Meet John Wardley of Northern Alberta, Canada
John was born in the industrial town of Halifax, West Yorkshire, England. A place where homes were measured in centuries not decades.
Immigrating to Canada in 1980, he was soon to enjoy the company of most newly married couples in paying a mortgage. The property he and his wife purchased was "nothing special". A fifteen-year-old California style "box" located on 3 acres.
Things were OK up until the middle of 1981, when the Federal Government of Canada introduced a policy called the National Energy Program. This Energy Program crippled the huge oil and gas industry in Alberta. Mortgage rates soared to 17-½%. Thousands were laid off. John, a machinist for an oil field company, was soon unemployed. He discovered that when he did find a job in a machine shop, it was a case of last one in, first one laid off.
The only "help" he was offered was from his mortgage company that offered him a 2nd mortgage at 21 ¼ % (really helpful of them right?). People were selling their homes for $1.00 just get out of the mortgage crunch.
He and his wife had to leave their home finally due to foreclosure. It was a bitter lesson. After renting for a few years they finally bought a rundown house that had been empty for 2 years. They fixed it up then sold it themselves and moved to Australia for a few years. Just prior to this move John had read, and kept, an article about cordwood building in Mother Earth magazine.
They returned to Canada two years later. John decided that building with cordwood was the only alternative to high mortgages for poor housing.
He acquired a piece of land that was heavily wooded with poplar and spruce. It only seemed natural to remove the poplar, to open up the land and build with it and leave the spruce to retain the mountain like setting.
There were few people to turn to and many problems that had to be overcome. The hardest being the red tape of bureaucracy and the people who said it couldn't be done. Even his next door neighbor went around the subdivision with a petition to stop him from building.
It wasn't long though, before the very same building inspectors who had earlier tried to disway him, started to bring friends to view his home. Once John and his family had moved in, newspapers did write ups on his home. And the local TV stations did news reports.
People were starting to take notice of this exceptional building method and soon John was being approached by people wanting to be taught how to build their own cordwood home.
John's interest in other types of alternative housing introduced him to the strawbale building technique. Next to his 16" walled cordwood home, there now stands a 1000 sq. ft. heated two story garage/workshop, built for $10 square foot, with R45 walls. The shop has strawbales on top of cordwood walls, bermed on two sides and gunited (shotcrete) both inside and out. This adds thermal mass to high insulation for a cost less than if the building was made of just R20 fibreglass alone, no studs, siding or anything, just fibreglass. If you take a normal stud home on 24" centres, 94% of the wall has an actual mass of less than 1". Not much for your hard earned dollar. His 1700 sq. ft home and the 1000 sq. ft. workshop uses approx. $35/month of actual gas consumption. He pays more for renting the gas metre and line than he pays for the gas itself. And this is in the bitter cold winters of Northern Alberta.
John now runs courses in both types of building methods. His courses describe the building techniques as well as floating slab foundations, stamped concrete floors, water heating, live-in trusses and many more advantages over conventional housing.
If you can build at ½ the regular cost; heat and cool it for 1/3 the regular cost; and have it last for centuries, why wouldn't you want to learn about it?
John has now taught about 200 people how to build these two methods from his home. Many of whom have successfully built their own Cordwood and Strawbale homes.
Take control of your own future, put your money in your pocket, not the mortgage company's.
For more details phone John at (780) 922-6291.
You can also see more photo's of John's house and find out more about his classes on cordwood and strawbale construction by visiting his web site: