Cordwood Construction: Best Practices 2012

The book Cordwood Construction: Best Practices is hot off the presses. It is written by long time cordwood builder Richard Flatau and is reported to be the most up-to-date tome on cordwood building.
Here are a few of the details.

Cordwood Construction: Best Practices

A log home building method using renewable resources
and time honored techniques (2012)

Authored by Richard Flatau

List Price: $25.00
8.5″ x 11″ (21.59 x 27.94 cm)
Full Color on White paper
196 pages
Cordwood Construction Resources
ISBN-13: 978-0615592701 (Custom Universal)
ISBN-10: 0615592708
BISAC: House & Home / Do-It-Yourself / General

259 color photos, diagrams and formulas will take the novice or experienced builder from house plans to cordwood home occupancy. Sections include: mortar mixes, R-values, code compliance, types of wood, drying wood, shrinkage tables, foundations, how we became mortgage-free, post & beam framing, formulas for estimating materials, homeowners insurance, Cordwood Conferences 2005 & 2011 summary, Best Practices with cordwood construction, lime putty mortar, cob, paper enhanced mortars, Permachinking walls, building codes, color photo album, making stained glass bottle ends, how-to “mortar-up” a cordwood wall, tuck pointing, FAQ’s, maintenance, weight of a cordwood wall, cost analysis, Cordwood Education Center, White Earth Reservation cordwood home, a condensed version of Cordwood Cabin is included (which is architecturally drawn and state code approved and now serves as a classroom for the local public school), 196 pages, and much, much more…

Here are two reviews of the book, one by Richard Freudenberger, editor of Backhome Magazine and the other by Rob Roy, Director of Earthwood Building School.

Excellent Up-to-Date Cordwood Reference May 8, 2012
By R. Freudenberger

This book by veteran cordwood builder and instructor Richard Flatau turns out to be one of the most comprehensive references available on cordwood construction. Flatau has put a lot of effort into the “Best Practices” studies, and as a result we all have the benefit of other builders’ experiences, much gleaned from his involement in organizing some of the large Cordwood Conferences held in the U.S. and Canada. All the basics are here as well for novice builders–foundations, framing, wood choices, mortar mixes, special effects, utility interfaces, and increasingly important code compliance. The book is full of illustrations, tables, a few floor plans, and lots and lots of good color photos. The bottom line is that cordwood masonry is cost-effective, energy-efficient, fire-resistant, and very sustainable…and it’s a perfect do-it-yourself endeavor for the owner-builder.
Book Review by Richard Freudenberger Editor of Backhome Magazine

Cordwood Construction: Best Practices … Richard Flatau CoCoCo/05 organizer (and long-time cordwood writer and builder) Richard Flatau has just published this new compendium, his best yet. True to its title, the author details “best practices” methods about cordwood masonry and its relationship to foundations, electrical considerations, energy codes and so much more. By themselves, two recent case studies (the Cordwood Education Center in Wisconsin and the Whole Earth Reservation Cordwood Home in Minnesota) are worth the price of this beautifully illustrated and meticulously documented work. 196 large 8.5″ by 11″ pages, including 259 color pictures and diagrams.
Book Review by Rob Roy Director of Earthwood Building School

Clarke Snell holds forth on Cordwood and other alternative methods

Here are some photos of Clarke when he spoke to our Cordwood Workshop at Love’s Organic Farm in September of 2007 near Marshall, North Carolina. We then followed him to his Building Green Cottage site where he gave the class a tour and explanation of the various wall types (cordwood, cob, strawbale, earthen plaster, and a living roof) and delineated their pros and cons. It was a very interesting visit.

Clarke giving an explanation of the cob and cordwood wall
The synergy of the cob and cordwood wall. Sweet!
The cordwood wall with large overhang
Clarke explains how to build a living roof like a fine cabinet maker
Which log end "face" should go here :0)
Creative cordwood wall building
Learning to build the right way using a best practices approach

Star pupils building a wall with smiles

Flowers & cordwood with Tulip Poplar

Folks had a great time learning alternative building in North Carolina

Hope you enjoyed the pictures. We have more workshops coming up in Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Please stay tuned to for further information.

Richard Flatau

Cordwood online bookstore

Well House Rising

With winter’s icy fingers starting to prick us here in Asheville, the Nauhaus team prioritized protecting our water supply by building a well house. To the rescue came Andy McFate, a local craftsman whose fine work can be found here. It took a total of 3.5 days of hard and, at times, muddy, work, but the house finally rose. Check out the pix to see its evolution.

First, begin by deconstructing hill – made easier or more difficult, depending on your perspective, by the torrential rains the prior day.

Hill, deconstructed.
Hill, deconstructed.

Next up: The foundation. This well house was built for the long term. This aint no fake rock cover.

Do this:

The Foundation
The Foundation

Not this:

Ye Ole Fake Rock Well Cover
Ye Ole Fake Rock Well Cover

Step Three: Frame It.

Framing it up.
Framing it up.

Finally, finish it off with a roof, insulation on the inside and, just as importantly, cedar shakes covered with Rainforest eco-friendly sealer to match the Nauhaus. Awesome job, Andy!





Chilly nights are here… or are they?

Yikes – Fall temps seem to have set in literally overnight. Brrrr. Ahh – but here inside the Nauhaus, with its amply thick Hempcrete walls along with a multitude of insulating tricks, it’s quite toasty — all without the benefit of any heat source (other than a few carbon life forms).

Temperature: 10/20/11: 8:30 a.m.
Temperature: 10/20/11: 8:30 a.m.

Here we see that while it is a brisk 43 F outside, it remains 69 F inside (along with 62% humidity). The lighting on the picture needs an apology and you have to figure the inside/outside thermometer is only so accurate, but regardless – the numbers speak for themselves. We’ll continue to check back on how these temp variations track over the coming winter months…


Welcome, Visitors!

One of the unexpected benefits of living in the Nauhaus has been the proliferation of visitors – a mix of familiars and strangers – who come to admire the finished product.

Joy Cramer and David Madera visit the Nauhaus.
Joy Cramer and David Madera visit the Nauhaus.

Most recently, David  Madera, (who, as head of, provided some of the raw materials for the Nauhaus), stopped by accompanied by Joy Cramer, the Deputy Minister of Housing and Community Development for the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Canada, it turns out, is increasingly looking to renewable materials like hemp to rethink how it goes about tackling the notion of green building. We wish them the best of luck!


What do you do with a…?

OK, so one of the more interesting let alone heavy) remnants of the construction process were these ancient clay segments of sewer line which have been slowly sinking into the Earth.

Ye Ole Sewer Pipes
Ye Ole Sewer Pipes

We Betas came to ask ourselves: what can be done with these? Planters, like those in the front garden? Compost bins (but how to turn them over easily)? Pillars to anchor the greenway? Well, we’re open to your suggestions. For now, we applied some creativity of sorts and erected a chimnea-style fire-pit for the Fall evenings to come….

Chimnea, Nauhaus style
Chimnea, Nauhaus style


Doing our best Beta act, we just completed the work shouldered by the Alphas to paint and hang the windows to the so-called “dining porch.”

Inside view from the "dining porch"


The white / dark combination looks good, especially from the inside. Still might need to do a few touch-ups to the dark…

Exterior view of the "dining porch"
Dining Porch Windows

Construction continues…

One of the biggest surprises we, The Beta Family, have enjoyed since moving into the Nauhaus is how it has plunged us deeper into nature. Specifically, with our bird friends, whose songs drown out all but the most obscene man-made whirrings. The air is often filled with the staccato caws of bluebirds, the Star-Trekky phaser bursts of Cardinals and the plucky chirps of the Chickadee. The loudest contributor, however, is perhaps a pair of Wrens who have been industriously building a nest in the rafters of the front porch. Here’s a quick snapshot of one hard at work:

Carolina Wren at the Nauhaus
Carolina Wren at the Nauhaus
Carolina Wren via iBird app
Carolina Wren via iBird app

What’s interesting is that we assumed these loud little suckers (their own machine-gun bursts echo nicely throughout the house when the windows are open) were House Wrens. Not so. In fact, thanks to a handy iPhone App that we highly recommend called iBird ($4.99 at the iTunes store), we quickly ascertained that our housemates are Carolina Wrens and that they like to build several nests to confuse predators. Sounds smart, but didn’t the Wrens get the memo about the house being done with construction?


GROOF: It's an eye-catcher

As we, The Beta Family, begin to acclimate to our new surroundings at the Nauhaus, we have begun to notice some peculiar behavior from our neighbors from time to time. Specifically, they tend to stop and point at the house – sometimes from within their SUVs – often not realizing we are sitting on the porch in the foreground. We have forgiven them, though, since the living or green roof, GROOF, is an eye-catcher to be sure.

Nauhaus: Living Roof
The Nauhaus Living Roof in early summer

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