The Shelter Blog has been inactive since May, 2019. Too much to do! From this point on, Lloyd’s Blog will have the buildings, vehicles, and home-related posts such as what has previously appeared here. Go to

Search Results for: sneak preview (26)

Small Homes Book Sneak Preview #25, Solar-Powered Quonset Hut Home in Northern California


p7150849Elaine and Sandy Doss live on 150 acres in Northern California in this WWII Quonset hut, which was converted for living by architect Val Agnoli (one of the featured builders in our book, Shelter).

Sandy and I continue to live off the grid using a photovoltaic system with backup gas generator. Water comes from a well with solar pump, then gravity-fed to the house; livestock water is from springs.

We have a bedroom wood-burning stove, living-room propane fireplace, and propane wall heater in the study. TV and Internet services are via satellite.

–Elaine Doss

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Small Homes Book Sneak Preview #24, Cave Home in New Zealand


20161019-20161019-20161019_0416-lo-resLeaving his English home at the age of 16 to travel the world, Graham Hannah had his heart set on settling down in rural New Zealand…

His aim was to create a cave-type dwelling that was stable, dry, and free of moisture seepage through the clay walls-and to use all natural materials in the process.

Using huge beams of local New Zealand timbers, he framed a structure within the “cave” and filled the entire area with tons of compacted sand, covering both the vertical and horizontal beams. He then laid large river stones from the local mountain stream on top of the sand. To create the roof of the cave, he mixed reinforced concrete. Which was poured over the sand and river stones, with the concrete roof being embedded in the existing bank of solid clay walls.

Once the concrete set up, the sand was dug out, leaving the vertical and horizontal beams and the exposed river stones locked into the concrete roof structure…

–Jessie and Craig Moon

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Small Homes Book Sneak Preview #23


Off-the-grid cabin in California woods

When my brother and I bought land in remote coastal Northern California in the ’70s, our parents, Bob and Jean Anderson, jumped at the opportunity to build a small home on our place.

Bob was a retired filmmaker, and Jean a travel agent, so they had seen a lot of the world from which to get ideas for building.

“I saw it more as set design than architecture,” Bob said about the 665 square foot house…

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Small Homes Book Sneak Preview #21


Sophie and Marc’s home will be in our next book, Small Homes. Here is a letter from them, with a link to a film of their family and home:

Dear Lloyd,

Marc and I were on tv radio-canada last night.
Our family philosophy, construction and lifestyle close to nature — 10 min.

Have fun watching.

Love to you,
The quebec family
–Sophie Belisle and Marc Boutin

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Small Homes Book Sneak Preview #19 – Damian Helliwell's Straw Bale Home in Scotland

Interiors of Damian Helliwell’s straw bale home on a small island off the west coast of Scotland. Construction is timber frame, and the straw bale walls are protected on the exterior with shiplap cedar siding. Heat and hot water are provided by a homemade rocket box stove. It took Damian four years to complete the house.

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Small Homes Book Sneak Preview #18 – Small Home in Lithuania, Builder Inspired by Shelter

_DAN3374 copy

I started as a carpenter when I was 16 in Montana. I was working as a dishwasher when a builder, who was a regular at the counter, liked the way I worked and offered me a job. During the next two years, we built houses, and I was exposed to the first printing of Shelter. This was in 1973.

Shelter had a significant influence on me and opened my eyes and mind to many paths, which I explored…

In the summer of 1994, when I was sent to Lithuania to show a Lithuanian building contractor how to assemble an American technology house — the first in the then recent break-away from the Soviet Union. It took me about two weeks to decide I wanted to live there, and over the following years, I saved money in preparation for my move to Lithuania.

In 2003 I loaded everything into a container and moved to a piece of land I had purchased in northern Lithuania…

–Dan Combellick

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Small Homes Book Sneak Preview #17 – Timber Home Along Canada's Sunshine Coast


This home was built by Marlin Hanson with Douglas fir logs from adjacent land that were milled onsite. Marlin is a marine construction carpenter and he utilized the strong construction methods used in building piers for framing this home.


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Sneak Preview #1 from our next book, Small Homes: Aunt Lillie's House – Old Farmhouse in Georgia


We are in production of our next book, Small Homes, and we will be posting sneak previews as we continue doing layout — over the next several months.

My name is Suzy, and I’d like to tell you about my small house. It’s a little 1943 ranch-style farmhouse, 1082 sq. ft., and sits on 10 lovely acres just outside historic Madison, GA.

When we began to search for our first home, we considered lots of options. We had to choose between either a “desirable” neighborhood, or acreage in a more rural setting.

We’d been in Atlanta for a year and it was way too busy for us, so we began looking around outside the city. All the houses we looked at just didn’t work for us. Either they were small lots with large odd-shaped homes (’80s weirdness), or trailers on large plots of land.
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Small Homes Book Sneak Preview #2 — Homesteading in Montana


Just came in for our new book Small Homes:

Hey Lloyd,

Like many others, your books inspired us to build our own home. Four years ago I left a career as a helicopter pilot in the Army with my wife and two kids and moved to the Mission Valley of Montana (north of Missoula). We bought 40 acres of bare hay fields and built an 800 sq. ft. house. It was quite an experience since neither one of us had experience with construction. We broke ground in late September, and six weeks later I remember the first snow of the season blasting me in the face as I dried in the last wall. We finished it more or less over the winter, then went on to build a barn a few years later … still working on that one!

We grow organic produce and pastured hogs and like to farm as much as possible with our draft horses. I’d like to say 800 sq. ft. is working for us, but after four years, we currently are in the midst of adding on, increasing our square footage to about 1800*. With our remodel, we are trying to replicate the classic American Foursquare style of architecture that is widely seen across the country with a few timber-framed details here and there. I think we could have lasted longer with a house sized somewhere in between, but this was initially going to be just a small cottage for family to stay in and down the road we would build another house, therefore we built it without storage in mind. Well, we ran out of money and didn’t see the need to do that, so here we are! Nevertheless, its been a wild ride!

Thanks for the inspiration!
–Micah & Katie Helser

Yes, it’ll exceed our size limit of 1200 sq. ft., but it was smaller to start, so it’s going in the book. (We have been known to stretch parameters.)


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Small Homes Book Is Off to the Printer

We got the proofs back last week, and I almost cried when I went through it page by page. Sounds dumb, I know, but it was overwhelming to see all the pages, in collated order, full size, 4-color for the first time — after a couple of years working on it. I’d only seen rather low-quality, reduced size printouts up until now. And you know what, it’s (ahem) a beautiful book.

People, home builders from all walks of life, a great variety of designs, materials, locales. It may very well be the most useful book we’ve ever done. Tiny homes are great for some people, but too small for most. Here are 65 or so homes in all, a cornucopia of ideas for people who can’t afford high rents and bank mortgages, and want to build or remodel (or contract out) their own homes.

Check out the “sneak previews” on TheShelterBlog:…

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Michael Easterling's Small Home Build


I told my sister Sharon that when she retired from teaching I would build her a house here on our small farm in the foothills of the Sierras. The design went through many rough drafts before we arrived at one that met all our criteria.

The house had to be beautiful, a home that would be a joy to live in. It needed to be small, to fit her budget and to comply with our county building ordinance concerning secondary residences: no more than 1200 square feet. The design of the house had to compliment the main house, a two-story, farm-style dwelling. And the new house had to minimize any deleterious affects upon the environment, both in the building and in its continued use.Š

–Michael Easterling

This is Sneak Preview #16 from our forthcoming book, Small Homes, to be published in spring, 2017.

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Brad Lancaster's Converted Garage

Brad Lancaster lives in a cottage (converted garage) on a piece of land in Tucson, Arizona. He harvests rainwater and has a grid-tied photovoltaic system. The house and grounds are carefully designed and built to maximize natural temperature regulation and to conserve water for growing. We’re doing four pages on this setup.


The public right-of-way adjoining property in 2015. All vegetation is irrigated solely by passively harvested rainfall and street runoff. All perennial plantings selected for their food, medicine, and wildlife habitat-producing characteristics.

–Brad Lancaster

This is Sneak Preview #15 from our forthcoming book, Small Homes, to be published in spring, 2017.

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$35,000 Straw Bale Home in Missouri


Lobelia is the name of our 864-square-foot two-bedroom straw bale home. Named after a native wildflower, Lobelia was built with many reclaimed materials, including all framing lumber, most doors and windows, and even the kitchen cabinet.

The straw bale exterior walls are protected by earthen plaster inside and out. Outside, the hip roof and wood shingle skirt, made from pallet wood scraps, along with a coat or two of raw linseed oil, help protect the exterior plaster from the elements.Š

–Alyssa Martin and Tony (AKA Papa Bear) Barrett

This is Sneak Preview #14 from our forthcoming book, Small Homes, to be published in spring, 2017.

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