Category Archives: solar

Cordwood in Brazil

Jair Dias sent the following pictures and explanation of the cordwood (cobwood) home he is building in Brazil:    “Jair Dias lives in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil .”

Jair Dias Brazil cob mortar 6A with logo

The wood he is using for the cordwood infill is  Pinus Elliottii   The cob mortar is a mixture of red soil (sifted) and combined with clay, sand, sawdust, cement and lime. He says it works very well.  The bottle bricks in a circular pattern are very colorful. Jair Dias Brazil cob mortar 9 with logo

Note the metal roof, the large overhangs and the wrap around porch.   These help to keep the rain off the cobwood walls and stop any degradation.  Jair Dias Brazil cob mortar 8 with logoJair Dias Brazil cob mortar 7 with logoJair is making an outline (in relief) in the mortar so the wood stands away from the mortar. That makes it easy to clean and sand.   I believe Jair means he is tuckpointing the log 3/4″ back from the end of the log.  This will allow for a final coat of cob for the wall.

Jair Dias 19Jair Dias 18Jair Dias Brazil cob mortar 6 with logo

The bottle bricks are very attractive. Jair Dias Brazil cob mortar 4 with logo

The center does not require a “center post” but rather a cap that helps maintain the integrity of the roof rafters. Jair Dias Brazil cob mortar 3 with logo

The walls are 12″ thick.  Jair Dias 17Jair Dias 16Lots of windows and entranceways to make the jungle readily available for viewing.  I will post more as Jair sends more information.

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

Hobbit Cordwood

In the green valleys of western Wisconsin resides a cordwood hobbit house.  Built by Jessi & Dan Peterson, complete with a round door and sparkling bottle bricks, it is surely a welcoming sight for anyone from the Shire or beyond Bag End.  Always remember: “Not all those who wander are lost.”  J.R.R.TolkienJessi hoy peterson12Winter lends a whole new feel to Jessi & Dan’s creation.  Jessi hoy peterson14The living roof is simply green and verdant!Jessi hoy peterson11

Dan built the round green door that bids you enter!Flatau Jessi & Dan's 16 sided earth roofed, round door home 2 in Wisconsin, USABacklit bottles are a  beautiful touch. Jessi & Dan's cordwood castleThe new deck for entertaining.Dan and Jessi in Eau Claire WI new deck living roofA beautiful masonry, brick heater graces the inside.  Jessi explains, ” The masonry heater is named Norbert, which means “Northern Bright” and is also a play on words of sorts – my mother’s masonry heater is named Albert, Albie for short, which is the mason’s name and means “Royal Bright.” Masonry heater httpwhistlepigalmanac.blogspot.com

Rafters, wooden ceiling and cordwood walls.  Simply delicious.  Jessi hoy peterson3Gorgeous lighting and beautiful touches are everywhere. Jessi hoy peterson4A nice combination of round and split pieces with a round window.  This is a very good example of excellent random patterning in a cordwood wall. Jessi hoy peterson5A green stairway for star gazing and accessing the living roof and masonry chimney. Jessi hoy peterson6Jessi painted the floors with nasturtiums.   What a gorgeous cordwood build!  Kudos to Dan & Jessi and all their helpers.   Nicely done.Jessi hoy peterson7.jpgFor more pictures and verbiage visit Jessi’s blog at  http://whistlepigalmanac.blogspot.com/

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 Construction, click on the picture or visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org

 

Cordwood Greenhouse in Montana

Hanna fell in love with Montana, nature, gardening and cordwood.  She built a gorgeous cordwood greenhouse/shed and filled it with plants and gardening tools.hanna-montana-3Then she planted a beautiful garden of flowers and vegetables around the shed. hanna-montana-2Finally she added a deer fence to protect the lovely produce and beautiful plants.hanna-montana-1

greenhouse-hanna-montana-2-800-x-600During construction she repurposed windows for maximum light.  hannah-montanss-greenhouse-08a-800-x-600A few stained glass windows add a nice touch to the natural “feel” of the shed. Hanna wrote a blog about her shed and shared it with the website I helped moderate at http://www.daycreek.com   We are hoping she will update her blog and let us know how things are progressing.

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 Warming Shelter

We built a cordwood warming hut at the Merrill School Forest that gradually morphed into a public school classroom along the way. The goal was to create a natural building using materials from the surrounding woods for students to warm up in on their winter hikes.
The result is a state code-approved, public school classroom that boldly demonstrates “best practice building” using sustainable methods.  Many of  these techniques can be used with other alternative building methods like strawbale, cob, earthen plaster, adobe and cobwood. Cordwood Education Center Richard Flatau highresjpeg with logo

The building started with architectural drawings and blueprints. These were sent to the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin to be assessed for code compliance  We were pleased when they were approved. [Note:  In the future this tiny cabin may become a care-takers cottage and so “knock outs” were made during construction to provide for plumbing for a kitchen and a bathroom.]

The wood for the entire building (posts, cordwood, window boxes, paneling, trim) was cut within 1000 feet of the building site.  We used tamarack (larch), pine, spruce and balsam. Crews of community volunteers from ages 4 to 80 turned out to help. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A Wood Mizer cut all the posts, beams and one inch lumber. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For planning, we started with an architectural drawing.

foundation-rubble-trench-with-fpsf

A rubble trench is much messier in reality.  This poor soil is called “goose nuggets.” sfwh5

A 4″ perforated drain tile surrounds the foundation and carries the water away. sfwh12

In order to satisfy code requirements, we topped it with a Frost Protected Shallow Foundation (FPSF).  Five million of these foundations have been built in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland and they are now approved in the USA and Canada.  They work very well in cold climates, keeping the heat in the building and most are outfitted with radiant-in-floor heating systems.  This type of foundation saves money by reducing materials and excavation costs.

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The building was framed using heavy timbers of pine and tamarack (larch).  The roof truss was built with a 14″ Energy Heel so that  starched cellulose could be packed to the outside edge of the top plate, giving the roof an R-value of 53.

cordwood-education-center-framing

The high school construction classes and middle school students came to work and learn.  They wanted to live and work here all semester.

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Everybody pitched in.  We had 90 volunteers and 180 folks who came to “have a look/see.”  So, doing the math,  for every one who worked, two supervised :0)

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The split faced blocks are needed in this area because of the high snow depth (70″ per year) to protect the cordwood.  The double posts allow for a 16″ wall, which not only provides an excellent thermal mass, but also an R-value of 24.

cordwood_wall300dpi

The sawdust mixed with lime provides a thermal break.

cordwood-wall-builders

As the walls began to rise, the community came together to help.

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Building the Big Dipper wall with seventeen volunteers.

Below, ready for the windows and doors as Autumn approaches.

cordwood-shelter-october08

The cup end of the dipper points to the North Star.  “Follow the drinking gourd” was what Harriet Tubman sang to her escaping comrades.

cec-interior-2015-low-rez-with-logo

The dedication was planned and celebrations took place.  The Cordwood Education Center is now used every day by the students of the Merrill Area Public Schools. It is also used as a Warming Shelter by weekend skiers and hikers.

dedication-songs

The students celebrate!

Watch a brief video about beavers at the Cordwood Education Center .  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xh6uW663R88

Even the media found this little classroom in the woods appealing.

The local and national media payed close attention to the project.  Many other cabins, homes and cottages have been built using the Cordwood Education template.

Cordwood has a tremendous amount of “thermal mass” which means it has the capability of taking and holding and then releasing the warmth or coolness that has been introduced by passive or active means.   In other words your warm building will stay warm and if you cool it, it will stay cool:0)

Ready to welcome the students!cordwood-education-center-with-summer-small-pixels-for-new-pioneer-sample

We host an annual Solar Tour of Homes and Businesses. solar-tour-cordwood-education-center-2015-with-logo

Best Practices used in this building.

  • Rubble Trench
  • FPSF  (Frost Protected Shallow Foundation)
  • Natural materials built up (off grade)
  • 16″ cordwood walls (R-24)
  • Post & Beam Framework
  • Energy Heel Truss
  • Large Overhangs (2′ and 6′)
  • Gutters to prevent splashback
  • Metal Roof (to shed extreme snow load)
  • Energy Efficient Windows and doors
  • Passive Solar Design
  • Natural materials sustainably and locally harvested (posts/sawdust/cordwood/lumber)
  • Random patterning of well dried softwood
  • 200 recycled bottles/stones/momentos placed in the walls from the volunteers

Let’s be clear. Not everyone has to use all these best practices.  They are simply listed for the owner/builders consideration.  The choices you make will be based upon your time, talents and treasure.

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 (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 & Timber Frame

Can you combine Cordwood with Timber Framing?   Ya sure you betcha!  Here are photos of the infilling of a traditional timber frame home with 16″ cedar cordwood and lime putty mortar with a 10″ sawdust insulation cavity (R-value of 24). .  This style of timber framing  is called Hall & Parlor and was one of the first timber frame styles used in America.

Hylla House for BlogThe posts and beams are mostly Tamarack with some pine for bents.  Tamarack develops small cracks and not big checks like other species.

The cordwood infill is Northern White Cedar, the gold standard for cordwood construction. Cordwood Workshop 2010 050Vinnie is loving his cordwood work.  He looks like he came off the set of Hew Haw!Hylla House Anne 1 with logo

Anne takes a break after a hard days work.

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A close up of the tamarack post and the stackwall corner with glaciated stones set in the foundation wall.

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The corner posts are wrapped with a stackwall corner “look.”

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The second storey is framed and the windows installed. The Great wall of LimePuttyMortar

Lime putty mortar is simply rehydrated Type S lime and sand.  It has a much whiter color than other mortars.

Cordwood Workshop 2010 052Cordwood can be stacked and mortared until the weather goes below freezing.

 

Timber framing mallet in hand Nick lets out a whoop, Anne smiles and Oliver strikes a Greco Roman wrestling pose.Hylla House 2 with logoRandom patterning looks the best with many different sizes of logs.

hylla house 4

The home is banked into a hill and the solar installation provides heat for the floor, the hot water and electricity. hylla house 5

The walls were completed at workshops and work parties.  The PV panels on the roof provide most of the families needs.  This installation also has grid intertie.

hylla house 8

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 classroom houses Cloud Forest Conservation in Guatemala

Tara & Rob Cahill have been working in the rain forests near Coban, Guatemala for 14 years.  They have built a beautiful infrastructure that includes a cordwood school for middle and high school students.  Here is a brief walk through video by the architect Charles Olfert.  It is quite impressive.   https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL17CB46FDCA1730B5
CCFC 1AAA high resolution building and students with logoThe Small Quetzal is 75 foot long and 40 foot tall on the big end.  It houses 50+ student for classes, but it also is used for cooking jams, jellies, salsas and local products for distribution on the international market. CCFC 1A with logoShould you wish to consider to contribute a scholarship for a young lady to attend this life changing school  http://www.cloudforestconservation.org/interact/Build_and_Beyond_matching_fund_campaign.phpIMG_9804Education is the number one goal at the Community Cloud Forest Conservation (CCFC) School.CCFC 26 curved wall quetzalBuilding the Cloud Forest Conservation School with cordwood construction.

IMG_7717Cleaning log ends and sharing stories for the next days wall building.CCFC Pineapple pie classTo find out how to help empower these young girls  http://www.cloudforestconservation.org/interact/scholarships.php

CCFC Conservation, Agroecology, Sustainable Living Learning Center Tara Jean Cahill 8

CCFC 1YClasses are held in the 40 foot tall open porch.
CCFC cleaning the cordwood before mortaring 1 with logoCleaning the log ends. Framework non-native Eucalyptus trees with logoThe framing timbers were all non-native Eucalyptus.  20 trees were planted for each tree felled.  The cordwood infill is mostly local pine. CCC15oo

Rob & Tara Cahill and Richard Flatau meet for the first time at the Cordwood Conference at Earthwood in upstate New York on July 12, 2015.

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