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Books about Natural Building

Essential Media for your Research 
/ Design Library


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Videos, DVD's, & CD's

NEW to our catalog!
Building Small Barns, Sheds & Shelters
by Monte Burch, Fred Stetson (Editor)

1982, 248 pp., $18
(Review PDF)

Here is everything you need to know to build your own outbuildings, including toolsheds, woodsheds, barns, underground root cellars, smokehouses, animal shelters, and fences. Monte Burch provides easy-to-follow instructions along with complete information on tools and materials, foundations, floors, framing, sheathing, roofing, wiring, plumbing, adding doors and windows, finishing details, and more.

A recognized authority on building and woodworking, Monte Burch has worked as a contractor, editor, freelance writer, photographer and former assistant editor of Workbench Magazine. He is the author of more than sixty books with over a million copies in print, including Monte Burch's Pole Building Projects, Building Small Barns, Sheds & Shelters, and 64 Yard & Garden Projects You Can Build Yourself, which has sold over 250,000 copies.

He has also written How to Build Small Barns & Outbuildings, which was the first-place book winner in the 1993 Stanley National Home and Workshop Writers Association writing contest. Many of Monte's articles have been featured in various outdoor and how-to publications. Together with his wife, Joan, Monte owns and operates a book publishing house called Outdoor World Press, Inc. He lives in Humansville, Missouri.

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The Barefoot Architect: A Handbook for Green Building
by Johan van Lengen
720 pp, 2008, $20

The first English translation of the international bestseller dripping with easy-to-understand drawings.

A former UN worker and prominent architect, Johan van Lengen has seen firsthand the desperate need for a "greener" approach to housing in impoverished tropical climates. This comprehensive book clearly explains every aspect of this endeavor, including design (siting, orientation, climate consideration), materials (sisal, cactus, bamboo, earth), and implementation. The author emphasizes throughout the book what is inexpensive and sustainable. Included are sections discussing urban planning, small-scale energy production, cleaning and storing drinking water, and dealing with septic waste, and all information is applied to three distinct tropical regions: humid areas, temporate areas, and desert climates. Hundreds of explanatory drawings by van Lengen allow even novice builders to get started. Basic design, climate, and site planning for humid and dry climates. Includes info on Adobe, rammed earth, bamboo, plaster, wood, concrete and ferro-cement;

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Foundations, roofs, floors, walls, doors, windows, and eco-techniques; Solar heating, water-powered electricity, natural cooling and ventilation; Water purification, pumps, cisterns, septic tanks, composting toilets

This book is for people who dream of building a simple home. It is also for those in the building trades: carpenters, masons, plumbers, and artisans, as well as for urban planners, rural technicians, and small community designers.

It covers basic design, use of a great variety of natural materials, construction details, natural heating and cooling, and water and sanitation techniques. Although many of the methods shown are traditional, more modern techniques are shown as well.

 

Building Green: A Complete How-To Guide to Alternative Building Methods
by Clarke Snell and Timothy L. Callahan 2007, 614pp., $30 (subject to extra shipping surcharges when ordered by itself due to the weight, cheaper when shipped overseas with other books)

Snell and Callahan, whose popular Good House Book helped environmentally-minded readers create an earth-friendly home, have returned with a photo-packed, amazingly complete, start-to-finish guide to "green" house-building.

This absolutely groundbreaking manual doesn't just talk about eco-friendly building techniques, but actually shows every step!

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More than 1,200 close-up photographs, along with in-depth descriptions, follow the real construction of an alternative house from site selection to the addition of final-touch interior details. Co-authors Clarke Snell and Timothy Callahan (a professional builder and contractor) provide thorough discussions of the fundamental concepts of construction, substitutes for conventional approaches, and planning a home that's not only comfortable and beautiful, but environmentally responsible. Then, they roll up their sleeves and get to work assembling a guest house that incorporates four different alternative building methods: straw bale, cob, cordwood, and modified stick frame. The images show every move: how the site is cleared, the basic structure put together, the cob wall sculpted, the bales and cordwood stacked, a living roof created, and more. Most important, the manual conveys real-world challenges and processes, and offers dozens of sidebars with invaluable advice. It's head and shoulders above all others in the field.

 

 


Building with Awareness: The Construction of a Hybrid Home
DVD & Guidebook
by Ted Owens $39, 2006,152pp + DVD

The award winning DVD video, Building With Awareness: The Construction of a Hybrid Home, now has a full-color book companion. Follow the construction of one straw bale solar house, from start to finish. Learn where to place windows for passive heating and cooling, how rubble trench foundations can save on the cost of concrete, post-and-beam framing for straw bale walls, how to notch and stack straw bales, how to build interior thermal mass walls, how to generate electricity from the sun, how to make and apply earth plasters, and much more.

 

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The Hand-Sculpted House
by Ianto Evans, Michael G. Smith, Linda Smiley    2002, $35, 346pp.

Cob has been a traditional building process for millennia in Europe, even in rainy and windy climates like the British Isles, where many cob buildings still serve as family homes after hundreds of years. The technique is newly arrived to the Americas, and, as with so many social trends, the early adopters are in the Pacific Northwest.

Cob houses (or cottages, since they are always efficiently small by American construction standards) are not only compatible with their surroundings, they ARE their surroundings, literally rising up from the earth. They are full of light, energy-efficient, and cozy, with curved walls and built-in, whimsical touches. They are delightful. They are ecstatic.

The Hand-Sculpted House is theoretical and philosophical, but intensely practical as well. You will get all the how-to information to undertake a cob building project. As the modern world rediscovers the importance of living in sustainable harmony with the environment, this book is a bible of radical simplicity.

 

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Ianto Evans is an applied ecologist, landscape architect, inventor, and teacher with building experience on six continents. Cob is traditional in his homeland, Wales. In addition to teaching ecological building, Ianto has consulted with USAID, the World Bank, the Peace Corps, and several national governments.

Michael G. Smith teaches practical workshops and consults on cob construction, natural building, and permaculture. He is the author of The Cobber's Companion: How to Build Your Own Earthen Home and co-editor of The Art of Natural Building: Design, Construction, Resources.

Linda Smiley teaches workshops on cob, sculpting sacred spaces, intuitive design, and natural plasters and finishes. With a background as a recreational therapist, she specializes in helping people use natural building as a tool for personal transformation and healing.

Rain Gardens
Managing Water Sustainably in the Garden and Designed Landscape
By Nigel Dunnett and Andy Clayden
188pp, 157 color photos, 41 line drawings, 2007, $35
(Read Review - PDF)

Rain gardens encompass all possible elements that can be used to capture, channel, divert and make the most of the rain and snow that fall on a property. Using the innovative and attractive approaches described here, it is possible to enhance outdoor spaces and minimize the damaging effects of drought, stormwater runoff, and other environmental challenges. Nigel Dunnett & Andy Clayden have created a comprehensive guide to water management techniques for the garden and built environment.

Filled with practical, manageable solutions for small and large-scale implementations and utilizing authoritative research with state-of-the-art case studies from all over the world, Rain Gardens is the first book on sustainable water management schemes suitable for students and professionals.

"Every bit as appealing as its title, Rain Gardens tells us what to do as we find ourselves in a built environment where much of the earth is paved over and our supply of cheap water is diminishing. An educational, practical, timely, and inspiring book."—Katherine Cook, Pacific Horticulture

 

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