Homestead Progress – April 2015
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Hello, dear readers!
It’s been a very busy time for us here. The month of April is peak musical theater season, so we were busy each weekend and most evenings rehearsing for and performing in the pit orchestras for several musicals. It never stops around here! We also had Easter fun in there. Little Man had his first egg hunt and was definitely a man on a mission.
So in the midst of all of this, we have still been working hard on prepping the property and our plans for it.
What have we done this month?
- Met with our excavator about site prep and septic installation — will not start until summer when the ground is drier
- Plans in progress with an architect to develop our dream cabin plans
- Continued meetings with the county inspectors to make sure our plans are up to code
- Met with a rep from the electric utility to tell us what we already knew — the cost to run electric is too damn high!
- Therefore talked to solar reps about options for going off-grid (which we already had done loads of research on in anticipation of this), which will cost us half of what it would to connect to the grid for our same power needs
- Got a round estimate on running in-slab radiant heat (better than buying a dang furnace that’s for sure!)
- Moved the pole barn from the building site to an area downhill (to use as a wood drying shed)
- Started cutting and debarking the many cedars we will be using to build our home
Wait, hold up. You said you’re using cedars from your land to build your house? What kind of crazy house is this anyway??
Those who are close to us know what we’re doing, but many of you may never have heard of this type of building before. Our home is going to be constructed from:
Cordwood Masonry in a pole frame construction
What does that mean?
In a nutshell, cordwood masonry is using uniform lengths of dried and debarked logs (usually soft woods like cedars, white pine, etc.) set in a bed of mortar with the log ends facing out rather than lengthwise the way a traditional log cabin is. There is a buffer of insulation in the middle of the mortar to make it super efficient. Traditionally, this insulation is sawdust mixed with lime, but you can also use spray foam, cellulose, or any other modern type of insulation. To be code compliant, our cordwood walls will be an infill between a traditional post and beam frame.
This type of building is inexpensive and relatively simple for a DIYer, especially if you have lots of useable trees on your land like we do. It’s COVERED in cedars! It’s a lovely and durable green option — we’ve read about it for YEARS and are so enthusiastic to actually get to build such a house.
But you’ve never done this before!
Well, no. But that’s why you ask the pros. We’ve thrown a few questions out to Rob Roy and Richard Flatau over the past several months, both of whom are renowned experts on cordwood construction who have built many structures and give clinics throughout the year.
Mark will actually get the opportunity at the end of May to travel to one of these cordwood workshops and learn how to really DO the cordwood technique beyond what we’ve already read. I unfortunately can’t go since I’ll still have work responsibilities, so he’s going to report back to me with what I’ll need to know.
In the mean time, we’re cutting and peeling away. The sunshine has been abundant the past few weeks so we’ve gotten in some good work days.