Tag Archives: sustainable

Yooper Cordwood Sauna

Yoopers & Finns love a good sauna!  Here are photos and descriptions about the cordwood sauna that Craig Williams and Kathy Binoniemi built in Negaunee, Michigan in 2016.  Fantastic work using best practices with cordwood.  Negaunee is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, near the mighty Gitche Gumee (Lake Superior).  It is a land of good, hearty folks, known affectionately as Yoopers. Kathy and Craig UP sauna 1It all started with a floating concrete slab with 12” footings, which was poured on May 19th of 2016.  The outer sauna dimensions are 12’ X 12’ with 2’ eaves.Kathy and Craig UP sauna 2The sauna was built with 4” X 4” cedar post framing and lap joints.  It was added to the side of the garage to make a covered walkway.Kathy and Craig UP sauna 10The cedar cordwood was cut to 8-9” and then, sanded.Kathy and Craig UP sauna 4

Kathy and Craig UP sauna 3Mortar, insulation, mortar.  There are many different mortar mixes to use with cordwood. Kathy and Craig UP sauna 11Live edge siding and cordwood look very handsome together. Kathy and Craig UP sauna 12Kathy did some wood burning on the log end in the middle.  Craig calls it “The Eagle has landed.”  Very nice! Kathy and Craig UP sauna 19A bit of bottle brick color for the sauna takers.   In the picture below, note the square blocks above the window. Kathy and Craig UP sauna 13Kathy and Craig UP sauna 14Note the scaffolding with ladders and the mortar box resting on a milk crate.  Good ideas!  The large overhangs protect the cordwood infill. Kathy and Craig UP sauna 15One of the great advantages of a post and beam framework, with roof attached is that you can set your cordwood in between the posts and let it get a few extra days of drying before it becomes part of your wall.  The drier the cordwood the better the result. Kathy and Craig UP sauna 16Kathy and Craig UP sauna 8The wood sauna stove was made out of 3/8” steel plate. It was custom made by Kathy and her brother Todd Binoniemi.  The finished dimensions: 19” wide, 21” long & 24” high and has an outside feed.Kathy and Craig UP sauna 6The metal roof helps to shed the heavy snows in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Kathy and Craig UP sauna 9The changing room measures 5’ X 10’ (approx.) and the sauna room 6’ X 10’ (approx.).  It took us a little over 4 months to complete.Kathy and Craig UP sauna 5The window frames, doors (cedar), and benches (poplar) were all made by Craig & Kathy.

Thank you Kathy & Craig for sharing your building adventure.  Very impressive!   The sauna is fired up every Sunday for a good body & soul cleansing.   If you have questions please contact them at:    crwilliams5053@sbcglobal.net

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  

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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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Cordwood plays matchmaker

“Matchmaker, matchmaker make me a match, find me a catch, catch me a catch…”  That is precisely what is going on with Clarke Snell’s hybrid cottage.  One wall is cordwood, one wall cob, one strawbale and one earthen plaster, topped off with a living roof.

Clarke Snell small pixel with logo.jpgThe cob wall and living roof (top). The cordwood and strawbale wall (bottom).Clarke Snell #2a small pixel with logo

Clarke snell cob and cordwood with logo.jpgCordwood and cob play very well together.

So do strawbale (balewall) and cordwood (in this instance in Manitoba, Canada, the cordwood is double wall.IMG_4121

This how the strawbale and cordwood look when they meet in the corner of the room.

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This is cordwood in the kitchen in the lovely Cannon home in Antelope Valley, Manitoba, Canada.

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Sigi Koko has added a cordwood green house/sunroom in a strawbale and earthen plaster home in West Virginia. Sigi Koko Cordwood Greenhouse solar room2

Below is a cob and bottle wall greenhouse with excellent framing.

Greenhouse from Sigi www.dayonedesign.org

Windows and wooden framing make for astounding light and views.

FB page of Sigi Koko house in Guatemala from Green Renaussabce

Cordwood and bottle bricks brighten up the walls.

Sigi Koko Cordwood Greenhouse solar room

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

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

Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixels

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

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

DVD label cover yellow

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

Cordwood Greenhouse in Montana

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

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

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

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

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

DVDandPrint

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

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

 

Cordwood Warming Shelter

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

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

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

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

For planning, we started with an architectural drawing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The sawdust mixed with lime provides a thermal break.

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

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Building the Big Dipper wall with seventeen volunteers.

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

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

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

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The students celebrate!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Practices used in this building.

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

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

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

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

Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixels

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

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

DVD label cover yellow

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

Tiny Cordwood Cabin in Colorado

Peter Debenham and Ann Linquist built a lovely tiny cordwood cabin in Colorado. Their original practice building was a wood shed, but this is going to be a multi-use cabin. They are 10 miles from Estes Park in Drake, Colorado.  peter-debenham-ann-lundquist-5This is a 15′ x 8′ post and beam tiny home, cabin, shelter, shop, studio, etc.  120 sq. ft. with 10 inch cordwood infill. peter-debenham-ann-lundquist-1The generous use of bottles has made it even more attractive (just like the handsome couple).  The bottles are colored both inside and out (not clear on the outside). peter-debenham-ann-lundquist-2The wood is “pine beetle killed” lodgepole pine.  If you’ve been to the west you will see this is a great use of an insect destroyed resource. peter-debenham-ann-lundquist-6The Tiny Cottage nestles nicely into the mountains, forest and streams.  It is what I feel Frank Lloyd Wright would call Organic Architecture. peter-debenham-ann-lundquist-3Ann proudly displays her tuckpointing skills. Notice (again) that the bottle bricks are colored on both sides. peter-debenham-ann-lundquist-8Peter stands on top of the outstanding framework happily enjoying the sturdiness and a refreshing breeze. . peter-debenham-ann-lundquist-7Under construction.  Note the well placed log ends, the clean mortar joints and the colored bottles.  The roof is a living roof. peter-debenham-ann-lundquist-4The Grade Beam is such a good way to save on material cost (both excavation and concrete).  A Rubble Trench can be used if you are worried about heaving, but this is mostly a sandy subsoil.

Here is the wood shed and “come along” that started it all.peter-debenham-3peter-debenham-2peter-debenham-1

This is the practice building that endowed Peter and Ann with manifest confidence to tackle the Tiny Cordwood Cabin.

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

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Here is a picture of the DVD label on the best selling Cordwood Construction video.  It has been getting rave reviews for its incredible detail, clear instruction and how it breaks the cordwood tasks into manageable sections.  There are 30 menu items from foundation, framing, electrical, plumbing, wall building, materials, special effects, bottle bricks, best practices, drone views of outstanding cordwood and so much more. Order yours today.

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

 

Cordwood B & B in the Adirondacks

Rarilee & James Conway built this beautiful airbnb cordwood Bed and Breakfast in the Adirondacks of upstate New York near Whiteface Mountain.  Rarilee used the Stoneview style project as a way to provide extra income for the family and involve them in a meaningful project.airbnb-rarilee-conway-adirondacks-cordwood-1 Rairlee says: “We built this unique cabin by hand using locally sourced eco-friendly materials. 22′ diameter octagon w/ 8′ x 8′ bathroom (tiled shower & compost toilet). Timber frame structure, cordwood walls & living roof. Bottle logs add color & creativity. Full kitchen, charcoal grill & fire pit. Linens provided. Comfortably sleeps up to 3 w/ queen memory foam mattress & single futon. Shed is available for ski/bike storage. Easy, close access to ski, fish, hike & bike. You can hear wolves howl too!”rairlee-and-james-frame-it-first-4-copyInside it’s cozy, warm and relaxing. rairlee-and-james-frame-it-first-5-copyOne of the reviews from someone who stayed at the cottage.  “The Adirondack Cordwood Cabin is a little slice of hand-crafted, charming, mountain paradise. The cordwood construction with colored glass highlights and gorgeous exposed beam ceiling make this space feel magical and timeless. One may be struck by the thought of being in some Tolkien world as they gaze out at deer nosing at the ground amongst the pines all around and feel at peace in this little hobbit abode. There’s also all the modern comforts one could want for a perfect couples getaway. Gas woodstove, which keeps the place nice and cozy, superbly comfortable bed, well appointed kitchen suitable for any meal preparation one could imagine, reliable wi-fi, composting toilet (super cool), stereo, and lots of serenity. The wildlife refuge across the street is a really nice perk, and the cabin is situated well within driving distance of the high peaks and lake placid. Will likely be visiting again.”rairlee-and-james-frame-it-firstThe framework is post and beam with a center bearing post. rairlee-and-james-frame-it-first-3-copy

It’s also beautiful and attractive during the summer months.

Want to stay?  

Contact Information:   Rarilee Conway   Email: conway12@charter.net

Web Site: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4872916

Phone Number: 518-524-0493    Address: PO Box 57, Wilmington, NY 12997

Rarilee also wrote a wonderful article in the Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 about her project and provides a detailed materials list in her essay Adirondack Cordwood Cabin.  The Papers are available at the Online Cordwood Bookstore. 

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

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

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

DVDandPrint

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

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

Cordwood in Oklahoma is OK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

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

DVDandPrint

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

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

Tiny Cordwood home in Nova Scotia

Michael Fuller is in the process of building a tiny cordwood home in Nova Scotia, Canada.  He has incorporated delightful twists and turns to make his design elegant and intriguing.

michael-fuller-nova-scotia-flying-art-cordwood-cabinThe large gable end overhangs add protection from the prevailing wind and rain.michael-fuller-west_wall_with_stack-nova-scotiaThe stone foundation provides protection from snow, rain and moisture.michael-fuller-flying-art-stackwall_front

The “swoosh” in the walls gives the feeling of a wave cresting and rolling into shore.

michael-fuller-flyingartseasidehighspeed-com-nova-scotia-small-pixelsThe curved porch post, the hand-made door, the decoratively cut fascia and the attentive canine,  all give a homey feel to this delightful little cottage.  Coming in at less than 500 square feet, it has all the rubrics for an attractive, sturdy tiny home.

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

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

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

DVDandPrint

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

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

Cordwood Sauna: Medicine Wheel & Grade Beam

Dan & Kristen wanted a sauna on their 80 wooded acres in northern Wisconsin.  They had previously hosted a very successful workshop at the 2005 Cordwood Conference which resulted in the construction of a beautiful cordwood maple syrup shed.  novitch-shed-31

They wanted to have their teenage sons participate in the process, they decided on a grade beam  for economy and ease of building.Novitch sauna 2A grade beam is simply a shallow, perimeter poured slab which rests on a rubble trench foundation.  In the trades it is called a Frost Protected Shallow Foundation (FPSF) and is insulated on the bottom and sides. Novitch sauna 1The posts are anchored to the grade beam using angle iron and wedge anchors or anchor bolts.   All the posts were cut at a local sawmill. Novitch 19It is important to cross brace the framework.  The roof was built before the cordwood infill commenced. Novitch workshop 18Before the workshop portions of the walls built with the family for practice. Novitch workshop 20

On the top right hand side an “exploded log” has been split and then placed in the mortar matrix to regain its round shape.  This is done to eliminate log shrinkage. Novitch workshop 21We had an August workshop with a delightful and studious group of cordwooders from all over the country.  Novitch workshop 23A cardboard template for bottle end designs works very well.Novitch workshop 24The finished Ojibwe-inspired Medicine Wheel. novitch-shed-31

The Novitch’s are very happy with their new sauna!novitch-cordwood-finished-1-with-logonovitch-cordwood-finished-2-jpg-with-logoA butterfly checks it out!novitch-cordwood-finished-3-with-logonovitch-cordwood-finished-4-with-logonovitch-cordwood-finished-5-with-logoExploded large pieces look very good in a wall. novitch-cordwood-finished-6-with-logonovitch-cordwood-finished-7-jpg-with-logonovitch-cordwood-finished-8-with-logo

Cordwood Lessons by Dan Novitch

Cordwood Points gleaned from two cordwood projects: a cordwood pole shed built on a ladder pad foundation and a post-and-beam framed cordwood sauna built on a grade beam/ring beam foundation) completed 11 years apart:

* Tuck pointing – we used table knives to tuck point the mortar on our first building and tea spoons followed by a wet paint brush on the second building.  The spoon, brush technique was quicker and resulted in a smoother finish.

* First building used treated lumber for the frame of the ladder pad and the poles.  Second building used posts and beams from trees cut on site and milled on site with portable bandsaw mill.  Use as much site sourced or locally sourced building material as possible.

*. Both buildings used coarse sawdust for insulation and when soaked, as a set retardant in the mortar.  Really liked this due to low cost, local material, and completely “green” building material.  Plus, any leftover sawdust is great for composting or as mulch.

* Ladder pad foundation from first building is on a well drained, sandy soil site.  After 11 years and 11 Wisconsin winters, the building has NOT moved a bit.  I wouldn’t hesitate to use similar foundation in the future for a shed or similar out building.

* The second building is on a grade beam foundation.  I was originally going to build it on a floating slab until a grade beam foundation was suggested.  I think the grade beam is definitely the way to go.  In addition to greatly reducing the amount of and cost for concrete, it allows for a plethora of really cool flooring options.

* First building was built when our sons were 5 and 3 years old.  For the second building they were 16 and 14.  Besides being a great help as laborers and mortar mixers, they learned how to run a sawmill, do post and beam construction methods, use cordwood masonry skills, etc.  In the future, if they choose, their parents could be laborers for their own cordwood building dream.

*  For anything but a very small project, use a mortar mixer or modified cement mixer.  It will speed the project and reduce physical fatigue.  Definitely,  mix your first batches of mortar in a wheelbarrow or mortar boat, though.  That is the best way to truly get to know and understand the mortar.

*  For the first project all log ends over 6-7 inches in diameter were split and air dried for 15 months before building began.  However, in looking at other cordwood buildings over the intervening 11 years, I found that I liked the look of at least  a few large, true rounds in each wall.  So for the second project, we used both “exploded” rounds and kiln dried true rounds in each wall along with smaller diameter rounds and various split log ends.  At three months post cordwooding, the exploded rounds haven’t changed or moved a bit.  For the largest kiln dried true rounds, some 12-16 inches in diameter, there is a 2-3mm gap between the mortar and the log ends due to further shrinkage/drying of these really large rounds with time.  I still like the look of the larger rounds but it looks like permachink will be needed in the future.  The kiln dried rounds up to 8-10″ diameter have not shrunk to this point, but I’ll keep my eye on them over the coming months and cold, dry winter.

*  Bottle end designs are really cool.

*  My wife is not only a wonderful, beautiful partner in this voyage known as life, she is a patient, forgiving building partner who knows all my shortcomings, but loves me anyway.

*  The 94# bags of Portland cement weigh more now than they did 11 years ago!

A cardboard template for bottle end designs work very well.
*  We used different mortar mixes for each building.  I liked the second building’s mix a bit better, but both worked fine.  If you plan to do a small “learning” cordwood building before undertaking a larger house or cabin project, consider trying different mortar mixes on different walls of the learner project to see which type of mortar you like best.

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

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

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

DVDandPrint

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

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

 

Cordwood Lodge

Cordwood is usually chosen as a building style in order to save money. The fact that it uses locally available, sustainable materials is an added incentive.  However, sometimes cordwood is built to impress, and here is a fine example.  This million dollar cordwood lodge was constructed in 1995, by a wealthy family from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.   It is located in Northern Wisconsin in the lake rich area northeast of the beautiful area of Minocqua.  cordwood-mansion-on-star-lake-with-logoThis timber framed, cordwood infill beauty is located on a gated, private road.  The 62′ x 42′ lodge boasts a full basement, a field stone fireplace and three floors.

Star Lake architects homeAs good fortune would have it, the architect for this cordwood mansion lived right next store, in a beautiful cordwood cottage.  He designed the cordwood lodge in the shape of a capital I so there would be an entrance and exit that would be shielded from the elements.

 

lake-side-1-cropped-more-with-logoThis is an excellent view from the east side of the building.  The fieldstone foundation keeps the cordwood up “off of grade” and allows for proper air circulation.  The cordwood is 18″ Northern White Cedar.  It was built with three 4″ mortar beads of a vermiculite/lime/sand slurry (vermiculite was used in place of sawdust).  There are two 3″ dry vermiculite insulation rows down the middle of the logs.  The roof is standing seam green metal.

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The architect also used a capital I for his cottage, which he built within a post and beam framework.  His cottage is also 18″ Northern White Cedar.  He asked me to not use the name of the owner of the Million Dollar Cordwood Lodge and I have respected his wishes.

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The interiors of the lodge and the architect’s cottage are both attractive and tastefully appointed.  The Lodge has sold two times since it was built, which is typical in a highly prized recreational area. This simply shows what can be done when money is no object, however, it is relatively easy to build a modest cordwood home (depending on your parameters) for much, much less.

 

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

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

Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixels

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:

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

DVD label cover yellow

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