House Built From Silo Staves

Doug Spear, Hewitt, Minn., wanted to build his own home. He looked at many different designs but when he read about a silo that had been converted into a house, he decided to built his own silo home starting from scratch.

At first Spear considered tearing down an old silo for the staves. But experienced friends warned him that most staves are ruined in disassembly. Instead, he bought new staves (some were seconds) from a local company, enough for a house 28 ft. in dia. and 18 ft. tall.

Although a friend who builds silos got him started on the fast round, Spear carried and placed most of the 75-lb. staves by himself. After completing the two main stories of the house with staves, he used heavy plastic to create a third story green-house.

The outside walls are covered with two layers of 1-in. thick insulating "bead" board. The lower level of the house is also covered with a layer of 12-in. long blocks of cord-wood (dried for two years) held together with mortar.

Most of the lumber in the house came from wood Spear and his brother cut and hauled to a sawmill. The floor in the bottom level is planed tongue and groove poplar. He plastered the inside walls of the house.

Building the silo house was a long term, labor-intensive project that Spear is still working on when time and money allow. He and his wife Penny used less than five cords of wood last winter to heat the energy-efficient home and Penny notes that the house is also cooler during hot summer months. The couple also keeps electric bills down by not hooking up to public utilities. Spear has a Saab car engine in a shed attached to the house that runs a generator that charges a battery bank and also heats and pumps water to a storage tank upstairs.

Photo and story reprinted with permission from The Land, Mankato, Minn.