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.

Small Homes (164)

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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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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Hybrid Natural Home in Colorado Highlands Built by Brett LeCompte

My home, which I built in 
2003–04, is a hybrid design. 
The north, east, and west wall are straw bale, while the south wall is adobe and glass. The upper story is framed with 2˝ × 8˝ rough-sawn local Ponderosa Pine, furred out to about 9½˝ to accommodate a heavy coat of cellulose insulation, which also fills the roof cavity. Downstairs, there are earthen plasters inside and outside, while upstairs is sheathed in local, rough-sawn pine board and batten.

Drywall walls upstairs are finished in earthen plasters, which ties the two levels together. A central woodstove heats the home, which is off the grid. I tried to use materials mostly from my county in southwest Colorado. Ceilings are tongue-and-groove aspen sawn in a mill six miles away. The frame is local Ponderosa pine, including a third of them milled from my property. I did my own bathroom and kitchen ­cabinetry. Downstairs floors are earthen (two thirds) and tile (one third). There are lots of porches for protection of my earthen walls during a Colorado winter. One unique feature is a 10-inch lizard (painted blue) that runs up the staircase on an interior adobe wall. I named her Noelle when I finished shaping her one Christmas afternoon. I share the house with my wife Shaine, kids Rosie and Fielder, and dog Ella…

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Mike & Sierra’s Home in the California Foothills

All the buildings were built in the late ‘60s and had been vacant for years (there were lots of mice), so we gutted the house. When we tore out the walls and ceilings, we discovered that the house was eight-sided — an octagon. Which was so fitting for me, since my last small home was a pentagon.

–Mike Basich

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Timber Home Along Canada’s Sunshine Coast

This home was built by Marlin Hanson (@hanson_land_and_sea) 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.

This home is featured in our book Small Homes: The Right Size on page 36.

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Shelter, the Classic

With over 1,000 photographs, Shelter is a classic celebrating the imagination, resourcefulness, and exuberance of human habitat. It includes a history of shelter and the evolution of building types: tents, yurts, timber buildings, barns, small homes, domes, etc.

There is a section on building materials, including heavy timber ­construction and stud framing, as well as stone, straw bale, adobe, ­plaster, and bamboo. The spirit of the ’60s counterculture is evident, and the emphasis is on creating your own shelter (or space) with your own hands. A joyful, ­inspiring book.

To purchase go to www.shelterpub.com/….

By Lloyd Kahn and Bob Easton

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Wooden Home on California Coast

Having some training in natural building, as well as conventional building, and armed with a bookcase full of prior Lloyd Kahn / Shelter Publications books, I began the process of designing and building a small, yet comfortable, home for me and my family. I began salvaging and repurposing that which others left behind. Being a woodworker by trade and owning a sawmill, it soon became obvious that there were tremendous local resources to be had. Although not completely finished (Is it ever?), the house is currently being lived in and fully enjoyed by my wife, two boys, and me.

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