The Coffee Pod Construction

Guest Post by Michael Chandler of North Carolina

Construction Details

After building curved wall project I was interested in seeing how it would work as a free standing structure and decided to try it as a play house for my daughter. With a footprint of less than 144 sf and no dimension larger than twelve feet it wouldn’t need an engineer’s stamp or a building permit. We (Erica and I) laid out a re-cycled lumber tarp on a round notch we cut in the hillside next to the river and set a ring of 3/8″ rebar on it. We formed up the first armature of 3/8″ rebar wrapped in 4″ wide ribbons of re-cycled brown tarp so they’d look like bent branches and the rusty surface wouldn’t rub off on the kids. Then we wrapped it in several layers of the same re-cycled lumber tarps and the expanded wire mesh and another layer of re-bar. The window and door frames were made of copper flashing rolled onto the same re-bar and wired into the frame to create “eyebrows” to divert rain water.

Erica helped with the fiberglass reinforced stucco, two coats.

Then a coat of asphalt foundation sealer, being careful not to get it in our hair…

Another coat of surface bonding cement over the tar…

“it’s very thin and actually has very small amount of materials in it but still strong enough to support Erica climbing up top.”

The first copper-clad wood door didn’t hold up and was replaced with a more robust copper and steel door when we finished it up the following spring with another coat of surface bonding cement, some elastomeric paint and the chimney cap, running water and electricity. Heat is a little 1,500 watt fan/heater. The touch switch lighting keeps me from needing a wall switch and maintains the magical rustic illusion on what is actually a fairly complex structure.

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Sarah K. - December 23, 2010 Reply

A very ingenious structure. Love how it blends into the forest.

Benjamin - December 24, 2010 Reply

What a wonderful whimsical little house!

I didn’t know you could apply coatings over tar.

Michael Chandler - December 27, 2010 Reply

The surface bonding cement (AKA Surewall) went down great on the asphalt foundation coating, to see more standard architectural application of this same construction process (that we did have to get an engineers stamp on) take a look at

One day I’d like to make a livable earth bermed home using the same system only dug into a hillside and fully insulated and heated and all. One day…

Mary Anne - June 9, 2013 Reply

Afsphalt sealers have recently been found to cause neurological brain damage in children! I was horrified to see a child applying this coating let alone, now being exposed to this toxic material on a daily basis. Towns around my region are starting to stop using these sealers. Otherwise, this pod is a fantastic idea!

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