“I wanted a home that was as close to being outside as I could get, and this is it,“ Karen explained. A retired career preparation specialist, she discovered the property while visiting friends in Cedar and quickly fell in love with the area.
“I knew I wanted to build a new house, -- one that would fit the property -- where I could see out of windows everywhere. I laughed the first time I heard of a yurt, but then I started doing some checking and found Pacific Yurts in Oregon. The more I learned about them -- energy efficient, open, designed to bring fresh air in, could be built anywhere -- the more I was sure that‘s what I wanted.“
The traditional portable home of the shepherds of inner Asia, the yurt is the equivalent of the American tipi. It is ingeniously constructed with light poles for a roof, sapling lattice for walls and a thick felt exterior skin. With the rising cost of house building in the early 1970s, many young people turned to unique, inexpensive, do-it-yourself construction methods. Pacific Yurts has been manufacturing a modern yurt for 21 years and was awarded the U.S. Senate Productivity Award for excellence in manufacturing and an international Achievement Award for design excellence.
Considered a “soft“ structure, the yurt reacts more readily to climatic conditions than do “rigid“ structures, so the site must be considered for wind patterns, over-head tree limbs, water runoff, etc. For yurts set up for extended periods, a deck is recommended.
It took a little longer to complete the project because the local contractor and excavator had never built a yurt before. At first, the excavators didn‘t know how they would do a round cement basement.
“There was a lot of cell phone calls between Roger Pierce -- the contractor -- and the yurt company,“ Coussens says. “But Roger was great; once they got the idea, it all came together.“
Yurts come pre-fabricated in a kit, ready to assemble. Coussen‘s design included a sma}ler- yurt for the bedroom, with the two connected by a closet and front entryway.
Coussens has made it through her first year in her yurt and so far she loves it. “It‘s so easy to clean, a little Pledge on a rag, a couple of turns and I‘m done. There‘s no outside maintenance. In the spring, I take off the plexiglas on the inside of the windows and let the air in through the screens and lattice. If it rains, I go out and lower the flaps. The canvas is guaranteed for twenty years; the roof for 25. By then, I won‘t really care!“ she says with a laugh.
Coussens heats with a pellet-burning stove and has electric heat for back up. She estimates the cost of her yurt is about the same as a traditional 2,000 square foot house with a basement. “There was more ttime and labor, and the windows had to be insulated and drywall had to be installed on the inside walls for it to pass the county building codes.“
For more information, check out www.yurts.com.