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The last of the noggings went in a few minutes ago.

yurt platform joists

The first of the floorboards will go on after this short break…

UPDATE: Do not do it like this. See that square with the triangular bits on? On the left, you’ll see two joists that span the full distance, then smaller joists at right angles to it. I was cheating a bit here, using joists I already had. When you do it (as I did on another 18-foot floor), use joists that go the full span like those two on the left. What happened with this was that the noggings pulled out of the full-span joist near the centre and the floor dropped. OK, this was also because I was using nails that weren’t long enough. Next time, I’ll go for one nail and one screw to keep it in place.

We hit our target: The 18-foot yurt is back up on the platform, but I don’t have a photo – you’ll just have to trust me on that one.

I do have the photos of the platform, though. I built the joist frame to the same design as the 12-foot platform last year, as shown in this post. When we put the tongue-and-groove floor back down, we found it was much bigger than it was supposed to be. (Don’t ask me how this happened.) It was just over 18 feet side to side, but over 20 feet front to back. Which meant some unexpected trimming had to happen.

Here are the bits I cut off:

yurt platform 2

Here are two 10 cm bits that didn’t even make it to the final shape:

yurt platform 3

And here’s the platform before the edge strips and yurt went back on it (check out the maths on those joist corners – very satisfying – and a huge relief):

yurt platform 1

Other adjustments I’ve made this time are: Using 1 cm ply edge strips, nailed into the floor. The 5 mm edge strips split a bit and the screws weren’t doing what I thought they would. Those keeping up with improvements will know that this is the Mark III 18-foot yurt platform for “Mustardseed”. (Or version 3.0 for younger readers.)

An annoyingly wet week, twinned with gardening work away from écovallée, has meant the 18-foot yurt platform I was working on here looked like this first thing this morning:

yurt platform

With guests staying in this yurt in a couple of weeks, this job shot to the top of the “ta-da” list. After a day of digging in and pounding acacia posts, cutting with a blunter-than-I’d-like handsaw, cordless drilling and hammering, it looks like this right now:

yurt platform 2

I would have finishing the noggings, but we had guests arriving in the 12-foot yurt this evening, and I thought 7.15 pm was late enough to down tools.

You might be able to make out a vise attached to the middle joist. I wish I’d thought of using it a few frames ago. It’s saved a lot of gripping wood very hard with one hand to stop it wobbling, or sitting in strange positions to steady joists you’re cutting. If you’re working on your own yurt platform (and it’s one of the most popular subjects on this blog) on your own, I’d recommend it.

More clear days are coming our way – and they’re not too hot yet – so we’re on target to have this yurt back up and furnished by this time next week. It’s light until nearly 9.00 pm at the moment, which is a bonus.

I think I’ve just come up with an elegant new joist plan for the next 12-foot yurt platform. It looks like this:

12 foot yurt platform

This plan uses larger joists than I normally do, in a square on four posts, with smaller joists between, strengthened by noggins.

Four extra posts will complete the “circle”, allowing my normal 23mm thick pine flooring to be secured close to the edge, which will carry the weight of the coppiced ash frame.

(The post in the middle isn’t necessary but I might include it to stop any bounce.)

Interestingly (to me, anyway), I tried three joist layouts on paper and all required 33 metres of joist. The other two needed 12 and 17 posts, though, which is why they didn’t win.

Now that I’ve made a raised wooden platform for the play yurt,


a beaten earth platform with dry-stone retaining wall for our 18-foot yurt,


an 18-foot beaten earth platform with woven chestnut retaining fence for our first guest yurt,


a wooden platform for our second 18-foot yurt,


and a second 18-foot earth platform on a slope for our second guest yurt,


I feel qualified to write a fairly definitive guide to how to build a yurt platform. I’ll be happy to answer questions if anything needs clarification, time permitting.

Before I started my latest platform, I bought:
o Thirty 2.5-metre lengths of rough 7.5 cm by 4 cm douglas fir from a nearby woodyard
o A six-litre tin of treatment against wood-boring insects
o 27 square metres of pine flooring, 23 mm thick, 10 cm wide and 2 m long
o A five-litre tin of protective treatment for the finished floor – oil with a white pigment
o A box of 200 screws 70 mm long, 5 mm wide
o A box of nails 40 mm long, 2 mm wide

On day one, I laid down and levelled the floor joists 61 cm apart, and screwed noggings between them to strengthen the frame.


I was lucky enough to have almost level ground to work on, and some old tiles and bits of wood lying around. Levelling an area like this takes a huge amount of work and is covered in other posts.


On day two, I joined the ends of the joists, trying to get these outside noggings as close to the finished edge as possible.


The weight of the yurt will be resting on this edge, which is why I put supports at the top, bottom and sides.


An important point here, in capital letters: THE FINISHED FLOOR FOR AN 18-FOOT COPPICED YURT IS 18 FEET 4 INCHES – the 18 feet is in the internal measurement. If you are using sawn timber, just add the wall width on both sides to your internal finished size.


On day three, I started laying the floor, aiming for as little wastage as possible, pre-drilling holes diagonally through the tongues wherever the boards crossed a joist.


This is what I can do in about 10 hours working alone.


On day four, I finished laying the floor while Her Outdoors applied the first layer of oil. Unfortunately, the oil had an eight to 12-hour drying time between coats, so this day ended up being quite long too. Rain had appeared on the forecast I use and we were now chasing the weather as so often happens.


On day five, I screwed 10 cm strips of 5 mm ply to the outside edge of the platform.


For some reason this doesn’t come up much in yurt books, or sites talking about yurt platforms, but we find it essential. The edge makes putting the frame up a breeze, doesn’t cost much, cuts down on draughts, holds in the insulation and even stops slugs coming in to eat the cat food.

If you have large items of furniture and small doors like us, you’ll want to move these onto the platform before putting your retaining edges on.

UPDATE

I’ve since discovered you don’t need to pre-drill those holes. Just make sure they are angled nicely into the wood. Saves a bit of time.

As promised, here’s the first almost-live blog on getting the yurt camp ready for opening on Thursday.

This year, Philippe came along and helped me put up Mustardseed – one of the two 18-foot yurts in the camp. It all went smoothly. Which was a good thing, as there was some kind of fierce storm due at 5 pm.

If you’re going to try this at home, you will need:

Yurt 1

A platform set into the corner of a few acres of mixed woodland. In this case, there’s quite a bit of false acacia (perfect for yurt platform uprights, fence posts, firewood – and lasts in water for 100 years), hornbeam (a personal favourite), hawthorn (which provides the welcome first bit of green in spring), oak (mainly spindly – I need to do some thinning out – but half a dozen beauties), sweet chestnut (which produces a very labour-intensive breakfast toast topping, and isn’t great for firewood; but it got us through a few winters), wild service trees and a whole bunch of other green stuff.

You will also need to carry the frame of your 18-foot, coppiced-chestnut, Kyrgyz-style yurt, by hand, from way over there.

yurt 2

Clean off the edging strips that go round the platform. These ones are 1 cm plywood – it doesn’t need to be marine ply, although that would probably last longer.

yurt 3

That unfeasibly heavy oak door spent the winter leaning against the sink in the outdoor kitchen a few metres away. It must have been carried for miles in the last 10 years. That’s the shower in the background.

yurt 4

Screw in the platform edges, with an unnecessarily intense look of effort. It’s not actually that hard with a machine. (A few years ago, I put some up with a socket set – don’t ask.)

yurt 5

Stand the walls up and try to remember how they fit together. Wonder why you didn’t take a moment to mark them in some helpful way at the end of last year. Or the year before that – even more sensible.

yurt 6

Pause, while Philippe takes a caught-on-CCTreeV shot.

yurt 7

Unwind the tension band.

yurt 8

Raise the roof.

yurt 9

Here’s further proof that marking poles when it matters is worth considering. Although, it does mean the yurts are different every year.

yurt 10

Here’s what Mustardseed looks like for 2016.

yurt 11

If there’s a storm coming, you need to carry the cover over, heave it on and rope up the wall.

yurt 12

Like this.

(The storm didn’t come.)

Here’s the almost final installation of the solar shower. I had a few problems with the instructions and exchanged a few emails with the excellent and very helpful manufacturers in Greece. All I need to add now is some insulation around the hot water pipe going to the shower and it’s done.

solar shower

With the cost of the platform, cubicle, gravel bed liner, gravel, plants, willow and the original shower, this must be one of the most expensive installations in the world. You want to use it? Be my guest!

Here’s this year’s Peaseblossom frame up on the platform, before the cover went back on.

For new readers, it’s an 18-foot Kyrgyz-style coppiced chestnut yurt. Sleeps four very comfortably. The floor is locally sourced pine. Very comfortable on the foot. It gets furnished with comfy beds, duvets and all that stuff you don’t want to carry with you on holiday.

yurt up

It sits in mixed woodland of sweet chestnut, hawthorne, wild service, oak and hornbeam, and overlooks a grassy valley onto more woodland that has, for some reason, a fair amount of pine.

Just down the hill (as you can see in the previous posts) is the solar shower and compost toilet. Out of shot, to the right, is a canvas-covered kitchen and eating area shared with an identical yurt. There’s one other yurt way away to the left, with its own kitchen. That one’s a 12-footer perfect for two, or two and a bit. There’s also another 12-foot yurt off to the right and down the hill, but that’s just for playing in. Hence the sand pit and play area behind.

First guests of the season arrive tomorrow. And the écovallée summer begins…

We didn’t get the yurt onto the platform tonight. This is how far I got with the platform by about 8.30pm.

yurt platform 2

Trimming the boards took longer than I thought, but that edge is 18 metres in a straight line and quite a bit of it’s down the grain. Still can’t work out how it ended up too large, but it’s finally the right size.

By this time tomorrow, everything should be in place – including a new Lovely Thing in the compost toilet I’ve told you nothing about. It’s all coming together.

Here’s the platform at 13h45 the way I wanted it to be at 11h00.

yurt platform 1

Still on schedule but a few things to do before the yurt can go on it. Like trim the whole circle,’cos it’s too big, sand and seal the front door, mop the floor (no small job, that), add the edge, and fetch the yurt from the tractor shed.

But first, some coffee.