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New, Modern Yurt Build In Mongolia

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Old 07-17-2022, 10:46 PM   #1
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Default New, modern yurt build in Mongolia

This is my first post so I'll introduce myself too.

I'm a British expat, now in early retirement, who has lived in the UK, USA and finally Asia since roughly 2007. I'm in a 7 year relationship with a Mongolian woman and after years of wandering and not being settled, we decided to settle down with a home base. In Mongolia. My budget was limited so 'gers' (Mongolian word for yurts) looked like a good prospect. Land is plentiful and cheap for Mongolians in the mountains surrounding Ulaanbaatar.

After searching for a few months and a few false starts, we found 7 connected lots totalling about 2 acres of virgin land and the cost was about US$11k. However, that's a bit misleading because our land opens to a huge amount of common land. Millions of acres. We're at the top of a side valley and own the highest buildable land. The views are fantastic. Below is buildable but nobody has built within 600 meters of us yet.


We chose 2 modern gers rather than traditional ones. Although we also have a traditional one for cooking and guests at the moment. A local company (Tsomtsog gers) builds fancy, modern gers for tourist camps. So we were able to try before we ordered ours. We spent a night in one 6m ger and had a visit to some 7m gers. We ordered 2 of the 7m (internal dia) variants with extra windows and a connecting hallway so we could use one for sleeping and one for living. We will probably live in them 4-seasons so we wanted something very cozy. The cost was about US$7k for each ger and around US$3k for the connecting hallway. Although we might build the connecting hallway/bathroom ourselves. This didn't include foundations and we were quoted US$5k for the foundations. We decided to do the foundations ourselves.

First step, the slope is about 10 degrees so I looked at building a post and beam platform but it was too pricey due to the cost of lumber and steel. Excavation is cheaper so we paid for a company to cut and fill a large platform for 2 gers (7.2m external diameter), 2 x 20 ton shipping containers, and a flat area for outdoor living.

Initially, we erected a traditional Mongolian ger where we could live while the construction was going on. We built a simple platform with rocks and gravel plus wood floor for this one. For the fancy gers, I designed a more permanent and durable foundation: concrete block ring with inner supporting blocks. It would be filled with expanded clay

insulation

and then have a concrete ring (30cm/12" tall) and raised pad (10cm/4" thick). We used wire grid reinforcement in the concrete.

The concrete foundation was a family affair and I think I saved about US$1k by doing a DIY method. Not a lot in hindsight but a bonding experience.

Next the ger company showed up with just two workers instead of the usual 4-5 so some of my wife's family members were hired to help. The build took 5 days to make the 2 gers livable but they are still missing the cosmetic outer cover and a couple of side doors. We should get them delivered and installed this week or next.

I had recently had back surgery, so I was sidelined to management. However, I've been doing all the electrical work myself. We have a grid connection that we had to pay quite a lot for due to the distance from a transformer. About $8k but after that the kW rates are very low here. We're getting a well drilled this week for about $5k. We're probably going to have a gray-water / composting system soon too.

We've still got loads to do but at least we moved in. We have 3 yurts, one traditional one for cooking and guest, 2 fancy ones for us and guests, and 2 shipping containers for secure storage/garage/workshop use.

Some photos for you:

A concrete foundation. We'll need to add another section for the hallway / bathroom.
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This is the frame work, without lattice wall yet.
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An inner liner is added over the structure.
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Insulation

is locally sourced wool felts in 2 layers.
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Next is a waterproof canvas.
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Not installed yet, the cosmetic outer cover and tensioning straps. Also, 2 side doors.

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Last edited by UKadventurer; 07-17-2022 at 11:09 PM.
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Old 07-17-2022, 11:05 PM   #2
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Default Re: New, modern yurt build in Mongolia

I think there's a limit on attached images, I'll add more here.

This is how one of the gers looks inside. We specified 2 windows but we like them so much we'll probably get a 3rd. There's also a 3 panel aluminum and glass door. We'll also have a side door of aluminum and glass.

Eventually, we'll add underfloor electric

heating

and install a wood-burning stove. Winters are harsh in the Mongolian mountains. The coldest nightime temps can reach -40C/F.

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A view of the compound from a nearby hill. The compound is on the right of the frame.
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This is our traditional ger that we use for cooking and guests.
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A picture of us.
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A sunset without people.
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Old 07-18-2022, 03:08 AM   #3
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Default Re: New, modern yurt build in Mongolia

Thank you very much for sharing your experiences and the great impressions.

I visited Mongolia in 2000 and droved more than 1000 kilometers on (Chinese) bicycle and had an 6-day (daily 8-10 hours) ride on horseback....

Incredible time....



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Old 07-18-2022, 09:18 AM   #4
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Default Re: New, modern yurt build in Mongolia

Very cool, dude. I regularly ride my 1989 TREK 8500 around Co Spgs. the official Olympic City USA. Jennifer Valente, the 2020 Olympic gold medalist in track cycling, lives directly across the street from my son. She's blown by me a few times on my rides. That chick is RIPPED. I'll bet she regularly rides 300-400 miles a week.
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Last edited by Bob Rowlands; 07-18-2022 at 09:21 AM.
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Old 07-18-2022, 09:22 AM   #5
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Default Re: New, modern yurt build in Mongolia

I have to edit alot because I make tons of typos.
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Old 07-18-2022, 09:38 AM   #6
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Default Re: New, modern yurt build in Mongolia

Those are some bad ass yurts. Please update this thread when you're finished and have them all furnished. Outstanding!
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Old 07-29-2022, 10:53 PM   #7
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Question Re: New, modern yurt build in Mongolia

Now Ive had the time to view your pics more in detail and the most interesting thing Ive seen is the crown (center ring) in your modern Yurts.

For easier understanding Im copying your pics again:





What are the reasons for such a design?

Dome

Light alone, or are some other advantages more with this construction?

As example on opposite your traditional Yurt with an outside view - the difference is clearly to see...

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Old 07-30-2022, 02:23 AM   #8
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Default Re: New, modern yurt build in Mongolia

Hi, good question. I know traditional Mongolian gers quite well. The 'tohn' (crown) has multiple functions. Ventilation, light, and time keeping. The modern ger has most of those elements but does it a little differently.

Time keeping: Think of the crown as a clock but with 8 divisions. You can learn to tell the time approximately as long as there's some sun. Mongolia is a sunny country. It's a sun dial essentially.

Light: Obviously it brings a lot of light in which is essential with traditional gers which have no windows and a tiny door. Not so much a modern ger which has one or more windows.

Ventilation: In the modern version, the centre of the crown opens enough to ventilate but will still keep the rain out unless it's driving rain from the south, in our ger. In a traditional one there's a 'tohn' cover which is a square piece of canvas and insulation that must be pulled over the opening with long straps when the weather requires it. You need to do this from outside which isn't great in a storm or blizzard - plan ahead. The crown frame might have no glass at all, sometimes plastic sheet, and one opening has a metal sheet to hold the chimney. We can open and close ours from indoors. We'll have wood stoves but near the wall, not in the traditional centre of the ger.

We have outside covers for the crown - canvas only - which we haven't used yet but might have to use in the winter. The glass in the crown is just single pane and there's essentially no insulation in that area. It'd be a shame to cover the crown because I love the feel of being able to see the sky, especially at night. However, when the temps hit -40C we might be covering all of the windows (most are double glazed, the crown is single glazed).

However, electricity is cheap and fallen wood free so we'll have to see how it goes. This winter will be our first in gers full time.

Next week, we'll have underfloor electric

heating

installed. It's already getting cold at night.
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Old 07-30-2022, 02:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UKadventurer View Post
Hi, good question.....
Thanks for your detailed explanations and for sharing your thoughts.

During my time in Mongolia we had some rainy days, but at those we had no Yurt overnights.

I wonder how the Nomads are handling the heating during heavy rain - how do they cover the big hole on the roof with the hot chimney? Any ideas?
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Old 07-30-2022, 03:07 AM   #10
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Default Re: New, modern yurt build in Mongolia

Quote:
Originally Posted by TSRalex View Post
Thanks for your detailed explanations and for sharing your thoughts.

During my time in Mongolia we had some rainy days, but at those we had no Yurt overnights.

I wonder how the Nomads are handling the heating during heavy rain - how do they cover the big hole on the roof with the hot chimney? Any ideas?
Glad to answer. We've had a very wet summer. There is definitely a certain amount of leakage in traditional gers, especially around the chimney. The crown cover can not touch the chimney because, as I found out, it will burn the fabric or melt it. Depending on the type of material. Chimneys here a single wall metal, so they are extremely hot even in the opening.

So the crown cover must wrap around the chimney without touching it, yet still cover as much of the crown openings as possible. I took a photo of the traditional ger on our land. It's in poor shape but it's owned by my wife's cousin. So it's up to him to fix it. You can see the crown cover in the outside shot.

The inside photo shows that the chimney is not a tight fit with the sheet metal holding it. Leakage is typical here but nobody cares. I was in a hail storm with 1-2cm hail stones, quite a few came inside and bounced around the ger. Fun!

Traditional gers have quite a few flaws but nobody seems to mind. Storms come and go. The sun follows rain and everything dries out. Personally, I prefer the modern design and want to make it as efficient as a house.
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