Building a Cordwood House

From breaking ground to settling down, a Wisconsin couple shares their timeline for building a timber frame cordwood home, bit by bit.


After nearly 30 years of living and working in Madison, Wisconsin, we longed for a rural home. We’d spent several frustrating years looking for rural property, but anything with livable buildings disappeared quickly. So we decided that in order to acquire our dream home, we were going to have to build it.

We started researching alternative building techniques and chose cordwood. Our planning process commenced with a discussion of what our dream home would include, and we laid out the floor plan with an inexpensive software program.

In 2002, we found and purchased our dream property in Moscow Township, Wisconsin. And in 2004, with our initial plan in hand, Kim rented excavating equipment and broke ground. Our cordwood house would be approximately 40 by 60 feet, with two floors and a loft. The southern exposure would allow for passive solar energy and a wonderful view of natural springs, rolling hills, and native wildlife.


Because of our decision to pay as we went, construction progressed slowly. In 2006, through a Focus on Energy program, we were able to install a grid-connected tracking solar panel. We also began digging 32-inch concrete footings in preparation for the 16-inch poured concrete walls, upon which the cordwood walls would be laid. Subsequently, we decided to hire an engineer to design the timber layout for an open floor plan.



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