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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I thought I heard CA is a tough place to build because of all sorts of codes, rules and such. What about if we wanted to buy land and put up a yurt? My friend is thinking about splitting the land with us and doing the same.

Does anyone know how difficult this would be? Might be the only way we could afford to own anything in CA.....I'd love to hear any thoughts. I'm just so hopeful we might have a chance to do this.
 

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Do you live in CA now? Land here is very expensive (most parts, anyway), and I think you'd have to have many acres to get away with having a yurt. Since they are not legal to live in full-time, neighbors (or anyone else) who sees it may turn you in to the codes dept. People do stuff like that, unfortunately. I lived in one here, but it was at an herb school that was out in the country. A co-worker of dp's recently purchased a bunch of land with the intention of putting up yurts and composting toilets. Her neighbor turned her in before she was able to do anything, and now she's selling the land. However, this is Santa Rosa which is a mid-size city, and not a tiny town in the boondocks. If you have cool neighbors that helps a great deal. Being way out in the middle of nowhere would also be good. Good luck!
 

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You should call the local building department in the county you're planning to build in and they could give you the rules and fees. I think the building codes are different in every county.
 

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It really depends on the county. Also, the more remote, the easier you get away with stuff and the cheaper the land gets. When we were searching for land, I saw some stuff that did not look like it would pass inspection, but it seemed to not matter since it was in the boonies. There are some strict building codes here, probably some of the most strict in the US (my dh is an electrical contractor)...you often have to have an environmental evaluation/study done and other stuff that is $$$$.

BTW, we like Foresthill, Grass Valley, and Nevada City
in Nor Cal.
 

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yes, california is TOUGH to build in. i wouldn't count on being able to get away with *anything* here, even in the boonies. we have 4 1/2 acres out in the boonies and it doesn't matter. the county won't let us build a firstday cottage because of all the strict codes. remember that there will be school fees, department of transportation fees that can quickly eat up your money. our firstday was only going to cost us $50,000 to build but the county fees are $33,000. Those county fees are there whether we build a mansion or a little shack.


sorry to be such a downer. i think this state is horrible. we claim to be a state that is so friendly to things "alternative" but i have found it to be the complete opposite. it is just plain wrong that an average hard-working family cannot afford to buy a small piece of land and build a small house.
 

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oops, i wanted to add that newcastlemama is right that if you look, there are some unpermitted buildings for sale. i believe some of this may be due to the fact that they were erected a while ago. it seems to me that counties (here in norcal) are really cracking down with the codes and really paying attention to all new construction.
 

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Just asked DH, a California Architiect (or artichoke, depending on his mood) and he said, yes you could build a yurt in California, but only as a weekend cabin. You would never be able to live in it full time because it will never pass the energy code that California has had to adopt.

Why not do a straw bale house instead?

and yes, California is a tough place because of how accident prone we are: there is usually one big earthquake every decade, fires abound and someplaces even see floods.

What county is your friend? Maybe someone can give you an idea of permit fees, other fees.
 

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Calmom -- love your blog! Your acreage is beautiful! And your photos are wonderful!! You can shoot my kiddos anytime!

Northern Cal. has extremely expensive permits -- I'm whining about 1/3 of your fees. But I'm in the central valley foothills - which ain't as nice as your location.
 

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2busy- thank you, that's so sweet!


where are you in ca? and do you like where you are?
 

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We will be in Squaw Valley -- right now I'm stuck in Fresno (sigh, again) I do think that I will enjoy Squaw Valley once we are living up there. Honest, I never would have picked this location - I hate heat! but as my husband says, it is always something. And my family lives in the area, so that makes the heat almost bearable.
Ask me again next year
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for all your helpful replies! We are finally here in CA (ds & I) and staying with a friend until dh gets here with the u-haul. It sounds like I'd better give up on the idea of owning something here. I think we're going to have to move again if we want a house. As far as strawbales go....well I don't know that either dh or I are much for "builders" and we don't have any help. I think we're just going to have to enjoy our time in the bay area & move again someday if we don't want to rent forever. Sigh....it's so impossible on one teacher's salary.
:
 

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you should check out humboldt county, thats where i am.(way north, wet and rainy in the magical redwood forest!) i see lots and lots of yurts around here. not to mention army tents, rvs, converted school busses, etc. im not a land owner or builder so im clueless about any codes or such. i wish i was in your position, dh and i would love to do what you are.
dont know if this is any help, but its very chill up here and like i said, people live in some really funky set-ups. southern humboldt is very wide open and remote, lots of farms and communes....
good luck, ill be checking in on the progress!

oh yeah... i have some friends selling it all and moving to an army tent turned house on their land near benbow, ca (in so hum) they own the land but theyre planning on living in the tent for a couple years while building.....
all i hear are good things from them about it, ill ask about codes and things
 

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I thought I heard CA is a tough place to build because of all sorts of codes, rules and such. What about if we wanted to buy land and put up a yurt? My friend is thinking about splitting the land with us and doing the same.

Does anyone know how difficult this would be? Might be the only way we could afford to own anything in CA.....I'd love to hear any thoughts. I'm just so hopeful we might have a chance to do this.
This post was 15 years ago.....just curious how this worked out for you? Were you able to buy land with your friends and move into a yurt?

I would like to do this when I retire. I live in California. I have heard Mendocino and Humboldt county offer permitting for yurts (and Cob houses!)
 
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