need building wood advice

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Buffy in Dallas, Apr 11, 2006.

  1. Buffy in Dallas

    Buffy in Dallas Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We are ready to order wood to start building our house but I would like recomendations on what type of wood to use. We are building an underground home. (The wood will not come in contact with dirt.) We will be using 6" x 6" posts and 6" x 8" girders. I was planning on using untreated pine but one guy at a lumber place said douglas fir would be better(and more expensive!) Is pine going to crack and check badly like he said or is he trying to make money on us? :confused: We looked into cedar too. Its less expensive that the fir! What do Y'all think?
     
  2. fricknfarm

    fricknfarm Well-Known Member

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    Check into the "engineered" structural lumber too. less expensive than fir(which really is superior to pine). If you have any doubts about pine vs fir ask yo see what he has for comparison. Educate yourself on the idfference so when it's delivered you'll know.
    "Engineered products have their place too. they are very strong and cheaper than straight demension lumber, BUT not very attractive as exposed beams if that's what you have in mind.
    Here in MO we have quite a number of mills where you can buy native lumber relatively cheap. This is GOOD wood, oak, walnut, cedar, decorative wood. Great for exposed beams but up to $20.00 a foot for say 10X12s. The same mills will sell you a cord of what didn't make their specs for $50.00, varying demensions and lengths. We bought our $50.00 cord and I "milled" it with my table saw ( hardwoods tough on blades, sanding belts too) and made all my window and door trim out of native walnut, nothing fancy, just square cut. Plus a chair rail with a 5" shelf that runs along the perimeter of my crazy "one room" design.
    Check and see if there are any lumber mills, flooring manufacturers, etc. as you may find superior products for the same money you'd spend for pine or fir.
     

  3. Buffy in Dallas

    Buffy in Dallas Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Ya, all the wood will be exposed beams. We have even discussed buying some land up in O.K. to cut pine off of. Of course it would be green then too. If I could find a mill near dallas it would be nice but fat chance of that. Do you think cedar would be too strong smelling to live in? I love that smell but all the time?
     
  4. logbuilder

    logbuilder Well-Known Member

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    Some thoughts that are correct for my part of the country but may not apply to you. First, big doug fir beams are generally kiln dried so checking and shrink is minimal. Cedar generally is not dried so you will get checking and some shrink. Also, even though you might think of cedar as that really red stuff that smells so good, that is the most expensive cedar and is picked over long before any dimensional lumber is cut. The cedar that does get cut to dimensional is not that strong smelling at all and what smell it does have is gone in a few months. At least that is true with western red cedar. Oh yea, doug fir is much stronger than either cedar or pine in terms of long weight-bearing spans.

    Robert
     
  5. Farmer Willy

    Farmer Willy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Haven't seen your plans, but would use steel frame and wrap it with the wood of my choice. You'll have a better load bearing structure. Steel deck, rebar mat, pour a concrete slab, coat it and cover with soil, plant the grass seed and daisies. Add retractable metal shutters to cover your windows and a metal entry door and you're set for storms, fire, or WWIII.
     
  6. MississippiSlim

    MississippiSlim Well-Known Member

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    Southern Yellow Pine has been the choice in myy area for many years but quality SYP is getting harder to find. You generally need to use a grade higher than you would have ten years ago fo rthe same quality, in my experience. But hey we don't have Douglas fir here.....
     
  7. Buffy in Dallas

    Buffy in Dallas Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Farmer Willy, I would love to do that but it would cost a fortune! :eek: Our house is going to be 2,000 sq. ft and I plan to spend $30,000. max. We are using Mike Oehler's method of building. check out his website.

    http://www.undergroundhousing.com/
     
  8. just_sawing

    just_sawing Haney Family Sawmill

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    OK understand that I own and operate a sawmill. That means I make money by selling you wood.
    1. use the cheapest wood that will do the job with a 30% overkill. ALL WOODS are listed some where to what they will hold shrink and hold up.
    2 Because a wood is not normally used could mean that there just isn,t enough of it to use comercally. (Here fast growing palowmia is of no market (The slow growth is sky high) but they are making a industry of structural in austrialia with the fast growing)
    3 Test before use. The test may be going where some one has done what you are doing.
    Talk to old timers. (I found that Syacamore can be put next to metal with no acid problems this way)
    4. If a opinion isn't backed by personal or professional experiance it is nothing but a opinion.
     
  9. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Texas is termite heaven. I suggest using treated timber for all structural wood members, or treating them yourself. Bora-Care can be applied with a cheap garden sprayer and will soak completely through the wood preventing the termites, rot, and other fungal diseases. The additional cost to treat all the wood in an average house would be about $200. (average being about 1000 sq ft)

    Just because it isn't in direct contact with the soil will not stop termites.
     
  10. Ramblin Wreck

    Ramblin Wreck Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Cedar would probably be my choice given the options noted above. If you could possibly find cypress, that would be great too. Both are very "bug resistant". We do not see much fir in the South, so I cannot comment on its strength, but the quick growth yellow pine we now use can get the job done. It certainly is no where near the strength of of the original pine tree in our region, the much slower growing Long Leaf pine. Because of the Long Leaf's strength and pliability, it was the wood used to make the masts in Clipper ships. Good luck on what sounds like an interesting project.
     
  11. Country Doc

    Country Doc Well-Known Member

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    There is a fair amount of cypress for sale in La. from the Katrina and Rita . You might try and go online for thrifty nickle papers, etc.
     
  12. Obser

    Obser "Mobile Homesteaders"

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    I would pay close attention to everything said by "just_sawing" -- especially the part about opinions.

    I just looked at your link to underground houses. If you haven't built a house before (as it seems), it might be prudent to do a LOT of homework and get advice from people who have actually done what you intend and have lived with it for a while.

    Underground housing can make sense OR it can be a nightmare. It requires totally different considerations and construction methods. AND, it can be quite expensive if done correctly.

    Please do yourself a favor and check, in person, with folks who know first-hand. A lot of owners of underground or bermed houses are more than willing to show others their house and discuss practical matters of construction and cost.
     
  13. fricknfarm

    fricknfarm Well-Known Member

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    Ahhh, the extensive use of wood like that in TX, looks like the house in website is in the mountains, probably a termite no mans land. You COULDN'T use PT lumber inside for exposed beams as you'd poison yourself. Cypress, cedar, but the cost$$$$ to build something akin to this house today. Good lumber is becoming very scarce. Underground/earthbermed homes are very attractive from many standpoints. You might consider a poured concerete structure well sealed against moisture penetration with decorative woods as flooring/ceiling if it's the look you're after. There are new products out there that make wonderful moisture barriers.
    Personally I'd be afraid to put wood structurally in an underground environment in TX. We do have an Amish builder here(MO) that does wood basements. He put one in his own house so I guess he has faith in them. I'm just undecided. Termites scare me. They can do a lot of damage before you even know it and with tons of dirt over your head safe is better than sorry.
     
  14. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    New pressure treated lumber does not pose a risk of poisoning. They no longer use the same chemicals.

    Termites are a relentless force of nature. Some woods are more resistant than others, but none are bug proof. In spite of what some strawbalers claim, they will also eat straw. They are one of God's answers to cellulose.

    Termites are found in every state. The further north you go, the less damage they do because the weather limits there time of activity. My property is at 7600 feet high in the arid Colorado mountains, and I found termites eating a board on the building site. I also did a termite treatment in a school building on Mt. Evans close to 14000 feet altitude.

    Concrete will be much more durable in the long run.
     
  15. fricknfarm

    fricknfarm Well-Known Member

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    Wow gobug, 14,000 feet? that's scary. Global warming or are they getting tougher. Are you using the general or specific "termite" / I've heard exterminators refer to carpenter ants as termites. Ants I can accept at 14.000 feet. Real termites, that is SCARY. Formosan termites eat concrete. i lived in FL, that was the new scare there about 20 years ago, that and the vinyl eating cockroaches that would shortcircut TVs by eating the coating on the wires and then crawling aroun "bridging" the wires. God save us from the bugs, so much more adaptable than us.
     
  16. Wildtim

    Wildtim Well-Known Member

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    $8,000 for the house in the pictures, even in 80's $ you'd have to do your own lumbering.
     
  17. Wildtim

    Wildtim Well-Known Member

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    OK so that what he did. Cool design good luck with it should be cool :goodjob:.
    I'd say use what you want to but make darn sure its rated for the load. Remember almost all pole buildings you see today are made from cheap pine that has been soaked in chemicals then put up while still wet. If you buy your lumber and then let it season or dry it yourself you will be able to pull out the pieces that check and crack and not use them.
     
  18. Wildtim

    Wildtim Well-Known Member

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    something else to look for is engineerd trusses for your girders they might look neat and they are easier to work with than full beams. They do make trusses flat for use as floor support in home construction.
     
  19. Farmer Willy

    Farmer Willy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    A quick calculation: A 2000 sq ft building, 4" floor, 8" ceiling, 8' walls. For a building 25x80 I came out with ~ 104 cu yd. @ $100/yd ~ $10,400. This is for the concrete alone. None of the steel. Around here I'd look for salvaged steel and I purchase new steel columns. Now, cut the concrete and steel estimates for the openings in the outward wall (doors, windows) and any upper glazing (skylights, domes, ect.). I think you'd end up with a building that would stand up to the loads imposed by an earth covering that would be both termite and fire proof, still allow natural light, and could be ventilated. I would prefer concrete to wood in an underground application, but your location may have a different set of circumstances then here. Or as stated, a compromise might be to use reinforced concrete columns for support and cover these in a wood wrapping of your choice. It would offer terrifice support (examine the next large parking garage you enter) but allow you to have the warmth of natural wood covering it.
     
  20. Buffy in Dallas

    Buffy in Dallas Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It looks like we will be using cedar to build with as we have tons of them on our property and can buy what we can't cut. I hadn't really thought about termites much guess we should treat the outside of the house when its built. Do you think that they will chew through thick plastic? Darn, and I thought ants might be the biggest problem. :eek:
    We don't have to worry about the weight of the dirt as much because we are only going to put a few inches on top. Enough to grow some grass or ground cover. My brain still hurts from doing the weight calculations! I can't wait till this part is over and all I have to do is pick which marble to put in the bath room. :bouncy: