We’re building a cordwood house with our own hands on our 16 acre off-grid property! How did we get here, how are we building it and how can you learn more? 

How We Got To Our Homestead

In March 2015, we sold our 3 bed/2 bath mid-century ranch in the suburbs to buy 16+ acres of raw land filled with gorgeous trees, fields, and hills.

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Us the very first night the property was in our name

The Start of a Dream

Rural living is nothing new to us. We both had fairly rural upbringings and learned to love everything that comes with it. When we went off to college, we both chose the same university for the same two reasons: our degree program was top-notch, and the area surrounding it was absolutely gorgeous. It was where we started growing as a married couple and further entrenched in us the need to be away from a big city and to live a simple life.


After graduating from college, we found jobs back home but unfortunately didn’t find ourselves living a quiet country life. We rented a cute little blue house…on a busy part of the main road through town next to noisy neighbors and a major interstate highway. Then we bought a house…in a typical subdivision full of noisy neighbors, reckless drivers, and again just a step away from a busy route and an even bigger interstate highway.

WE WANTED TO GET BACK TO THE COUNTRY AND LIVE A SIMPLER LIFE.

Taking a Leap of Faith

So after years and years of research and planning, we took a huge risk and bet everything on our ability to build a house with our own hands on our own land. We won’t pretend to know everything about building a house considering we’ve never done it, but we’ve had lots of practice on our houses over the years and always seek out real experts who can advise us every step of the way.

Driveway

 

House Specifications

Here is an example shot of a cordwood wall during construction:

Cordwood walls built 16 inches thick using cedar logs, lime putty mortar (4 inches on either side) and 8 inches of cedar sawdust/lime insulation in the middle. Click to learn how to DIY! #cordwood #diy

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Emily peeling a red cedar log (later cut into 16 inch lengths and set to dry in our drying shed)

We have a slab foundation with in-floor radiant heat. The house itself utilizes some passive solar principles, including having large windows on the south side, fewer on the east and west, and almost none on the north side. There are two bedrooms and bathrooms on the main level with a loft (future bedroom, play area, study, etc.) overlooking the vaulted living room.

Our house will be OFF THE GRID, meaning we are going to use solar panels to generate our electricity and have a cistern for water. Part of this is a need to be sustainable. Another part of this is how utterly expensive it would be to supply power and water to our property. Just getting those two utilities to the house would cost well over $20,000, not to mention then having the “privilege” of paying a utility bill forever. No thanks!

There will be a detached garage built separately, but the design of the house reflects several years of determining what design factors we liked in all of our houses through the years, plus our deep desire to have less STUFF and to live SMALLER.

Cordwood House Plan with 2 Beds and 2 Baths on the Main Floor with a loft above

Our home design was created by a designer who specializes in cordwood construction and who has decades of experience in the field. I’m not currently sure if he wants people just throwing his information around, so if you are interested in learning more about our architect, please contact me!  

 

Read these other popular posts about our homestead project!

If you're dreaming of one day buying a piece of land to build a house or start a homestead, there is some important financial information you NEED to know before you take the leap from DREAMING to DOING. Don't jeopardize your homestead success because of money -- start off on the right financial foot! #homesteading #smartmoney  Want to build a cordwood, strawbale, cob, or earthship home? Check here first for info on how to build LEGALLY and SAFELY #naturalbuilding #cordwood #strawbale #earthship  Info for the aspiring cordwood builder. Great for sheds, coops, playhouses, garages, and full houses! Valuable resources and tricks we learned along the way! #cordwood #diy #building  Here's our simple method for felling and easily removing the bark from cedar trees to use for cordwood construction (or if you like, for crafting or furniture making!) #greenbuilding #cordwood

 

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  1. March 14, 2017

    HOLY COW YOU GUYS ARE IMPRESSIVE!!!!!!!! I can’t really see my hubby and I doing this, but it looks like you guys are reaping the benefits for sure!

    1. Emily
      March 14, 2017

      Thanks! It’s definitely not for everyone, but then again, 10 years ago I never saw myself doing this either! I appreciate the kind words.

  2. Pingback: We Paid off $24,000 Of Debt in 11 Months and Changed Our Lives Forever

  3. September 4, 2017

    Emily & Mark, Very well done. Great research, wonderfully informative articles. Excellent videos. Thank you for sharing your journey. I have a couple of ideas for you for after you are finished and moved in, but let’s wait until then. Having a teacher sharing helm produces a good result. This will inspire many to follow your lead. Kudos! -Richard Flatau

    1. Emily
      September 5, 2017

      Thank you so much! It means a lot to hear that from one of the foremost experts in the field. Your writings were instrumental in us being able to take this journey so thank you!

  4. Ryan
    October 6, 2017

    This takes true grit and determination! Having built our own family home in southern Arizona as a youth I congratulate you on your persistence. Not only is planning and preparation the key to your success, you saw it through to completion! Only you know the physical and emotional pain and growth it took each step of the way. Thanks for writing anout the journey!

    1. Emily
      October 6, 2017

      Thanks so much! I really appreciate the kind words. And yes, it is quite a physical and emotional experience. Glad I can bring others along with us for the ride. 😉

  5. Wil Sevigny
    November 8, 2017

    My wife, 16 year old, and 2.5 year old twins will begin building in the next 3 years.
    We have been doing research and searching for land for the past 2 years, and appreciate those who provide information like yours to aid us in the process.

    thank you,

    Wil Sevigny

    1. Emily
      November 8, 2017

      Thanks for the kind words. Best of luck to you!

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