James Collette started out by building a cordwood dollhouse for his grandaughter and then progressed to a backyard cordwood cabin/sauna.   You will note this is in a residential neighborhood.  Some of the narrative will be from James’s notes concerning his gorgeous cordwood creation. 

Check out the stained glass and the shelves near the peak.  The rug is pretty awesome as well.  A  log end rug! 

  • The blue line shows where the infrared sauna will be placed. The bottle ends are bottles cut with half clear and half colored bottles, so they end up 8” long.  I will be adding other colors by using just clear-cut bottles and a piece of stained glass in the middle. I use aluminum tape to tape them together. Very strong and reflective. 

  • The infrared sauna was installed just and fits the room like a glove. 
  • Barb Collette designs and builds the beautiful stained glass!
  •  Take NOTE:  I thought I had enough wood but quickly ran out. Found a company that does white cedar shingles and had a lot of surplus cedar that was not suitable for shingles. Very old and dry. 

Love the diamond glass blocks, the bottle bricks and the shelves.  Make sure to put a couple of shelves in your building.

  • Jim is considering a tile floor 

Notes from Jim and Barb Collette:  Here is a rundown of what has been done
  • Started out with a 15’X10’ slab about 6” thick with number 5 rebar tied at 16” square
  • Then the 8” post and beam for the frame-up.
  • I ordered the timber frame from a guy who cut and fitted it then took it apart and dried it in his shop over the winter. He delivered and we assisted in putting it up in the spring. Took about three hours. 
  • The roof went on next. Steel roof with a 12-12 pitch and an 18” overhang. There is a loft in half of it and vaulted ceiling on the other half. Then the work began. 
  • The cedar was cut, split and sized a year earlier as was the Norway pine. 
  • The walls are 8” thick. 
  •  Windows are framed in with 8” X 10” cedar
  •  The wiring is concealed in the cordwood wire stapled to the post framework. 
  • My mortar mix: (by volume)
  • 1 Type S lime   1 portland  3 sand   3 softwood sawdust. 
  • I get all the sawdust I need from a sawmill near me. Very reasonable. 
Here are some pictures of the timber frame.
Venting the roof with round screen vents.
The split face block on the bottom row keeps the cordwood faces from turning black. 

Thank you, Jim & Barb, for sharing your backyard cordwood cabin!

Should you wish to learn how to build a cordwood cottage, cabin or home, please visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org   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.Cordwood Construction Best Practices Front_Cover_-_CC_Best_Practices small pixels If you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at richardflatau@gmail.com  

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 & 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders.  Cordwood Construction: Best Practices DVD (2018),  Cordwood Construction Best Practices 2020 (print & ebook) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore.   www.cordwoodconstruction.org

The Cordwood Workshop DVD is like taking a workshop in your own living room.

For more information on Cordwood Construction, click on the picture or visit www.cordwoodconstruction.org