyone else's Autumn. We do not get snow. There are times where we can get plenty of rain however. It is not unusual to get 10 inches - 20 inches of rain in one to three days of consecutive rain.

In winter we rarely have a hard freeze. There might be a handful of days and nights of 40F for the high temperature and under 32F for the low. All and all our winters are very mild to none existent. During winter solstice last year it was in the 80's and very humid. I almost wore shorts to my parents for their Christmas breakfast but mosquitos made me think better of it.

With all this in mind and knowing we will not have any air conditioning units for our home, should we put insulation in our walls, floor, and ceiling?

Would we still need some kind of plastic sheeting for a moisture barrier in the walls?

The yurt will be raised by at least four feet above a professionally done foundation slab. The yurt we are building on our own.

I want it to have air flow underneath to help keep it cooler during the 2-3 months of 100F+ temperature. Since our heat index during those times is between 110-120F. We will have the crown cap raised 4-6 inches above the roof. I will put screening around the gap to keep bugs outside. My thinking is this will promote air circulation through the house in conjunction with the solar powered ceiling fans we will have.

Thank you for your suggestions and comments.

Jafo 10-10-2017 04:20 AM

Re: Insulation questions...Permanent yurt in Burleson County Texas...
If you are not going to have air conditioning in a yurt, in the conditions you describe, then you may want to invest in a turkey baster so you brown evenly and stay juicy and not dry out.

I have a yurt in upstate NY a little more than an hour from the Canadian border. In the summer it is generally in the 80's here and you cannot hang out comfortably in the yurt on sunny hot days. It wouldn't matter if you took the dome off the thing, it will still cook you. I have the full insulation package too.

Good luck, but I don't think you will find it livable myself.

Corvi&Alexis2018 10-10-2017 08:33 AM

Re: Insulation questions...Permanent yurt in Burleson County Texas...
Thank you for the well wishes. Lol I may need that turkey baster though. My farmers tan will be strong by the end of our first year out there.

I have lived without a/c before and used to work in conditions with no a/c within 90 miles from where our property is. It is liveable with the fan. You get used to it actually. My body was quite aclimated to it by the end of my first summer. And that was in an old house build around 1920. The placement of the windows and tree shade from nearby made it fairly comfortable indoors. That and being born and raised in East Texas I am already fairly used to the heat. Those 110 days though can be rough but that is what a lake is for to go swimming and cool down.

Our yurt will have windows placed to take advantage of the wind direction for summer. A lot of the windows will be open air with just screens and outside shutters for inclimate weather.

Corvi&Alexis2018 10-10-2017 08:39 AM

Re: Insulation questions...Permanent yurt in Burleson County Texas...
I forgot to add above, we will have a separate round house for our kitchen and another small one for the shower/restroom outhouse.

Our main yurt will be for entertaining family and friends, sleeping, a place to hang out when weather is bad. We will be running a hobby farm. So there won't be much time spent indoors.

hierony 10-10-2017 03:17 PM

Re: Insulation questions...Permanent yurt in Burleson County Texas...
Impressive! From what I know of Texas weather patterns, a yurt is an interesting choice. I've been told it can be 70 F one day, 30 F the next during the cool season...

I would suggest a professional (and warranted) vinyl cover--the sun there will eat up canvas pretty quickly, plus the torrential downpours would saturate it and make things rather cool on wet days (evaporative cooling), requiring heating. If you have ready water access (unlikely for off-grid), you could use that to your advantage on hot days though. Canvas of course would require a moisture barrier; I think vinyl is normally waterproof, so any moisture barrier would be a redundant protection in case accidental puncture.

Insulation? Maybe a little, but it really depends on how well sealed you make everything. Yurts are often pretty drafty, which will steal/add more heat than you'd expect (season dependent). Also, what's your heating fuel budget?

Any idea on what you'll be doing for heat? Yurts being low thermal mass they'll cool quickly after the daytime high's...

Bob Rowlands 10-10-2017 04:20 PM

Re: Insulation questions...Permanent yurt in Burleson County Texas...
I have a trad yurt. The cover isn't anchored to the platform. I can create a very nice draft by rolling the wall cover up and tuck it in the lowest band. This creates a foot or so gap along the bottom of the wall. That lets nice cool air low to the ground into the yurt and out the smoke hole. This works incredibly well at keeping the interior from turning into an oven. Even on a stagnant day with very little air movement there is a continuous influx of air moving through the yurt. It certainly doesn't air condition the yurt, but does make a nice draft. If your yurt has windows, opening them will also work, but not to the same degree as rolling up the entire cover. Just another advantage of the simpler yurts.

Corvi&Alexis2018 10-10-2017 07:09 PM

Re: Insulation questions...Permanent yurt in Burleson County Texas...
We will have a wood stove for heating. The walls of the yurt will be wood and the roof will be tin. Canvas and vinyl tarps and the like don't last long here under direct sunlight for the majority of the year.

If we don't have insulation we will at least have polyethylene tar paper between the outer and inner wall. The interior will have wood paneling eventually. We want to have several windows to help keep a good cross breeze during summer. We already have some tapestries and furs we can hang on the walls during our ahort cold season to help keep it warm in there.

With it being so hot I am unsure of what kind of insulation if any to put in between the walls and roof. I have lived in very old farm houses that had no insulation. During summer it was nice and breezy with very little a/c. The electric wiring couldn't handle an a/c window unit for long. In the winter though, if you weren't near that stove when it got cold then you need extra blankets for sure. During cold nights the whole family generaly piled up and slept in the livingroom near the heater. My wife has a blanket addiction, thankfully. And now in preparation for this coming winter while we are in a tent clearing the area for the kitchen and main house yurt, I am feeding that addiction when we see warm comfortable blankets. ;-)

Wintergreen282 10-10-2017 07:41 PM

Re: Insulation questions...Permanent yurt in Burleson County Texas...
Invest in some hot water bottles. [email protected] Awesome for heating the bed on cold nights. Or putting on your lap while sitting still - reading or online or whatever. Excellent addition to any blanket addiction. :) Can make a quick "cover" in seconds by sliding it into the arm of an old fleece, sweatshirt, or bathrobe, etc and cutting a generous top to fold over.

Cracked up on the turkey baster comment, Jafo. To stay "evenly browned and juicy" while baking in the yurt. Lol!

TXFarmPop 10-10-2017 08:58 PM

Re: Insulation questions...Permanent yurt in Burleson County Texas...
Hey Texas Neighbors, Ive lived in a Yurt (Pacific Yurt w. Insulation in walls) in Coastal Texas for 8 years, specifically in Brazoria County, six miles from the beach as the crow (or Sandhill Crane) flies. 30 diameter, by the way.
For four of those years we had no air conditioning whatsoever, except for a cool shower at dusk and an overhead fan to get us through the night. Because I work outside all day and did not need to be inside during the early hours of the day, I found the Yurt to be amazingly comfortable. My experience was that there was maybe one week or Ten days when Id wake feeling smothered by the heat and humidity. We did have our kitchen in a separate structure by design, knowing that the heat would be problematic. Truly, as an over-air conditioned Texan for most of my life, I found the yurt to be pleasant through the Summers. The one GREAT attribute other than the obvious joys of yurt living is that the structure has very little thermal mass, therefore as soon as the temp cools in the evening, the inside temp does the same. That said!!! as the upstate New Yorker states, the yurt is really uninhabitable in the mornings in all but the coolest or coldest weather. I say uninhabitable in the mornings because our Yurt is situated half under and to the East of a very large Pecan tree. I chose this placement knowing i would prefer to have shade and cool in the afternoons and evenings rather than in the mornings.
During the winter we had a wood burning stove that warmed the room warmly. I found the cold, un-insulated floor to be the least pleasant aspect of the yurt in winter, even six miles from the Gulf of Mexico. I highly recommend insulating your floor. Did I mention that I built the floor of our structure 4 in the air. No skirting whatsoever. I did this BECAUSE i wanted airflow under the yurt, for cooling and in the hopes that a hurricane force wind might just blow over, under and around our little round house. 3 hurricanes later (Rita, Ike & Harvey with no direct hits), we are still here.
Finally, for the last four years weve had a Mitsubishi mini-split with A/C and Heat. The thing, the machine is wonderful as it does its job quietly. I cant say enough about the almost imperceptible whisper of this unit heating and cooling.I hope this helps and for what its worth, I say go for it.

Corvi&Alexis2018 10-11-2017 03:29 AM

Re: Insulation questions...Permanent yurt in Burleson County Texas...

Thank you so much that is very helpful. I used to live near Victoria. I know how yuck it can get down there. I spent many a day at Port Aransas on the beach.

Did you put insulation in the roof and walls?

Lol I will add floor insulation to our list then. My wife gets cold feet a lot. She would love to walk on a floor that isn't freezing in the winter.

I am glad to know someone else elevated tgeir yurt here. Good to know that works. Our kitchen will be separate from the house by design as well. I love to cook, bbq, and smoke meats. It makes sense to keep our sleeping area cool the kitchen as to be separate. I can't do another summer of cooking a big all day meal inside the house. Felt like I needed the turkey baster during that instead of the chicken I was cooking. :-D

I do think once we start building the yurt I will post pictures and a small commentary on them here. That way others can see how it works in this climate. I am going to attempt to make a round/oval-ish shaped front door for the yurt. The windows will also be round if I can figure out how to do it.

My construction experience is limited to none.

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