i have been reading up on homesteading for a few years now and getting closer to purchasing land.
sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming in trying to plan everything out so that i don't waste money. the more i'm reading the cheaper everything seems it will be, i.e. rocket stove for heating will save money, composting toilet.
i will be settling in the northeast in cold winter climate.
right now i am trying to decide about the property purchase and what will meet my needs and wind up saving me money in the future.
i plan to build at some point a large space to accomodate music, maybe 1500-2500 s.f. or more. i have very little building experience but a lot of reading experience.
i also have landlust pretty bad, so i am always wrestling how to get as much land as i can afford which is at odds with savng money for the building.
whole tree building and timber framing interests me as does cordwood and earthbag. cordwood needs to be seasoned 2 years from what i understand. how long do timber and whole trees need to be seasoned before it is safe to build with?
are there any building systems that can use green wood?
is it possible to harvest trees in the winter?
for a single floor timber frame building about 1500- 2000 s.f., roughly how much money would i be saving in timber costs if i harvest and mill the wood myself. this would include renting or purchasing a milling machine. i have lots of time so i am not counting labor costs.
earthbag with scoria fill seems to be the cheapest way to go for now as far as i know but i really love wood, so i'm trying to find the cheapest way to go this route.
i was also looking at the lumberlink joinery system which can use regular lumber and requires no trusses. any opnions on this?
i am looking into cost savings on foundation and roof as well. the building will be sparsely or unfinished inside, just home made raw kitchen, spartan bathroom and the cheapest flooring i can muster.
i am looking at at least 2 years to finish it so some land with a little cabin on it seems to be the best route.
Location: Savannah, GA
posted 9 years ago
The reason you don't use green wood in building is that as it dries it shrinks and then nothing fits together any more. This is one reason conventionally built houses are such crap. A lot of the wood used in them is not dry and stable. The amount of time needed to dry wood depends on the initial moisture content, the thickness and species of the wood and the conditions it is dried in. So there is no way to say exactly how long it takes. It takes until the wood is dry.
When thinking about whole logs, remember that a log is very heavy and one can easily kill you if it falls on you. If you're not going to have any help, think about another way to do what you want.
You can building using green wood as demonstrated by a bloke called Ben Law in the UK. He's been mentioned a fair bit on these forums and he has a few books out, two of which are about roundwood timber framing. You can find some stuff on Youtube about him and a documentary was made about his roundwood home although it's probably not available outside of the UK.
"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."
You can cut trees in the winter. If it is very cold when you cut them and the sap is totally down you may find that the bark stays in the log when it is dried. Some people like that look of having the bark on the log when you use it in your building. If you cut in the summer when the sap is up, the bark will not stay on the log. It does not effect the strength of the wood, but it does make a big difference in how it looks. You may or may not like the look. The bark can be cut off if you are making boards. If I can make a suggestion, I would build a small shelter to live in while you are building the " Big " house. Or maybe even buy an old trailer that you could sell when you are done with it. That will allow you to live on the land while you build. Being on the land will be a huge help to you by eliminating travel time and letting you work when ever you feel up to doing the work. By actually being on the land you may change your plans as you go to accomidate how you want to live there. Good luck with your project.
Never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world, Indeed it is the only thing that ever has. Formerly pa_friendly_guy_here
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
posted 9 years ago
Quite often, you can find a small travel trailer very cheap. It will provide housing while you study the land, and build your home. If it is not worth much when you are finished using it, it may be worth more to you as a ready built chicken coop than trying to build a coop. (Or farrowing pen.)
I have known and helped somebody build a large entertainment area. Started out as a large metal roof carport, wrapped in visqueen and milled own pine with his own gas sawmill that was installed green vertically with windows and doors. boards were random at 6-12" wide 1" thick. A year or more later thin cut strips were put up to cover the gaps created by planned shrinkage. The board ends touching ground were dipped in what I think was used engine oil mixed with copper sulphate for rot prevention. Nothing structural or engineered, it was just a 4 sided windbreak that kept out the rain.
Paul Wheaton has a short video on cordwood houses which mentions some of its short comings. You may want to check that out if you haven't already to take into consideration.
posted 9 years ago
I would build a small shelter to live in while you are building the " Big " house. Or maybe even buy an old trailer that you could sell when you are done with it. That will allow you to live on the land while you build. Being on the land will be a huge help to you by eliminating travel time and letting you work when ever you feel up to doing the work. By actually being on the land you may change your plans as you go to accomidate how you want to live there. Good luck with your project. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
that's what i would like to do ideally, and it makes the most sense. the best ideas so far are buying a place that already has a little cabin on it, travel trailer, yurt or wall tent, or an earthbag dome.
travel trailers are problematic in cold/snowy weather but i have read that it may be doable with a very small wood stove and retrofit a metal chimney.
at first i thought yurts would be too much money to invest in as temporary shelter but i am revisiting that route. the only thing that puts me off is that i hear they don't last that long and i'd rather not sink 10-12k into something that won't make 30 years. i also hear they need to be lived in all the time and that the summers are problematic.
a wall tent on a platform with a big wood stove may be the cheapest/best bet, i am still looking into that.
not sure if i could finish a dome in one summer, but that is also a possibility.
once i'm on the land i can harvest timber leisurely and then plan for the bigger structure.
also, does anyone here coppice their timber harvest? i just learned about it and it seems interesting.
Winter cut trees which are allowed to retain branches into the spring will attempt to grow leaves and put on new growth and in the process the logs lose more water than if you had cut them up immediately. In most parts of the Northeast they should be ready to use by May.
Most of the shortcomings of cordwood building have to do with air leakage and the many hours of fiddling required to point the multitude of different shaped gaps. If a cob parging is used on both the interior and exterior of the wall, the labor can be cut dramatically, air leakage is greatly reduced and thermal mass is improved. The wall would end up looking more like rammed Earth or cob.
I am building in this style with a modified post and beam wall truss system which will not only bear the roof load, it will also allow me to get the whole structure standing so that all other work can be done under the shelter of the roof. With proper bracing ,all hidden within the parging ,this structure will be far more durable in an earthquake. The system also allows you to use just about any scrap wood regardless of quality, appearance or size.
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