Home Work

Why to build your own home

Imagine you were about to build your own home, perhaps with your own hands, and you wanted a few ideas of what others have done, so you set out around the world for 40 years visiting unusual homes, snapping pictures, making notes, and gathering evidence of homes that serve as a personal extension of the people living in them — the kind of home that is most satisfying both for the owner and for their guests — the kind of home you want.

You don’t have to do that now because Lloyd Kahn has done it for you. For far less in cost, and probably with far more effectiveness, Lloyd has collected homes that work for people. He has crammed a life-time of photos, notes, and insights into this amazing catalog, overflowing with wild, zany, practical ideas, hard-won evidence of successful homes in all cultures, chock-full of amazing glimpse of genius homes, owner-built glories, unique, one-of-a-kind, offbeat, think-different homes, mindful places, sketches of long-gone shelters, bits of building wisdom, and actual how-to-advice, all offered visually, in vast color plates, at a modest price for such an intense and dense tome. The entire aim of this book is to expand your notion of what your own house could be. It works.

At least once in their life everyone should make their own shelter. This is the book I would hand to them.

Here is how I think Homework compares with the other inspirational home books I have recommended here: Architecuture Without Architects is timeless, Built by Hand is global, Home Work is contemporary and personal.

Just build it.

-- KK 08/27/04


The yurt shown here is Bill's home in the Maine woods. It is 54' (eaves) in diameter and was designed so it could be built over a period of several years and still provide shelter during the process. It is a tri-centric, or three-ring yurt with 2700 sq. ft. of floor space. You can first build the 16' inner core as a room to move into. In the second stage, you can build the large sheltering roof over a gravel pad, allowing the major cost, floor construction, to be delayed. In the meantime you have a spacious area under roof that can be used for a workshop, greenhouse, garage, or for play.

Reception room of Save the Children Office Building, frescoed lime plaster [over straw bale] walls. Blue color comes from azul anil , a blue pigment commonly found in the Dulcerias or candy stores.

The "honey house" by builders Kaki Hunter and Doni Kiffmeyer in Moab, Utah. This dome/vaulted structure was constructed from earth-filled sandbags and plastered with earth and lime plasters.

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