Yurt living, Part 1: The journey begins with laying the foundation

Building a straw bale yurt platform

Greetings, my readers.

Kazakh yurt

It’s time to update you on my yurt building project. But before that, let me recap what the Kochevnik project is and its quick story.

In May 2015 I had to travel to Almaty because of the death of my grandmother. I remember how concerned she was about her flat and furniture and how she wanted my kids and myself to have a home. After she moved on, I had conflicting thoughts on her possessions, and how she and my grandpa worked all their life to obtain all these things. Books, furniture, vases, all that.

One part of me wanted to keep it in their memory, but the other me didn’t feel any connection to what was just stuff. In my 36 years I’ve owned and lived in a lot of houses and apartments, built a beautiful sauna, remodeled a number of houses, and always tried to build a nest. A home.

Unfortunately, due to my unsettled soul I lost all of it on the way due to dumb decisions and expensive lessons. I left a graveyard of businesses behind. Buying a place isn’t an option for me right now. So I went to bed with that thought about a home and my grandparents.

The inner voice woke me up in the middle of the night. Literally yelling at me. “Dude. You are half Kazakh! You grew up in Central Asia! You don’t sit in one place! You are a nomad, dude! Get a yurt. Kazakhs lived in harsh climates for generations! This shit was tested by millions of people before you. When did an apartment that you can’t even afford became a norm in your stupid head?” I listened….

To cut a long story short, my grandma had some money in her bank account that was enough for the yurt. Then there was a long process of finding a builder and shipping it to Canada and thanks to my brother, we now ready to lay the ground.

Choosing a platform for the yurt

Almost a year has passed since I bought a yurt, and I used this time to learn and research. After finding a good piece of land for rent, I started looking for a platform solution.

Thanks to the yurt forum I considered 3 options.

  1. Build a deck. However, this meant that it is quite impossible to make it portable and will be very expensive (quoted $4,000). It also left me uncertain in terms of insulation, since my plan is to live there in winter.
  2. SIP platform. It was the most desirable solution. However, it’s incredibly expensive.
  3. Straw bale platform. It was the only feasible solution for the budget, and thanks to people from the yurt forum and Yves from Groovy Yurts, this was the way to go.

Building the platform

First of all, you need to calculate how many straw bales you need. Since math was always my rival, I had some help from my wife. My yurt is 20 ft in diameter. I needed around 60 bales. I also have a smaller 3.5m yurt for which I need around 25 bales. I just went ahead and bought 100 bales. Now just watch the step-by-step pictures to see how it’s done.

2016-05-21 08.21.29

Straw bale delivery

Layout of straw platform

Use the tarp first before installing the bales

Start with laying a circle of straw bales first. I used 2 rows for the outside perimeter and then filled the gaps from the middle. I used this picture for reference.

Straw layout

Image: courtesy of hierony yurtforum.com member

Straw bale round layout

Time to fill the voids with loose straw and lift the tarp

Building yurt platform

Straw bale yurt platform is ready for the plywood cover

Straw bale yurt platform

Power IT solar generator to power a jigsaw

Straw bale platform

Draw a circle and cut the excess

Straw bale platform

Straw bale platform

If you are interested in this type of platform, let me know and I will put some more pictures and answer your questions.

Sao bol,

Kochevnik




  • Paul

    Cool project… I am tempted to copy it myself. Would you be able to answer me:
    1.how long do the hay bales last? do they decompose?

    2.How sturdy are they under foot?

  • Paul,
    I think I already wrote you, but here is a public comment. Looks like bales would last around 2 years. I did quite good water proofing (as far as I can tell). I will update you next year.
    Support for all heavy stuff is adequate. No issues there. Woodstove etc…

  • Sarah Kellogg

    Just wondering how many sheets of plywood you used and what/how many cross boards you used… my husband and I are planning to use this method come spring and are trying to be as prepared as possible… we are getting a 21′ yurt. Thanks!

  • Kristianne

    I have the same question as below. How many sheets of plywood and how many and what length of support boards did you use? Do you recommend maple or any particular type of ply? We are building a 20′ ger.