Building Non-Traditional Residential Structures in Colorado: A Yurt Mission

by Samantha Coleman on April 7, 2017

Welcome to my new adventure blog on building non-traditional residential structures in Colorado.

As an associate with EVstudio(an architecture and engineering firm), I hope to use my knowledge and expertise to help navigate the ins and outs of building my outside the box dream home, a yurt. We will be on a digital adventure together, and my goal is to provide honest, detailed, and vital information about how to navigate building outside the norms of typical residential construction.

Included topics will be:

  • Aspects to consider
  • Planning steps to take
  • Choosing the ideal structure
  • Key research
  • Developing plans
  • Preparation for breaking ground
  • Construction of an atypical structure
  • Non-traditional construction means and methods
  • Site conditions
  • Building materials
  • Navigating utilities

Goals:

This all began when my partner and I purchased a piece of property in the mountains of Clear Creek County, Colorado. Our dream is to build our home in the woods using construction techniques and building materials with the least amount of environmental impact. The adventure starts now as we learn the best way to meet codes, build our dreams, and create a home between a rock and a hard place.

Episode 1: We Are Not in the Suburbs Anymore…

PROPERTY 246

Where to build:

When my partner Zach and I decided to purchase a piece of land and build our dream home on it, the first question we asked ourselves was – “Where?” There are so many questions to consider when deciding on a piece of land: How much do you want to spend? How far do you want to drive? Will there be existing utilities? Etc.

With a non-traditional home, these questions are front and center.

Once you answer some basic, yet critical questions about where you want to live, you can then start to search for land that meets those needs.

First things first:

  • What type of home do you want to build?

There are more non-traditional homes out there than you might think. People now call home to shipping containers, tiny or RV homes, tree houses, rammed earth shelters, yurts, and so on. Check out this website to learn more about your options: http://sicarius.typepad.com/althouse/nontraditional_homes/

  • Where do you want to live?

Typically, you will want to choose a community that does not have a Home Owners Association (HOA) and is not “Covenant Protected.” The regulations in these communities are based on the desires of the residents of that community, and often prescribed structural choices will need to be adhered to – this alone may negate your non-traditional structure before it even gets to a building department. Not everyone wants a yurt in their neighborhood, and not every yurt owner wants to live near a 2-story traditional.

  • Do you want or need utilities?

This is a crucial question concerning building department permitting. This is our building department website as an example: http://www.co.clear-creek.co.us/index.aspx?NID=95

Most building departments usually require certain energy and utility services for residential construction permits. Though there are ways around these requirements, knowing how far you are willing to stray from the norm is critical when considering your housing options: this is where we may start to run into issues meeting residential building codes. You also want to consider how far you are from existing utilities so that when you tie into them (if you want them), you can keep your costs down as much as possible. Once you choose your home type and find your piece of heaven upon which to place it, the next step is to verify compatibility:

  • Can I build the structure I want on the land I have chosen?

The best way to verify the compatibility of what you want to build and where you want to build it is to hire a professional engineer or architect. You can also go to the building department in the city, or county where the property is located and research the codes on your own. Every county and most cities have a building department you can call and get answers to all of your questions. Remember to be thorough in your inquiries and as they say –measure twice, cut once.

You can also contact EVstudio, and we will be happy to assist you. http://evstudio.com/

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