Shane & Kelli Kilcher of the Discovery series Alaska: The Last Frontier have built a beautiful cordwood cabin on their land near Homer, Alaska.  The Discovery Channel has been documenting their journey.  Shane & Kelli bought my book (Cordwood Construction Best Practices) and stayed in contact via email and text throughout the building process.  We answered questions as they were building on site. Here are a few photos they sent of their progress.  That’s the film crew in the background.

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On her Facebook page, Kelli recently wrote, “This guy (Richard Flatau) literally wrote the book on cordwood building and has been a great help with all our questions!”  They also purchased the Cordwood Workshop DVD, which is a great way to prepare for building your first walls.

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It was a pleasure to help them navigate all the many decisions and details that can bog a natural builder down.  They were rushing to beat the winter weather that inevitably came to Homer, Alaska.

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They used 24″ peeled, dried pine logs and a traditional cordwood mortar mix with plenty of sawdust, perlite, and sand.  They also used Perlite for insulation.  Perlite is a lightweight granular material that’s white in color. It looks and feels like little bits of polystyrene but is made from expanded volcanic glass, heated to 1000°C until it ‘pops’ (like popcorn) to many times its original size. It’s lightweight, sterile, easy to handle, and is long-lasting.

Shane broke a vertebra in his back a few years ago.  He assures me that he is on the mend, and can still walk, but is limited to lifting.   There have been hundreds of people who have offered their good thoughts and support to the family.  We are hoping that he will make a full recovery.  Update: Shane has made a full recovery and plans are being made to finish their cordwood cabin. NOTE: The Kilcher’s posted that they will continue building the cordwood cabin in the summer of 2024!  

Alaska: The Last Frontier is seen on the Discovery Channel.  The singer Jewel is part of the family and brings her son Kase to visit and learn survival and homesteading skills.

That’s some beautiful scenery!

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin, or home, please visit   While you are there, click on the pictures, read the brief articles, check out the latest workshops and newsletter and if you are interested click on the Online Bookstore to see all the cordwood literature available in print and ebook format.

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If you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at  

Readers have requested a brief bio, so here goes:   Richard & Becky Flatau built their mortgage-free cordwood home in 1979 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Since then, they have written books, conducted workshops, facilitated 2005, 2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided instruction for thousands of cordwood builders.  Cordwood Workshop Video (2017),  Cordwood Construction Best Practices (2017) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.

Here is a picture of the Cordwood Workshop DVD cover, featuring the best practices Cordwood Education Center.

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For more information on Cordwood Construction, click on the picture or visit   Below is the 30 item DVD menu. 

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