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Build a Low-Cost Economical House

Save a bit of cash while also ensuring your home is environmentally sustainable by using stackwood construction when building your new home.

| May/June 1977

  • Stackwood House
    Jack Henstridge says building his spectacular house was as easy as stacking cordwood.

  • Stackwood House

Times were tough — really tough — for our family three years ago. In rapid succession, I was laid off from a good-paying job as a company pilot, our house burned down, and our VW van — which had exceeded its warranty's mileage limitation by a mere 27 miles — swallowed a valve, leaving the engine a shambles.

Our situation reminded me of that old joke in which the man from the collection agency calls and says that unless you pay up, he's "going to make trouble for you." We were so hard up that if the collections guy had called us, we could have given him the classic punch line: "You are going to make trouble for us?"  

Low-Cost Housing Plans

On the bright side, we did manage to collect $8,000 in fire insurance money (thanks to my wife, Helen, who had remembered to pay the premium a month before the Big Blaze). And I had plenty of free time on my hands to design — and build — a replacement for the charred remains of our home.

Whether we could buy food out of that $8,000 and have enough cash left over to finance the construction of something more substantial than a fancy two-seater outhouse was another question, however. And yet our dwelling would have to be fairly substantial to withstand the four-foot accumulations of snow and minus-40 degree Fahrenheit weather that are common here (in Oromocto, New Brunswick) during the winter.

I began to think. Has anyone ever built a house here without money and survived? Certainly ... the early settlers did. What kind of shelter did they build? Log cabins, of course. "Great," I said to myself. "That's the kind of shelter we'll construct!"

Homework Time

Without further ado, I began to study up on log construction. I researched materials and methods, visited old log buildings that had been restored, made sketches, and — at the same time — began to cut down the trees we would use for our log dwelling.

8/6/2016 8:47:05 PM

I would love to see pictures of the building process and the near finished home.

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