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


Climate Change

Climate Change

By Jon Clift and Amanda Cuthbert

You know that the ice caps are melting, the seasons are changing, sea levels are rising, storms are on the increase, but what can you do about it? Plenty!

This book puts the power back into your hands in the face of the doom and gloom of climate change. You don’t have to wait for someone else to sort it out; rather than worry and feel helpless, you can get up and do something.

Climate Change: Simple Things You Can Do to Make a Difference is packed with ideas for action, from simple everyday things that cost nothing to bigger projects that involve more time and money. For example:

Get on your bike • Buy local food • Turn off your TV • Insulate your attic • Recycle and compost • Take the train • Turn down the heat • Install solar panels

Do your part and protect the planet for today and tomorrow.

Available in: Paperback

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Climate Change

Amanda Cuthbert, Jon Clift

Paperback $7.95

Adobe Homes for All Climates

Adobe Homes for All Climates

By Lisa Schroder and Vince Ogletree

The lay-up of adobe bricks is an easy, forgiving way to achieve a solid masonry-wall system. Contrary to stereotypes, adobe is perfectly adaptable for use in cold, wet climates as well as hot and dry ones, and for areas prone to earthquakes. With its efficient use of energy, natural resources for construction, and minimal effort for long-term maintenance, it’s clear that the humble adobe brick is an ideal option for constructing eco-friendly structures throughout the world.

The book is ideal both for first-time do-it-yourselfers and for experienced adobe builders seeking to improve their craft. Drawing on the experience of more than fifty major adobe projects since 1993, Adobe Homes for All Climates describes Adobe Building Systems’ patented reinforcement and scaffolding systems, showing readers how to construct adobe homes more easily and safely, and with superior strength, durability, structural integrity, and aesthetic appeal, as compared to earthen homes of the past.

All aspects of adobe construction are covered, including making and laying adobe bricks, installing lintels and arches, conduits and pipes, doors and windows, top plates and bondbeams, ideal wall dimensions, adobe finishes, and other adobe construction components, such as the inexpensive use of scaffolding. These methods will produce a premium product that will meet and often exceed inspection standards.

Equipped with this manual, you will be able to obtain a building permit, make adobe bricks swiftly, and confidently lay them up. You will be able to beautifully finish your adobe walls with earth plasters creating stunning colors and outstanding light effects and create a beautiful, energy-efficient home that will last for generations to come.

Available in: Paperback

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Adobe Homes for All Climates

Lisa Schroder, Vince Ogletree

Paperback $34.95

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

Serious Straw Bale

Serious Straw Bale

By Paul Lacinski and Michel Bergeron

In 1994, when Chelsea Green published The Straw Bale House, the response from many people was a loud, "Huh?!"

Those days are gone. With more than 100,000 copies sold, and straw bale projects underway in most regions of North America, we've entered a new era. Even building-code officials and insurance companies now look favorably upon straw bale buildings, with their extraordinary energy efficiency and wise use of agricultural waste for construction materials.

Bergeron and Lacinski's new book Serious Straw Bale is the first to look carefully at the specific design considerations critical to success with a straw bale building in more extreme climates-where seasonal changes in temperature, precipitation, and humidity create special stresses that builders must understand and address. The authors draw upon years of experience with natural materials and experimental techniques, and present a compelling rationale for building with straw-one of nature's most resilient, available, and affordable byproducts.

For skeptics and true believers, this book will prove to be the latest word.

  • Thorough explanations of how moisture and temperature affect buildings in seasonal climates, with descriptions of the unique capacities of straw and other natural materials to provide warmth, quiet, and comfort year-round.
  • Comprehensive comparison of the two main approaches to straw bale construction: "Nebraska-style," where bales bear the weight of the roof, and framed structures, where bales provide insulation.
  • Detailed advice-including many well-considered cautions-for contractors, owner-builders, and designers, following each stage of a bale-building process.

This is a second-generation straw bale book, for those seeking serious information to meet serious challenges while adventuring in the most fun form of construction to come along in several centuries.

Available in: Paperback

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Serious Straw Bale

Paul Lacinski, Michel Bergeron

Paperback $34.95