Building Eureka Yurts and Cabins

Final Push to Dry-In

The last several weeks have been spend dealing with the tail end of winter and the nationwide flu epidemic.  Fortunately, neither Melissa nor I were recipients of the viral gift.  Most of the inclement days were spent putting together ceiling pies (as we call them).  Our first cabin ceiling was constructed by measuring and cutting the 1 x 6 tongue and groove ceiling one piece at a time.  It took 5 people 8 days to complete the ceiling.  This time we purchased some 1/4″ OSB and attached the 1×8″ tongue and groove board to the sheets and cut wedges.  This produced a wedge which was comprised of 3 sections for each opening in the rafters.  We are in the process of lightly sanding the pies and applying a very light stain to seal the wood and bring out the natural grain of the wood.

The rest of the days were spent erecting the ring and rafters on yurt 2 and installation of the septic tanks and trenching the electrical and water to both yurt 1 and 2.

After heavy rains, we found out we were building the worlds most elaborate rain water collection device.

Gator and Buck (hardest working men in Eureka) installing one of 3 septic tanks.

Electrical going to Yurt 2.

Initial rafters going in on Yurt 2.

View from Yurt 2.

Finished framing.

Always a greeting when daddy comes home.

And in the end, we were pooped.

And the next morning, I was blessed with this view of a sunrise over Yurt 1.  I interpreted this as:

Well done, good and faithful servant! (Matthew 25:23)

Raise the ROOF!

Winter has arrived.  And with it comes the inevitable construction delays.

After the wall were erected on Yurt 1, it was time to raise the Roof.  First step was to calculate the height and positioning of the center compression ring.  Once the calculations were complete, checked and rechecked, it was time to construct the stand on which the compression ring would sit.  After it was build, Gator and I had to figure out how to get the stand on top of the scaffolding.  After a couple failed plans and near drops or falls, we finally succeeded.

Next we had to get the compression ring on top of the 14′ 7″ stand. HUM?  For this we had to bring in some additional muscle.  Much like the stand, several attempts were made using a pulley system to no avail.  So, we decided on trying to build a ramp from the top of the wall to the stand.  After a couple hours, the Eagle had landed.

The next task was to secure the roof rafters from the top of the walls to the compression ring.  Some slight modifications had to be made to the rafters before we could install.  After several hours of tweaking we finally had the first four rafters up.  Then came the rain.

We tarped the yurt with a 6 mil 50 x 50 tarp.  No easy feat on a rocky slope, I will let you know.  We though we had the tarp tight enough to slope the water off the roof, but upon inspection the next day we had huge areas on top of the roof holding massive amounts of water.  The tarp grommets had pulled free on several of the tie-downs.  So, it looked like we had built an awesome rain water collection system.  After several hours I got the water siphoned off the tarp and we reinforced the tie-downs.

Then came the snow.  The dogs loved it, the production schedule hated it.  I was pressing to try and get the rafters up before the weather set in so we would work inside on the ceiling panels, but it did not happen.

That is the update.  Next up is getting the rafters up on Yurt 2, building and installing 80 ceiling sections, wiring the interior, plumbing stubbed out, AC lines installed, and finally having the outer ceiling, interior walls and exterior floor spary foamed with insulation, and metal roofing installed.

Wall Panels, Window Panels, Door Panels, Oh My!

During the inclement days the 20 wall panels are being fabricated.  The sides of each panel is cut at a 9 degree angle to account for the curvature of the yurt.  We are doing 4 picture windows (3.5 feet by 6 feet tall) and a double hung window in the bedroom, bathroom and the kitchen.  So we have 7 window panels, 1 door panel and 12 solid panels.

Fixed Window Panel
Fixed Window Panel
Prepping wall panel with outer cedar cut with tongue and V grove underneath.
Prepping wall panel with outer cedar cut with tongue and V grove underneath.
JT adding the western cedar outer sheathing.
JT adding the western cedar outer sheathing.

Notice the bottom cedar sheathing has 2 finish screws on each side.  This is so that after the panels are set, the piece can be removed so flashing can be installed so water will not wick up the panels.


Finished Solid Wall Panel
Finished Solid Wall Panel
Window Panel
Window Panel

Getting the Deck Up

Setting the vertical piers and bracing them for the runners.
Setting the vertical piers and bracing them for the runners.

After the pads were poured and cured.  An 8″ double galvanized pin was countersunk into the pad and the bottom of the treated 8×8 pier.  These were plumbed and braced.  Dual 2×12 runners were attached to the piers from front to back.  Then the 2×10 floor joists were attached to the runners on 16 in centers.


Transformer set and hot.Meter base wired and set. Ready for service.

Runners on Pad Site 2
Floor Joists on Pad 2
Floor Joists on Pad 1


During this time Buck trenched and set the conduit for the electrical and the water to the end of the ridge.  Two more transformer pads were built for the future “family cabin”. 

Meter base wired and set. Ready for service.
Meter base wired and set. Ready for service.


Transformer set and hot.
Transformer set and hot. We got the power!

Double Your Fun ….

Finally, work has been done on building 2 new yurts.  These yurts will be 25″ across and be about 475 sq feet of living space.  This time around we decided to buy 2 roof kits as opposed to the complete kit.  By purchasing on the roof kits only, we could get 2 delivered on one truck saving in shipping.  Also, I had to buy 2 roof kits to get the roof metal in any color other than silver.  We received the roof kits in April of this year.  We then had to save up some “scratch” and wait for my helpers Gator and JT to free up from previous commitments.


This is pad site 2 before any dirt work had been done.

I had Buck put in a circular drive and pad sites for both pad 1 and pad 2.

This is pad 1 when finished.

Pad Site 2
Pad Site 2

We then had to start laying out the pads for the piers and start the monumental task of drilling the piers.  This lasted about 30 minutes…. Then the call went out to Buck to bring out his hammer to break up the limestone shelf so we could try to auger the holes.

After the the holes were positioned and dug, forms were built, secured and leveled.  This took about 2 weeks.

After the forms were in place we poured 8 yards of concrete.  The truck could reach about 4 or 5 of forms.  After that, it was on JT’s back (literally) to wheelbarrow the concrete from the truck to the forms.  This was a long day!

Pad site 1

Pad Site 2

Cordwood Prep

Last summer we purchased a large number of Eastern Cedar tree tops (about 140).  We removed the limbs and used a high power pressure washer with an oscillating nozzle to remove the bark.

After the power washing was done, the logs were carefully cut to 16 inch length.

Then the larger logs were split to help speed up the drying process.

We then stacked the wood to dry. (About 9 cords)


Rinse and Repeat…..Opportunity is knocking!

Planning is now in full swing for our next cabin.  We have an agreement with an industry expert and author of Cordwood Construction: Best Practices, Richard Flatau, to host a building workshop at Eureka Yurts and Cabins here in Eureka Springs Arkansas.  This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn (hands-on) about Cordwood construction from one of the worlds foremost authority on the subject.

This workshop will be held on September 9th, 10th, and 11th.  Here are the links to register:

This workshop will fill up fast.  Don’t miss this OPPORTUNITY to be apart of Eureka Yurts and Cabins!

I have an agreement with a local family to clear 40 acres of cedar for use on the cabin.  The Eastern Cedar I am desperately trying to make arrangements to kiln dry the wood in preparation for the workshop.  The trees must be cut, DE-limbed, and skinned of all the bark in preparation for the drying process.  No help will be refused!

For those who have not heard of Cordwood construction, we have some examples in our Possible Building Styles album at the top of our home page .  Here are some places you can vacation now. Cordwood Vacations

Here are some examples of what we are going to do on a cabin scale.

Cordwood House
Cordwood House


Cordwood Vacations paul-harney-cordwood-wall-5 Richard Flatau blog

Wrap, Wrap, Wrap it up….

Well, winter has come and is giving way to the early reaches of spring.  The trees are starting to bud, and we are putting the final touches on the yurt.  The windows have been trimmed out.  The in-wall internet has be fully installed and tested.  The kitchen received its final monster cabinet, counter tops and back-splash.


I was having a problem trimming out the windows because there was a bend between adjacent windows where the panels met.  After going over some of the possible solutions.  My neighbor Terry suggested to use all the scraps to create a butcher block pattern that could follow the contour.  So, that is what I did.  Here is the final result.

Trim Detail 2
Trim Detail 2
Trim Detail 3
Trim Detail 3
Trim detail
Trim detail

Also, while I was in the “Use all your scraps” mindset, I decided to use the floor tiles for the counter top.

Counter Backsplash

So, here is how the main living space ended up.

Living Room 2
Living Room 2
Living Room
Living Room


Play ON!

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It has been quite an adjustment moving from a 2900 sq foot suburban home with 2.5 car garage, fenced backyard with a dog run, outdoor kitchen and sports court to 930 sq ft self built cabin.  The things I miss?  GARAGE! Holy Moly, I have forgotten how much nice it was to have a simple garage.  Also, miss a guest bedroom, fenced yard, and my favorite Chinese take out.

Well, one problem solved!

Having 3 Great Pyrenees, it is quite a chore to walk them 4 times a day.  Rain, sleet, or snow, they need to exercise and do their business.   And their ‘business’ can really pile up!

So the requirements:

Goal 1: Safe and Secure, Always, Always.

Goal 2: Low/No maintenance.

Goal 3: Self Service.

Goal 3: Ascetically pleasing and fitting in with the rustic theme.

I have always been in awe of AstroTurf dog runs.  But the cost of 13$ a foot plus installation was way beyond my budget / benefit balance.  I did my research and made a lot of phone calls and finally found my answer.  Reclaimed Turf. For about 0.75 cents a foot (delivered), I bought turf that was salvaged from the University of Missouri Western State’s football field.

So after 3 trips to Kansas City, we finally had all the turf.  So now what??  Very long story short, after wrestling with a 30 ft 2000 lb anaconda, I finally got it down. Woot! (Sorry, Juan).

Turf Beginnings

looking down the slopeTurf positioned fence poles in

Terry always laying down on the job

Turf under the deck to provide shade

Next step, build the ramp from the deck to the yard.  I called in my trusty carpenter and his sidekick and in 2 days we had the ramp in and it was all down hill.  Or, maybe too downhill??!? What??

Ramp Construction

The next week we had 3 days of torrential downpour.  And, with the 12 percent grade and the circular drive sloping toward the back yard, the water tunneled under the turf and cut a gorge under the turf.  When I un-seamed the turf, it looked like the Colorado river cutting through the desert of Arizona.


So, I bought some more 5/8ths base rock and had a friend regrade the driveway and put in a small diversion ditch to channel the water away from the the back yard.  I filled in the Grand Canyon and seamed up the turf.

The final product:

Finish from deck Finished from yard

Eureka Yurts and Cabins