How to Build a Cordwood House

Cordwood construction, also known as stackwall, is a type of building whereby the walls of the house are built out of fire-wood type logs cut into various lengths and set into mortar or concrete. They're known as cordwood because they resemble fire wood. The wood is set up horizontally, with the cut ends exposed. This creates a wall that's sometimes more than a foot (30.5 centimeters) thick. People like to construct with cordwood, because it's a simple, inexpensive construction. You just lay a layer of mortar down and place the wood on top. It's also preferred by naturalists [source: Earthlink]. So continue reading to learn about how to build a cordwood house.

  1. Hire an engineer or architect to design your house. He must take extra precautions when designing the foundation, because the walls can be anywhere from 12-inches to 24-inches (30.5-centimeters to 61-centimeters) thick. If the house is not very big, a concrete slab foundation will suffice. However if it's a large house, you may need a professionally poured foundation.
  2. Obtain all the necessary building permits.
  3. Make sure you have the proper materials. You should look for soft cedar wood, which has been cured for six to 12 months, and from which the bark has been removed.
  4. Gather sawdust to be used as insulation.
  5. Use regular lumber (not cordwood) to build your house frame.
  6. Use mortar and logs to build the walls. Place the logs next to each other horizontally, with the cut ends are exposed. Make sure to only use mortar on the outside and inside one-third of the logs. Leave the middle clear and empty.
  7. Place the sawdust insulation in between the two layers of mortar.
  8. Make sure you leave open spaces for the doors and windows.
  9. Seal the crevices around the windows and doors [source: Must Know How].
  10. Install the roof. The roof of a cordwood house is made of standard roofing material.