Montana Made: Shelter Designs Yurts


(MISSOULA) In a time of soaring house prices and housing shortages, some people get creative when it comes to buying and building a place to live. Shelter Designs Yurts is a Missoula company that offers something different: yurts.

You may have seen them at ski resorts or when planning a “glamping” vacation in an exotic location. But yurts have been around for centuries.

It is basically a portable round tent traditionally used as a dwelling in Central Asia. But now, with some modern improvements, “yurt living” is spreading around the world as well as here in Montana.

The owners of Shelter Designs in Missoula, Vince Godby and Hays Daniel, are at the heart of this growing trend towards “sustainable and affordable” living.

“We have certainly seen yurts pass from marginality and misunderstanding,” said Daniel. “Maybe you’ve seen one in a ski area and you’re not really sure. And now (yurts are) more towards the mainstream of acceptance. “

Daniel and Godby started building yurts 10 years ago out of necessity. They just needed a place to live, but then they started building them for friends and that’s where they grew up.

“We have them as far as above the Arctic Circle and Norway for a kayaking camp. We have them in Tasmania, Alaska, all over North America and Europe, ”Godby said.

Shelter Designs produces up to 80 yurts per year and half of these are for full-time residences.

“It’s not as easy as getting $ 300,000 for a house. So people can really – without taking a mortgage for 20 or 30 years – they can just pay for it and be done and be comfortable, ”Godby told MTN News.

The other half of the yurts sold by Shelter Designs are for commercial businesses or perhaps resorts looking to create a unique experience for guests.

“They’re hot. They’re rented all the time. They’re always booked and they cost a fraction of what building cabins would cost,” Godby said.

“People look at a cabin, they go to a resort and they look at the cabin, and they live in a house so they know what it is. But what is it ? Then they want to rent the yurt, ”he continued.

Whatever the use, Shelter Designs can adapt.

“The yurt can be anything you want. It’s very common for most people – once the yurt is in place – to frame the interior walls to make bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms and wire it all up and sound like a traditional house ” , said Daniel.

Almost all of the products used to create the yurts come from the Inter-Mountain Northwest and right here in Montana.

“The special thing about the eco-friendly yurt model is that we use small diameter lodgepole pine rafters that come from the Missoula area here,” Daniel said.

After the yurts are made, they are then shipped to customers as a kit with step-by-step instructions on how to put them together.

“It’s a project, even the smallest yurt. It’s not quite like pitching a tent, ”said Daniel.

But it seems like something most customers and their neighbors embrace.

“One thing yurts do that used to be pretty common in our culture and maybe isn’t anymore is the idea of ​​a barn where everyone can come together,” Godby said.

“And you don’t necessarily have to be a good carpenter, plumber, or electrician. You don’t need to know the trades, ”he added. “If you can lend a hand, you are useful. They’re all the strongest forms in nature, so they’re pretty cool structures like that.

Click here to visit the Shelter Designs website.

Reported by Justine Stewart

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