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 lloydkahn.com.

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Greg Clark's Handmade House

Hi Lloyd,

I’ve been fascinated by handmade houses for years. I came across a book in the ’70s called The Wood Butcher’s Art. I now teach in a traditional school in India, and teach my students about such houses. With their help I made a house here in West Bengal from mostly local timber and I thought you might be interested. We have several of your books which are very inspiring. The boys made several models based on a reading of some of your books. If you are interested I can send more photos. The house was inspired by my travels in Cambodia, Thailand, and Assam.

I teach in a traditional school in West Bengal, India. We have international students and I wanted to show them that you can build a great house out of local renewable materials. The trees for the frame and most of the floors was all local. Many students came and helped me build the house. It took about two years. I wanted to use shingles for the roof, but we can’t get cedar here. So I had to invest quite a bit to make teak shingles, which were used historically in tropical places like Hawaii or Mauritius. The walls are made from ‘Slipstraw’ but we used the abundant eucalyptus sawdust that we generated instead of straw. We finished the walls with a lime sand plaster. It came out so well we had no need to paint. The wood was finished with a mix of local beeswax and pine turpentine.

The Bhaktivedanta Academy Gurukula, a traditional Vedic school with international students in West Bengal, India is helping to construct a series of houses for teachers. The boys of the academy spend a couple of hours each day learning basic construction methods based on age-old building traditions and using mostly local materials. The school’s oxen and horse also assist in the process. The boys are from all over the world: Russia, Ukraine, China, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, different parts of India, Ecuador, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Hungary, Bulgaria, etc. Before starting to build the boys spent several lessons studying your books, Builders of the Pacific Coast, Shelter 1-2, etc.

–Greg Clark

Sasha making pegs

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Driftwood Shacks Publication Date Today

It’s now available in independent bookstores.

I’m doing the following appearances:

  • Saturday, March 16th, 7 PM at Mollusk Surf Shop, 4500 Irving Street, San Francisco (maps)
  • Tuesday, March 19th, 7 PM at Bookshop Santa Cruz, 1520 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz (maps)
  • Wednesday, April 17th, 6:30 PM, Gallery Bookshop, 319 Kasten Street, Mendocino, Calif. (maps)
  • Friday, April 26th, 7 PM, Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, Calif. (maps)

Some early reader feedback:

“…a breathtaking new book…”
–Kay LeRoy, Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif.
Driftwood Shacks is spectacular!”
–J. Tony Serra, Lawyer, San Francisco
“…a marvelous book with lovely pictures of the California Coast.”
–Eliot Buchdruker, CPA, San Francisco
“Driftwood Shacks is splendid, a tribute to Lloyd’s fine and undimmed eye.”
–John Van der Zee, author
“…fascinating, ephemeral forms of spontaneous architecture.”
–Elise Cannon, Publishers Group West
“…fantastic new book”
–Chris “Uncle Mud” McClellan, natural builder
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Homestead of Recycled Materials in Quebec

…In the fall of 2008 we came across an opportunity to pick up pine trees that were locally cut. We adapted our plans to the amount of wood available.

We hired a local sawmill owner to cut the timbers for us. That winter we rented a shop and prebuilt a 24′×30′ timber frame of 9′×9′ pine. The joinery is mortise-and-tenon, sculpted with mallet and chisels…

From our book, Small Homes: The Right Size

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Driftwood Shacks Book Version 2.0 Just Released

We just received our new version of Driftwood Shacks: Anonymous Architecture Along the California Coast. It has twice as many pages/pictures and was printed by our printers in Hong Kong who print all of our building books. It is now available for order at www.shelterpub.com/building/driftwood.

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Off-Grid Tiny Home in Australia



This stunning off-the-grid home in Australia may be tiny, but it has a very big story to tell. Constructed as a do-it-yourself build by recent empty-nesters Jan and Kev, this tiny house is open, spacious very efficient and completely off the grid.

When the last of their adult children left home, Jan and Kev decided it was time to redesign their lives. Constructing a tiny house on wheels was a fantastic way of freeing up capital and living a more simple lifestyle which would give them plenty of opportunity to travel and focus on the things in life which are important to them.

The home was constructed as a DIY project as Jan and Kev got stuck into all aspects of the build themselves. With no prior building experience, the tiny house was certainly a challenging project and the couple admit there were more than a few arguments throughout the process including a few walk-offs. Ultimately though, together they have built a beautiful home which has taught the couple they really can achieve anything they set their minds to.

Even though it’s a tiny house, there’s still plenty of space for entertaining their family when they come over. The couple are currently expanding on their home by adding a large deck, which will be completely under cover giving a lot of additional outdoor living space to capitalize on the fabulous Queensland weather…

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Jay Nelson’s Latest Treehouse



Jay Nelson’s latest treehouse, now under construction in a redwood grove in Northern California. It’s about 10 by 11 feet in floor area. The round window pivots open on center pins. There are two climbing ropes attached high up so Jay and Max can work on the curved roof. Almost all the wood (except for floor framing and plywood sheathing) is used.

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Waioli Mission Hall, Hanalei

Waioli Mission Hall stands as a major monument of Hawaiian architectural history, the primary inspiration for the Hawaiian double-pitched hipped roof so widely popularized by C. W. Dickey in the 1920s. Built by the Reverend William P. Alexander, Dickey’s grandfather, the plaster walls of the frame structure repose beneath a sprawling roof and encircling lanai. The roof, originally thatched, was shingled in 1851. Similarly, the freestanding, ohia-framed belfry at the rear of the mission was of thatch construction, but most likely received a covering of shingles in the same year. The form of the twenty-five-foot-high belfry drew upon a long British and American colonial tradition. Common in its day, today it stands as the sole surviving example of its type in Hawaii.

This was the third church building on the site, with the earlier thatched edifices falling prey to fire and storms. It remained a center for worship until the completion of Waioli Huiia Church in 1912, when it became a community hall for the church, a function it still serves today. The building has been thrice restored: in 1921 by Hart Wood, in 1978 by Bob Fox, and again in 1993, following Hurricane Iniki, by Designare Architects.

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Home in Fort Bragg, California

Photo by Lloyd Kahn

Lots of nice details here: gable at left, three-sided pop-out on lower right, nicely fitted roofs over windows in two gables. Non-sagging eave lines indicate sound foundation. Why don’t architects come up with such simple, practical, time-tested designs these days? This place looks lived-in.

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Listen to Lloyd on Tangentially Speaking Podcast with Chris Ryan

We recently had Dr. Chris Ryan over to record an episode of Chris’ podcast Tangentially Speaking. Click the iTunes link below to hear Lloyd discuss his life, what got him into building, publishing books, and what’s up next for Shelter Publications.

Chris Ryan is an author, podcaster, world traveler, and an all-around amazing guy. Check out his bestselling book Sex at Dawn; look for his next book coming out next year called Civilized to Death.

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