Dear Jim: I have thought of building a unique cedar home, but I wonder if the wood provides adequate wall insulation. I like the cedar smell, but perhaps not all the time. Are cedar houses very energy efficient?
-- Mike R.
Dear Mike: Cedar homes are very attractive and, although many have unique exterior styling, traditional-looking homes can also be built from cedar.
Don't worry about your cedar home smelling like a closet. The aromatic cedar used in closets and furniture is very different from the non-aromatic western red cedar most commonly used in house construction. With its natural preserving oils, all cedar resists insects, moisture and mildew.
Most cedar houses are sold as complete packages that are delivered to your building site for rapid construction. They range from small bungalows to 4,000-square-foot dream houses. .
Since you are concerned about wall insulation, select one of the cedar house construction methods that provide high levels of insulation hidden inside of the walls. These walls look like solid cedar logs on the exterior, but the center of the wall system is insulated to produce a level more than R-20.
Almost all of the cedar house packages are very energy efficient. Some of the cedar post and beam designs have wall insulation up to R-30, roofs to R-40 and floors to R-28. This creates a comfortable house with year-round low utility bills. By selecting a solar design, the savings can be greater.
Even without conventional fiberglass or rigid foam insulation inside the walls, solid cedar logs can still be energy efficient. The heavy logs have tremendous thermal mass that creates an insulating effect. The solid walls are particularly effective during the summer for comfort and low cooling bills.
For people on a tight budget, there are several houses that grow packages specifically designed to be added on to later as your family grows.
Write for Update Bulletin No. 476, a list of 14 manufacturers of cedar house packages, seven floor plan layouts and exterior diagrams, construction methods, typical specifications and a construction schedule. Include $3 and a business-sized self addressed stamped envelope. Mail to James Dulley, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, Ohio 45244. To download the bulletin, go to www.dulley.com.