My name is Al, and I live in Milo, Maine.
My wife, Laura, and I discovered cordwood construction years ago when we were looking into alternative building. I have been involved with building and home repair since I was 13. I started out installing siding with my father before I joined the US Navy. I served for 5 years. Later, I owned and operated my own construction business for a while, switched over to owning a used car business and auto repair garage, then went back into building and construction.
Laura is an author. Together, she and my daughter have written quite a few books which makes it possible for me to take the time off to build our home.
History of this project
First off, we needed to find the right property. When we moved back to Maine, we decided it was finally time to build, but it wouldn’t be practical or cost effective to buy a piece of land and start fresh. The cost of the well, septic, clearing and driveway would have eaten a large part of the budget, so we began looking for another option.
At the time, we had moved back to Maine and were staying in our daughter’s basement while we waited for the sale to close on the home we’d flipped in Syracuse. It was late winter moving into spring with a bit of snow still on the ground, so property hunting was a little like buying a pig in a poke.
The property we ended up buying was a secluded, 3 acre lot with a mobile home and 2 car garage already on the property. We did a happy dance and handed over the money from the house we flipped, and then waited to move in.
Granted, our daughter’s house had a very nice finished basement—like an in-law apartment, but getting into our own place was the goal. The property was at a good price because the owners had fourteen dogs. The whole area behind the house was fenced in with kennels, and neither the house or the back yard smelled rosy fresh.
So, after tearing out all of the smelly carpets, we bleached the floor and put in new carpet, painted, and spread lime over the lawn in the back. After the first rain the smell was gone and the house smelled nice so we were ready to jump right in and build.
Except that we’d blown a chunk of our nest egg on de-stinkifying the house and doing a few other repairs to make it comfortable, we had to start saving again. Of course, life got in the way a bit, and it was three years before we ended up getting the 11 cord of cedar we planned to build with. The cedar had to dry, so we waited again. Then the plague hit and that slowed things down a bit more, so here we are six years later, and finally beginning to build.
The plan of attack
After going around and around with the decision for where to put the new house, we decided we wanted it exactly where the mobile home sits on the property. The septic system is in front so we couldn’t go forward and to build behind would put the place too far back if we pulled out the mobile home out after.
Our remedy for this problem? We are building next to, and over the mobile home as the first phase of the build. In phase two, we will move into the two-story addition. Then we will remove the mobile home and finish off the space where it was. In phase three, we will add a new section with two bedrooms.