Tag Archives: green building

Cordwood at White Earth

  “This was not a ‘spec house’ but one that has a unique personality and footprint. The purposes of this undertaking were to produce a natural, attractive home, provide labor opportunities on the reservation and instill pride of ownership within a community directed operation.”   –Richard Flatau

 Cordwood Home on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota. White Earth Article 5

Making Contact
The MMCDC (Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation) contacted us with regard to the possibility of building a cordwood home on the White Earth Reservation in NW Minnesota.  The idea was to provide attractive, affordable, energy efficient housing on the reservation, while offering employment opportunities for the training of tribal cordwood masons.

The plan to work with the White Earth Tribal Land Office allowed the home to be constructed on Tribal Trust Land.  The local contractor and members of the tribe were enthusiastic about building a home that would be in harmony with the natural surroundings, be energy efficient and use locally available resources.  It would be designed and built with wood from the area and in accord with Ojibwa home traditions.  That is, the house would be a multi-generational home, it would incorporate a large family gathering area, the entrance would face east, and it would be comprised mostly of renewable materials.   White Earth Article 2.jpg    Floor plan for 1840 sq. ft. home (1,040 sq. ft. first floor, 800 sq. ft. second floor).

Vision

Here are the processes and  attributes of this very successful home building project.

  • Efficient design with owner input (Ojibwa Tribal member) leading to functional space usage
  • 12/12 pitch roof for additional 800 sq. ft. adding 2 bedrooms, and a bath upstairs
  • Insulated sand bed with radiant-in-floor heat (coupled with off-peak power usage)
  • Northern White Cedar post and beam framework (a sacred tree in Ojibwa culture)
  • 16″ Northern White Cedar cordwood log ends
  • High R-value foam insulation in center cavity (R-30)
  • Cold weather mortaring techniques
  • Ojibwa design features mortared into the cordwood walls
  • Ojibwa mortaring crews hired

Good People

We were fortunate to work with two very capable builders: Robert Zahorski, the general contractor and Bill Paulson, a tribal member who was the project coordinator.   Each dovetailed into the other’s strengths and the result was a building that evokes Ojibwa traditions, built with 21st century construction techniques.

Sand bed for heat storage White Earth Article 1.jpg

In the fall of 2009 the foundation was built with an insulated sand bed, beneath an insulated cement slab.  This sand bed will store heat during off-peak energy hours and then radiate it throughout the house during the high-energy-rate use daylight hours.   This is similar to radiant-in-floor heat, except the large sand bed under the foundation is insulated and provides heat energy storage for the home.  The drawing on the left, courtesy of Alan Stankevitz of daycreek.com, gives a rendering of this concept.

Cedar post and beam framework

The post and beam framework was erected by a local contractor.  Cedar posts gathered from near the reservation were milled on the two sides that would abut the cordwood infill.  They were left rounded on the interior and exterior.

East wall under construction.jpg

The cedar post and beam framework was braced.  The bracing is very important to maintain structural integrity and prevent sections from going “out of square.”  The braces are only removed after the cordwood walls approach the four foot mark.  As you will notice, the roof is complete and shingled. Having the roof finished before cordwood construction begins means that the cordwood mortaring can take place, for the most part, out of the elements. If a section is not finished in time, it can be ‘boarded up’ for the winter and work can continue on the inside of the building.  Attaching tarps to the fascia boards is helpful when it is necessary to protect the mortar and the workers from the drying rays of the sun.

Electrical

There are many code compliant ways to run electrical wiring in a cordwood building.  In general for wiring jobs we recommend that you follow your local building codes.  In cordwood buildings in various parts of the country, we have used conduit, Romex NM, and UL 12-2 wiring (with a resistant coated jacket) wire-stapled to the middle of the posts.   In this particular instance the electrical contractor chose to run flexible, plastic tubes (also called flexible PVC conduit). In accord with the blueprint, the ‘blue smurf’ wiring tubes were then installed throughout the building.  Bill injecting foam.jpgThe hanging blue tubes (with metal receptacles) were very irritating to work around during construction.  The masons were constantly bumping into them while mortaring.

Window Boxes

The window boxes (made of double 2″ x 8″s) were hung, using the sturdy top plates as fastening points.  The two exterior door frames were ‘roughed in.’   Later these would have doors with beautiful etched glass panels installed for both privacy and beauty (see picture at end of article).

 White earth for OB 1.jpgThe window boxes, door framing and wiring tubes are shown in the phot0.  Notice that the window boxes are screwed into the top plate of the post and beam framework.  This helps to assure that the windows will always open.  White Earth Article 15.jpg

Cedar Log Ends

Early in the process, the decision was made to use 16″ cedar log ends for the cordwood infill.  This length would provide an insulation value of R-24.   The logs had been cut and dried for four years in eight foot lengths.  After that they were cut into 16″ lengths and 70% of the logs were split to assure faster drying.

On the way to being stacked the logs were dipped in a borate solution (four cups of borax to one gallon of water). Finally, the logs were stacked in single rows for drying. While stacked, the exterior ends of the log ends were brushed with a UV blocker (Lifeline Exterior from Permachink) so that the faces of the exterior log ends would maintain their color.  The interior log end faces were left natural.

Mortar Mixing                                                    

A mortar mixer was purchased and three different individuals were trained on mixing proper cordwood “mud.” It was very helpful to have an alternate “mortar mixer” when someone had a scheduling conflict.White Earth small pixel window boxes with keyways on inside and outside

The mortar mixture used was the Flatau’s favorite mix of:

  • 1 part Portland Cement
  • 1 part Hydrated Lime Type S
  • 2 parts soaked softwood sawdust (coarse)
  • 3 parts washed, coarse sand

The overall feel of the mortar is an adobe style texture which is easily tuck-pointed with a spoon.

Injecting Foam Insulation 

For insulation, the initial strategy was to use regular coarse softwood sawdust mixed with hydrated lime in the center cavity, but a dearth of coarse, softwood sawdust in the area, led to another decision.   It was determined that injected closed cell foam was going to be used.  The main advantages of injected foam are:  high R-value (R-7 per inch), it bonds well with the wood and tends to fill every nook and cranny.  Cordwood builder Sandy Clidaras of  Quebec has been a pioneer in using closed cell foam in single wall cordwood and so we consulted him for advice.  Sandy generously gave of his time and information.  Convinced of the foam’s merits, we ordered eight kits of foam insulation.

White Earth Article 4.jpg

When using injected closed cell foam the cordwood wall is first built in two-foot-high sections.  Half-inch  tubes are inserted in the center cavity as the wall is being built.  The mortar is left to harden for at least 24 hours (any sooner and the wall may be lifted by the pressure of the expanding foam).   The foam is then injected into the tubes. The foam comes in two canisters, which must be warmed before being used and then shaken while injecting (this makes certain all the foam is used).  There are many companies that make expanding foam and quite a number of building supply stores carry the kits.  To find a foam retailer, do a Google search and make a few phone calls to get your best price.   On a 1,200 square foot home, with eight foot high cordwood walls, the foam will add approximately $4000 to the cost of construction.

The closed cell foam is rated at an R-value of 7 per inch.  A 5 inch cavity gives an R-value of 35.  Coupled with the usual 16″ cordwood walls’ R-value of R-24, we extrapolated that our wall R-value approached R-30.White Earth Interior 2010  bear paw  feather by door2.jpg

Cold Weather Mortaring

When we left to conduct another workshop in North Carolina the cordwood mortaring crew was about one third finished.  Little did we know at the time that the fall of 2009 in northwestern Minnesota would turn into one of the coldest on record.   Finishing the cordwood infill in October meant tarping the house, covering the cordwood walls with blankets and ‘firing-up’ a propane heater.  Starting a little later in the morning allowed the temperatures rise a bit.

If at all possible, cold weather mortaring is something to avoid.  If the water in the mortar mix freezes it can cause the mortar to flake and crumble.  Since this home was built within a post and beam framework there was no worry about structural integrity, but to have to re-mortar a complete wall or part of a wall would become a very labor intensive operation, especially since the mortar flaking may not be immediately apparent.

If you must mortar in cold weather, it is imperative to finish all mortaring before freezing temperatures occur.  If this becomes impossible, then precautions need to be taken to assure the mortar will not freeze:

  • The freshly mortared cordwood wall must be covered with blankets or tarps and secured, so it is protected from freezing cold and wind.
  • If there is a crew working on different sections (as was the case on this project) wrap the entire building with tarps to cover the work. (see picture)
  • Even though there is a little heat generated from the chemical reaction of the Portland cement and the water, it is not enough to prevent it from freezing when the temperatures plummet.
  • On this project, not only did we tarp the entire house, but we placed a propane heater in the middle of the house to keep the mortar from freezing.
  • It is very important to keep the walls covered, except when mortaring, for at least seven days.
  • According to masonry experts, masonry mortar takes seven days to dry and fourteen days to cure.White Earth Article 17.jpg

There are ingredients that can be added to the mortar mix to retard freezing (calcium chloride), but with the soaked sawdust in this mix, no one can adequately be certain that these non-freeze agents will work properly.  So it is best to cover, seal and provide a source of heat if the temperature is going into the 20’s.  Diminishing the amount of sawdust as temperatures drop can be helpful, as the retarding feature of the sawdust is less important.On this project we were properly prepared to prevent the masonry from freezing during the very cold month of October.

       While the precautions kept the cordwood walls from freezing, it added to labor costs by requiring time consuming ‘take-down’ every morning and ‘button-up’ in the evening.  The cordwood masonry was finished by late October and the inside work commenced.  The entire cordwood infill was accomplished in less than six weeks.                                  

Native Cordwood Masons

One of the highlights of this project was meeting and teaching the cordwood mortaring group which had been assembled for this task.  The crew was paid a good wage and learned valuable masonry and construction skills in the process.  They were enthusiastic and learned quickly.  As the project went along, some of the guys started talking about building an Ojibwa Ceremonial Lodge and personal homes, using the abundant Tamarack on the edges of the surrounding wild rice lakes.  One of the many side benefits of being involved in this project was receiving gifts of hand harvested and processed wild rice.   Even though the project was open to women applicants, there were no takers.  Becky ended up being the only woman on the crew and enjoyed working with the guys.

Special Effects

Bill and Robert were instrumental in making some of the artistic Ojibwa motifs in the White Earth Home.  The owner of the home was a member of the Bear Clan, so Bill decided he would put a bear paw, a feather, the Medicine Wheel and shelves in the cordwood wall.  They became the focal points of the house. White Earth Article 10.jpgWe visited the home a year after completion to do any weatherizing that might be required   We applied  Permachinktm around a few log ends that had loosened and stuffed a few round log ends that had checked with white fiberglass.  This well constructed home is easy to heat and blends beautifully into the surrounding woodland.    White Earth Article 13

The home has caused quite a stir in the surrounding area, and there are plans for building a commercial law office, a ceremonial lodge and more cordwood homes. We are proud of our involvement, and grateful for the friendships made, but we are also thankful to the tribal members who welcomed us and provided insight and assistance in making this home come to fruition.  Being involved in a project of this magnitude was certainly a peak experience for us.

White_Earth_Winter_2009_best_Flatau300dpi

(Below) Note the feather (left) and the Bear Paw (right) on either side of the door.

Flatau White Earth Reservation Corwdood Home 3 Naytahwaush, Minnesota USA.jpgWinter or summer, the White Earth Cordwood home is comfortable and inviting to family and friends.

 

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 Workshop DVD (2018),  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print 2017) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their Online Cordwood Bookstore.  The books & DVD are also available as ebooks for a quick and easy shipping free download.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

This is the Cordwood Workshop Video will show you how to build a best practices cordwood home.

Cordwood Workshop DVD 3

These are the 30 menu sections from the Cordwood Workshop DVD.

DVD Menu 1

DVD menu 2

Thank you for your kind attention to Cordwood Construction.   If you would like more information, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Or email me at richardflatau@gmail.com 

 

 

Advertisements

Cordwood Magnum Opus

Some folks have a way of taking a building style and doing beautiful and amazing things with it.  Here is a fine example of  the cordwood construction method of building, refined and made beautiful.  Cordwood cabin with storage attached love the green door FB page of Cordwood AccentsThe covered porch, the curved railings and the green painted side doors blend with the cedar to give the building unmistakeable charm. Cordwood Sauna with arched door and water tank for off power sites FB page of Cordwood Accents CROPPED.jpgThe nearby sauna is completed with the same attention to detail and the cordwood infill is done with clean mortar joints and attractive patterns. FB page of Cordwood AccentsThe side porch has an ingenious method of drying kindling for the wood stove.  Here comes the sun!Stackwall corners framework of posts buried in the mortar addition to a cordwood cabin.jpgIt is quite evident that this building has a vertical post and beam framework that is hidden with cordwood stubbie pieces.   It is in the middle between each set of windows.  These are all the photos I have of this amazing build.  My attempts to get more information from the owners has not produced results.  All we can do it enjoy the beauty of this work.

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 Workshop DVD (2018),  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print 2017) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their Online Cordwood Bookstore.  The books are also available as ebooks for a quick and easy download.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

This is the Cordwood Workshop Video label. Cordwood Workshop DVD 3

These are the 30 menu sections from the Cordwood Workshop DVD.

DVD Menu 1

DVD menu 2

 

 

Buy a Cordwood Home?

Would you consider buying a cordwood home?  I have known of several dozen cordwood homes that have “come on the market” in the past ten years.   What would encourage you to buy?  What would be a deal breaker? Here is a home in British Columbia that came for sale and the asking price was under half a million dollars.  Cordwood for Sale BC 1With half an acre, 1800 sq. ft. and western red cedar as the cordwood infill, this beauty sold as soon as it hit the market.  Cordwood for Sale BC 2

Cordwood for Sale BC 3Lots of wood, but oh, so well done.  Personally, I love a wood ceiling. Cordwood for Sale BC 4Cordwood for Sale BC 6Well placed cordwood log ends, with clean mortar joints,  make for very attractive, complimentary walls. Cordwood for Sale Comox BC5Cordwood for Sale Comox BC7Cordwood for Sale Comox BC8The specific features: 3 bedrooms 2 bathrooms, timber frame & cordwood; vaulted ceilings, a large open kitchen, a bright Sunroom & a cozy fireplace. The kitchen is large & open with an eating area. The roof was replaced a few years ago with light weight metal.Cordwood for Sale Comox BC9Cordwood for Sale Comox BC10Most cordwood homes that do sell quickly sell because of the attention to detail and the quality of the build.  The doors, windows, posts, roof, mortar, cabinets, closets, interior fixtures all play an important role in the attractiveness of the home.

This cordwood home sold very quickly.

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 pixelsReaders 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 Workshop DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015, Cordwood House Plans & Cordwood Shed Plans are the newest publications available from their ever expanding online cordwood bookstore.”  www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Cordwood Workshop DVD 3

Click on the picture to access the ordering information.  The DVD is an incredible bargain at $25 and the DVD is available for an immediate download! 

 Online Cordwood Bookstore

 

 

Cordwood in the South

Can I build cordwood in a hot, humid climate?  Here are some fine examples of cordwood in the South.  Obviously, if best practices are used, cordwood can be very successful in warm, moist climes.Sam Felts round cordwood home in Georgia interior 3 Sam Felt and Bill talking about cordwood building in the center part of the home’s inner circle.  This is a very beautiful and dramatic building.  The arches were 1″ dimensional lumber, bent to make a frame and then pulled off once the mortar hardened.  Sam Felts Adel, Georgia with logo Sam Felt’s home in Adel, Georgia.   It is made of cypress and has arched doorways created by the Godfather of Cordwood,  Jack Henstridge.

Sam Felts son's cordwood home in Geroga small pixels with logoAbove is Renyard’s cypress cordwood home in Adel, Georgia. Rockmart, GA  built in the late 70's with logo.jpgTom and Ann’s post and beam framed beauty, in Rockmart, Georgia.  This one has a large stone fireplace and is built on an older stone barn foundation.  It has the wrap around porch that makes for good neighborly living.  dirt under my nails NC 3 with logo.jpgMaria & Toby built this masterpiece in the mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. It is a 12 sided, post framed cordwood with a living roof. dirt under my nails NC 8.jpgThe beams make a handy place to dry the garden produce.

Luke and Amy Metzger  Spartanburg, SC j 2012.jpg Spartanburg, South Carolina is graced with this post framed cordwood with a full walk-out basement.  The interior is also very attractive.  This home sold, when the family moved to Colorado, to the first person who looked at it (for the asking price!) The real estate agent said it was because of the quality of the build. Luke and Amy Metzger Spartanburg, SC g 2012a(Below) Kimberly built this 600 square foot cabin in western South Carolina for $6,000.  The majority of the materials came from the property.Kimberly Rak South Carolina 4.jpgThe The Cookie House (built in 1931) in Edgewater, Florida is a good example of how long cordwood will last in the south. Cordwood in Florida Cookie House 1930s.jpgWilburton, Oklahoma is so hot in the summer, that it’s hard to do heavy physical labor in the heat of the noon day sun.   This was built by a veteran on a military reserve and sold quickly, when he moved to Hawaii to be with his grandchildren.  It is made of Eastern Red Cedar.  Alan & Rebecca 8 SE Oklahama with logo.jpgSuffice it is to say that if a rot resistant wood is used, along with a slow setting mortar, within a post and beam framework, cordwood can be successfully built in many climates.

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 pixelsReaders 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 Workshop DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015, Cordwood House Plans & Cordwood Shed Plans are the newest publications available from their ever expanding online cordwood bookstore.”  www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Cordwood Workshop DVD 3

Click on the picture to access the ordering information.  The DVD is an incredible bargain at $25.

Alaska: The Last Frontier Cordwood Cabin

Shane & Kelli Kilcher of the Discovery series Alaska: The Last Frontier have built a beautiful cordwood cabin on their land near Homer, Alaska.  The Discovery Channel has been documenting their journey.  Shane & Kelli bought my book (Cordwood Construction Best Practices) and stayed in contact via email and text throughout the building process.  We answered questions as they were building on site. Here are a few photos they sent of their progress.  That’s the film crew in the background.

Shane and Kelli Kilcher with logo cropped

Kelli recently wrote on her Facebook page  “This guy (Richard Flatau) literally wrote the book on cordwood building and has been a great help with all our questions!”  They also purchased the Cordwood Workshop DVD, which is a great way to prepare for building your first walls.

Shane and Kelli Kilcher 6

It was a pleasure to help them navigate all the many decisions and details that can bog a natural builder down.  They were rushing to beat the winter weather that inevitably comes to Homer, Alaska.

Shane & Kelly Kilcher cordwood in Homer Alaska3 with logo

They used 24″ peeled, dried pine logs and a traditional cordwood mortar mix with plenty of sawdust, perlite and sand.

Shane broke a vertebrae in his back in a fall recently.  He assures me that he is on the mend, can still walk, but is limited to lifting.   There have been hundreds of people who have offered their good thoughts and support to the family.  We are hoping that he will make a full recovery.

Alaska: The Last Frontier is seen on the Discovery Channel and this production is in its 7th season.  The singer Jewel is part of the family and brings her son Kase to visit and learn survival and homesteading skills.

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 instruction for thousands of cordwood builders.  Cordwood Workshop Video (2017),  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (2017) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Here is a picture of the Cordwood Workshop DVD cover, featuring the best practices Cordwood Education Center.

Cordwood Workshop DVD 3.jpg

 

For more information on Cordwood Construction, click on the picture or visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   Below is the 30 item DVD menu. 

DVD Menu 1A 400 pixels

DVD menu 2A 400 pixels.jpg

Round & Rectangle Cordwood: Best of both worlds

Who doesn’t love round?  Everyone right.  But there comes a time when folks who have been living in round (or nearly round) start to complain about the idiosyncrasies. Just recently a friend who lives in one of the most beautiful 16 sided cordwood homes ever, said to me.  “Rich, if I had it to do over, I would build a rectangle.  Every time I have to make a cut for roofing, flooring, cabinetry it has to be 11 degrees.   It takes forever to do the work.”

However, combining round and rectangle cordwood styles provides the best of both worlds.

Don Gerdes Reedsburg3.jpg

Don Gerdes an engineer from Reedsburg, Wisconsin built a post framed “curved front” attached to a rectangle.  Here are some pictures of his beautiful creation.

Sierra Exif JPEG

Cathy Hubbart and Don Gerdes in 2006.

Don Gerdes Reedsburg2The interior shows off Don’s Brilliant Bottles invention (which light up at night) and its curved walls.

Don Gerdes Reedsburg10.jpg

Brilliant bottles are made ahead of time as a single unit to mortar into the wall.  They boast a changeable LED light in the middle.

Don Gerdes Reedsburg11.jpgPlowing snow is easier with a straight line.Don Gerdes Reedsburg13.jpg

The workshop garage doors make it easily accessible.

Don Gerdes Reedsburg5.jpg

Hanging cabinets on straight walls is a breeze.

Don Gerdes Reedsburg4.jpg

From curved to rectangle is a smooth transition.

Rairlee and James Frame it firstOctagon with a “square” back room.  Rainless’ B and B in the Adirondacks.

Sebastien Demers 10Post framed, curved front with a rectangle on the back, a masonry heater and two stories high by Sebastien Demers. Sebastien Demers 12 build a modelA 3D model with a round front and   a rectangle on the backside by Sebastien Demers of Quebec.

Round, Rectangle, Octagon, or 16 sided?

When deciding which style of cordwood to build it is of the utmost importance to know that every cordwood author recommends building within a post framework.  The reasons are very simple:  1.  The roof can be built before the cordwood is finished.  2.  With the roof on, the materials stay dry and so do the builders.  3.  The cordwood wall building can be completed in manageable sections.  4.  You can cover the walls that remain unfinished and continue interior work. 5.  It makes the building inspector very happy.

Even if one decides to “go round,” a framework can be hidden in the middle of the wall using wraparound cordwood. Why would anyone build a hidden framework within the structure?  To get code approval, to make certain the roof is going to be properly supported and to allow for the use of  a “slower setting mortar” which reduces mortar cracking and log loosening.

16 sided cordwood creates a large number of 11 degree cuts:   The roof sheeting, the roofing material (metal or shingles) and the many valleys that accompany 16 sides.  Then the interior ceiling the interior flooring and the interior cabinetry all require angle cuts.  The cordwood itself will end up having small, tight mortar joints on the inside and larger ones on the outside.

If you decide to build an 8 sided octagon, keep in mind that you will need to re-engineer the structural parts (think posts and rafters) if you want to go larger than 300 sq. ft.  One way to get the curved and the straight to work together is to build a half round, half rectangle home.  

Bottom line, the choice is yours.  If you plan to build 16-sided cordwood, you can do yourself a favor by checking out the successful 17 page building permit application for a 16 sided cordwood home in SE Minnesota.  The approved permit is, in its entirety, in the book Cordwood and the Code: A Building Permit Guide.   It is meant to be copied and pasted and modified for your local building codes.  BN new 2 with logo.jpgThis beautiful round cordwood guest cottage,  by Bruce Kilgore and Nancy Dow has a post and beam framework hidden in the middle  to support the roof. BN new wraparounds with logo.jpg

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 pixelsReaders 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 Workshop Vide,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their ever expanding 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 Tool Shed w/Pitchfork

Greg Zahn wanted to honor his grandfather’s woodworking legacy by building a cordwood tool shed in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.  He asked if Cordwood Construction Resources LLC  would teach an onsite workshop and we jumped at the chance.  Photos & video below.  Greg Zahn 4

Large doors will accommodate any size project.  Greg Zahn 6Greg Zahn 1Note the pitchfork and saw embedded in the mortar.Greg Zahn 8Looking toward the lake.  Nice view!Greg Zahn 7

Beautiful recycled glass bottles make for a colorful glass display.  Note that some of the colored bottles are placed on the outside.    Greg Zahn 5Greg Zahn 2A tools.jpg

Tools of all shapes and sizes were embedded into the walls of the aptly named Cordwood Tool Shed.

Greg Zahn 3

A large window will grace this side of the shed.

Greg Zahn Shed 15

Greg is an architect by profession and so his excellent drawing would naturally reflect his prolific skill set.

Manitowoc 3.jpgFolks attended from all over the country, but the majority were cheeseheads (aka Wisconsinites).  Manitowoc 7.jpgSmiles, laughter and learning were the order of the day.  Manitowoc 12Manitowoc 13

Manitowoc 4Manitowoc 5Manitowoc 1.jpgAs you can see, a good time was had by all.

Videos from the workshop (link below).  Special thanks to Anna Trzyna of http://www.getinkahoots.com, who was incredibly helpful in getting the videos she took on my Youtube site.  Thank you Anna!    https://www.youtube.com/cordwoodconstruct 

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 Workshop Video (DVD) 2017,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices 2017 (print & ebook), Cordwood House Plans, Cordwood Shed Plans and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Cordwood Workshop DVD 3

 

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

 

Cordwood & the Stone Circle

Where can you find three cordwood buildings, a Yurt, a Straw-Clay Cottage, a Tepee, a sauna, the largest Megalithic Stone Circle in the USA (and is open to the public)?   Kinstone Circle near Fountain City, Wisconsin, is where.   Kristine Beck, the owner and inspiration for the 36 acre site, has created a place for people to refresh, renew and revitalize.  www.kinstonecircle.com 

For your viewing please here are some photos of this amazing place.The sun has created an angel of light on the finial of the Kinstone Chapel  thatched, cordwood chapel is a beauty.jpgThe 12 sided cordwood chapel with thatched roof.KInstone Rick Swanson 1The Dragon’s Keep with living room.   Most excellent photos are courtesy of Rick Swanson.  http://www.foxswanarts.comKInstone Rick Swanson 2An entrance center with a Star Wall. KInstone Rick Swanson 3Looking to the every changing horizon.Kinstone chapel interior moon and sun wall1a with logo.jpgThe chapel has nature motifs from St. Francis of Assisi’s poem The Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon.  The yellow orb is Brother Sun.  Stone circle with Kinstone chapel in the background low rez.jpgThe stone circle is the largest in the USA.    Visit www.kinstonecircle.com for more information, about classes, natural building and other offers.The reflection pool flows to the Kinstone Chapel.jpgThe reflecting pool gives one a chance to sit and refresh. Kinstone sauna 2 with logo interior.jpg

The sauna is inviting and cozy.

Kinstone sauna 1 with logo.jpgThe exterior is 12′ x 16′ and makes a nice footprint for a tiny cabin.

KInstone Straw clay cottage.jpgThe straw-clay cottage sits on a pier foundation and has three coats of earthen plaster.  It has honey bee motifs in the walls. Kinstone Dragons Keep 3The scales of the dragon in the Dragon’s Keep are apparent and the trapezoid window shows her wing.

Kinstone 49The large dragon (there are 24 in all) shows off his green eye.  Kinstone 51The 10 point “shed” provides a nice coat hanger for weary travelers.

Kinstone Dragon 3A

The bottle brick pattern was created using a cardboard template before any bottles were added.

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

The Cordwood Workshop Video label. DVD label cover yellow

The 30 menu items. DVD Menu 1

DVD menu 2

The Drone View is especially spectacular!

 

 

Roofs 4 Cordwood Homes

When planning your natural home, the roof becomes a very important part of your design.  From looking good, to insulating, to adding extra space, to protecting your walls, a good roof design is an essential part of every home.

Here are a few ideas “topping off ideas” to consider for your cordwood construction dream home design.Roof Gormely Minnesota building the roofA roundwood, log cabin style roof for the second floor. Roof king post truss.jpg

A simple “king post truss” can be handmade and spans a maximum of 16 feet.

Jessi hoy peterson9 living roof with logoA living roof needs a sturdy framework, proper waterproofing protection and good drainage.   The rule of thumb with living roofs is to build them like a fine cabinet maker. Ernie Slatter  roof framing.jpgThe angle cuts for a round living roof can be complicated for a beginner.

 

Cordwood workshop sauna 6.jpgA simple shed roof is very easy to build.Issac Haumesser MO larger pixel with logo

Issac built his own trusses and then cut his own dragon skin shakes by hand.Roof separate from structure.jpgThis roof is separate from the building structure.Kinstone 20 Tension ring and circular metal roof bracket makes for a strong system.jpg

A ring collar and tensioner helps to keep the poles in good alignment.

Truss room in the attic

This truss room in the attic adds an extra 560 sq. ft. of living space on top of our cordwood home. Flatau's Chateau winter with logo.jpg

This is how it looks from the outside, somewhat of a Swiss Chalet style. The pitch is 8/12.

Roof common gable or common rafter roof.jpg

A common rafter takes longer to install than a truss roof.

Reciprocal roof with cordwood and logoReciprocal roofs are beautiful, but do not provide adequate insulation in cold climates, but they sure do look good!Peter Turkow d Waterport NY with logoPeter Turkow’s childhood cordwood home.  Known as “The House with the Hat.”

These photos are meant to stimulate your planning juices.  This is certainly not a comprehensive treatise on how to build a roof, but rather a starting point from which to begin.  You will need to research the cost, buildability and “look” of the roof you choose for your dwelling.  Good fortune!

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

This is the Cordwood Workshop Video label. DVD label cover yellow

These are the 30 menu sections from the Video.DVD Menu 1

DVD menu 2

 

 

Cordwood in Oregon

Don Noe built two beautiful cordwood structures in Oregon. His hybrid shed with the cordwood wall was built with 90 percent construction scrap. It was  timber framed with timbers from large machine crates. The logs  came from an arborist who was planning to use them for firewood, the stone, windows and wood siding were also recycled. Don Noe's Cordwood shed in Oregon 2The building below is a worm farm. Look at these magnificent door hinges and the Western Red Cedar doors.  The bottle brick and cordwood masonry is also very well placed. Don Noe's Cordwood shed in Oregon 1 The shed with the cord wood wall was built with 90 percent construction scrap  timber framed with timbers from large machine crates. The logs  fromarboristDon states, “The doors (above) with the limb hinges are for worm bins located on Portland Community College Campus.”

More pictures of the hybrid cordwood work shed under construction.
Don Noe's Cordwood shed in Oregon 3Below if another set of massive hinges, a beautifully decorated celtic knot timber and excellent use of a skull and antler.   The different dimensions of rock stem wall are pleasing to the eye.Don Noe's Cordwood shed in Oregon 4All I can say is nice work Don!Don Noe's Cordwood shed in Oregon 5  www.offgridquest.com slash read-more slash 19-james-noe-s-3500-cordwood-shed-is-breathtaking

Check out the carving on the vertical timber!  Don certainly knows how to reuse, recycle and make beautiful.

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 Workshop DVD,  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Cordwood Workshop DVD 3

 

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