Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What is this 'cordwood' you speak of?

First off, something I've decided to add to each blog ... scenes from around South Carolina.  This is one of my favorite sights from this state.  This is what is known as an Angel Oak.  All of the pictures you see here are 'thumbnails'.  Click on them so you can view them full size!

We've been talking about building something out of cordwood for many years now.  P and I know what cordwood is, but a lot of other people don't. 

To most people it sounds a lot like firewood.  A cord of wood generally IS firewood.  When you start talking about cordwood construction, it takes on a lot of new dimensions and meaning.  Those dimensions come in all shapes and sizes, from round to square to rectangular.  It means taking cut and split logs and stacking them just like firewood, but held together with masonry, mortar, or cob and creating a building.  It becomes a stack of firewood that is very difficult to steal and at the same time is visually and aesthetically pleasing.  It becomes a home, a barn, a guesthouse, or any number of buildings that you see every day built with conventional (read 'modern') building methods. 

Cordwood isn't a new construction method, even though for many today it is not something they've heard of.  It's old.  In the parts of the world where wood, sand, clay, lime, and other natural supplies were easy to come by it's actually an ancient method of providing shelter. 

By today's standards, if you build this way yourself, it's a very affordable (read 'cheap') way to construct a home.  Well, it's cheap in monetary costs.  Time wise, work wise, personal investment wise, it's very labor intensive.  In fact, it's back breaking some days ~ even with power tools and equipment to help out. 

Building anything with cordwood requires some time.  You need time to gather the wood and let it dry ~ the longer it dries the better.  Most people need time to convince building inspectors and codes critters that it really is a good way to build a home.  You need time to prepare the area.  And this is all after you spend a lot of time planning and designing the home to start with.  You need to plan your electrical and plumbing needs, lay it all out, etc. because you won't have a basement or crawl spaces to make changes later.  You need to plan for drainage and roof overhang.  Because we are not only building cordwood homes, but are earth sheltering them on three sides and adding a living roof, all of those things required a lot of planning.


When the planning is as done as can be,
you locate a place to store materials,
and you begin the gathering ...

A place ~ in our case the old,
abandoned horse barn is that
place.  There was no road
or path to this barn.  It was in
the middle of the woods, which
all had to be cleared. 

What you see on each side of the path is
what the path started out as. 

P has been busy. 

Very, very busy!


So, we found a way to the barn, and than we started filling it up ~ with the help of some new friends ....

We're also saving some of the more interesting logs unsplit.  They will go in the wall just the way they are.

And, while the gathering is taking place, we're continuing to add to our own little camper so we have a place to just fall down at the end of each day.  More on that later ...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are always welcome, whether they be encouragement, criticism, questions, or just because someone feels compelled to type in little boxes!