Shelter Inspires Owner-Builder

In the mail this week:

Mr Lloyd Khan

A girlfriend gave me your Shelter book a few years ago and it was instrumental in helping me think that it was OK to build what I wanted to build, and still conform to all the rules I had to face.

My story (short version): After a summer of river rafting I was pretty much homeless and headed for the land I had bought for $4000 a few years earlier. I built a shack (with a lot of help from my parents) in the fall, early winter; out of found materials – except the 8 by 8 hand-hewn Basswood posts i traded for a video about a local Arborist company – and 2 by 6 plywood floor which I bought. All else, foam, tin, windows, were from the garbage or very cheap.


 I wanted to see how it was to build with recycled foam blocks, a technique a contractor friend devised a few years earlier. I have included some photos of the shack, where i stayed pretty much fulltime for 3 years,with no water or Hydro and a good hike from the road as I had no driveway.

Before and during this I worked in construction on several projects inlcuding straw bale, old round log reno, fixing an old sod roof and lots of labour odd jobs, which did not come easy as I am more of a photographer, filmmaker, kayaker than anything else.

After taking the plunge financially with the help of my parents I started to collect logs two summers ago. Spent most weekends hauling logs with my van and trailer or the use of Pauls log trailer and cherry picker….I have a few friends who cut trees for a living so there was no shortage of free logs from their jobs, all i had to do was get them off the clients property, i dont have that many pictures of that but it was incredible how with about 4 strong guys and some good Peaveys and log carriers you could move huge Spruce and Pine logs by hand! Later I milled them, it was a very affordable (except for all the beer i had to supply) way of getting wood, the only wood i bought for the house was for the stick frame kneewall, 2by4 strapping on roof, 2by 6 window bucks, and plywood for the temporary second floor. I plan to put the White Pine floor down this week. Downstairs is a floating slab, heated with water. I have an Amish wood stove (The Bakers Choice) which will eventually be hooked up to a range boiler to supplement domestic hot water.

Right now working as a painter, I hate it. Have to start making a living with my filmaking and publishing dreams…any advice appreciated!

Here is my website where on the HOME page you will find a bunch of pics of the house: www.lorenshen.com

Thanks for your books, you have a loyal (albeit small) following around these parts.

Regan Moran

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

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