Build a House With Green Wood

How to build low-cost, non-energy-intensive, do-it-yourself housing from green wood including gathering raw materials, shrinkage, nails and nailing.

| May/June 1976


Figure 1


Click on Image Gallery for referenced figures.

If you're interested in low-cost, non-energy-intensive, do-it-yourself housing—and who isn't these days?—here's new-old way to make that dream come true.

Planning to build your own house or cabin? Want to save a bundle on materials AND add to your dwelling's visual appeal? Then by all means, use green wood in your project!

Now please hear me out! I know the idea of constructing a house of unseasoned wood registers with most folks like fingernails scraping on a chalkboard . . . but doggone it, fresh-from-the-tree lumber is [1] only one-fifth to a third as expensive as kiln-dried pine, [2] no harder to work with, in my opinion, than "ordinary" materials, and [3] stunningly beautiful. It's also real, in a way that Formica and stucco and linoleum can never be.

Sure, raw timber does shrink as it dries out. You can circumvent this problem, however, with the right construction techniques . . . and I'm sure that once you've compared the aroma, appearance, and sheer good karma of a green wood house with the aura of any other wooden structure, you'll agree that shrinkage is of trivial importance. (Well, almost trivial.) Besides: Green wood is organic, non-energy-intensive, and just plain fun to work with! How else can a guy build a home for a family of six for under $6,000?

Green Wood is Inexpensive

Yep, that's all I spent on the 1,800-square-foot structure that keeps the rain off my wife, myself, and our four kids. Working together, we constructed the 100% green oak cabin ourselves in nine months for a cost far below what we'd have paid a contractor to do the job. And, as you can see from the accompanying photos, our humble abode is really quite livable.

1/17/2008 10:41:26 AM

I am the author of The Green Wood House book and I have now made the book available for free (to honor the book's 30th anniversary). Send a request to me at: and be sure the words "Green Wood House" are in the subject line. I will send you free a .pdf file (just under 10 MB in size) which includes all of the original book as well as some updated pictures and comments.

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Sept. 15-17, 2017
Seven Springs, PA.

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