I’m looking at buying a yurt, but I’m wondering how long they last. So, I did some research to find out. Here’s what I found.
Modern yurts have an average lifespan of 15-20 years but varies on materials, manufacturer, and maintenance. While the interior structure of a yurt is durable and can last for several decades or even longer, the exterior elements such as fabric, windows, and doors are more likely what is needed to be replaced.
Let’s dive into the factors that determine the lifespan of yurts, how to prolong yurt life with maintenance, and sort out the pros and cons of investing in a yurt.
The type and quality of materials used in the construction of a yurt can have a significant impact on its durability.
1. Exterior Materials
- Outer Covers/ Canvas: This is usually one of the first materials to go due to climate. The popular yurt company Pacific Yurts says “The average life of our standard fabric covers (roof and wall) has been ten to twelve years. Our premium top cover has a 15-year manufacturer’s material warranty, but typically lasts twenty years or more.” You can replace only the cover, instead of buying a new yurt.
- Windows: Glass windows typically last longer than the UV-resistant removable clear windows. The clear ones usually last just as long as the outer cover, and you can replace them together.
- Anchors: I recommend choosing concrete anchors over wooden anchors, as they last several decades instead of a few years.
- Foundation: The foundation of your yurt can be anything from concrete footings to wooden decks. These usually last upward of 15 years.
2. Interior Materials
- Dome Skylight: The skylight is typically made of acrylic and usually has to be replaced every 12-20 years. You might be able to do without one if you’d like.
- Wood Frame & Door: The structure lasts as long as any other wood structure. If made of very high-quality wood and maintained correctly, it can last your whole life.
- Floor: Different yurts have different flooring options. Most often, you’ll find ones with wooden floors which last several decades. Other options include concrete and insulated floor systems.
More on the upkeep of materials later!
Type of Yurts
Here’s a table I made comparing the durability and longevity of traditional (Mongolian) and modern yurts
|Durable due to their natural materials and circular design. Regular maintenance is required.
|Synthetic materials and have a circular design. They require less maintenance but are not as durable as traditional yurts.
|Sustainable and eco-friendly, with a long history of use by nomadic people.
|Versatile and popular for temporary shelter, camping, and backyard offices.
There’s also the fact that traditional yurts made of natural materials like wool and felt are known to last for decades with proper maintenance. In contrast, modern yurts made of synthetic materials like polyester and vinyl may not last as long.
For example, in the book Yurts: Living in the Round by Becky Kemery, the author notes that natural materials like wool are more durable than synthetic materials and can help regulate temperature and moisture better.
The climate and weather conditions in the yurt’s location can also affect its lifespan. Yurts that are exposed to harsh weather conditions like high winds, heavy snow, or extreme heat may deteriorate faster than those in milder climates.
In The Art of the Yurt: Living a Portable Life by Dana Levy, the author notes that yurts in desert climates may require more maintenance and ventilation to prevent heat buildup and mold growth.
For tips on how to lengthen the lifespan of your yurt in different weather conditions, check out my post Can Yurts Withstand High Winds (& Storms)? Answered.
Yurts from reputable manufacturers with a history of producing high-quality yurts are more likely to last longer than those from unknown or inexperienced manufacturers.
Not only will they last longer, but some reputable ones will offer warranties, like Pacific Yurts.
Regular maintenance is essential for ensuring the longevity of a yurt. This includes cleaning, re-felting, and repairing any damages or wear and tear.
Neglecting maintenance can lead to a shorter lifespan for the yurt.
Are Yurts High Maintenance (& Common Repairs)
Modern yurts are fairly high maintenance due to their synthetic materials and temporary build. After 1-2 decades, they’ll require more attention and repairs, especially if you’re in a harsh climate. On the other hand, Mongolian yurts can last a lifetime or more due to the quality of the build.
Like any structure, yurts require some level of maintenance to keep them in good shape. Let’s explore the maintenance needs of yurts, common repairs they might require, and how to prolong their lifespan.
1. Routine Maintenance
- Canvas and insulation care: Regularly inspect the canvas and insulation for signs of wear, mold, or mildew. Clean and treat the canvas with a waterproofing solution to ensure its longevity.
- Wooden frame maintenance: Regularly check the wooden lattice walls and roof beams for any damage or signs of rot. Apply wood preservatives and insect repellents to protect the wood from moisture and pests.
- Ventilation and condensation control: Ensure proper ventilation in your yurt to prevent the buildup of condensation, which can cause mold and mildew. Install a moisture barrier under the flooring to reduce ground moisture.
2. Intermittent Maintenance (& Repairs)
If the canvas develops holes or tears, repair them promptly with a patch kit or by sewing the damaged areas. As I said earlier, the canvas is one of the first things to go.
The cost to replace only the covers (lattice wall) on a yurt can vary widely depending on several factors, including the size of the yurt, the material used for the covers, the complexity of the installation process, and the specific vendor or contractor you choose to work with.
As a rough estimate, replacing the covers for a standard-sized yurt (around 24 feet in diameter) could cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 or more. However, this is a very rough estimate and the actual cost could be higher or lower depending on the factors mentioned above.
Address any issues with the wooden frame, such as broken or cracked beams, by replacing or reinforcing the damaged parts. This is much less likely than having to repair the canvas.
In case of damage caused by severe weather conditions, such as high winds or heavy snowfall, conduct repairs as soon as it is safe to do so to avoid further damage to the yurt.
Recommended: Can Yurts Withstand High Winds (& Storms)? Answered
Tips to Make Your Yurt Last Longer
Make sure to do regular inspections of all the parts to catch any problems before they get out of hand. Trust me, fixing things early is way easier.
Here’s something else to think about: the climate where you’re setting up camp. Depending on the weather, you might need to add some special touches to your yurt.
Think snow-load kits if you’re in a snowy area, insulation upgrades if it gets really cold, or storm flaps for windows and doors if you’re expecting some wild weather.
And lastly, if you ever need to pack up your yurt for a while, make sure you store it right. A dry, cool spot is the best place to keep your yurt bits safe from moisture and critters.
Final Verdict: Are Yurts Worth It?
|Easy to assemble
|Only lasts 15-20 years
|Limited financing options
Yurts can be a relatively affordable option for adding lodging to a property, with prices ranging from around $5,000 to $30,000 for a basic structure. Investing in a yurt to add onto a property can be a good decision depending on various factors such as the property location, demand for lodging, and investment goals.
If the yurt is rented out on Airbnb or other short-term rental platforms, it is possible to earn a good return on investment by charging nightly rates that are higher than the cost of building and maintaining the yurt. According to various sources, the average rate for a yurt on Airbnb ranges from $50 to $200 a night, depending on location and amenities.
However, keep in mind that there will be additional costs associated with owning and renting out a yurt, such as site preparation, maintenance, cleaning, and marketing expenses.
Yurts require some maintenance and upkeep, such as cleaning, sealing, and occasionally replacing the roof covering. The frequency and cost of upkeep will depend on factors such as the climate, the quality of the yurt materials, and the level of use.
Return on Investment for Yurts
The time to break even on a yurt investment will depend on various factors, such as the initial cost of the yurt, the rental income generated, and the expenses incurred.
Let’s say the initial cost of a yurt is $20,000, and the owner plans to rent it out on Airbnb for an average nightly rate of $100. Assuming a 50% occupancy rate and an estimated $5,000 in annual expenses for site preparation, maintenance, cleaning, and marketing, the owner could expect to earn about $18,250 in rental income during the first year of operation ($100 x 182.5 nights).
Based on these numbers, the time to break even on the yurt investment would be about 1.6 years ($20,000 / $12,250 annual profit). Of course, these calculations are simplified, and the actual time to break even will depend on many factors such as the specific rental market, the actual occupancy rate, and the actual expenses incurred.