small homes (108)

The Half-Acre Homestead Book Is Finished!

(Subtitle: 46 Years of Building & Gardening)

You know, it’s Thanksgiving morning, both boys are off for the holiday with spouses’ families, and Lesley and I are working on our separate crafts. What a difference with no phones, no email, no business necessities, no one else around. Witness the fact that I’ve hardly blogged at all lately. Gonna have to get one day a week here with no distractions. A right-brain day!

The unbound pages came in from the printers a few days ago. What a thrill! The book’s getting bound (in Hong Kong) this week, shipped and will be available in early March, 2020. When we get it together, we’re going to take pre-orders.

I’m still getting used to the book. After covering hundreds of builders over the years, this is the first on my own (and Lesley’s) work.

Stay tuned.

These photos shot with iPhone. We just got these early pages.

Music de éste día: The Gilded Palace of Sin by The Flying Burrito Brothers, 1969
www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUeFJ7QIRbE

Here’s how I make books:

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Straw Bale and Clay in Slovakia

This year marks 10 years since our first teaching trip to Slovakia when we made good friends here, Bjørn Kierulf and his wife Zuzana Kierulfova, who are a major force here in the world of straw and clay building. We’re here doing two workshops: a short 2-day straw bale workshop and currently in the middle of a 3-day plastering class.

Interestingly enough, this is the first time we have taught workshops consisting of mostly full-time builders.

In the photo, Boris Hochel and Zuzana Kierulfova, two of our oldest acquaintances here in Slovakia, Zuzana Kierulfova and Peter Coch Shaman, who is also very active in the world of natural building.

–Bill and Athena Steen

www.caneloproject.com

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Cordwood Cabin on British Columbia Island

Cordwood cabin built by Gary and Marlene Cooper on a small island in British Columbia. All the cordwood came off the beach. It’s a double-wall technique; there is an inner and an outer wall, each 4″ thick, with the cavity in between insulated with cedar sawdust created when cutting the blocks. More photos in Builders of the Pacific Coast.

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Log Cabin at Nepenthe, Big Sur

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Bedroom in log cabin at Nepenthe, the hilltop restaurant in Big Sur. The log cabin was open to the public for 3 hours on last Saturday.

This is the original building on the site, which was bought in 1944 by Orson Welles and his wife Rita Hayworth. They never returned, and when they got divorced in 1947, they sold the cabin and surrounding 12 acres to Bill and Lolly Fassett. The Fassetts then hired architect Rowan Maiden to design the restaurant.

I lived in Big Sur for three years in the ’60s and had never seen the cabin; nor did I know the background. The Fassetts still own Nepenthe, and Lolly’s granddaughter lives in the cabin.

Note: The roof sheathing is split (not sawn) old-growth redwood boards.

Despite all the years and the overcrowding of tourists on some days, it’s still a magical place.

Tip: You can avoid the pricey dinners by getting a draft beer and an “Ambrosiaburger” at the bar.

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Shelter in The City

In Berkeley Tuesday. It’s so heartbreaking to see what’s going on in the cities these days, a result of the great transfer of wealth to the upper 10%.

The name of our company is Shelter. When we started in the early ’70s, it was a positive thing to build your own house or somehow create your own shelter. Don’t pay rent; don’t get locked into a bank with a mortgage. Because I’ve built my own home(s), I’ve never paid rent or had mortgage payments — think what that’s meant over a 50 year period!  These days, things are desperate. You see it everywhere, but especially in housing, as the politicians in charge of the US government continue to skew things in favor of the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class.

The principles, as shown amply in our 7 building books, are still the same these days:
1. Keep it small. The heart of our book Shelter, published 45 years ago, was a section with plans for 5 small homes. Shelter II has plans for another 5 homes.
2. Look around in cities and towns for small fixer-uppers.
3. Do as much for yourself as possible, with your own hands. You don’t have to do it all. Do what you can — it’ll pay off in increased independence and savings (and satisfaction).

Shameless Commerce Dept.: Shelter is 30% off for the rest of September, with free shipping. Two or more books are 30% off at any time. We encourage you to buy books from independent booksellers, but IF you buy books online, buying them from us is cheaper than Amazon.

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