Building permits for yurts


Questions around the need to permit yurts (or not) have become more frequent in the last years. We have received feedback both from our own direct experiences and enquiries, and those of many customers who have interacted with various authorities around the country. There are many uncertainties and grey areas surrounding the construction, purpose and perceived permanence of yurts. Information here reflects our current knowledge and experiences but we do not profess to be experts or to guarantee accuracy. Before committing to purchasing, it would be wise to consult your local authority either directly or through an agent as to your proposed plans. The need for permits varies substantially depending on size, purpose, positioning, zoning, permanence, length of inhabitation etc. Also different authorities vary widely in their interpretation, application and enforcement of regulations, codes and consents.

We can provide supporting paperwork for almost all situations from temporary to permanent, studios to full-time dwellings, but ultimately it will be up to you to ensure that you can meet your local authority requirements. We have permitted yurts for full time dwellings in different areas of the country, which requires full compliance with the building code. The format is that you are required to provide a COA or Certificate of Acceptance, which will show how your yurt performs up to the criteria of the building code. We will need to know if you are planning to use the yurt as a permitted full time dwelling before manufacture as certain parts of the construction need to be upgraded for instance our standard Dacron insulation which suffices for most purposes and situations will need to be upgraded to a fully R-rated woolen system. We can supply paperwork that should enable this in almost all areas of the country. Currently the only exception to this would be areas with a higher snow loading than 0.8 Kpa, and we are working on an alternative solution for this.

For other purposes (sleep-out, studio, workshop, yoga space, camp-site accommodation) the requirements are much less, mainly concerned with section B1 of the code, being Structure. We have producer statements drawn up by our engineer that attest to the yurts structural integrity, rated up to High wind loading. This paperwork can be supplied to council to show that the proposed structure is sound. To verify this, a local engineer would have to be consulted and to visit the yurt after construction to certify that it is up to the specifications dictated by the Producer Statement. Most people choose to erect their yurt on a timber deck. When you order a yurt from us we will provide architectural plans for a simple deck that is built to code requirements, with all the cut lengths, angles, measurements and materials included. Many other flooring options have been employed.

Permanent residence seems to be deemed as occupation of longer than 60 days, although we hear time frames from 30 to 90 days from different authorities. Temporary or Removable structures only seem to have the stipulation that they have to be able to be moved, but no specifics of how often or how far. We have heard a square meterage of 30sqm (7m yurt 38.5sqm, 6m yurt 28.5sqm) quoted for being required to have a resource consent even for a temporary structure, but depending on zoning, proximity to boundaries etc. Some authorities have classified yurts as tents, being that they are canvas clad, have no fixed frame, or fixed attachment to foundations and are held down with guy ropes.

Woodburners and other forms of heating are permit-able. We supply plans for a flue bracing system outside the yurt, and interior requirements are just the same as in any other structure. We will install a flue seal gasket in the roof, usually about 600mm from the wall that will enable enough clearance between the unit and the nearest combustible surface. Standard flue fittings and systems bring the flue through the roof.

Most customers using yurts as a dwelling would also choose to build a separate services building.  You are allowed to build up to 10sqm without a resource consent (must be built up to code of course) which can easily house bathroom, toilet, laundry facilities, eliminating the need to have these within the yurt, which also helps with permitting procedures. Composting toilets can be used, eliminating the need for expensive septic systems.

Having said all of the above, we have heard of people erecting yurts without consent for various purposes. The grey areas around size, length of habitation, purpose, etc do seem to mean different things to different authorities. Is it a glamping tent or a permanent structure? How they are perceived does appear open to a range of interpretation. If for instance a yurt is pitched on a block of land away from neighbors, used occasionally to access the land, and of no concern to anyone, it is unlikely that it would be of interest. Councils are required to respond to complaints, which we have heard of, although often on inspection the authority has either turned its back or a blind eye so long as there are no other factors causing concern. We would always recommend approaching council to ascertain their requirements according to your plans.

We always appreciate customers feedback and stories regarding authorities responses which enables us to pass on more information, clues and hopefully paperwork. If you have any personal experience to pass on as to how your application has been treated, and the paperwork that was needed, we are collecting as much info as possible to pass on to other yurt owners. Thanks!

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