"Cream of the crop of building books."
-- Tim Rinehart,
"I believe the single most useful book in Chelsea Green's list is Sam Clark's
Independent Builder. Most people contemplate at some point the question
of what makes a great place to live. This book will give you the conceptual
tools to understand why some houses are merely buildings, while others are really
'homes' - comfortable, convivial, stimulating to the mind and senses. Like Eliot
Coleman, Sam is more interested in ideas than in trendy (often costly)
products. An excellent overall design is always a more durable and flexible
solution than any particular choice of component. Surprisingly, it's not as
hard as most people think to build a house. I say that as someone who has been
part of an owner-builder project, from start to finish, and who found Sam's
logical and artful book a crucial companion. From drafting layouts to finishing
window trim, with this book in hand you can build a house. You can also run
a contracting business using Sam's collaborative models. What a pleasure, as
an editor, to have been involved in producing a book that has given me so much
help as a homesteader."
Schley's "Staff Pick"
as Chelsea Green's "Editor off
"Subtitled 'Designing and Building a House Your Own Way,' this is the
book for anyone thinking about building their own home. It is comprehensive,
detailed and covers subjects I have never before seen covered in home building
books, like how to make a small house seem bigger, incorporating ergonomics
and accessibility, doing your own drawings and scale models, making contracts
that work, and working effectively with professional designers and builders.
With detailed diagrams and photographs, this is the most thorough overall guide
to building your own home I have ever seen (and I've seen a lot!)."
"After offering our course in owner-building at Heartwood for over twenty
years, we've found Sam Clark's book to be the ideal textbook. It's not just
a carpentry book, not just a design book, not just an engineering book. It's
the most concise yet comprehensive guide to all the systems and decisions that
go into a home and its creation. In this age of a super-heated economy and opulent
excess in trophy homes, it's refreshing to find a resource for building a truly
economical and liveable house."
from Washington, Massachusetts
"I am planning to build my own small house on a very small budget and have
been doing some fairly extensive reading on the subject, but I find I constantly
return to Sam Clark's book as my main reference for overall design and planning
and I expect to refer to it during the building process as well. Whether dealing
with general design philosophy, costing, or the actual building process, Clark's
writing is always clear, informative, stimulating and unpatronizing and the
drawings and illustrations are also clear and user-friendly. The book is layed
out in a logical progression which guides you through the planning process.
I have never built a house before, but this book alone would give me the confidence
to do so. It is not a construction technique manual, in that it won't teach
you how to hammer in a nail, but it will teach you how to design and plan a
house for your budget and lifestyle."
from New Hampshire
Author's Summary: Strengths of The Independent Builder
My book is a comprehensive 500 page treatment on housebuilding, a basic manual
useful to owner-buiders, families working with professionals, and to builders.
I think its strengths include:
- Technical information, presented clearly, based on underlying principles.
For example, along with tables for beam sizes, I give the concepts and formulas
so you can figure sizes yourself. Other examples: heat loss, sound isolation,
sun angles. I think if you understand the principles, you can design more
freely, and are less likely to be swayed by fashion or hype.
- Design methods: site selection, preliminary design, making scale drawings.
- I also emphasize ergonomics, accessibility, small house design, sustainable
design, and the Pattern Language idea. I have found these disciplines to be
the most powerful additions to my own design skills in recent years.
- Kitchen Design. Probably the strongest chapter in the book, based on my
30 years experience, and my study of kitchen research going back fifty years.
I think this chapter will help readers make their kitchens more functional
and comfortable, and at the same time, simpler.
- Business. For families and also for pro builders, the most common and most
damaging mistakes are business and planning blunders, not construction errors.
I think the chapters on cost estimating, making good contracts, and hiring
the right people can help readers have more control over their projects, with
less stress, confusion, delay, and cost.