Can you really travel in a tiny house? Where can I find tiny house communities? Are ADU’s legal in New Jersey…and what is an ADU?? How can I help make living in a tiny house legal? Links to all these topics and more are at the end of this post.

At last Saturday’s meetup, we experienced a different type of alternative housing: a yurt!  The Tiny Houses and ADU’s in NJ/PA group got together in Chatham, NJ, where Kari Cooper, known as Yurt Grrl, was kind enough to lead us in putting up her 16′ yurt.  Kari takes Gert the Yurt to Tiny House festivals and events where she gives tours and teaches.  She will be a featured speaker at the Florida Tiny House Festival this November in St. Augustine.  (For the festival details and schedule click here.)

Putting Up the Yurt


Kari Cooper Yurt Grrl

Yurt Grrl Kari Cooper answers our questions.

The yurt has many parts, which when assembled, become a comfortable, safe living space.  Although it is made of sailcloth, many people actually live full time in yurts! Kari shared lots of great information with the group on ways to do that, including building on floors, insulating, partitioning into rooms, using water jugs, and so on.

Parts for a yurt

The walls and roof poles. The notch on the poles is called a bird’s mouth.

The walls are called the hanna. They expand and collapse like baby gates. The roof poles are pointed at one end and notched at the other.

Sailcloth for the yurt

Sailcloth for the ceiling and walls.

The sailcloth for the ceiling and walls folds up into nice little bundles. Everything fits inside of Kari’s van for travel.

Roof ring and poles for the yurt.

The roof ring is also called the eye of God.

Attaching the roof poles to the yurt.

Everything gets adjusted until it’s all straight.

Once the hanna is standing, the roof poles go up.  The pointed ends go in the slots on the roof ring, and the bird’s mouth notch sits on top of the walls.  The orange strap is attached for safety.

Attaching the yurt door.

Putting the walls into the slots on the door.

The eye of God in the yurt.

Looking up from inside the yurt.

The last thing that goes on is the roof cover. This can be adjusted from the outside to be completely or partially open, or completely closed in case of inclement weather.  The sailcloth is waterproofed and doesn’t leak at all.

Tiny houses and ADUs in NJ/PA meetup group.

We can do anything…even build a yurt!

After the yurt was up, we moved inside to the adorable Fairmount Country Store  for lunch and our meeting. We heard everyone’s “tiny” stories, and covered a lot of topics. As promised, here are the links to more information.

Find Building a Tiny Life and Yurt Grrl on Facebook!

Building a Tiny Life

Yurt Grrl Kari Cooper

Check out Yurt Grrl’s website!

How can we make tiny houses more legal?

Andrew Morrison, of Tiny House Build, recently spent two months writing and developing a new code proposal for the International Residential Code (IRC) for the construction of tiny houses. The IRC is the model code for the majority of residential construction in the United States. This code would allow for the legal construction of tiny houses used as a primary residence in the United States.

How you can help:

The Morrisons are raising money to cover the expenses, which include paying the person who helped write the code, and travel expenses for all the speakers to the hearings which are coming up soon. You can learn more about the Morrisons and find all the details on their gofundme page here, and you can help by contributing and sharing the information on social media. This is a BIG DEAL which could change everything for those of us who want to live tiny!

Declaration of Unity

Sharon Hurley, founder of this meetup group, and co-founder of Building a Tiny Life, is a member of the NJ Coalition to End Homelessness, which has created a Declaration of Unity Regarding Micro-Homes. The intent is to gain support throughout the state to change zoning laws, financing, and ordinances to make micro-housing in New Jersey a reality.  You can read and print the Declaration of Unity here. Send us a message, an email,  or leave a comment here or on our Facebook page, and we’ll let you know where to send it.

Can I Really Travel in a Tiny House?

Although they are often on wheels, there are height and weight restrictions if you’re planning on moving your tiny house.  How often you plan to move may help you decide whether to own a truck and move it yourself, or hire it done. To read about the Lunsfords, who are traveling throughout the country with their tiny house, click here.  You can also find more information about height and weight on our FAQ page.

Where Can I Find Tiny House Communities?

Check out our Building a House page. Under Decision 4, you will find a link to a map of tiny house communities. There are also more links and resources at the bottom of that page.

Are ADU’s legal in New Jersey…and what is an ADU?

Each township has its own laws, and although some are considering making them legal, the permit costs are often so high as to make it out of reach for most people. You can find more about this and what an ADU actually is on our FAQ page.

What is RV certification for tiny houses?

Many trailer parks only allow houses built by a certified dealer to be parked on their property. This precludes tiny houses built by the owners themselves, but there is a movement starting to make it possible to certify DIY tiny houses.  We will be watching these developments closely and will give you updates soon.


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