Our affordable and eco-friendly house for under $5000

In the past few months, we have turned a storm damaged yurt into an eco-friendly, toxic-free, funky home for our family. And it was made mostly with recycled and natural materials. Last night my wife and three of our kids officially moved in and slept on our new wood floor, lit a fire in our pot belly stove, ate some pizza and watched a movie before we all fell asleep. This morning I woke up to see sheep sleeping outside our window

Still a bit more work to do but our house is very livable and enjoyable. A yurt is a Mongolian style round tent, also called a “Ger”. Ours was originally made in NZ by Jaia Yurts and was badly storm-damaged when we bought it from an English lady who was moving back to the UK. Much of the frame was broken, the canvas was water-stained and the round ring that holds it together was smashed. But it was worth salvaging and I managed to find the right wood and replicate the broken pieces.

Here’s what we did and how much it cost.

We got permission from the Ngatiawa community, a Christian contemporary monastery near Wellington, to build a small structure on their land. Its a beautiful green valley surrounded by trees and hills.




As soon as I got home, I started get the yurt off the ground with a platform made from scrap wood and I eventually found some nice native timber offcuts, enough to make the floor.


While I was busy getting the yurt away from the wet ground, Debbie was created an insulation cushion out of old wool blankets that we are finding in charity shops. It took about 15 blankets to make the ceiling. She filled them with eco-therm insulation which is made from recycled wool.



$2000 – yurt (storm damaged)

$480 – replacement yurt ring for roof

$350 – cedar wood to rebuild wall frame

$1000 – wood to build floor (seconds)

$130 floor insulation (recycled poly-consumer waste)

$450 – wool insulation for ceiling and wall

$150 used wool blankets to hold insulation

$200 wood to support floor

$100 rental sander and sandpaper

$31 bathtub (1950’s retro blue tub)

$341 pot belly stove (used)

$65 linseed oil for floor

$70 canvas waterproofing stuff

$60 nails and screws

$5 sink (used)

$10 flue (used)

$100 copper hot water cylinder (used)

$10 calico fabric (used)

NZ$5204. Thats US$4,287



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  • Alexoaia Codrut on January 13, 2013

    I just found your website and I fell in love with you guys! I’m preparing to do the same as you, but with a smaller VW T3. I’m going to eat your website today! All the best from Romania!

  • Marilyn Koenigsman on January 12, 2013

    No, they don’t Maureen the best jobs are created by private industry. We don’t need a bigger government. Just less red tape for private industry. 5 likes

  • Hannah on April 28, 2012

    Wow!! Really inspiring – what a lovely home! 🙂 Are you planning on settling for a long time, or is this a short-term home before continuing your travels by truck?
    Looking for a truck ourselves, to head off in the next few years…hoping to travel slowly, and live our lives calmly and happily in no rush to see it all.
    Always great to read your updates! Keep them coming!

  • Leaves Heal on April 20, 2012

    Knowledge is real wealth. Thank you for sharing yours. Shalom 🙂

  • alanc230 on April 17, 2012

    This is amazing. I am always inspired by people like you. I won’t ever be able to do likewise, but a guy can look at great pictures like yours and dream.

  • renee @ FIMBY on April 17, 2012

    fabulous! You always inspire us.

  • Bill Kinnon on April 15, 2012

    Love it. Big hugs.

  • Donna Andrews on April 14, 2012

    Wow! Hot totally cool. 🙂 Hope you all are doing well…Tim and I continue to pray for you. Love <3