By George Harvey
Dick Walker is the proprietor of Dick Walker Sawmill in Fair Haven, Vermont. The mill makes shaped and trimmed logs for custom designed houses. The company motto, “If you can dream it, we can do it,” basically tells the story of the company mission.
He is also a bit of an experimenter. Thirty-eight years ago, he designed a very different sort of log house. The house is round. While there have been many historical round houses, there have not been many made of logs. In order to produce that shape, the logs are placed vertically, instead of horizontally. Now he is offering the same home to customers.
The house is 38 feet across, giving it a floor area of about 1134 square feet. It is a single story, and has its roof supported by the outside wall and an interior core in the middle of the living area. The house is open, aside from the core, and can be divided however its owner likes. It rests on an insulated concrete slab. The roof is made of 2-inch tongue-and-groove board, which will support just about any snow load, providing extra insulation.
Walker says there are two good options for insulating the roof. One is spray foam covered by rubber. The other is spray foam covered by three coats of silicone. In either case, the roof has insulation of R-5.5 per inch of foam, plus the insulating value of the wood and whatever snow accumulates.
He likes the slight roof overhang he put on his original house, because it shades the windows when the sun is high on hot days. A shade can be drawn on west-facing windows in the summer evenings to keep things cool. But all windows are set with a view to thermal gain in winter.
He says that his home has no additional insulation in the walls, beyond the 6.5-inch cedar logs. For his own comfort, he feels that it really does not need any. This is very possibly true, as he likes the space to be warm in winter, but uses only two cords of wood each year.
Of course, if you dream of building a net-zero ready home, the round design might easily be a good basis for it. And if you can dream it, you might like to talk about it with Dick Walker.
The phone number for Dick Walker Sawmill is 802-747-7900. The website is dickwalkersawmill.com.