Cordwood, like straw bale, is one of the more common natural homes that is built. I find cordwood to be one of the more beautiful kinds of natural homes. Just like with the straw bale house I talked about yesterday, I have never built a cordwood house and so I don’t have pictures to share.
So, why would you want to build with cordwood? First of all, like I mentioned before, they are gorgeous homes. The supplies are as easy to come by as firewood, mostly because they are firewood. They are well insulated homes with the walls having an R value of 20-25. The process is a simple process and so good for inexperienced builders like me and my family.
The actual building process is a lot like the straw bale process. You start by pouring a standard foundation. You then put up a stick frame if you choose to use one. Like the straw bale, some codes require you to use one even though it is not necessary for the structural integrity of the house. Next you stack the cord wood using a concrete mixture between the wood on the ends and a sawdust mixture in the middle. If you were to look down the thickness of the wall you would see the wood running the whole length from front to back and between the logs you would see concrete, saw dust, and then more concrete. The length of the wood and the thickness of the wall is 12″-24″ depending on how much insulation you want. The surface of the wall you see would be the cut ends of the cordwood, which can be laid in patterns to make shapes or just in rows. Just like with the straw bale, you then can add the roof of you choosing. There are many options of what to do. Again, you can run regular electric and plumbing but not through the outer walls.
The cost of these buildings varies greatly. I have seen it said that if you cut your own trees and do the work yourself, you can build for $10 a sq/ft. I’m sure you could pay much more if you had one built for you, but I have not seen many companies that do this. There were many companies available to build you a straw bale house though. I’m not sure why this would be, but I may have just not looked hard enough.