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Meet Steve and Nancy Dries of Cable, Wisconsin

My wife and I moved up to the family cabin about 18 years ago. She has been coming up here since she was just a baby, and her mother before her. Her grandparents bought the place when the railroad and lumber barons were done with it. We could not afford to have a house built. We purchased a new 16x80 mobile home. We discovered after a few years that wasn't the way we wanted to live. Years later we saw a Mother Earth News story about cord wood/stack wood homes. I think it was Rob Roy's article. The more we looked at it, the more we thought we can do this. We bought Rob Roy's book and video. We also found Richard Flatau's story, and I called and got his book also. The more we read, the more we liked the idea.

The local building contractors around here were so busy building the $200,000 cabins that they were not much help to us. Our first problem was finding a logger who sold cedar. It is getting rare around here. I stopped log haulers for a year, giving out my name and number and driving around logging areas. I hit pay dirt. I found a logger that was just going to leave all the cedar where it was. I bought 18 logger cords in 8 ft. lengths. We were on our way. The enormity of that much wood dropped on the lawn had us in a state of panic. Not being the brightest crayon in the box, I had no idea what it would take to peel, cut and split. The peeling is a nasty, dirty chore. Some bark came right off while others tended to be more difficult. It took a year to cut and peel all the wood. We then let it dry for about a year.

We opted for the Lomax corners. We laid the first log June 23, 1997. Each day was 10-12 hours of hard labor. Five people in all built this house. My mother in law (who had major surgery), my uncle, who didn't know a thing about building, and a 17 year old high school boy, and of course my wife and myself. After trying 3 different mortar mixes, we hit on the formula that worked best for us. We could do one course around the house each day. Each night, we covered all walls with tarps to prevent the sawdust/lime insulation from getting wet.

We had the trusses built with an 8/12 pitch. They were put up about Nov. 1, 1997. The rush was on! We couldn't stay in the mobile home over the winter, so we moved into the house without the inside finished.

We are still not finished with all the interior walls and trim. That will be done this winter. We are very happy with our "crazy house". It is warm and inviting. Our heat is generated by an outdoor woodburner. We have hot water tubes in the floor (900 ft.) and the house stays very toasty. Once the slab and walls heat up, there are not any cold spots. The 16" cordwood walls provides thermal mass which helps keep the temperature constant in the house.

I guess the one thing we would do differently is build it post and beam. Then, we could have worked in all weather and not wasted the time of covering up the walls each night. We would welcome anyone interested in building cordwood to pay us a visit.

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