‍‍‍‍Small Homes (196)

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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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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Dennis Fry's Full-Circle Shelter

While not included in the print edition of Small Homes, this spread will be included in the ebook edition, and links to a very readable PDF.

Simplicity is what a small home is all about — simple to build, low cost, easy to clean and maintain, no excess or wasted space, and built to fit into its environment. Our vacation house in the mountains of Southwest Puerto Rico was designed specifically for its location. Large double doors all around open fully to take advantage of the mountain breezes. A covered outdoor living and dining space provides shade and allows use even when it rains.

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Cob House Wrapped in a Geodesic Dome in the Arctic Circle

Life inside the Arctic Circle is by no means easy, unless you’re a Hjertefølger. We first heard about Benjamin and Ingrid Hjertefølger four years ago when they began building Nature House, a three-story cob house wrapped in a solar geodesic dome. Located on the island of Sandhornøyna in northern Norway, the ultra-green home was designed to enable the family of six to eek out a sustainable existence despite challenging climatic conditions — they even grow most of their own food. Inhabitat recently caught up with the Hjertefølgers, who have now lived in their home for three years, to learn about their challenges and victories.

The Hjertefølgers, which translates to Heartfollowers, live in Nature House with their four children — they’ve added one to their number since Inhabitat last wrote about them. After constructing their cob home topped with one of Solardome’s single-glazed geodesic domes with the help of friends and neighbors, the family moved in on December 8, 2013.

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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…

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Roundhouse Living in Wales

While not included in the print edition of Small Homes, this spread will be included in the ebook edition, and links to a very readable PDF.

Hi folks. I live in West Wales, UK, with my partner Faith in a roundhouse I designed and we built in 1997. It is about 85m2, (850 sq. ft.) in size. It cost £3,000 ($4,500) to make initially, and we have spent another £1000 or so on it in the 18 years we have been living here.

It is based on the type of roundwood frame and turf-roofed houses used by Celtic, Mandan, Miwok, and Pomo peoples, plus some modern things thrown in, like windscreen and double-glazed windows, wood stove, running water (hot and cold), solar PVs on the roof, and a wooden plank floor. We are off grid.

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Living Off the Grid in Paradise



Warrick Mitchell lives deep in one of the world’s most remote locations: Fiordland, New Zealand. His home in the country’s oldest national park is nestled in a vast wildness accessible only by boat or airplane, a four day’s walk from the nearest road. Life in isolation can be hard, but surrounded by breathtaking, pristine natural beauty, plentiful wildlife and a small but tight-knit community that is always willing to lend a hand, Mitchell would have it no other way.

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