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CASTLEWOOD AT CHILLIWACK LAKE

My husband, Neil and I are avid hikers. One of our favorite areas to hike and camp is the area around Chilliwack Lake, British Columbia.

One day while we were hiking we noticed a forestry road. We decided to investigate and discovered 85 lots in what could loosely be described as a subdivision. The only services being electrical. We stopped and spoke to one of the residents, Nelson, who had lived in the area since he was a young child. He spoke of his love of nature and solitude and said that if those were important qualities this was the place to be. We were sold.

The end result was that less than a month later, October 1997; we owned .62 acres, our little piece of paradise. We had no intention of building; we just wanted to put a road in so we could park our RV while we hiked. Of course after the road we had to have water and electricity. The electricity was easy however the water was more challenging. We are 30 miles from the nearest municipal water supply.We decided to install a gravity fed water supply from a glacier stream ½ mile up the mountain. It took two weekends to run the ¾ polypipe and trench Chilliwack Lake Road.

One night while resting in our RV after hiking, we started to dream about building a cabin. Wouldn't it be nice to warm our weary feet beside a fire, sleep in a soft bed (the RV wasn't the most comfortable) and have a real shower instead of a cramped RV shower?

We went to the library and found a book on Log Cabin Construction. It had a section dedicated to Stackwall Construction. This was just what we had been looking for; a cabin that could be built by two people, who didn't have to have a construction background, and could be built at a reasonable cost. Neil also discovered Rob Roy's website and called Rob for some tips. Rob advised us to put the roof on first. This would prove to be very good advice. We also bought Rob's book, which was invaluable.

Neil and I developed a wish list for our cabin, took a book out of the library on basic drafting and had a structural engineer approve the plans.

Neil sourced the 10 cords of white and red cedar that would go into building our 1200 square (or round) foot house. We instructed the firewood seller to cut the logs into 16-inch lengths. We found after delivery that the fellow did not own a measuring tape and we ended up sorting the 10 cords of wood into piles anywhere form 10 to 22 inches.

Neil and I built the round forms and poured the floating slab foundation. The support structure is post and beam supported in the center with a 4500 lb. log. We used a Hiab lift truck to lift up the heavy vertical support beams, roof beams and the center post.

The roof is tongue and groove 2X6 hemlock and mirrors the floor.

 

 

August 1998 - Wall Construction Begins

We started mixing cement by hand in the wheel-barrow and our first 8 foot high wall with no window took us about 25 hours. The wall took 3 bags of Portland cement and 4 bags of lime, which included lime for the insulation. For each wall we used 3 large bags of shavings for the insulation. We mixed by hand for the first 5 walls but by September we had bought a cement mixer. The use of the mixer cut our wall time by half. I did all the pointing and Neil got very creative with the placing of the wood pieces. We have wood that looks like guitar pieces, peace signs and aliens in our home.

Neil and I only worked on our cabin on the weekends doing about 12-hour days. This was a labor of love and by November 1998 we had completed the walls!

In December 1998 and January 1999 we framed the inside walls and installed our wood stove in late January. We were getting closer to toasting our feet by the fire. Neil began the electrical in early February and by March we were installing the drywall. The crawl space was very cramped so we hired a plumber who did the rough in and was present for the inspection.

On the Easter long weekend we completed our roof. Our roof is 8" of poly isocyanurate foam insulation with an EPDM rubber membrane. As ballast we put a layer of round river stone. It is very easy for two people to install as it only took us 2 days to complete.

In May 1999 we were installing our kitchen cabinets and in June our propane contractor put in the supply to our gas stove and gas furnace. We were going to rely on our wood stove as our heat source however insurance costs were triple for wood heat vs. the gas furnace.

In July we sanded and applied a clear stain to our floors and on July 24th, 1999 our first guests arrived to spend the night. We had finished!

We calculated it cost us about $22.00 Cdn. dollars per square foot.

We loved our cordwood home so much that in April 2000 we built a 14x22 cordwood workshop for Neil. We did cordwood columns instead of post and beam.

In September of 2001 Neil completed a guest suite above the shed. Our future plan is to put a second level on our cabin. We are at our cabin almost every weekend and when we retire we will live there full time.

Would we do this again- you bet! If anyone would like to contact us please do so @ nwilliam@telus.net.


To see more photographs of Neil and Sue's house, please visit our on-line cordwood photo album.