About Richard Flatau and Cordwood Construction

    Richard Flatau built his mortgage-free cordwood home thirty-seven years ago in northern Wisconsin.  Since then, as director of Cordwood Construction Resources, LLC, he has written books, conducted workshops, organized the 2005 and 2011 Cordwood Conferences and provides consultation for cordwood owner/builders.

Richard Flatau and log end at the Cordwood Education Center in Merrill, Wisconsin.

Richard worked as a teacher in the Merrill Public Schools for 30 years and was involved in numerous community organizations.  The Cordwood Education Center Classroom at the Merrill School Forest,  the White Earth Cordwood Home and the Kinstone Cordwood Chapel are all fascinating cordwood projects of which he is extremely proud.

Cordwood Conference Papers 2015, Cordwood Construction: Best Practices (2012)  Cordwood Shed Plans (2010) and Cordwood Cabin: Best Practices (2009) are a few of the many books available from his online bookstore.  http://www.cordwoodconstruction.org

27 responses to “About Richard Flatau and Cordwood Construction

  1. Love IT!!! Now here’s a construction company a person can feel real proud to work for….How do i apply?

  2. Good morning, Richard…

    I am writing from Vancouver, BC. I have a question about the ‘recipe’ for mortar.

    My friend and I have made a trial run at using the cordwood technique. The mortar cracked….see the attached photos… What are you currently using for mortar mix???

    On another note….we will be travelling to Virginia and West Virginia in September….are there any examples of cordwood construction that we could visit???

    Thanks for any advice you can provide.

    Don McKinnon

    PS I guess I can’t send the photos this way….do you have an e-mail address?

  3. Chantry Whittle

    I see many recipes for mortar as well. Would you share your recipe and how thick of walls you prefer? I live in Idaho and would like to try some cord wood construction. Thanks for your time, Chantry Whittle

    • Hi Chantry,
      There are five different mortar mixes that are detailed in my book Cordwood Construction Best Practices. My favorite is 3 sand, 2 sawdust, 1 portland and 1 type S hydrated lime. There is a cob mix, a lime putty mix, a papercrete mix and a cellulose mix.
      There is good cordwood literature available at http://www.cordwoodconstruction.org in the Online Bookstore.
      All the best,
      -Richard

  4. Jonathan Dente

    Hi There,

    I will be building two small Eco cabins and a main central house for a small Eco lodge in the pine forests of Oaxaca, Mexico.My altitude is at about 8500 feet, pine is abundant, we have a dry season and a wet season, about 6 months a year each, and although we have lots of rain we are not as humid as the lower tropical beach areas. I have built my own house in the beach town of Puerto Escondido, so I know post and beam and block and mortar type construction, my question pertains to the insulation. What are some alternative mixes you have heard of success with? Specifically the builders lime, can anything be substituted?

    Thanks so much,

    Jonathan Dente

    • Hi Jonathan,
      Thank you for your question. Sounds like a beautiful location. Depending on your heating/cooling degree days, you will want to configure your walls to keep cool or warmth inside the thermal mass of a cordwood wall. Here in the upper Midwest we usually build 16″ thick walls with 10″ of dry softwood sawdust mixed with hydrated lime to repel insects.
      There are many options for insulation: vermiculite, recycled denim, sheeps wool, fiberglass, dead air space, open and closed cell foam, I would imagine any form of cellulosic material that would allow for compaction and be non-attractive to any insects, would be feasible. If you are not in a humid area you should not have to worry about the insulation getting wet. The cordwood walls themselves are meant to transpire moisture via capillary action of the xylem and phloem in the wood.
      Some folks have sprinkled borax (20 Mule Team style)into their center cavity and soaked their wood in a mix of 4 cups borax to 1 gallon of warm water. Borax, as you know, is an insecticide, a fire retardant, a wood preservative and a fungicide.
      Keep me apprised of what you finally decide to use.

      Richard

  5. I ma intrested in cordwood construction. Does your book cover the post and beam frame construction, and ensuring it meets code?

  6. Hola! vivo en Maldonado, Uruguay, sobre la costa (a 7 cuadras de la playa) y desearia hacerme un cocina estar con este método. Aqui abunde los siguientes arboles: eucaliptus y pinos. ¿tienen que ser tratados o curados antes? … y el cemento, aqui tenemos uno común que lo fabrica ANCAP, con el que se hacen todos las construcciones.
    Serias tan amable de explicarme si esta bien usar estos materiales.
    Muchas gracias y felicitaciones.
    Magues

  7. Yes I am looking at buying some property that has a cordwood home. There are cracks showing daylight thru the walls. I understand that sawdust and lime was used as insulation in the wall, it is stated as being a 12″thick wall. I love the look of the home but not liking all the open cracks. My question is whether there is any touch up, sealing or way to re do the walls to seal them for better efficiency now that it is completed. I believe it was built 25 or more years ago.

    • Sorry for my delay in answering. Yes are many horizontal log cabin products that are perfect for cordwood. Permachink caulk would take care of the mortar cracking and blend with the existing mortar. Check out hte products at http://www.permachink.com Log Jam is another log cabin product that moves with the log ends, so it effectively covers any cracking or shrinking.

  8. My wife and I visited an open house of cordwood construction near New London WI yesterday and I noticed alot of mortar cracking near the truss mounting area, is this a situation that can be safely repaired? Since we find the property very intriguing, would it be wise to keep thinking about this property since it has stirred our souls or just move past it?

  9. Hello! I’m from Russia and i interesting in cordwood constructions. I want to build such house for my own use. I have many questions. Can you ask on them for me on my email? Sorry for my English.
    Thanks so much.

  10. Mathieu Janneteau

    Hello! Your work is great. I’m living in northen Québec, (Abitibi). We have température that varry greatly from – 40c to +40c. Verry dry winter and rainy automne. Do you think that 16in of thikness would be the best? And With those température change did the Wood will expende and contract to much for the mortard? Thank you

  11. I have you Best Practices book but am looking for more info on basement foundation. Like recommended wall thickness. Any help would be appreciated.

    • Hello Kevin,
      In the Cordwood Conference Papers 2005 there are two articles that address basements and crawl spaces. The first article is Cordwood on a Basement, which has all the weight considerations and loads, and the second article is Cordwood on a Crawl Space written by an engineer. This book is available only as an ebook for $12. The Cordwood Online Bookstore is at http://www.daycreek.com/dc/html/paypal_flatau.htm Hope this helps, Richard

  12. Hello Richard,

    My husband and I would like to learn how to build a cordwood house. I can’t find the information of the workshops for 2016. Could you please help me?
    Thanks in advance. Laura

  13. Hi Richard,

    I am very interested in my next home being a cordwood home but I am disabled and can’t do it. Is there anyone in Maine who can help me plan the house and build it for me?

    Karen

  14. This is fantastic! I want to learn how to do this….are you starting to plan any workshops for 2017? Sign me (and my family) up!
    Bridget

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