Tag Archives: natural home

Tiny Cordwood Garden Cottage in England

We’ve never built anything before but we’re very pleased with how it’s turned out.” Jan and Baz Whitlock sent pictures of their cordwood garden cottage in Bristol, England.  They used the ebook Cordwood Construction Best Practices as their go-to source/guide.  Jan & Baz write: “Here are some pics of a small cordwood build we’ve nearly finished it in the middle of our garden in the UK.Jan and Baz Whitlock UK 3“It’s around 12 feet square, we used lime mortar, the wood is softwood-larch and pine. It’s in the garden between 2 areas. Front door to enter, back to get to next bit (side to BBQ area). I haven’t totalled the cost-the cordwood was free, mortar not much, but the post and beam frame and roof were costly… could have been done with much smaller beams etc – we just went for chunky so it would last.”Jan and Baz Whitlock UK 7“We still have to render the blocks once we get a bit of decent weather. We are planning to insulate in between the beams, as we have found it retains heat well. We have electric and a radiator, so it could be used as an extra room to sleep in when the family all descend on us.”Jan and Baz Whitlock UK 5It is a lovely place to sit, we have great views & it’s a perfect spot to watch the sunset.Jan and Baz Whitlock UK 4“We just used the lime mortar-there’s a lot of old stone buildings around us with thick walls, all done with lime mortar and they’re still standing and cool in the summer so we figured it would be fine.”Jan and Baz Whitlock UK 6“We cut and dried the wood in our polytunnel for around a year, and dipped each log in a borax solution before using. The mortar was easier, as we have a nearby supplier of lime mortar, which we mixed using your instructions for lime putty mortar. We used what they call a unhaired course mix and added a bit of argical as it’s pretty damp in Cornwall. We mixed it in a cement mixer a batch at a time and after a while learnt how much wall we could do per bucket of mortar.

 We went back over the lime putty with disposable foam paint brushes rinsed in a bucket of water, which worked well.   We nailed strips of wood down the door and window posts with nails protruding to anchor the mortar, and used extruded foam where the mortar met the beams (again as you suggested-thank you).

Jan and Baz Whitlock UK 1It was really good to have a range of shapes and sizes for filling awkward gaps but I often wanted little triangular ones and wood does not split into 4 evenly. (We ended up with a nice lot of kindling!) I would advise anyone attempting a build with a partner to be sure they have a good relationship, as we had quite a few heated ‘discussions’ during the process (but were always ready to tackle it again the next day)!

We found your book and advice invaluable and we thank you for taking the time to post a lot of useful information online.

Jan and Baz Whitlock UK 2We could only get green or clear bottles, so after cutting I painted the inside end with glass paint that is set by putting in an oven-a few didn’t take well, but the majority did and it’s nice to have some different colour in there.

My advice would be, as yours is, to do a practice wall. We didn’t, as we didn’t have much space to do one and the first bit we did looked fine,until we stood back and realised the logs were too far apart and too formal (in neat rows); so we took it all down and started again. We improved, obviously as we did more, and got much quicker and our final wall (the one with no doors or windows) is much neater than our first one.

Jan and Baz Whitlock UK 8.JPGBaz writes, “Another pic of the inside…using an old sanding disc, I used friction to “scorch” the wood to darken and bring out the richness in the grain and also to protect the cordwood...this part of the UK it’s very damp so charing the ends of posts etc without using chemicals is not uncommon. We will see how that turns out in years to come… for fun, under the window is “hidden” a sailing ship for our gran kids to find,on other walls there are a clown and a cat…skirting boards are nearly finished and the white double doors are going back to wood…it’s been fun and thanks for the positive feedback…ocean apart, but same ideas …happy builds, Matey’s…”

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 DVD will show you how to build a best practices cordwood home.

Cordwood Workshop DVD 3

The 30 detailed menu items from the Cordwood Workshop DVD.

DVD Menu 1

DVD menu 2Thank you for your kind attention to Cordwood Construction.   If you would like more information, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org

Or email richardflatau@gmail.com 

 

 

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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 

 

 

Cordwood to the Nth Degree: Nerdwood

The Nerdwood.com website introduction reads:  “It’s not what you buy, it’s what you build.”  This holds true for every part of Greg & Clare’s cordwood journey.  They built a two storey, passive solar designed, double wall, lime putty mortar, foam insulation, radiant in floor heat, post and beam framed cordwood home. They have beautiful gardens, thoughtful homestead design and much more.  Proper pre-planning using good building practices are evident in this U.P. masterpiece.Nerdwood.com 5(Above)  Cedar, lime putty and glass bottles create a beautiful wall.

(Below)  The home looks out onto a picturesque Michigan field and forest.Nerdwood.com 4Inside is more forest (note the birch log) and a gorgeous masonry heater. Nerdwood.com 2The main floor features an acid-etched floor, attractive random pattern cordwood and deep, plant-worthy window sills. Nerdwood.com 1Unique and interesting wall accoutrements.Nerdwood large mortar joints can be handled with rocks and such nerdwood.jpgGreg and Clare nerdwood.com 2

Greg & Clare taught workshops at the nearby wood drying kiln/greenhouse.

Nerdwood Window box attached to top plate small pixelsUsing masons line to keep the walls and windows level and plumb.

You should visit their website for further details, this post is simply meant as an introduction to  www.nerdwood.com Nerdwood.com 6Their comment as they installed this solar panel array was “Sorry Coal!”   Lots of subtle wit and wisdom on the always entertaining Nerdwood site.

In addition to being a fabulous gardener, Clare has a mixed media art studio where she designs all manner of beautiful things.  Looking for that perfect, “no one else has” gift?  This site is worth a look-see.

Nerdwood.com 8.png   www.clarerosenstudio.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 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 label.

Cordwood Workshop DVD 3

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

DVD Menu 1

DVD menu 2

 

 

 

 

 

How to make a Cordwood wall look good

Some folks who build with cordwood are disappointed with the resulting “look” of their labor. In order to make a cordwood wall look good, it is imperative to learn how to make a random pattern.  While this may seem contradictory (we should probably say random no-pattern) it is important to place different size and shape pieces into the wall.  If you think of your logs as Goldilocks thought of her porridge (too cold, too hot, just right) but instead you piled your logs into stacks of small, medium and large pieces and you took a piece from each pile along each wall, you would end up with a random pattern.

Cordwood for Sale Comox BC9Western Red Cedar in a 30 year old cordwood home in British Columbia.  The mortar joints are approximately one inch and the cordwood has all been split into unique and interesting shapes. Nerdwood.com 5(Above) lots of well placed cordwood in a wall at Greg and Clare’s.  Random Pattern 1 using a round with the ears cut off.jpgAbove is a fine example of various shapes embedded in a mortar matrix. Ned Thilo mason from PA fire clay, lime, sand2Ned Thilo used a brick framework with a random display in the center.  He also used an off center crescent moon motif to create a work of art.

Kenai Chelsea 2As did Chelsea and Mark with their Alaskan sauna. Peter Debenham & Ann Lundquist 7 random pattern

Peter Debenham and Ann Linquist made beautiful cordwood music in Colorado. Peter Debenham 2Eric and Beth used rocks, bottles and a lightning bolt. Eric & Beth 29 pac man lightning bolt with logo.jpgHere deer antlers, bottles and marbles are used.   Random pattern Kinstone 2

Kimanna used bottles, logs and mermaids to make her memorable Mermaid Cottage in Colorado.

KimAnna mermaid cottage wall 2 with logo.jpgRandom pattern Kinstone workshop 2017BMaranda is rightly proud of the work she (and others) did on the star wall at Kinstone.

8. random pattern.jpgA sauna in Poland benefited from a very large, undulating piece of log and a red earthen mortar.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARounds and splits with 8 inch cordwood. jhdean Homer Alaska yak barn 4 homer alaska with logos

Sierra Exif JPEGPaying attention to and having many different sizes and shapes is incredibly helpful in creating your own piece of wall art.  This process starts when you are splitting and stacking your wood for drying.

(Below) This is what we are trying to avoid.  The Polka Dot wall effect. Polka dot wall 2

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 label.

Cordwood Workshop DVD 3

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

DVD Menu 1

DVD menu 2

 

 

 

Cordwood on a Basement is Off Grid

A beautiful cordwood cabin done the “right way” using Best Practices. The owner’s were meticulous and made sure every part of the cabin was finished properly.  The full walk-out basement required extra support.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe cabin rests in the middle of 320 acres of hardwood and conifer forest.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis 28′ x 36′ cordwood cabin was built on a full basement.  The engineer made certain the foundation was able to handle the significant weight of a 16″ cordwood wall.  An 8′ high cordwood wall weighs 500 to 700 pounds per lineal foot.  So every four feet you have a ton of weight sitting on your foundation.  Sierra Exif JPEGNOTE: People have been asking about the plans for Cordwood on a Basement. This cabin’s basement specs are featured in a comprehensive article in the Cordwood Conference Papers 2005 available for $10 at the Online Cordwood BookstoreOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe cordwood posts are red pine & cedar and the cordwood infill is pine, cedar  and aspen.  The basement was “capped” with a floor and the framework was added to the wooden sub-floor. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABoo Boo the bear cub walks across the central rafter log. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe heavy timber framing makes for a very attractive cabin.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe sliding glass doors are attached to a large deck which overlooks a small spring fed pond. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A view from the loft. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe cabin boasts four bedrooms and a loft sleeping quarters. It also has an indoor sauna and an off grid system.

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 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

 

 

Largest Cordwood Building in the World

The 75 foot long Quetzal Cordwood Classroom is located in the rain forest near Coban, Guatemala.  Built by the Community Cloud Forest Conservation it is a long curved structure that resembles the tail feathers of the Quetzal (the national bird).

CCFC 2017F.jpgThese buildings house classrooms, kitchens and dormitories that serve the middle school girls from the area. The girls are able to continue their education and learn skills that are income producing.  Many volunteers and organizations have helped in the support and construction of this wonderful community.  Rob & Tara Cahill are the Directors.CCFC 2017BThe shingles are recycled tires and are donated by a Canadian shingle company.  They are guaranteed to last for 100 years.  Comforting thought in the rain forest!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Quetzal’s have high stone foundations to funnel the ever present rainwater away from the buildings.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The cafeteria is bright and colorful.

CCFC squash and cordwood Guatemala.jpgThe community grows traditional fruits and vegetables (local squash is pictured above) and has an industrial kitchen to make jams, jellies and salsas to sell on the world market.CCFC 2017DThe beautiful windows are handmade by local artisans.CCFC 3 July 2017.jpgStudents learn valuable skills that help them with high school and employability.

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The Quetzal is the national bird of Guatemala.   The tail feathers of the Quetzal are the inspiration for the buildings. CCFC 38 Elvira.jpgElvira, a graduate of the Cloud Forest Conservatory, is teaching plant identification and their uses to a group of visiting students.   There is also an ornithology program run by Cornell University.   Many unique species of birds and plants are to be found in the adjacent rain forest.

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The architect of the curved window and his drawing. CCFC 1QYoung students were taught masonry skills to erect the buildings. CCFC 1A with logoThe front porch is a valuable and beautiful teaching space.CCFC cleaning the cordwood before mortaring 1 with logoCleaning logs for the cordwood infill.

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Laying the logs in mortar with an insulation cavity filled with sawdust.

(Below) River stones were used for the shower rooms and the entrance ways.

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The building is framed with local, non-native, invasive eucalyptus and the cordwood infill is local pine.

CCFC 24 cleaning the walls in sequence

The local population provided the labor and were paid a fair wage for their work.

CCFC rebar for seismic activity

Should you wish to contribute, visit, work or learn more about the Community Cloud Forest Conservation please contact Rob & Tara Cahill.    rtcahill@gmail.com    www.cloudforestconservation.org    http://cloudforestconservation.org/our-work/walc/

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The Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 has a wonderful article about the Quetzal Cordwood Classroom. 

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Hanging cabinets on straight walls is a breeze.

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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

Cordwood Workshop DVD 3 small pixels A picture 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.

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A large window will grace this side of the shed.

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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

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

 

Cordwood Carriage House

Want to have your cordwood cake and eat it too?  Building a cordwood garage with living quarters is a excellent way to practice your cordwood technique & tuckpointing.   In addition it provides a place to lay your weary head after a hard days work.Sierra Exif JPEGTwo and a half card cordwood garage with living quarters upstaris MinnesotaThe garage (aka Carriage House) has a room-in-the-attic truss.  It allows for a 400 sq. ft. living space in the attic.  Water was plumbed into the upstairs, as well as electricity.  The roof pitch is 8/12. Flatau Minnesota carriage house with logoThe stackwall corner posts are built at the same time as the post and beam framework.  Then the roof is applied and braced.  Finally the cordwood infill.  Stackwall corner as post in Minnesota with logo.jpgThe stackwall corners are a old fashioned way to build with cordwood, but the owner learned a new way to make them so they functioned as a post and allowed the roof to be put on ahead of time.  MN stackwall corner with double post framework.jpgThis is the lake home that was built next to the Carriage House in central Minnesota. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe building inspector/code official requested that pressure treated lumber be used on the exterior framing.  150 year old barn timbers from Janesville, Wisconsin were used for the interior. Dregnes woodstoveAn enamel Vermont Casting wood stove provides heat.  (Below)Another look at the framing, the timbers and the stackwall corners.   The lake is in the background. Sierra Exif JPEGHolding up the roof

This wood carving would have made a nice corner post, but it would have been very difficult to tuck point.

Below are some current photos of the Carriage House.Julie dale MN 1Julie dale MN 2Julie dale MN 3Julie dale MN 5(Below) Matt & Carrie built a similar room-in-the-attic two and a half car garage in Wisconsin.  They are very pleased with the upstairs living space.  Carrie is an architect, so she had a leg up with exterior and interior design.  Carrie and Matt Steiger 3 with logoCarrie and Matt Steiger 4 with logo

Nicely designed tiny interior space. Carrie and Matt Steiger 1 with logoShould 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

DVDandPrint

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