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Renanit 02-01-2015 12:18 PM

Help figuring out if I can build a yurt in Brooklyn
I am brand new to this forum. We are a family of 5 living in tight quarters in Brooklyn, NY. We have a 400 square foot deck off our apartment on which I would like to build a yurt to expand our living space. I have done some basic research but don't quite know where to start regarding type of yurt, how to build, whether we need a foundation or not, how to heat and cool, etc. Are there consultants on this list who could help? Thank you!

Bob Rowlands 02-01-2015 01:20 PM

Re: Help figuring out if I can build a yurt in Brooklyn
I suggest buying a small yurt instead of building one, unless you have carpentry tools and the chops to use them. To get around the plethora of code issues likely in Brooklyn, the yurt can be anchored to the ground via rope bridle over the rafters that is tied to stakes. That way it is a bonafide 'tent', and not an outbuilding.

If you want to read up on what is involved in building a yurt, google:

Clan Yama Kaminari-Home

Click on 'make it' top left on the main page. Then, scroll down to yurt/ger construction.

I built the 14' and 16' version of those yurts. Pics on this site under 'Homemade yurt'. Good luck.

hierony 02-01-2015 01:45 PM

Re: Help figuring out if I can build a yurt in Brooklyn
How sturdy is your deck? I'm hoping your apartment is at ground level... Depending on the size and construction details expect the yurt to weigh 500 to 2500 lbs. Then add 500 lbs or more for amenities. Think your deck can handle that?

If your deck is square, you could put a 20 ft dia yurt on it (5 walls in some parlance). Or several 10' yurts if you want mini-rooms :P

20 ft yurts start around $3000 and go up to $10-15K or more. You'll want insulation and such.

If you're on a deck right by an apartment, use heavy-duty extension cords and use standard space heaters and such. And get good insulation.

Welcome to the forums! Lots of information & ideas if you search or ask.

Bob Rowlands 02-01-2015 02:02 PM

Re: Help figuring out if I can build a yurt in Brooklyn
The best way to anchor your yurt would certainly be to screw the lath to the deck with 'ell' brackets, like I did mine.

But, my guess is in Brooklyn that would make what is in essence merely a tent, an inspectable, taxable dwelling. Even a free standing backpacking dome tent erected outside for the kids to sleep in might be considered taxable there. Just a guess. The gov't is ALWAYS looking for more revenue.

markymarkg 02-02-2015 02:37 AM

Re: Help figuring out if I can build a yurt in Brooklyn
Check out the building codes for Brooklyn. I would guess that they, like most cities, will probably tell you that anything under 200 sf can be built or erected without a permit. As for the platform/foundation, it probably has to be a certain height from the ground. If you can find out what those regulations state then you're in business. There appear to be a few yurts from sale here under the classified section. If you can get a yurt that is already insulated, and for a discount, you're in business!

Renanit 02-12-2015 09:40 PM

Re: Help figuring out if I can build a yurt in Brooklyn
Thank you so much to all of you for your replies. I am a little lost at where to begin and have no technical skills whatsoever. Yes, we are trying to do this so as to avoid building an extension which we cannot legally do over our deck. And I do not think that the deck could withstand 1,000 lb. but from what I saw online there are lightweight yurts that only weight about 150 lbs. Would it be foolish to think that something like that would actually last on a deck in the northeast for more than a few minutes? Are there people our there who can help with all these issues; a yurt consultant of sorts who could help?

Bob Rowlands 02-13-2015 11:50 AM

Re: Help figuring out if I can build a yurt in Brooklyn
Buy a basic yurt whose diameter matches the short side of your deck. No simple unimproved yurt 16' in dia. or less will be anywhere near 1000 lbs. in weight. My 16'er is maybe 500 lbs, excluding wood stove. I suggest anchoring the yurt to your deck in standard Mongolian practice of rope bridle tossed over the roof in several directions and anchored to the platform. Watch some you tube videos of Monglians erecting there yurts to get an idea of how to rope them to the ground. Good luck.

Jafo 02-13-2015 04:25 PM

Re: Help figuring out if I can build a yurt in Brooklyn
You may want to look into Clean Air Yurts:


They are located in New Paltz, not that far from Brooklyn (compared to everyone else). They make camping yurts too which are VERY light weight.

hierony 02-13-2015 05:50 PM

Re: Help figuring out if I can build a yurt in Brooklyn
1000 lbs for a 400 sq ft deck actually is doable--imagine 5-10 people on it. You can even test it that way (beware using womenfolk :p). Things like a bed, dresser, desk, human bodies, etc add quickly to a 16' yurt to get to 1000 lbs. I mentioned weight because I imagined a big heavy yurt on a balcony 2-3 stories up :eek:

Looking at nyc.gov, your deck should hold 16000 lbs (40 lbs/ft^2) but is only 8 ft wide, if new. With a roof, it's considered another room. Dang--nasty codes. Actual code: Ch 1 definitions: tent=structure=building. Ch 1, Sec 28 Article 104.4 'Work Exempt from Permit' does not include the usual 'tiny buildings exempt' clause. Didn't check for Accessory building/dwelling/unit loopholes.

Aha! Ch 1, Section 28, Article 111.1-Temporary Structures and Uses. No permit required for a tent <400 sq ft and used for <30 days. Hopefully your deck is rather private & you're on good terms with your neighbors/landlord so they won't complain? You could probably get away with it :D Worst case: yurt up 29 days, taken down 1 day, setup again for 29 days--lather, rinse, repeat (monthly chore for occupant). Don't know what the borough comissioner would think...

Traditional yurts are an incredible design solution to scarce building materials, cold winter deserts, and high winds. With waterproof materials, they do rain and snow, too. If you don't accumulate more than 2-3 inches snow, you should be fine; otherwise you should have bagana (crown ring supports)/snow kit upgrade or anticipate a collapse in heavy snowstorms in mid-to-large yurts. A lightweight camping yurt without tiedown/tightening ropes will be useless in wind (easily fixable) and cold in the winter without insulation/proper sealing (fixable)--who knows what it'll do in snow though.

If going lightweight, you might consider Shelter Systems--modern tents/domes of similar size, much cheaper and lightweight. Also quicker assembly/take down (for snow/storm/inspections). No insulation though :( Might be a good way to test the waters of a deck tent/yurt.

We're all yurt consultants here :p Amateur mostly, of course. If you want professionals, check out the Yurt Manufactuer Discussion section on the main forum page or search for yurt builders/suppliers in the Northeast or further.

Bob Rowlands 02-13-2015 07:42 PM

Re: Help figuring out if I can build a yurt in Brooklyn
FWIW, I've had moderate snow depth to probably about 10"? or so my 16' yurt. I've definitely had 5" -6" of very wet snow up there as well. I have 1x3 rafters, and no baganas. Yes that is one heck of a lot of weight. The 3/16ths tension cable handles it no problem.

I've seen snow pack atop yurt in pictures a few FEET deep in online photos. Yurts can take absolutely mind blowing snow load IF they have a good steel tension cable. Redundabncy of rafters and lattice makes them probably a magnitude stronger than any other tent design for inclement conditions. IMO, THE perfect tent. Thanks Mongolians :D

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