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Landscape Timber Cabin - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Oct. 24th, 2004

09:38 pm - Landscape Timber Cabin

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http://www.farmshow.com/issues/28/05/280501.asp

He Uses Landscape Timbers
To Put Up Low-Cost Buildings
Picture

By Janis Schole, Contributing Editor



Being born in 1916 may have something to do with Clyde Barnhart's ability to find economical, inventive ways of doing things. The 88-year-old says the Depression taught him to be frugal and innovative.

Barnhart has a Ph.D. in entomology and is retired from a career in research. He recently came up with a low-cost, relatively easy way to put up buildings that have a "log cabin look" to them. He calls them "landscape timber buildings."

He uses 8-ft. long treated landscape timbers which are most often used for flowerbed edging. The timbers are 4 1/2 in. wide by 3 5/8 in. thick and are flat on top and bottom.

"At the corners, I stagger them and let them stick out. There's no notching and no framework to the building. The timber itself is the frame for the building. Since they're treated, you don't have to paint it. It looks like a log cabin. The inside doesn't have to be covered either, depending on what you want to use the building for," he explains.

Barnhart fastens the timbers together by drilling one 3/16-in. hole at each end of the timber and then drives pole barn nails down through into the timber below.

"You frame out the doors and windows like you would with any building," he says. "Landscape timbers are only about $3 each and one person can lift them without any problem. It's much easier than building a conventional log cabin."

Barnhart has made four landscape timber buildings so far. The first was an 8 by 8-ft. unit with a metal shed roof and a 4-ft. double door, which he uses as a blacksmith shop. He also built a 12 by 12-ft. "hide-away" log cabin with a 4 by 4-ft. outhouse to match. The last building is a 12 by 16-ft. multi-purpose unit with a gable roof. He calls it his "lab" and he uses it as a place to do glasswork, metal machining, repairs and inventing. This building is finished on the inside with heat and air conditioning.

Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Clyde Barnhart, 13637 Angell Rd., Athens, Ohio 45701 (ph 740 592-4203).

Comments:

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From:gentlemaitresse
Date:October 25th, 2004 01:45 am (UTC)
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Treated wood like that should not be used where people will touch it often, such as interior walls or children's playgrounds.

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From:crasch
Date:October 25th, 2004 01:49 am (UTC)
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It depends on how it is treated. And some people may find the risk tradeoff worth worthwhile, in any case.
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From:phanatic
Date:October 25th, 2004 06:26 am (UTC)
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Well, that link doesn't say that there's some form of treatment that's expected to be safe. And given that treated lumber's nasty enough when it's just used in garden fences and edging, building your house's walls out of the stuff seems like a singularly bad idea, along the lines of the Romans using lead for cooking pots.

As for some people, lots of people play the lottery at strongly-negative EVs. Risk analysis is something people in general are really, really bad at.
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From:crasch
Date:October 25th, 2004 06:47 am (UTC)
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Define "safe".

According to the article "...the lifetime risk of an arsenic-related cancer for children who play frequently on CCA-treated structures could be as high as one in 100,000.." How does that compare to the lifetime risk of driving say, to the movies with your kid?

As for safer alternatives, the article states:

"The EPA is concerned about the safety of ACC-treated wood because it comes off productionlines containing a form of chromium that also can cause cancer. The chromium subsequently converts to a non-hazardous state, but there's debate over whether that takes a few weeks or a few months."

If you're paranoid, wait a few months before moving in.

In any event, the main reason I posted the link was the building technique, not the method of log treatment.
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From:phanatic
Date:October 25th, 2004 08:47 am (UTC)
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According to the article "...the lifetime risk of an arsenic-related cancer for children who play frequently on CCA-treated structures could be as high as one in 100,000.." How does that compare to the lifetime risk of driving say, to the movies with your kid?

I dunno.

If the lifetime risk of arsenic-related cancer (and exposure to arsenic can cause a host of other maladies as well) is 1 in 100,000 just from playing on treated-wood structures, how do you think that compares to living in a house built from the stuff? Since kids don't spend at least 8 hours a day on the playground, I'm willing to bet the latter risk is considerably higher.

Not to mention that 1 in 100,000's not all that low. If your chances of winning the Lotto were that high, it'd have a positive EV almost every day.

In any event, the main reason I posted the link was the building technique, not the method of log treatment.

Well, that's cool and all, but how long would such a structure withstand the elements if the logs weren't treated?
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From:crasch
Date:October 25th, 2004 02:41 pm (UTC)
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I notice you didn't choose to define "safe".

Here's a table of common risks . Note that the numbers describe risk of death per year. Now, I don't know how the EPA's risk analysis was done, so I don't know how comparable the numbers are, but the lifetime risk of living in such a house doesn't seem that great to me (relative to these other risks), even if the numbers are 10 times greater).

On the whole, pollution (from all sources) appears to account for 1-3% of all human cancers.

Whatever risk the arsenic represents is almost certainly skin-contact mediated. If the house were lived in (as opposed to being used as an outbuilding) would most likely have a layer of insulation, followed by sheetrock. If you preferred the natural look of wood, a coating of varnish would also probably minimize the level of arsenic transmission as well.

Also, the EPA's toxicity numbers are notoriously conservative. They dose rats daily with levels of the potential carcinogen that would never be encountered in the real world.


Finally, how many deaths would be saved due to living in a simple house that cost $5000 vs. $150,000? That money could go to driving a safer car, quitting work (reducing stress), having more time to cook healthy food, and having more time to make friends/nurture family (highly correlated with longevity). Any rational calculation of risk, must take those risk reductions into account as well.


Well, that's cool and all, but how long would such a structure withstand the elements if the logs weren't treated?


I dunno. Who was advocating that it be untreated? If you want another less-toxic treatments, try borate-based treatments</a>.

Even if it were untreated, if it were cheap enough, you could just rebuild another one in ten years after it rotted. Or use rot-resistant shingles like redwood or cedar.



1. http://www.cato.org/testimony/ct-mg030697.html
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From:hippierage
Date:October 25th, 2004 03:04 am (UTC)
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hey!

There was a link sometime ago in your journal that linked to something that had a "modular" earth friendly house that you could buy in seperate pieces ... a bedroom unit, a main living unit, a kitchen unit, a waste recycling unit, etc. Do you have that link? I lost it.

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From:crasch
Date:October 25th, 2004 05:44 am (UTC)
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I'm not sure -- I post a lot of stuff about houses, and unfortunately, LJ's memory feature was so clumsy, I didn't use it much. What about the houses were you interested in?
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