Luke and Amy Metzger have built a wonderful cordwood home in Spartanburg, SC. They have a basement, a post & beam framework, an open ceiling and a loft area, beautiful porches and more. They offer the “wood-be” cordwood builder some great and timely tips. I will use quotes from Luke’s emails to share his (and Amy’s) knowledge and wisdom.
The following are Luke’s words. “The house although only 4 years old is holding up well. We used red cedar that was debarked and seasoned for 1-1/2 to 2 years. Only the largest of logs shrink in the winter…but only 1/32″ max…we heat with a wood stove. And when the spring returns the logs expand back. We have front and back covered porches and the gables have a 2′ overhang. This really protects the cordwood and was a really good decision with the rain and humidity of the south.”
“What we did was complete the entire structure first. This was was done for two reasons. First, the building inspectors had never seen cordwood masonry and they wanted to ensure that the structure and the integrity of the house would be sufficient on its own….the cordwood would simply be an infill. Of course, the infill with the logs and mortar gave increased strength, but they were concerned none the less. Second, since it was just me and Amy doing the building, it took us a lot longer than conventional construction. So by getting the structure up in the dry, we had a nice place to dry store the cordwood and it allowed us not to worry about rain as we worked on each infill section.”
“One other design detail was the basement: I did not want the weight of the cordwood walls to sit on a joist system. I was afraid that the joists (cross-grain) would move with humidity which might cause additional cracks in the lime mortar over time. So as you can see in the pics, I created pockets between the cinder blocks on the last course for the joists sit down in. Therefore a 2×10 sill plate was anchored directly to the foundation falls….hence the entire weight of the cordwood falls directly on the foundation and not on the joists. The walls are 10″ thick. We did the dry stack 8-inch block wall using surface bonding cement. We also reinforced with rebar and grout filling. Frost line is like 6 inches there so we really had a walkout basement and not all that much backfill. We did create pockets in last bond beam block course to drop in floor joists and tied in the to the top sill plate with J bolts.”
“The cordwood coming down the stairs on the gable ends were 1” thick slices glued and screwed to the wall (cordwood siding). We painted the wall with a sand and paint mixture to match the color of the lime mortar first. “
All pictures are courtesy of Luke and Amy Metzger. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story of having a goal, planning for that goal and reaching it with a most excellent result. Congratulations.
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.
If you have questions that aren’t answered on the website you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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 the 2005, 2011 and 2015 Cordwood Conferences and provided consultation for cordwood builders. Cordwood Construction: Best Practices DVD, Cordwood Construction Best Practices (print) and Cordwood Conference Papers 2015 are the newest publications available from their online cordwood bookstore. www.cordwoodconstruction.org