Godfrey Stephens' Junk-Rigged Snookwis

…An ancient Nitnat canoe (carved from one cedar tree), which Godfrey rebuilt in the ’70s. It’s sheathed in copper, with an underwater Nautilus window and a tiny stainless steel wood stove; there’s room for two. Tilikum (Godfrey’s daughter) is now the caretaker of the boat and keeps it in Port Townsend, Washington…

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Rob's French Army House Truck

… It’s a 1959 French Army Truck — a Simica Unic Marmon Bocquet (or SUMB). The shack is built with wood from local sawmills, reclaimed bits, corrugated steel, and insulated with sheep wool. Friends Jo House and Charlie Goodvibes helped with the building, which took about three weeks, I hadn’t built anything like this before, but now I feel ready to build anything…

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Eat Dog's Driftwood Beach Shack

Photo by Lloyd Kahn

…Eat Dog built a tiny house in a semi-hidden ravine leading down to the same beach. (I walked on this beach many times in those years and never spotted his shack.) He lived there for about two years, until getting to work as a gardener miles away in the “civilized world” got to be a strain, and he abandoned the place. Soon others moved in, notoriety followed, and it too was confined to a fiery ending…

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Small Homes Now Available

Our new book Small Homes: The Right Size is now available at independent bookstores, and Amazon — as well as from us: www.shelterpub.com/…

Shameless Commerce Dept.: This is, I think, the best building book we’ve ever done. (Yes, I’m sure I’ve said this before, but it keeps reoccurring to me.) Shelter is everyone’s favorite; it captured the times; it inspired thousands of homes. Builders of the Pacific Coast is in some ways, my best book. It’s an odyssey of discovery where the reader rides shotgun with me over a two-year period — cohesive and focused.

BUT Small Homes is so useful to so many people in this era of astronomical home prices and rents, that I think it’s hugely important. It offers alternatives to people looking for rentals on Craigslist or homes on Zillow. Here are 65 very different homes, of different materials, in different parts of the world. The idea, as with all our building books is to use your hands to create your own shelter.

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Tom's Cabin

It started as a “Tall Barn” prefab kit from Tuff Shed (which has a large selection of pre-fabbed little structures). It was about $4,000 for the structure, exterior walls, roof deck, floor, and floor framing, delivered on a truck. Studs are 2×4’s two feet on center. Exterior walls are ⅜″ particle board with a wood grain pattern. Tom insulated the inside walls and roof with R-11 fiberglass batting, then used ⅜″ CD plywood for sheathing…

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Snowboarder Austin Smith's Firetruck Turned Home on Wheels



At the beginning of the winter Austin Smith made a bit of a departure from his standard season. After somewhat unexpectedly coming to own a retired fire truck turned mobile home, Austin decided to squat in the Mt. Bachelor parking lot for a month-and-a-half. Rather than chase storms all over the planet, he chose to hang at his home resort. And ride every day.

“I knew I’d enjoy it, but I didn’t know I’d love it this much,” says Austin. “I’m really digging it.”

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Couple Converts Airport Shuttle Bus into Home on Wheels

After graduating from college, Pete Thuli and Taylor Bucher spent 10 months traveling through Southeast Asia, and when they returned home to the U.S., they realized how much of their own country they had never seen.

“We knew that committing ourselves to an office job straight out of college wouldn’t make us happy, so we started brainstorming ways we could travel and work for an extended amount of time,” the couple told TODAY Home. Their winning idea: an 80-square-foot van that needed some TLC.

Originally a San Diego airport shuttle bus, the van had also been most recently used as a construction vehicle. When they bought it for $4,500, there were a lot of random accessories and additions that each owner had added to it and modified…

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SunRay Kelley's Two-Story Treehouse

…On the other side of the property, in a gnarled, old-growth fir is an actual tree house. Not a treehouse, but a house in a tree. Two stories fully enclosed and insulated with a kitchen and bathroom and woodstove. A spiral staircase leads up from the ground into the house…

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