The Lost Files

I was looking through one of my many filing cabinets (which contain old school file folders containing papers and photos) the other day and discovered about 15 folders on a book I started to write in the late ’70s. It was going to be called Home Work* and was about my building experiences, starting with my first building (studio with a “living roof” in 1962), then building homes over the next 17-18 years. I took them out of the filing cabinet and put them in this box:

Back then, I felt that I could offer guidance to novice builders, based on the fact that I started building from scratch. No carpentry training or previous construction experience.

I’d made a lot of mistakes that I could warn first-time builders about, and I had ideas for simple homes based on practicality and economy– and ones that felt good.

I wanted to encourage people to use their own hands to build their own homes. I’d done it, and never had a bank mortgage or paid rent.

The project got interrupted by my publishing Stretching by Bob Anderson in 1980 and then 20 years of publishing fitness books. Karma, I guess.


Back to the present: The book on the ’60s has seemed to be evolving into one titled Changing Directions, because as I worked on the book I realized how the ’60s changed my life. It’s not an abstract concept to me. I went from insurance broker to builder/photographer/publisher, so I thought I’d give my background and my perception of the changes during those times, how I saw it (including the Haight/Ashbury), and how my life took another direction. Now I’ve got all this new material; how to use it?

I wish I could take a few months off, but our publishing company is running on empty, so onwards it is with this project. Master builder Lloyd House told me, about building, “I fire the bullet and try to catch up with it.”

I’m working on a book, not sure what it will turn out to be. Gotta catch up with that bullet.

*I used the title Home Work for a book on homes all over the world in 2004.

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:

3 Responses to The Lost Files

  1. Hello Lloyd:

    I'm real new to this commenting on blogs thing. So please forgive me for commenting "off subject" here. I found your short blog on the following…

    On 31 Jul 2014, you blogged, with interior photo, about a Curve Roofed Barn in Oregon.
    If that barn was photographed near Green in Douglas County.
    I can tell you who designed, and built it, and approximately when, if you are interested.

    Linda Layne

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