Cordwood/Cord-Cob Wood Homes
Cordwood homes are attractive and offer energy, sustainable and affordable natural building material construction. Home builders who decide to build a cordwood home will find it just as labor intense, rewarding and cost effective as any other natural material and an economical way to use log ends in heavily wooded areas.
Cordwood homes as with many of the other “NATURAL BUILDING MATERIALS” are seeing a revival in building. There are remains of cordwood homes dating back over a thousand years in Greece and Siberia. During the Great Depression many cordwood were build in the northern United States due mostly to the inexpensive and abundant materials and ease in building.
Cordwood homes can be designed and built with round walls for those seeking the more creative and unusual home. Several factors will determine the thermal properties of a cordwood home such as: log length, solar orientation and materials use to secure logs in place. Mortaring the logs can be achieved with a cement based mix or cob (earthen) mortars. Different mortar mixes affect the R-value as well. Sustainability and healthy home is a major consideration. Manufacturing of cement uses more energy to produce and larger carbon footprint. Off gassing of the cement adds to the air pollution within the home. Selecting a “cob mortar” is advisable, more cost effective, offers better thermal properties and is healthier.
Consideration for available log sources will be necessary in areas where the presence of forest is minimal i.e. Midwestern US…Kansas, Nebraska etc. The ideal logs are: Pacific yew, bald cypress (new growth), cedars, and juniper. Acceptable woods also include Douglas fir, western larch, Eastern White Pine, Spruce Pine, Poplar, Tamarack, Western red cedar and Monterey pine.