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


Masonry Heaters

Masonry Heaters

By Ken Matesz

Masonry Heaters is a complete guide to designing and living with one of the oldest, and yet one of the newest, heating devices. A masonry heater’s design, placement in the home, and luxurious radiant heat redefine the hearth for the modern era, turning it into a piece of the sun right inside the home. Like the feeling one gets from the sun on a spring day, the environment around a masonry heater feels fresh. The radiant heat feels better on the skin. It warms the home both gently and efficiently. In fact, the value of a masonry heater lies in its durability, quality, serviceability, dependability, and health-supporting features. And it is an investment in self-sufficiency and freedom from fossil fuels.

The book discusses different masonry heater designs, including variations extant in Europe, and explains the growth of their popularity in the United States beginning in the late 1970s. For the reader who may be familiar only with open fireplaces and metal woodstoves, Masonry Heaters will bring a new understanding and appreciation of massive heat storage and gentle-but-persistent radiant heat. Masonry heaters offer a unique comfort that is superior to that from convection heat from forced-air systems, and more personal than that offered by “radiant” floors. As Matesz demonstrates, the heat from the sun or from a masonry heater is genuine heat instead of just insulation against the loss of heat.

Those who are looking to build, add onto, or remodel a house will find comprehensive and practical advice for designing and installing a masonry heater, including detailed discussion of materials, code considerations, and many photos and illustrations. While this is not a do-it-yourself guide for building a masonry heater, it provides facts every heater builder should know. Professional contractors will find this a useful tool to consult, and homeowners considering a new method of home heating will find all they need to know about masonry heaters within these pages.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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Masonry Heaters

Ken Matesz, Albie Barden

Paperback $39.95

Building a Low Impact Roundhouse, 4th Edition

Building a Low Impact Roundhouse, 4th Edition

By Tony Wrench

In Building a Low Impact Roundhouse, Tony shares his many years of experience, skills, and techniques used to build this unique and affordable low-impact home. Always witty and inspiring, the author explains the process of visualizing and designing a house through to the practical side of lifting the living roof, infilling the walls, laying out rooms, and adding renewable, autonomous technology.

Building a Low Impact Roundhouse has become a classic text sold all over the world. Tony’s home and lifestyle have attracted much media interest, and he and his partner continue to inspire many individuals and communities to seek out ways of living more sustainably.

Now in its third edition, with a fascinating ten-year update including a major new section on the couple’s marvelous straw bale den, Tony also includes sections on the physical design, and he writes about the lifestyle required for living in a roundhouse. He offers advice on roofs, floors, walls, compost toilets, wood stoves, kitchens, windows, and planning permission. There are additional photographs of life in and around the dwelling and illustrations from the construction plans for one of the UK’s most unique homes.

This true and captivating story covers the realizing of a lifetime’s dream as well as being a practical “how to” manual for anyone who loves the idea of low-impact living and wants to self-build an affordable, organic home.

Available in: Paperback

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Building a Low Impact Roundhouse, 4th Edition

Tony Wrench

Paperback $14.95

Roundwood Timber Framing

Roundwood Timber Framing

By Ben Law

This definitive manual marks the birth of a new vernacular for the 21st century. Over 400 color photographs and step-by-step instructions guide you through the building of anything from a garden shed to your own woodland house. This practical how to book will unquestionably be a benchmark for sustainable building using renewable local resources and evolving traditional skills to create durable, ecological, and beautiful buildings.

Available in: Hardcover

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Roundwood Timber Framing

Ben Law, Lloyd Kahn

Hardcover $39.95

Energy Revolution

Energy Revolution

By Howard Johns

We need a global energy revolution. In developed nations we are wasting massive quantities of energy providing heat and light to our homes and businesses while one and a half billion people have no access to electricity at all. The existing central-power-station model is based on old technology that spews carbon, energy, and money straight up the chimney.

Energy Revolution shows us how we can change all of this. Telling stories from around the world of the change that’s already happening and drawing on two decades of his own unique experience, Howard Johns demonstrates how we can develop our own renewable-energy projects to provide local energy and create a new fleet of businesses.

He shows us how communities can build local energy solutions—renewable-power stations that will be a new form of building society where we come together to develop, finance, and construct the infrastructure that we and future generations so desperately need.

Howard Johns explains how to design, set up, and fund community energy systems, citing examples from countries that already have cut the amount of energy they use and supply their needs from renewable energy. These new systems will create new jobs and businesses, reduce energy imports, and create new local-investment models.

This handbook contains the map we need to change the system from the bottom up and make the next great leap forward to achieving clean, affordable energy. It covers everything needed to structure your community power company—the technology, site assessment, legal and business planning, fundraising and financial modeling, and putting people at the heart of your strategy. It’s time to take control, re-localize, reduce costs and carbon emissions, and join the energy revolution.

Available in: Paperback

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Energy Revolution

Howard Johns

Paperback $29.95