Welcome to the Shelter Blog

How does this differ from other blogs and websites on the subject of homes and shelter? It’s not all recycled web content. Much of what appears below is original material — feedback from people who have been inspired to build homes from our books over the past 40 years. You’ll see it first here.

Most Useful Tools for a Half-Acre Homestead

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Summon the word “homestead” and you likely think of hardy farmers with 10 or more acres on which they keep livestock, grow and preserve a great deal of their own food, and fell trees to build their homes. But more modest-sized homesteads are more attainable for most people, and these smaller-scale acreages can embody old-school homesteading in principle, if not in scope. Our half-acre homestead is one of those. Following are some of the most useful tools and techniques that have made Lesley’s and my 40-year journey toward greater self-sufficiency possible.


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New Yurt Based on Bill Coperthwaite's Last Design


All photos by Melanie Wehrwein

Bill Coperthwaite was a master yurt-builder/designer who was featured in Home Work. He died in 2013. The yurt that the Wehrwein family is building was based on Bill’s last design.

For almost three years, Melanie and Josh Wehrwein have been living in a heavy, round tent measuring 24 feet in diameter, along with their 8-year-old son Caden and 5-year-old daughter Aria.

Not far away on their wooded property is a circular, three-storied wooden structure that’s not complete, but into which they’ll eventually settle. Its base is 46 feet and 6 inches across. Its shape suggests a UFO.

Yurts, as both structures are known, were traditionally inhabited by those on the steppes of central Asian countries such as Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan.

In the United States, they’ve grown in popularity — and evolved in style — thanks in part to the efforts of a now-deceased Mainer named William Coperthwaite. Before a car accident took his life in 2013, Coperthwaite made many of the designs for the Wehrwein’s three-storied, wood-tapered yurt. It was the last design by Coperthwaite, who was 83 and lived in a similarly sizable yurt he’d built in Machiasport, [Maine].

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Boulder Teen Completes Tiny House, Drives It to New Vista High School


A 17-year-old Boulder girl has reached her goal. 7NEWS first introduced you to Lucy Briggs in January as she was building her dream house! The building is only about 8 feet across and 16 feet deep.

Briggs says she fell in love with the concept of tiny houses a few years ago and now she’s part of the tiny house revolution.


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The Demise of Boneyard Studios, a Tiny House Community


There are a few notable barriers to the tiny house becoming a mainstream movement, and finding land to park one’s home is one of them. Living communally on shared land with other tiny housers is a possible solution, and one example we’ve seen is Boneyard Studios, a “micro-village” of tiny homes built in Washington DC. But since covering Boneyard resident Jay Austin’s Matchbox house last year, we heard that there was trouble brewing in the community over governance and ownership. It seems now that the original Boneyard Studio community has now disintegrated, due to internal tensions between co-founders Jay Austin, Lee Pera, and Brian Levy — owner of the Minim house, who is the one who eventually purchased the lot.


Sad to see it go, good luck to everybody affected.

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Welsh "Hobbit House" Faces Demolition

Welsh Hobbit House

Sent to us by Conor McBrierty :

A young family is making a last-ditch effort to save its cherished “hobbit house” from the bulldozers after planners deemed it had to be razed.

Charlie Hague and Megan Williams used natural materials to lovingly build their roundhouse tucked away in southwest Wales. But the pair, both 27, applied for planning permission only after moving in with their newborn son, Eli, in 2012.

Though many local people did not even know the small building was there, planners ruled the house did not fit in with the surrounding Pembrokeshire countryside and decided it had to go.

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