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


Green Light at the End of the Tunnel

Green Light at the End of the Tunnel

By Anna Edey

Heat, electricity, transportation, food, wastewater, and solid-waste management—in ways that cause near-zero harm, reduce cost of living, increase security, freedom, and quality of life.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the way we are living is not sustainable. We perceive that our high-consumption lifestyles are contributing to ever more pollution of our air, water, and soil; ever more destruction of rain forests and mountains; more devastating hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and drought; and the depletion of soils and aquifers. Even our planet’s vast oceans are being degraded by overfishing, acidification from fossil fuels, and millions of tons of toxic trash.

Green Light at the End of the Tunnel contains some stunning information about the harm we caused by how we live, and some even more stunning information about solutions that are available today: truly sustainable, reliable solutions that can reduce harm and cost to nearly zero.

Anna Edey, author of Solviva, shows how homeowners can reduce by up to eighty percent the cost of electricity, driving, comfort, hot water and wastewater management, and produce or procure much of their food without the use of fossil fuels or pesticides—all while increasing food security and creating stronger local economies. It also contains fifty pages of unique Solviva designs drawn to scale and many more pages of conceptual drawings.

Available in: Paperback

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Green Light at the End of the Tunnel

Anna Edey

Paperback $35.00

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, eBook

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Adobe Homes for All Climates

Lisa Schroder, Vince Ogletree

Paperback $34.95

The Earth-Sheltered House

The Earth-Sheltered House

By Malcolm Wells

The Earth-Sheltered House is a classic in the annals of sustainable building books, written by a legend in the field of environmentally responsible architecture. Malcolm Wells has a fundamentally different way of looking at the design and building process, and his iconoclastic perspective has never been more apparent.

Wells's work is revolutionary, but readers will find his message to be pure common sense. Earth sheltering offers superior comfort with minimal energy input, and it is adaptable to diverse terrains as well as a variety of architectural aesthetics.

Available in: Paperback

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The Earth-Sheltered House

Malcolm Wells

Paperback $29.95

The Cob Builders Handbook

The Cob Builders Handbook

By Becky Bee

Cob (an old English word for lump) is old-fashioned concrete, made out of a mixture of clay, sand, and straw. Becky Bee's manual is a friendly guide to making your own earth structure, with chapters on design, foundations, floors, windows and doors, finishes, and of course, making glorious cob.

"I believe that building with cob is a way to recreate community and experience the joy of working together while taking back the right to build our own homes and look after our Mother Earth."

She loves doing something that makes sense in a world where lots of things don't.

Available in: Paperback

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The Cob Builders Handbook

Becky Bee

Paperback $23.95