Yurts vs. Domes

topic posted Wed, August 16, 2006 - 10:37 AM by  chycho
I’m new to the world of alternative shelters and require some advice. I’ve done some preliminary research into Domes and Yurts, trying to figure out which one is better. So far this is what I’ve found out

1) both Yurts and Domes have pro’s and Con’s so its not really correct to say that one is better then the other
2) it looks like Yurts might be a better choice in cooler climates while Domes seem to serve well in hot and dry areas
3) Yurts have a limit (up to this point) on their complexity while Domes have been explored to extreme levels with some crazy and large designs. This is probably because Domes have been in the North American mindset since the 1960’s.
4) Yurts seem to be a more stable structure for a compatibly priced Dome. Of course the high end Dome structures are as stable as they come.
5) Building underground seems to be a bad idea due to mold so that option is out
6) Yurts seem to cost less then Domes but have a smaller following. I’m guessing that this is because they haven’t been around North American as long as Domes
7) The information on how long you can live inside a mid-size Dome or Yurt is hard to come by. Some people seem to believe that both Domes and Yurts are temp shelters while others say they are permanent. Still not clear on this issue

There are a few other issues but that’s some of the main points.

I want to know what people here think. Any major issues I should look at? I’m looking to have a structure up in the Pacific Northwest type of climate (cool and wet with some snow in winters, summer is dryer but still humid, it is a rain Forrest after all). Also looking at a dry sunny region like southern California.

If anyone has any Links that they think I should be reading or suggestions please reply.

Thank you for the help
posted by:
  • Unsu...

    Re: Yurts vs. Domes

    Wed, August 16, 2006 - 2:02 PM
    All the info I've got is from my own personal experience living in a yurt for the last 2 1/2 years in central/northern coastal California. But here it is!

    1) We live in a Pacific Yurt and every winter we have had severe mold issues and every year we have gotten a little bit better dealing with it. We do not, however, have a wood burning stove which I've been told over and over is essential to living in a yurt in a wet climate. Oh well, we've got a propane heater and a fan and a dehumidifyer and last winter was our least moldy yet.

    2) I'd say a pre-fab yurt such as pacific yurts makes is a great temporary structure. It's worked pretty darn well for us, even though it hasn't lived up to all the expectations we had for it. IF we were in a permanent situation, we would definitely do a lot more work to it to make it permanent.... and might, if we hadn't already gotten the pacific yurt, build our own from scratch.

    3) I do have to say that I absolutely LOVE living in our yurt! :-)

    Hope that helps some!
    • Re: Yurts vs. Domes

      Sun, November 19, 2006 - 12:59 PM
      I've lived in a yurt now for a little over a year now and have had no complaints so far. I'm in the wet Pacific NW and so far no problem with mold, though it's heated with a wood stove. Have never seen a dome that is being used as a living space though. Only the ones you see set up at summer festivals. We built it as a permanent structure...built on a raised deck. We also took the easy route and bought the kit from Pacific Yurts. :-)
  • Re: Yurts vs. Domes

    Wed, August 16, 2006 - 9:50 PM
    <really correct to say that one is better then the other>

    just what we need, a yurts v. domes battle for world supremecy. now we will see who is boss!
    • Re: Yurts vs. Domes

      Wed, August 16, 2006 - 10:45 PM
      Is there a side though? I haven’t had any experience with either and from what I’ve looked into I see a pattern where there are a lot more questions and concerns regarding Domes then there are about Yurts. This discrepancy in the number of issues people have with the structures may just be due to the fact that there are more people using Domes then there are Yurts. I really don’t know … just want to get some informed opinions so that I can narrow my choices … again, any help and advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks
      • Re: Yurts vs. Domes

        Wed, August 16, 2006 - 11:51 PM
        eh, i was just kidding about the "versus" issue. theres lots of good kinds of housing and whats good where is largely situational.

        and yes, guapo is the boss. listen to him.

        <just want to get some informed opinions so that I can narrow my choices>

        id say if youre down to two housing styles already you may want to widen your choices, not narrow them. whats your site like? what are your goals for it? what do you like about domes and yurts? what else is out there that meets your needs? what materials do you already have or can get cheap?

        • Re: Yurts vs. Domes

          Thu, August 17, 2006 - 6:40 AM
          The site that we have already chosen is on a small Island in BC, one of the discovery Islands West Coast of BC is a rainforest, wet and damp in the Fall, relatively dry in the summer, moderate snow in the winter. High winds at times.

          Our goal is to have permanent housing that is efficient and environmentally friendly.

          Domes and Yurts are both well tested structures and there are numerous designs available which gives us some flexibility. Yurts seem to be the better choice in colder climates but it’s still a toss up really. If we go totally economical, then Yurts would be the choice but with a little extra cost Domes could be made to workout really well and look a lot cooler (not that it matters what but it could be the decider)

          As far as material, we can get anything we want, wood being the most abundant.

          • Unsu...

            Re: Yurts vs. Domes

            Thu, August 17, 2006 - 6:47 AM
            I still like the sand bag igloo better than either.

            I had a dome house for three years - it was okay.

            I've stayed in a yurt - less impressed.

            I've only visited CalEarth and talked at length with Nadir - if I ever build from scratch, the sand bag igloo for me thanks.
            • Re: Yurts vs. Domes

              Thu, August 24, 2006 - 9:03 PM
              I heard they fired them and made ceramic houses.... I want one soooo bad, but of course want to know more re the firing,but can't find anything about it online. do you know anything about that aspect of the cal earth?
              • Unsu...

                Glazing the inside of one's igloo...

                Fri, August 25, 2006 - 6:51 AM
                one of his books talks about the firing stuff, if you go there for a workshop he will teach you if asked and I'm not sure if you can get away with sandbags or have to use adobe bricks - they still do this in SW Asia where he is from.

                As an overview what I remember about glazing was to make the final coat of inside plaster a glaze with a lot of glass in it, seal off most of the openings and run a gas burner until it gets hot enough to melt the glaze.
          • Re: Yurts vs. Domes

            Thu, August 17, 2006 - 8:22 AM
            how quickly do you need shelter there?

            do you want to buy or build?

            what is your skill level as a builder or budget to hire others?

            to me the whole point of a yurt is that is is temporary and portable. i wouldnt suggest it for permanant housing, esp in a rainforest where mold is such an issue. you will burn a lot of wood trying to keep the place from getting musty. thats not environmentally friendly.

            domes may be a bit better but you still have insulation issues and the catch with domes is that the bigger your floor space the higher the ceiling, which makes keeping warm in winter harder.

            if you are thinking of a long term permanant structure set up a small yurt or dome, or just a large tent or trailer, or even a shipping container, and get to work on building. youre in a great area for cob (have you read "the hand sculpted house"?), strawbale, of light clay / straw building. the nader khalili style earthbag building is great too. if you have lots of wood learn to mill it and build a beautiful timber frame from wood on your land.
            • Re: Yurts vs. Domes

              Thu, August 17, 2006 - 10:30 AM
              We are not restricted by time and our budget can be made larger if we decide that we need to do a more elaborate job

              This mold issue seems to be popping up everywhere, never really occurred to me that it would be such a huge problem. I will definitely need to look into this a lot more.

              Thanks for pointing out the other options as well, from the sand bag igloo to the straw/clay structure. Haven’t looked into these options very well so it might be time to do a little more research, but if there is mold issue with Domes and Yurts then I’m sure there would also be a huge mold issue with straw and clay (not sure about the igloo)
              • Unsu...

                Re: Yurts vs. Domes

                Thu, August 17, 2006 - 10:50 AM
                The issue with mold for us has to do with not having proper insulation. The insulation is great on the walls.... but nothing on the floor (it's just plywood) and then the windows are just plastic that is velcroed to the walls... lets in a LOT of moisture. Like I said, building your own yurt would make it more permanent and less likely to have such mold problems. We just set up a pre-fab yurt as is.

                That being said, where I live mold is a problem for EVERYONE, even in conventional housing. It can cause lots of nasty health problems not to mention ruining your stuff. I would definitly talk to people in the area where you are moving about mold to see what the problems are there.
                • Liz
                  offline 8

                  Re: Yurts vs. Domes

                  Sat, August 26, 2006 - 12:02 AM
                  Hey for mold you could try this stuff: effecient microbes -or EM- it probiotic and totally eco friendly, we were testing it in new orleans for use in mold remediation insted of traditional toxic poisons or bleach, we found that it actually worked better that the strongest and most popular chemical mold reamideaton stuff. you can find EM on the internet. it is good for alsmost everything.
              • Unsu...

                "Sand Bag Igloo"

                Thu, August 17, 2006 - 8:42 PM
                This building style isn't that different from any other masonary style construction, however the thermal mass properties are better.
  • Re: Yurts vs. Domes and/or Yomes

    Sun, November 12, 2006 - 9:26 AM
    Why pick a side, when you can hybridise.
    • Re: Yurts vs. Domes and/or Yomes

      Mon, November 13, 2006 - 1:11 PM
      cool ... thank you :-)
      • Re: Yurts vs. Domes and/or Yomes

        Thu, November 23, 2006 - 5:06 AM
        Hey all;
        I just got back.
        Domes! Domes! Domes! for me anyway.
        Why? I can afford it and low maintenance and heating cost AND I am sick of straight walls.
        AND, hybridizing is a good way to go too, take pieces and parts froma bunch of designs and draw something up.
        Go over the design ideas with a common sense engineer-builder type AND an artist so that what you want to build is "doable" and beautiful.
        Remember you have to be able to build it and live in the thing happily ever after.
        The earthworks technique is wonderful and I think this year we are going to build a small one, I could use a new metal working shop and my buddy Richard is hot on them, so I we will try it out and I will let you know.
        The main advantage I see to yurts vs concretedomes is the kit thing. fast, cheaper and movable. The only option like that in domes is going to be a Pacific Dome and I have one of those too, they are great, but to live in one you have to insulate and heat the hell out of it in the winter.
        You can also build ferro cement domes without forms too but the amount of labor and time involved is insane.
  • Re: Yurts vs. Domes

    Mon, November 27, 2006 - 12:03 PM
    Ever consider a tree house in the big trees where its wet? Get out of the wet foliage and above the bugs. You can build a rig, including a platform with hinges, cables and some straps that can be moved tree to tree fairly easily. Straps to the trunk, hinged triangle supports. Basics in climbing and a pully system are a must. With foam sealer, wool blanket raps, and a double layered tarp roof, it stays very warm and dry. One could have a small stove, sink, toilet/shower, the works and live comfortably. With a fixed weight as balance on a rope, you can jump up and down, like an elevator, going up and down, with little effort. I squat relatively cheap in these for a few months at a time then take the whole thing down and transport or store. More permanent tree houses can be built, and with many books and blueprints online one could live plush, completely camouflaged if wanted, and with little eco impact.

    I see domes as being slightly more permanent than yurts, but one could live indeffinately in either. I like the yurt much as it compacts nicely and can be moved fast. The teepee is another option. Subterranean living is ok in my book, or partially underground, with cheap recycled tire, bale, earthen, or dome above ground structure. Digging into the slope of a hill works nicely. This can be done so that the structure blends and dissappears into the landscape. Earth mounded, rebar/cement, dome like structures are cheap and strong and I've seen some tire/bale structures that will outlast generations.

    I'm in So Cal and leaving soon north, i wouldn't suggest coming this way particularly, but there are some nice wooded areas.
    • Re: Yurts vs. Domes

      Mon, November 27, 2006 - 12:19 PM
      I think the best thing for you to do is experiment a little in your head. Take a look at the layout of the land in question, pick a spot with good chi and sun. Incorporate different designs into your, super functional space. I've been experimenting with rope, poles, and tarps for some time and find that with patience and good foamy sealing glue you can weather proof and create enough airspace insulation almost anywhere very cheap. Blessings

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