Chartreuse Blog

Cordwood House
August 11, 2009, 2:57 pm
Filed under: Green Projects | Tags: ,

cordwood7Type of Construction: Post and Beam
Built By: Donald Gerdes, Home Owner
Completed: April 2006
Length of Construction: 2.5 Years
Foundation: Slab on Grade
Size: 2100 sq. ft. Ground, 720 sq. ft. Loft
Wood: White Pine
Mortar: Cement
Wall Type: 5” Mortar, 6” Cellulose Insulation, 5” Mortar
Total Wall Thickness: 16”

Donald Gerdes began drawing plans for his home in the spring of 2003 and moved into his Cedar House, located in Reedsburg, WI, in the spring of 2006.  The great room and dining room are housed in an octagon shaped plan with a large fireplace at its center, and the kitchen, bathrooms, bedroom, utility room, workshop and two car garage extend north from the semi-circle.  A loft overlooks the great room.  The house is heated in the winter by the fireplace and under-floor radiant heat.

For more information about cordwood masonry visit the Chartreuse website’s section on cordwood at









Cordwood Construction
July 8, 2009, 4:59 pm
Filed under: Green Materials | Tags: , ,
Image from

Image from

Cordwood construction is truly a vernacular building method of the Upper Midwest. Utilized by early pioneer builders who were simply responding to conditions on the frontier, the majority of American cordwood structures are located in Wisconsin, though several are located in Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, and as far west as Montana. Many existing cordwood structures are barns built in the 1920s and 1930s during the Great Depression. These structures were built utilizing regionally available and affordable materials because high quality heavy timber and stone were too costly and not readily available. Homes were also built using this technique and were called “Depression Housing.”

Cordwood construction is a technique that utilizes whole or split wood, usually 6” to 24” inches long or more, layered width wise in a bed of mortar. The walls produced are textured with exposed log ends.

The technique has seen a renaissance in the past 30 to 40 years with cordwood homes popping up across the US and Canada because they are inexpensive to build, easy for the do-it-yourself homebuilder, energy efficient, and a natural construction method.

For more information about cordwood construction visit