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Building your own home...? Answered

Suppose you buy a few acres of land, and desired to build your house with your own hands using the trees that were local. (Northeast Pennsylvania) How would you go about it? I know about taking the logs and using them like "Lincoln logs" but maybe perhaps its best to take the wood and cut it into timber, avoiding the weight of the heavy logs (then adding insulation and such, of course). But either way; how would you even treat the wood for winter/summer cycles, termites, etc? And by doing that (cutting it into timber on site) is that reliable for a long stretch of time?


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10 years ago

There are many books out there about building with green logs. I believe that you have to allow for shrinkage when using raw trees. Another way to go is by using log cabin kits, with treated wood and other fixtures that you might need. I would go the latter way to avoid repairing in the future.


10 years ago

Good on you for wanting to build your own house, some points to consider:

Dimensioned lumber (2x4's etc, typical building wood) offers consistency in your build, making construction much easier than ripping the wood yourself.

Lumber as you see it in the store has been dried to reduce the moisture content (typically 19% if I recall). If you plan on ripping your own planks you won't be able to build with them until they reach a consistent moisture level. Building while the wood is still 'green' will create problems when the wood looses moisture, your structure will warp.

Wood that will be exposed to the elements is subject to deterioration. You'll need to treat the wood in order to preserve it. Typically, exterior lumber (like for decks etc) are pressure treated with a formaldehyde cocktail that preserves and protects the wood, especially for moisture.

Consider that the 'wood portion' of your home, as you have described it, is going to be the framing. For this you're better off with proper building materials, ditto with the plywood (as making your own plywood on-site is a tough challenge). If you want to incorporate local building materials into your home there's plenty of other options in the surrounding area which can lend themselves to your home, such as:
  • landscape
    • boulders for landscaping
    • indigenous plants
  • interior:
    • indigenous trees for interior accent pieces (architectural)
    • wood from trees for furniture
  • exterior:
    • wood for shingles
    • local rocks for exterior facade
  • other:
    • crush local rock for aggregate

Building a house from local wood isn't impossible, but you'll want to make the right choice so that your house in the woods doesn't become an unsafe wood-fort project gone wrong.
I hope that helps, good luck!

Answer 10 years ago

You and I are on the same wavelength. I know that building with the wood that was just cut isn't a smart choice to do. Lemme rephrase this question. What can i do to this freshly cut trees, to reduce the moisture content to acceptable levels for building? Is there anything i could do to use this in construction in a big way? I'd HATE to waste something beautiful. I seen on this site a man covered the ends with wax. But you really seem to know what your talking about. What do you recommend? https://www.instructables.com/id/Seasoning-small-section-timber/


10 years ago

there are many ways to build wood based homes.

untreated traditional log cabin with the inter log space caulked with turf or silicone sealant - there are a lot of web sites if you search thet will explain techniques.

Convert the trees, i.e. cut it into planks, a more economic way to utilise the tree. On site you either buy, hire a LARGE band saw with suitable generator or engine to drive it, may be costly. or get a LOT of mates and take the time to hand saw the logs, hard work and time consuming.

get a factory built wood frame house delivered to site on the back of a lorry and build from that - again research on google. this way you get to keep the nice trees all round the house you build.

Alternatives, Rammed earth, Adobi, straw bails, Crook frame house, wood frame with daub and wattle, standard building blocks (bricks), concrete, A dome dwelling, A minimal house i.e. as small as it could possibly be to minimise the impact on the environment, research will show you some VERY small but habitable places, A shipping container house, An underground house, A tree house, A wenger cube house,

Google will direct you to all of these with examples there is sooo much choice I couldn't possibly advise you without being there and discussing your particular needs.

Family or just you, animals or just you, Big or small, Single story, double story or higher, Main priorities - Space, View, Leisure, Work, Children, Eating,/cooking, Modern/traditional/futuristic, colour, finish, budget, labour, self build or contractors. Architect designed or make it up as you go, facilities, electricity, heating, cooking, plumbing, waste water , Fresh water,

All these need to be considered and decisions made before it is too costly to change things.