A cordwood cabin may be just the ticket if you're looking for cheap housing ideas and a low-cost way to build your own home. If you have the time and energy, you can have a home made of cordwood, and best of all, it doesn't take a lot of skills to build one.
Building with cordwood involves laying whole or split wood width-wise in a bed of mortar. When you look at a cordwood building, all you see are the ends of the logs, but the wood itself sits on two mortar beds - one that makes up the outside wall and one that makes up the inside wall - each about four inches thick with insulation in between.
The insulation is usually made up of lime that has been treated with sawdust and air. The lime/sawdust/vapor insulation helps keep your cordwood cabin snug in the winter and cool in the summer.
Early settlers used their cordwood building how to techniques to make homes and other buildings that are still standing today. Cordwood construction is amazingly solid and long-lasting.
Building a home with cordwood costs quite a bit less than a standard wood frame house.
Depending on how much labor you do yourself, whether you barter materials and how frugal you are, you can build a home for about $10 a square foot.
Because cordwood homes are so well insulated, they keep your house at a
more consistent temperature, which means lower heating and cooling
bills. But best of all, cordwood houses are easy to build and don't take
a lot of skill. But you will need to make sure you meet the necessary
building codes in your area.
Unlike with a log cabin, you don't need a lot of straight, good-quality timber to build a cordwood building. Crooked and defective trees, along with smaller trees will work just fine.
To keep your cordwood building from becoming overrun by termites, you will need to treat your wood by mixing together four cups of 20 Mule Team Borax with a gallon of hot water.
Then either spray the mixture on your logs or dunk them in the mixture individually. This will preserve the wood as well as keeping out insects and preventing fungal growth.
Also you will need to build a roof with a large overhang, along with gutters to keep excess water from splashing onto your cordwood.
A cordwood building will take longer to construct than a conventional home. Expect to devote a lot of time and work in building your cordwood cabin.
There are workshops available where for anywhere between $100 and $650, you can acquire hands on, cordwood building how to techniques. Learn more here. There are also several good books available, including the following:
Soft woods such as cedar and pine are the best choices for cordwood construction, but you can also use hard woods, although they will be more difficult to work with. It is crucial that your wood be sufficiently dry. You can test it by burning a log. If it pops and cracks while it's burning, that means your wood isn't dry enough yet.
If you think you would like to build your own cordwood cabin, start first by building a practice building, such as a dog house, small barn or garage. That way you can get a feel for it and decide which technique works best for you.
Learn about table saw safety here.