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Saturday, December 13, 2014

I Finally Found Another Use for Firewood

The days are getting colder and although we do not have any snow on the ground I can hear winter's footsteps just down the hall.  The clear starry nights drop the temperatures into the low 20's and being outside in the early hours of the morning, when no one else is awake, is quite exhilarating.
I would venture to say it wakes me up more than ten cups of coffee ever could.

So of course this is my dreaming time of year.  I love to nestle into the couch with a cup of hot coffee, two snoring dogs and my laptop.  I spend countless hours searching the world for interesting tidbits, things for sale and things for free.  I come across so many things that I have never seen or even heard of.  It's great fun and because I get up so dang early in the morning (pre 5am) I can search for hours before anyone is even awake or worse yet, I feel like I'm committing the ultimate sin of "not getting anything accomplished".

Many of you know I am on a mission topprocure property in Northern Michigan for a vacation spot.
I have been researching a lot of properties and even though I am not financially committed at this exact moment, I do feel as though I am within a years time of pulling the trigger.  Planning, planning and more planning.  Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will my dreams.

So anyways to tie it all together, in my countless hours of research and exploring I have discovered a very unique way of constructing my dream cabin.  Yes the property comes first and then the cabin!
It is unique in that it is a sustainable way to build, it is energy efficient, it is unfathomably creative and artistic (huge selling point for me) and last but not least (as my wife reminds me) incredibly inexpensive.

If you have never seen it let me introduce you to cordwood construction.

It is a construction technique that uses basic firewood splits and mortar to create the walls.  A row of mortar is laid on each side and filled with sawdust in the middle.  Wood is then laid on top of it.  Any pattern and most sizes apply.  You can even tuck in little bits of artwork like glass bottles and colored mason jars.  

The possibilities are endless.  Single story and even two story houses can be built.  It is incredibly strong.  The neat thing is the outside and inside walls are already finished once you build them.  No need for drywall and paint.  

With careful planning you can place all your electrical and plumbing within the walls and you would not see the runs at all.

Remember what I said about artistic?

The pic below is how I would start mine.  I would like a timber frame structure with high ceilings and a loft.  All beams on the interior would be exposed and then I would just fill in the framed spaces with cordwood.

The wood is cheap and most likely I would be able to cut it myself.  I've certainly proved I'm capable of that part!

The major expense would be the concrete foundation slab.  Plumbing and electrical I can do myself although the cost of well and septic would be added in the future.  It might be an outhouse type of cabin for a few years.

I really like the idea of cutting my own posts and having them look natural.  I would go with steel roofing for that part of the country with a steep pitched roof to ward off the snow load and with the high pitched ceilings a loft would be perfect for the sleeping quarters.

There are some incredible photos of this type of construction, too many to even scratch the surface here but I urge you to search it out on the web and see for yourself.

One article I read a family built the entire shell of their cordwood cabin for just under $5000.  ( I spent that on my living room furniture, the washing machine and a dishwasher)  That included the concrete, the plumb and electrical prep work and the roof and windows.  It was in upstate New York where it gets pretty cold and snowy.  The house was 1700 sq. ft.  No tiny little cabin really.  In the end they spent $15,000 total to complete it.  

So the way I see it, with careful planning, a lot of hard work and a nice big batch of serious dedication I can have this complete in a few years.  Virtually mortgage free! (property will most likely be mortgaged but still fairly cheap)

So what did you dream of this morning while enjoying your coffee?


1 comment:

  1. This looks so incredible and beautiful. One question, wouldn't you need a plastic/tin barrier between the (cement?) and the studs? Cement will rot wood with moisture. But I love the genius of this.


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