Category Archives: Cob

Cordwood in Oklahoma is OK

Alan & Rebecca Barreca sent me the following pictures and information on their beautiful home in SE Oklahoma. For those who are wondering about cordwood in a hot, humid climate, this will help answer your questions.

“We moved into our 16 sided cordwood home last Mar 21 and simply love it. It is sooo comfortable to live in. It is only 800 square feet (one bedroom, 1 & 1/2 baths) including the pop out sun room on the south side, but is totally adequate for 2 retired folks.”

Alan & Rebecca's 16 sided cordwood home-made of 12" eastern red cedar.

Alan & Rebecca’s 16 sided cordwood home-made of 12″ red cedar.

Mortars:  They used all different types of cordwood mortars, from Lime Putty (which they found too time-consuming and difficult) to Paper Enhanced Mortar (which they liked) to cob (which they loved).

A Hearthstone free-standing stove takes care of all their heating requirements.  Easter red cedar has beautiful patterning.

A Hearthstone free standing stove takes care of all their heating requirements. Easter red cedar has beautiful patterning.

Alan & Rebecca used a special plaster paint to blend all the different cordwood mortars together and speak glowingly of Vasari – vasariplaster.com. They say it is so easy to use and so much better than lime wash. It is actually a plaster that is lime based.

The red cedar is a weed tree in the southern middle portion of the country and it is naturally resistant to insects.

The red cedar is a weed tree in the southern central portion of the country and it is naturally resistant to insects and rot.

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The home is relatively small (800 sq. ft.) handsome and easy to heat and cool. alan-rebecca-8-se-oklahama-with-logoThey also experimented with an earthen floor: After a year the floor is holding up pretty well. We have it everywhere including the bathroom. It is made up of clay and sand with a Bioshield finish.

Here is a sample of the central capital and the posts, including the earthen floor.

Here is a sample of the central capital and the posts, including the earthen floor.

The plaster paint that Alan & Rebecca used was helpful in covering up the different types of mortar they tried while building their lovely home.  You can see the different shades of mortar at the top (below).   The Vasari Lime Wash made it all the same color.

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Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixelsIf you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

DVDandPrint

Here is a picture of the print version and the DVD label in one composite.

For more information on Cordwood Construciton, click on the picture or visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Cordwood (you see) can be Mortgage Free!

mortgage-free-landscape-photoNew Pioneer Magazine published a four page article on DIY Cordwood Cottages.  The editor allowed me to place the article in various social media sites to encourage the idea of natural building.   The article details the building of cordwood cottages, cabins, classrooms and homes.

new-pioneer-page-1The second page talks about how we built our mortgage free cordwood home.new-pioneer-page-2

The next page details the advantages of being mortgage free.  new-pioneer-page-3

The last page shows a cordwood sauna and a cordwood garden shed built after attending one of our two-day cordwood workshops.  new-pioneer-page-34jpg

This article is reproduced with permission from New Pioneer magazine (www.newpioneermag.com).  If you wish to find out more about Cordwood Construction visit www.corwdoodconstruction.org and read a few of the many instructional articles about many unique and interesting cordwood buildings.

The article is available online in a larger print format at:   http://www.cordwoodconstruction.org/img/Newpioneerarticlewinter2014 or you can press Ctrl and + to increase the size of the text.

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.

If you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixels

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

“Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.”  www.cordwoodconstruction.org

DVD label cover yellow

Here is a jpeg of the new Cordwood Construction DVD cover available at http://cordwoodconstruction.org/

Cordwood Mermaid Cottage in Colorado

Did you know there is a cottage filled with mermaids in southern Colorado? KimAnna16 with logoKimAnna18 with logo Even though it is a thousand miles from the nearest ocean, this B n B has a bevy of seafaring sirens. It has gorgeous views, breathtaking skies, wonderful structures. The Mermaid Cottage is available via AirBnB at  https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/685335KimAnna9 with logoBuilt by KimAnna Cellura-Shields and her husband Michael, the Mermaid Cottage is a testament to the possibilities of building with log ends, glass and mortar.KimAnna14 with logoThe shower is an entire glass bottle wall. KimAnna17 with logoThe surrounding countryside is beyond compare. KimAnna13 with logo If perchance, you are interested in moving to Colorado and starting a business, the Peace of Art Cafe in Del Norte, Colorado is FOR SALE  The details are available at http://www.organicpeddler.com/peace-of-art-cafe.html  KimAnna11 with logoThe kitchen sign says “The Mermaid is in.”KimAnna10 with logoThe bedroom is vibrant with color.KimAnna15 with logoEven the bathroom will bathe you in light and beauty.

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.

If you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixels

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

“Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

DVD label cover yellow

Here is a jpeg of the new Cordwood Construction DVD cover available at http://cordwoodconstruction.org/

 

Dragon’s Cordwood Keep

In the rolling bluffs and buttes of southwest Wisconsin and nigh onto the Mississippi River resides a cordwood dragon. Kinstone 49This dragon (the eye is green) is sleeping in a cordwood “dragon’s keep.”  Kinstone 27 Made of cordwood, bottles, metal and glass it keeps watch over the Driftless Zone and the other 15 dragons nestled under and near its wings.  As you know a “keep” is defined as an “inner most stronghold.” Kinstone 4The Dragon’s Keep came to fruition during cordwood workshops at Kinstone Permaculture Academy near Fountain City, Wisconsin.  High atop a ridge, overlooking the Mississippi River, this dragon is ready for anything.  Actually multiple baby dragons can be seen nesting in the walls. Kinstone 9There is also a double antler shed embedded in the walls, which is now used as a coat rack.  You will also notice that this wall has cobwood (cob mortar and cordwood log ends) on the bottom and cordwood on the top. Kinstone 2

Here you can see the dragon’s eye, head and fiery tongue (black).Kinstone 10The entrance way is protected by a cedar tree. Kinstone 37A green dragon awaits placement in the wall. kinstone 47The dragon’s wing is ready to take flight. Kinstone 48

There are five tiny dragons in this photo, can you find them all?Kinstone 50The “keep” building crew is positive and happy with their work!

Kinstone 3Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixelsIf you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

“Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

DVDandPrint

Here is a picture of the print version and the DVD label in one composite.

Cordwood Restaurant for sale in Colorado

Looking to become economically self sufficient?  Want to run your own business?  Are you into organic and natural living? Here is an opportunity you will want to explore.Peace of Art Cafe 1g.jjpgThe courtyard (below and to the right) offers additional seating for parties, ceremonies and live music. Peace of Art Cafe in Del Norte, CO 2The cordwood Peace of Art Cafe, The Organic Peddler and a Hand Hewn Log Cabin Rental are for sale in Del Norte, Colorado at a very attractive, recently reduced price.   If you would like to learn more, please contact KimAnna.  She has developed these successful businesses for the natural, discerning entrepreneur.Peace of Art Cafe 1e low rezThe restaurant is both appealing and attractive Peace of Art Cafe 1c low rezBottle bricks, wooden timbers and all manner of beauty surround this cafe.

Below is the Mermaid Cottage which is a separate B & B that KimAnna has developed and runs through Air BnB.  This is NOT included in the original package, but it shows the creativity and attention to detail that is apparent in all her buildings. Mermaid cottage 1b low rezThe bottle walls KimAnna creates are stunning and spectacular Mermaid Cottage 1mEven the bathroom receives special attention.Mermaid Cottage 1l low rezFor information on how to rent the Mermaid Cottage visit http://mermaid-cottage.weebly.com/

The Peace of Art Cafe and the Organic Peddler attract customers on their visual appeal alone. KimAnna also lured them in with excellent food and a great staff. Organic Peddler Peace of art.jpg

There are four buildings available with this package.

  • Peace of Art Café
  • (2) Adobe buildings  used for business and rental.
  • Log Cabin (Active Hostel Rental)

For the all the details, all the included extras and  price visit www.organicpeddler.com

KimAnna Cellura-Shields
Organic Peddler / Peace of Art Cafe
www.organicpeddler.com

(719)873-7133

To view the real estate brochure https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1xNaOG-Oa2uMV9mUWdyaENwRzlkZkEtWWgyVVNOdk1iODhj/view?usp=sharing

 

 

 

Cordwood Workshops: The way to DIY

Cordwood workshops are the best way to learn the cordwood construction technique.   When you take one from Richard & Becky Flatau of Cordwood Construction Resources LLC, they emphasis the “Best Practices” approach to building.  The Flatau’s have honed a set of 14 best practice building techniques that will not only make your home, cottage or cabin beautiful, but they will ensure that it will be safe, comfortable and code compliant.  Here are some sample pictures from our hands-on workshops that gives the reader a taste of what goes on.  The 2016 cordwood workshop schedule. http://cordwoodconstruction.org/img/Cordwood_Workshop_Schedule_2016_final.pdf

Kinstone 3

Hard workers are determined to finish the sauna…and they did!

bonners ferry 4The mountains give off their misty glow near Bonners Ferry, Idaho. .  Germask Workshop Tammy Trupp 1 with Banjo BobBanjo Bob sings Country Roads as we teach a private workshop in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

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Singing and stomping Cob for the Entrance Center. workshop kinstone june 2014 first row

A doula and a university professor have fun building a wall. They are married. Workshop Kinstone JUne 2014  framework of the saunaThe sauna post and beam framework with grade beam and keyways at Kinstone. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACordwood workshop at Love’s Organic Farm near Mars Hill, North Carolina.

Kinstone happy mortarers

Planning their work, working their plan with smiles.

What is the R-value of a cordwood wall (under construction)

Two teachers build a wall at the Cordwood Education Center in Merrill, Wisconsin.

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Spreading insulation, cleaning log ends and tuck pointing are all parts of learning the “technique.”

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Sawdust and lime insulation is added and packed in the center cavity.

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Learning to “screen” sawdust becomes a lesson in wind direction:0)

workshop 13

Hands on mortaring of a cordwood wall in a “learn it by doing” style is the best way to “cement” the tricks of the trade.

workshop 14

If I see it and do it, I remember.

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Classroom time is devoted to “Best Practices” lessons with cordwood that have been hard won during 37 years of cordwood living, building and sharing.

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The Kinstone Chapel mortaring crew poses for an end-of-the day photo.

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Bottle ends made from vases from the Thrift Store.

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Becky and Kirsten are proud of their river motif wall.

MREA 11 year old cordwood cobber the next generation 2012

Using “Cob Mortar” at a demo at the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair in Custer, Wisconsin.

Kinstone 18 August 8c

The six sided chapel walls are being completed at a natural building pace.

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixelsIf you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

“Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Cordwood in Sweden with Olle

Olle Hagman, a retired professor from Gothenburg University in Sweden,  built this beautiful cordwood writer’s cabin in a faraway forest. He carries on a long tradition of cordwood building in his home country and has written extensively about Swedish Kubbhus (cordwood).

OlleHagman1 low resolution for FB pageOlle’s well-researched paper about the five phases of cordwood’s history from 1850 to the present day, appeared in the Cordwood Conference Papers 2011, entitled, “A Social History of Cordwood Houses in Sweden.”   Olle’s website is www.kubbhus.seOlle Hagman writer's cabin Sweden with logoHe also documents the resurgence of cordwood in his current article in the Cordwood Conference Papers 2015, “Wood Masonry in Sweden:  Historical Variation and Re-Introduction.”  Both sets of Papers are available in print and ebook format at the Cordwood Online Bookstore http://www.daycreek.com/dc/html/paypal_flatau.htmOlle Hagman's cordwood cabin in Sweden kubbhouseOlle has written a book about his research and the current state of Kubbhus.Ollle Hagman book cover 1Ollle Hagman book cover 2Olle is leading cordwood workshops in Sweden and documenting newly constructed cordwood buildings in his homeland.Olle Hagman  Writers cottage4

Olle attended the Cordwood Conferences in Winnipeg, Manitoba (2011) where he was part of a group of intrepid cordwood builders we lovingly named “The Fab Five.”  He presented his paper at that conference and was also a main speaker at the Cordwood Conference in 2015 at Earthwood Building School.

CCC15aaaOlle and friends: the self-proclaimed “no hairs.”  Olle is on the right showing off his log end heart T-shirt.  Tom Huber. cordwood builder of renown is in the middle and Jim Smart is on the left (sporting his Cordwood Conference 2005 T-shirt).

CCC11 U of Manitoba Cordwood Kiosk workshopa.jpgHere is the crew from the Cordwood Conference in 2011.  Olle is on the far right.  This is the cordwood entrance kiosk for the Alternative Village run by the engineering department. Dr. Kris Dick, PEng, is in the middle with the burgundy shirt & beard.

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixelsIf you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

“Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

 

Cordwood Construction shows off her Outhouses

One of the all-time-best cordwood construction practice projects is building the cordwood outhouse.  Not only do you get to hone your cordwood mortaring skills, but you get a functional addition to your homestead.Cordwood Outhouse high with logoThis outhouse (above) was the first cordwood building constructed before the owners cordwood cabin. This delightful structure is located in Wisconsin.  Yurt cobwood Marcus Grossman NJ with logoMarcus Grossman built this yurt style cordwood outhouse in New Jersey before moving to Central America.  He used a cob mortar and topped it off with a living roof.

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Julie decided that she was going to make her outhouse look like cordwood, so she took here paintbrush and her artistic talent.  This is what she created.  Nice work Julie.

Don’t be afraid to let your imagination run wild when you build with cordwood.  It lends itself to unique and one of a kind features.

Bathroom cordwood DregnesThis is not an outhouse, but a cordwood bathroom inside of Julie’s lovely cordwood home. Huber Shed MI with logoWhile this is not technically an outhouse, it could have been easily modified to serve as one.  It currently functions as a beautiful shed in southern Michigan. Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixels 640 x 480Should you be interested in learning more about Cordwood Construction, please click on the photo of my book (above) or visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org 

Cordwood in Sweden @ Pelle Henriksson’s cordwood sauna

Pelle Henriksson has added to his portfolio with these new pictures of his backyard sauna in Sweden.  He calls his Facebook building site Kubbhusbastu which translates to Cordwood Sauna which Pelle says is “Just for fun.”   The foundation (ring beam), framing (post & beam) and cordwood infill are very well done using “best practices” throughout.

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Kubbhusta 5 Pelle HenrikssonPelle’s  pictures tell the story very well.Kubbusbsta 10 Pelle Henriksson FB page KubbhusbastaThe logs for the framework are 100 years old and were found in Pelle’s uncle’s barn.  The photo shows the grade beam and part of the drain tile (orange colored pipe).Kubbusbsta 14 Pelle Henriksson FB page KubbhusbastaThe foundation is a ring beam on a rubble trench with a drain tile sloped to a lower grade.  Each post has a roofing shingle placed on the bottom to stop moisture from “wicking up” the post. Kubbusbsta 1 Pelle HenrikssonMany of the older cordwood (kubbhus) buildings in Sweden use a clay based mortar.  Olle Hagman has been very instrumental in documenting the migration of cordwood throughout Sweden and has located 150 buildings.  His excellent article is told in the Cordwood Conference Papers 2015.   http://www.daycreek.com/dc/html/paypal_flatau.htmKubbhusta 6 Pelle HenrikssonNote how the windows are placed within a post and beam framework.  This is my favorite style of window framing. Kubbusbsta 8 Pelle Henriksson FB page KubbhusbastaPelle used keyways (vertical strips of wood on the posts) to hold his wall sections in place. The sauna will have a changing room and a sauna chamber.  Putting the roof on first allows Pelle to work and store his materials out of the elements.

A beautiful flower motif chain saw cut into a log end shows off the Swedish love of all things wooden. Kubbhusta 4 Pelle HenrikssonTo fit a glass into a cleaned out hollow center log.   Cut out a sheet of glass after tracing and cutting the paper template.Kubbusbsta 11 Pelle Henriksson FB page KubbhusbastaKubbusbsta 12 Pelle Henriksson FB page Kubbhusbasta

This is how the finished product looks.

pelle-kubbhausta-1Hanging a wooden floor off a “grade beam” is done in the following manner. pelle-kubbhausta-5The door is handmade as is the wooden lock.  Pelle is an excellent carpenter. pelle-kubbhausta-2

Scribing log ends that protrude to make for a clean floor, wall or ceiling line can be difficult so Pelle put together a visual “how to” section. pelle-kubbhausta-3Pelle has become something of a cordwood rock-star with articles being published in various newspapers.  pelle-kubbhausta-4Many of these pictures and more are also on Pelle’s Facebook page  www.facebook.com/pages/Kubbhusbastu/  You may want to bookmark Pelle’s page and check back every now and again to marvel at his progress.  Thank you Pelle for the explanation and the photos!

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixelsIf you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

“Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

DVDandPrint

Here is a picture of the print version and the DVD label in one composite.

 

For more information on Cordwood Construciton, click on the picture or visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Korean Cordwood (Cobwood) Soil Houses

While surfing the web I came across a picture of a uniquely beautiful cordwood home in South Korea that was labeled “Korean Soil House.”  Having the good fortune to have a friend teaching in Seoul, South Korea at that time, I asked if he could try and track down the only available book on the subject.  Adam was successful in his search and kind enough to cajole a bi-lingual friend to translate small portions of the book.  I spent many hours attempting to make contact with the book’s author, but time and language constraints brought my search to no avail.  Therefore, this should be considered a book and internet review of a very interesting development in traditional Korean architecture. Korean Soil Houses abcd with logo

Korean soil houses cobwood with logo

These soil houses, often  called “cobwood” in the West, are traditional peasant homes that dot the Korean countryside.  The homes are made completely of soil, but now builders are using cordwood rounds in the walls for structural stability. How to build heuljip best ecological building houses with my own handsFortunately, there is a Korean book written about these homes.  It is called Learning How to Build Mokcheon Earth Homes by Young-gil Cho.  “Mokcheon” is a small village where these types of homes originated and earth homes in Korea are called heuljip or heukjip. Korean soil house15.jpg www.hwangto.info small pixels with logo Here is a summary of that translation.

The Soil/Cordwood Method (Heuljip)

Soil and Wood

  • The home starts with using the “beloved soil” of Korea. Choices are red clay, red earth clay and black soil. The author recommends using whatever earth you have under your feet as long as it is not black, organic loam, or contaminated soil.
  • Pine from a hillside is best for log ends. Useable woods are: nut pine, fir, Japanese pine, pitch pine, hemlock, white spruce, Douglas fir and Korean spruce.
  • As for drying the wood, he suggests letting it age in the wind, sun, rain and snow.   Cordwood in Korea log and soil houses with logo

Foundation

  • A circle between 16 and 20 feet in diameter is marked with lime (like chalking a baseball field).
  • The soil is disturbed to 24″ and then all rock and loam are removed.
  • The soil is replaced and tamped. Then, two 16″ wide concentric circles are drawn to determine the perimeter.
  • Rocks are gathered and placed 12″ high on the tamped ground.
  • The rocks are laid 16″ wide to accommodate the logs and the soil mortar.
  • At ground level, an exterior fireplace entrance flue is included to utilize the traditional Korean method of funneling a warming and cooking fire into the home.
  • A mix of 5 parts soil to one part cement is used to stabilize the foundation.

 Mortar Mix

  • The mortar is 100% soil mixed with water.
  • The soil is mixed with water by hand (similar to stomping cob).
  • The soil and water mix are left covered for 2 to 3 days before mortaring.

Wall Building

  • The soil is placed all the way through the wall. There is NO insulation cavity.
  • The logs are placed a minimum of 4″ apart, although some builders place them much farther apart.
  • A hammer is used to smack the log ends into the
  • The soil mortar is moistened at day’s end and before beginning the next day. With larger logs a stick is placed underneath the bottom edge to reduce mortar slump.
  • Tuck Pointing
  • Tuck pointing is done with gloved hands, a paint brush, and a putty knife.
  • Sometimes log ends are lightly burned with a propane torch to produce a star pattern. Korean Soil Houses abcdejpg with logo

 Special Considerations

  • The walls have significant mortar cracking and checking as the soil dries.
  • If red clay can be found nearby, it is used to plaster over the dried soil.
  • Often it takes 2 or 3 applications of clay to produce a smooth, crack free surface.
  • The interior can be warm and inviting once soil cracks have been taken care of and ample lighting is provided.  Korean Soil Houses abcde with logo

There is a growing number of soil/cordwood houses and cottages being built in South Korea.  So much so, that a market has developed to buy and sell these homes.  A popular website is http://www.hwangto.info which has many colorful photos and some earth/cordwood homes for sale. Some of the websites appear to show an earth cottage resort/spa destination. Korean Soil Houses abcdefwith logo
  The development of the South Korean soil and cordwood houses reminds me of the “back to the land” movement in North America in the late 1960’s, as well as the current natural and tiny home craze.   There is an energetic desire to go to the countryside and erect one’s own dwelling with one’s own hands.

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixelsIf you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

“Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated the 2005,  2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org