Chelsea Green Publishing

Independent Builder

Pages:528 pages
Book Art:Black and white photos and line drawings throughout
Size: 7.5 x 10 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9780930031855
Pub. Date October 01, 1996

Independent Builder

Designing & Building a House Your Own Way, 2nd Edition

Building & Energy

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
October 01, 1996


This is a comprehensive manual of design and building methods for owner-builders as well as professional builders and their clients. In addition to presenting specific building techniques, the book explains the design principles and planning processes that underlie all good building, so that readers can develop their own exceptional designs, independently.

Independent Builder develops subjects not covered thoroughly in other books, but critical to success:

  • Designing small houses that seem big
  • Understanding innovation
  • Estimating and controlling costs
  • Incorporating ergonomics and accessibility
  • Doing drawings and scale models
  • Making contracts that work


"I am planning to build an owner-built house next summer, and have read upwards of 50 books on the subject. The Independent Builder is by far the best. It shared wisdom in addition to information."--Mark Harrison of Jaffrey, New Hampshire

"Clark takes a pragmatic approach, combining the best new technologies with more traditional, time-tested methods (the main criteria being whether the construction is cost-effective and can stand the test of time). This tome is chock-full of information [for] even the most ardent do-it-yourselfer."--Library Journal

"Cream of the crop of building books."--Tim Rinehart, Woodcrafters Supply

"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, an editor, to have been involved in producing a book that has given me so much help as a homesteader."--Jim Schley


Sam Clark

Sam Clark is a builder who has worked with owner-builders since the late 1960's. His book Designing and Building Your Own House Your Own Way helped thousands of people manage their building projects. He is also the author of The Motion-Minded Kitchen, and co-author (with Margaret Wylde and Adrian Baron-Robbins) of Building For a Lifetime. Sam works with Iron Bridge Woodworkers and with The Buildings Group (accessible design and facilities planning), both based in Plainfield, Vermont. He also has his own design company


Sam Clark Design Website


Sam Clark: First Steps to Building Your Own Home

Building Your Own Affordable and Energy-Efficient Home: The Kitchen

Building Your Own Affordable and Energy-Efficient Home: Episode 1

Building Your Own Affordable and Energy-Efficient Home: Overview

Sam Clark: Saving Costs When Building Your Own Home


The Community-Scale Permaculture Farm

The Community-Scale Permaculture Farm

By Josh Trought

With practical examples of alternative building, renewable energy, holistic forestry, no-till gardening, hospitality management, community outreach, and more

The Community-Scale Permaculture Farm describes not only the history of the D Acres project, but its evolving principles and practices that are rooted in the land, its inhabitants, and the joy inherent in collective empowerment.

For almost twenty years, D Acres of New Hampshire has challenged and expanded the common definition of a farm. As an educational center that researches, applies, and teaches skills of sustainable living and small-scale organic farming, D Acres serves more than just a single function to its community. By turns it is a hostel for travelers to northern New England, a training center for everything from metal- and woodworking to cob building and seasonal cooking, a gathering place for music, poetry, joke-telling, and potluck meals, and much more.

While this book provides a wide spectrum of practical information on the physical systems designed into a community-scale homestead, Trought also reviews the economics and organizational particulars that D Acres has experimented with over the years.

The D Acres model envisions a way to devise a sustainable future by building a localized economy that provides more than seasonal produce, a handful of eggs, and green appliances. With the goal of perennial viability for humanity within their ecosystem, D Acres is attempting an approach to sustainability that encompasses practical, spiritual, and ethical components. In short: They are trying to create a rural community ecology that evolves in perpetuity.

From working with oxen to working with a board of directors, no other book contains such a wealth of innovative ideas and ways to make your farm or homestead not only more sustainable, but more inclusive of, and beneficial to, the larger community. Readers will find information on such subjects as:

  • Working with pigs to transform forested landscapes into arable land;
  • Designing and building unique, multifunctional farm and community spaces using various techniques and materials;
  • Creating and perpetuating diverse revenue streams to keep your farm organization solvent and resilient;
  • Receiving maximum benefits and yields for the farm without denigrating resources or the regional ecology;
  • Implementing a fair and effective governance structure;
  • Constructing everything from solar dehydrators and cookers to treehouses and ponds; and,
  • Connecting and partnering with the larger community beyond the farm.

Emphasizing collaboration, cooperation, and mutualism, this book promises to inspire a new generation of growers, builders, educators, artists, and dreamers who are seeking new and practical ways to address today’s problems on a community scale.

Available in: Paperback

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The Community-Scale Permaculture Farm

Josh Trought

Paperback $40.00

The Woodland House

The Woodland House

By Ben Law

Designed as a dual-purpose book, The Woodland House is both a volume for the armchair enthusiast and an inspirational guide for those wishing to build a similar structure. Beautifully illustrated with more than 100 color photos, this step-by-step guide shows how Ben built his home, hewn from his own woodland, for under $45,000. It covers the basics of self-building and gives full details of the evolving design process, the identifying of materials, costs, project management, and the actual building stages, from foundations and frames, through to interior features. Includes a seven-year update detailing the extension of the house, natural insulation trials, and round-wood engineering calculations.

The building of Ben’s house was filmed for the Grand Design television series and has proved to be the most popular program of the series. He has also been featured on the Discovery Channel and Home & Garden Network’s The World’s Most Extreme Homes.

Available in: Paperback

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The Woodland House

Ben Law, Kevin McCloud

Paperback $29.95

The Woodland Way

The Woodland Way

By Ben Law

A book for everyone who loves trees and woodlands. This 2015 edition of the 2001 classic is written from the heart by an innovative woodsman who is deeply committed to sustainability, this radical book presents an immensely practical alternative to conventional woodland management. Through his personal experience, Ben Law clearly demonstrates how you can create biodiverse, healthy environments, yield a great variety of value-added products, provide secure livelihoods for woodland workers and farmers, and benefit the local community. He argues the case for a new approach to planning, encouraging the creation of permaculture woodlands for the benefit of people, the local environment and the global climate.

Available in: Paperback

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The Woodland Way

Ben Law

Paperback $39.95

The New Net Zero

The New Net Zero

By Bill Maclay

The new threshold for green building is not just low energy, it’s net-zero energy. In The New Net Zero, sustainable architect Bill Maclay charts the path for designers and builders interested in exploring green design’s new frontier net-zero-energy structures that produce as much energy as they consume and are carbon neutral.

 In a nation where traditional buildings use roughly 40 percent of the total fossil energy, the interest in net-zero building is growing enormously–among both designers interested in addressing climate change and consumers interested in energy efficiency and long-term savings. Maclay, an award-winning net-zero designer whose buildings have achieved high-performance goals at affordable costs, makes the case for a net-zero future; explains net-zero building metrics, integrated design practices, and renewable energy options; and shares his lessons learned on net-zero teambuilding.

Designers and builders will find a wealth of state-of-the-art information on such considerations as air, water, and vapor barriers; embodied energy; residential and commercial net-zero standards; monitoring and commissioning; insulation options; costs; and more.

The comprehensive overview is accompanied by several case studies, which include institutional buildings, commercial projects, and residences.  Both new-building and renovation projects are covered in detail. 

The New Net Zero is geared toward professionals exploring net-zero design, but also suitable for nonprofessionals seeking ideas and strategies on net-zero options that are beautiful and renewably powered.

Available in: Hardcover

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The New Net Zero

Bill Maclay

Hardcover $90.00