Building a house/cabin

Posted by: Rock Knocker

Building a house/cabin - 02/14/18 01:09 PM

Well, I am about to make a crazy turn in my life. Sell my house in town, buy some acreage and build a cabin on it.

The budget will be tight but this house will be small and built mostly out of wood I can get for free.

The house is going to be a cordwood construction with some post and beam worked into it for a second floor loft.

I don't have plans drawn out but it will be something around 800-1000sq.ft. main floor with a small second floor loft as a main bedroom.

I'm looking for all the help I can get, from pouring the concrete, running electric to turning maple trees into a house frame.

I don't have the exact details yet but this will likely start out as an off the grid home but I want to make sure everything can be easily hooked up once the house is built. I will plan on having spots for electric boxes and run conduit through the walls but I am more concerned about plumbing and making sure I can easily integrate a septic system to the house later, I have no ideas how I am going to do that.

I am also looking for website with relevant information or some cabin or home building sites with a good forum section, I'm going over the deep end on this one.
Posted by: masshunter

Re: Building a house/cabin - 02/14/18 08:38 PM

For floor plans go visit some model homes, and take pics and pick up some paperwork. Home shows, especially Log Cabin shows. Lots of stuff on line, but there is no substitute for standing in the rooms. Plan your site so your driveway will be south or east to get sun, likewise for porch. Think about outbuildings like woodshed, ect, so you won't be driving over the future septic system. Just a few things I learned the hard way.
Posted by: Plant.One

Re: Building a house/cabin - 02/14/18 11:34 PM

if you're planning to hook up to a septic system down the road, with a poured slab floor, you'll need to layout the plumbing before you do your slab.


you CAN cut concrete to add that kinda stuff later, but its a messy process at best, and i would have to imagine it to be expensive.

making sure you have your pitch and whatnot right is going to be important, so at the very least you'll want someone with underground experience to assist with the layout and placement.

at the very least you'll need to plan to accommodate a drain for a toilet, a shower/tub, a bathroom sink, a kitchen sink - and more than likely some kind of laundry area unless you plan to wash your duds at the local 24 hr suds-o-rama anyway smile

the good news is you can stub the pipe up above the floorline and just cap them off until you're ready to use them. you can do the same outside, just get it a stick outside of your outside wall and stuff a 90 on there and come back up so you know where to start digging to connect your septic system.

this is probably going to be something you're gonna want to get a professional involved with to make sure you dont have to go back and redo it due to it being buried under the concrete.
Posted by: tripod3

Re: Building a house/cabin - 02/15/18 12:12 AM

I have had to go in to replumb and rewire quite a number of places, some shortly after they were built or before being completed.
One problem with doing work in advance and covering it is inspectors want to see it when you decide to make it active when codes may change.
Having blockouts in concrete for future pipes or wires is a minimum and a huge time saver if you get them close to the right spot.
Plan plan plan and measure twice.
Just when you think most mistakes have already occurred at least once some body creates a new one.
Posted by: Rock Knocker

Re: Building a house/cabin - 02/15/18 05:03 PM

Yup I planned to pipe in everything I could and cap it off for later, I am just going to have to figure out how many drains I will need leading out, I clearly don't want the future toilet hooked to the kitchen sink. Running electric conduit through the walls for electric may be different, but it really wouldnt take much more time or money to run electric wiring everywhere before the house is hooked up.

I was on the phone with the county inspector and he seemed like a nice guy that lives just down the road from where I plan on building, so maybe a BBQ and some cold ones could help that situation out. He also said the previous home inspector okayed a cordwood house in the county some years back without issues and he seemed to think no issues with this building style.

And on another positive note I will have 2 years to worry about getting septic in.

One drawback I have run into is the poplar wood I planned on using, I read good things about it's insulation value but now I'm hearing poor things about it's durability. So now I am trying to hunt down other more expensive woods.

I am also pondering the idea of building a solar kiln to speed up the wood drying process.
Posted by: Plant.One

Re: Building a house/cabin - 02/15/18 05:32 PM

generally you put one main in and tie everything into it - this applies to hung sewer (like a house with a basement/crawl) or a buried one under a slab. there'll only be one pipe going to your septic tank from the house.

obivously this is just a basic example. but you get the idea.

Posted by: tripod3

Re: Building a house/cabin - 02/15/18 05:37 PM

Sounds like a shipping container might come in handy. I have seen some pretty attractive buildings erected with them, even kilns.
Posted by: Rock Knocker

Re: Building a house/cabin - 02/15/18 05:53 PM

One pipe out is pretty easy then, I can handle that.

A shipping container I have thought of, I didn't want to build with one but it might come in handy, plus I never thought of making a kiln with one.

Is anyone familiar with geothermal? I plan on starting out with a wood stove outside with floor heating inside and see what kind of strings I have to pull to get a wood stove inside also. Would it be easy to tie in geothermal to the pipe running hot water from the stove?
Posted by: Plant.One

Re: Building a house/cabin - 02/16/18 01:07 AM

if you're gonna do a boiler, starting with wood fired and switching over to geo is easy. its just a different way of heating the water thats flowing through your floor. you could even leave the wood system in place as a backup. however in a power outage event, you wouldnt be able to circulate your water without a secondary power supply in either event.


geothermal's are expensive to install, and just like your septic field will likely require a planned out space that wont be regularily driven over with heavy stuff if you're going to do an inground loop (very common configuration). the piping is usually at least 48" under the surface, but if you can avoid it you still dont want it run under like a driveway or some such.

my folks have had a water loop for around 20 years now, but ours in on a forced air system, not in-floor. we did retrofit it into an existing unit in place of our then jacketed wood stove. those <$20 ac bills in the summer make my dad smile and my mom put an extra blanket on the bed lol



make sure you insulate the [beeep] out of your flooring before you pour it, or you'll lose all your heat into the ground. they make a cool stapler thingy for anchoring the pex down to the foam sheeting so you dont have to bend over.





you put foam down, install the heating pipe on top of the foam and then pour your slab over the whole thing..

with a system like that in play however - you loose one of the biggest benefits of geothermal - the cheap air conditioning in the summer. many geo systems that use non forced air heat are paired up with mini-splints to cover that part of the climate control. i'm not trying to talk you out of in-floor - its awesome stuff, just something to consider.


if you could manage to find property with a consistent flowing water source you could setup some type of hydro generator and possibly end up mostly self sufficient.
Posted by: catwhacker

Re: Building a house/cabin - 02/16/18 01:54 PM

There are some good books on cord wood house building. From start to finish. Just Google cord wood house building book.
Posted by: Rock Knocker

Re: Building a house/cabin - 02/16/18 06:19 PM

I plan on ordering one or two of those books, the two I'm looking at are written by Rob Roy, it was his youtube video that got me interested in the first place.
Posted by: Rock Knocker

Re: Building a house/cabin - 07/28/19 03:55 AM

Back from the dead....

I sold my house and havent been on here much but things are moving along, I'm living in a RV trailer and I own a couple large piles of logs that will be a house someday.

So far I have purchased around 18 cord of Red Cedar for the cordwood exterior and I have a small mountain of oak and maple to saw into posts, beams and lumber for anything interior.

A customer of mine's father has a TimberKing 1600 with 8' extension that I rented. The mill has sat for the last 3 to 4 years in a Minnesotan leanto and the owner is in a retirement home... I cleaned and lubed the heck out of it plus replaced a couple bad hydraulic hoses and it should be cutting later today.

I made an offer on 25 acres this morning but the lot is a bit of a legal fiasco with the land being bank owned and previous owners the neighbors with some deed restrictions on the 8 acres of hay field on the 25 acre property... But things arent looking bad and one of my oldest customers is a realtor and contractor for the last 35 years and is giving me some pro bono help, legal team and all.

SO...... I still have buckets of questions... I have no question whether I can build the cabin or not but dang if I can figure out all the legal asssss-clappery.
Posted by: songdog

Re: Building a house/cabin - 07/31/19 05:26 PM

I watch "building off the grid" from time to time and one episode had a couple that built a cord wood house. Took them longer then they planned, but it turned out pretty dang cool.

Good luck.
Looking forward to seeing the finished product.
Posted by: dogcatcher

Re: Building a house/cabin - 08/11/19 03:14 PM

Here is an idea to look at. http://www.small-cabin.com/forum/2_599_0.html
A friend and I actually built a small backyard shed using the above idea. Kind of like playing with a giant Lincoln Log set. He was in rent house, and wanted something that he could use and move when he moved. Used 8 foot treated lumber, gave him about 7x7 inside dimensions. Now that he has bought a house, it has turned into his granddaughters playhouse. .

That forum has some pretty good and what I call crazy ideas that will work. Well worth spending some time getting ideas.