Natural building includes many types of methods and materials: adobe, clay/straw, cob, balecob, papercrete, ecocomposites or eco-materials, bamboo, rammed earth, among others.

A list of books on energy systems, water and waste systems, permaculture and related topics will be added to the TLS web site and updated throughout the coming year. Please let us know if you have suggestions for this list.



Adobe and rammed Earth Buildings: Design and Construction. By Paul Graham McHenry, University of Arizona Press, 1989. Includes soil selection, adobe brick manufacturing, adobe brick wall and rammed earth wall construction, window and door detailing, earth wall finishes, foundations, floor and roof structures, insulation and mechanical considerations.

Adobe…Build It Yourself. By P.G. McHenry, University of Arizona Press, 1985. America’s best-known adobe builder shares his knowledge.

Adobe Construction Methods: Manual 19 (booklet). University of California Agricultural Sciences Department, 1964. A very thorough primer for adobe! Explains how to make and build with adobe bricks.

Adobe Houses for Today: Flexible Plans for Your Adobe Home. By Laura and Alex Sanchez, Sunstone Press, 2001. A practical book that takes you from the design through the building process.

Features detailed floor plans for twelve compact homes.

Spectacular Vernacular: The Adobe Tradition. By Jean-Louis Bourgeois, Aperture Foundation Inc., 1996. Documents the stunning variety and beauty of the world’s oldest building method, compiled from the author’s travels across Africa, Asia and the American southwest. Out of print; remaining copies available from



Alternative Construction: Contemporary Natural Building Methods. Edited by Lynne Elizabeth and Cassandra Adams, Wiley Publishers, 2000. This large, scholarly work contains more technical information on a wide variety of natural building systems than any other book. (Reviewed in TLS#31)

Alternative Building Sourcebook: Traditional, Natural and Sustainable Building Products and Services. Edited by Steve K. Chappell and James J. Marks, 2003 update. A resource and overview of traditional building practices, alternative heating systems, and natural building materials, with sources and contacts listed by state.

Alternative Housebuilding. By Mike McClintock, Sterling Publishing Company, 1989. Information on numerous construction techniques. Out of print but available used.

Appropriate Building Materials: A Catalogue of 

Potential Solutions. By Roland Stulz and Kiran Mukerji, Intermediate Technology Publications, 1993. An excellent overview of a wide range of natural building techniques, organized logically.

Appropriate Technology Sourcebook. By Ken Darrow and Mike Saxenian, Volunteers In Asia Press, 1993. PO Box 20266, Stanford CA 94309; 650.723.3228 <>

Building Green: A Complete How To Guide to Alternative Building Methods. By Clarke Snell and Tim Callahan, Sterling Publishing Co., 2005. A well-illustrated manual showing steps of  alternative  construction: earth plaster, strawbale, cordwood, cob, living roofs.

Building with Vision: Optimizing and Finding Alternatives to Wood. By David Easton, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2002. Volume two of The Wood Reduction Trilogy offers the basics of resource efficient building and looks briefly at natural building methods and materials, recycled materials and other options.

Bucky Works: Buckminster Fuller’s Ideas for Today. By J. Baldwin, John Wiley & Sons Inc., 1996.  A contributor to design science and a pioneer in the Òwhole systemsÓ approach to solving global problems, Bucky Fuller’s futuristic inventions, including the geodesic dome and corrugated cottages, are described and illustrated.

Design Outlaws on the Ecological Frontier. By Chris Zelov and Phil Cousineau, 1997. Interviews with some of the most recognizable names in the environmental movement, who defy conventional thinking to look at shelter, energy systems, transportation, industry, and their relationship to nature and the future of humanity.

Dwellings: The Vernacular House Worldwide, By Paul Oliver, Phaidon Press. Well-illustrated and detailed book on vernacular architecture reflecting culture and home.

Ecological Design. Sim Van Der Ryn and Stuart Cowan, Island Books, 1995.

Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World. By Paul Oliver,

A heavily illustrated and comprehensive compilation of the writing and photography of experts around the world.

The Good House Book:  A Common-Sense Guide to Alternative Homebuilding (Solar, Straw Bale, Cob, Adobe, Earth Plaster and more). From Lark Books and Natural Home Magazine. An intelligent look at how a home is supposed to function and a variety of different building approaches and solutions including choosing a site, selecting materials, building with strawbale, cob, adobe, rammed earth, home power systems.

The Good House; Contrast as a Design Tool. By Max Jacobson, Murray Silverstein and Barbara Winslow, Taunton Press, 1990.  A walk through architectural design theory and practice, exploring the design of the house as something to be lived in and enjoyed.

Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter. Edited by Lloyd Kahn, Shelter Publications, 2004. A sequel to the famous Shelter. Showcases contemporary human ingenuity in creating eco-centric buildings and lifestyles, illustrating new and even more imaginative ways to put a roof over your head.

A Hut of One’s Own: Life Outside the Circle of Architecture. By Ann Cline, MIT Press, 1997. If you don’t mind the occasional foray into dense academic theory, you’ll enjoy the contrasts and insights of this complex little book.

Living Homes. By Thomas Elpel, HOPS Press. Covers stone walls, papercrete, slipform building and alternative methods. Available from Taylor Publishing-DirtCheap Books.

Living Homes: Sustainable Architecture and Design. By Suzi Moore McGregor and Nora Burba Trulsson. Chronicle Books, 2001. Essays by William McDonough, FAIA, On Natural Design, and David Eisenberg, Co-Director of DCAT, addressing Appropriate Technology introduce this book illustrating that an earth-friendly structure can be well designed, functional and appropriate to the site while incorporating alternative building methods and materials, energy strategies and other environmental considerations. Photos and descriptive text of twenty-two residences in the western US.

Off the Grid. By Lori Ryker, Gibbs Smith, 2005. Illustrates hybrid home design using energy alternatives and alternative building materials and methods including strawbale

Shelter. By Lloyd Kahn, Shelter Publications, 1973. A cult classic from the heyday of teach-ins and VWs, this large-format book may have inspired more owner-builders to build crazy structures than any other.

A Shelter Sketchbook: Timeless Building Solutions. By John Taylor, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 1997. This slim volume is filled with the author’s sketches of shelter ideas from all peoples and historical eras.

Sustainable Architecture: Low Tech Houses. By Arian Mostaedi, Carles Broto and Josep Minguet, 2003. Examples of a wide variety of alternative materials used in construction: adobe, sandbags, cardboard, straw bales, rammed earth and ore…

The Whole House Book: Ecological Building Design and Materials. By Pat Borer and Cindy Harris, Centre for Alternative Technology, 2001. Whether you are renovating or extending an existing building, or designing your dream home from scratch, The Whole House Book sets out the wide range of ecological options.

Wonderful Houses Around the World. By Yoshio Komatsu, Shelter Publications. Photos accompanied by descriptive detailed drawings make this a wonderful book for children…and adults. (Reviewed in TLS #47)


Bamboo Building and Culture (Applications in America) (booklet in CD, print, and pdf format). By Darrell DeBoer. 1835 Pacific Ave., Alameda CA 94501


The Book of Bamboo: A Comprehensive Guide to this Remarkable Plant, Its Uses, and Its History. By David Farrelly, Sierra Club Books, 1995. Encyclopedic information about Òthe most useful plant on earth.Ó

Building with Bamboo. By Jules Janssen, Intermediate Technology Publications, 1995. A practical handbook for construction uses of bamboo, its limits, seasoning, harvesting for floors, walls, roofs, ceilings, roof trusses and bridges.

The Gardener’s Guide to Growing Temperate Bamboos. By Michael Bell, Timber Press, 2000. Help for choosing species of bamboo for non-tropical climates, plus growing tips and an extensive resource guide.

Grow Your Own House. By Sim—n VŽlez and Bamboo Architecture, 2000. A collaborative effort by VITRA. VŽlez’s amazing bamboo architecture has to be seen to be believed.

How to Build with Bamboo.  By Joseph Scheer, Gibbs Smith, 2005. Step-by-step illustrations on small projects (not buildings) with bamboo (not buildings); section on history, philosophy, environmental advantages of bamboo and tips on finding bamboo that is locally grown and on growing your own.


Blueprint Small: Creative Ways to Live with Less. By Michelle Kodis, Gibbs Smith, 2003. Examines small spaces (each 1,500 square feet or less) from the wide spectrum of locations, budgets, and individual styles, each chosen to illustrate that scaling back in size doesn’t have to mean scaling back in comfort, spaciousness, or beauty.


Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature.

By Janine M. Benyus, Perennial Paperbacks (HarperCollinsPublishers), 1997. A new way of viewing and valuing nature based not on what we can extract from the natural world but what we can learn from it.

Design With Nature. Ian L. McHarg, John Wiley & Sons, 1995. A seminal text written in the 60s, now republished.


Econest: Creating Sustainable Sanctuaries of Clay, Straw, and Timber. By Paula Baker-Laporte and Robert Laporte, Gibbs Smith Publisher, 2005. A beautifully illustrated, well-written exploration of light clay/straw construction and the Econest system.


The Cob Builders Handbook. By Becky Bee, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 1996. This handbook teaches all the basics with chapters on design, site selection, materials, foundations, floors, windows, doors, finishes and creative cob building techniques.

The Cobber’s Companion: How to Build Your Own Earthen Home. By Michael Smith, Cob Cottage, 2001. Gives you the tools and inspiration to build your own low-cost cob home. (See TLS#33)

The Hand-Sculpted House: A Practical & Philosophical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage. By Ianto Evans, Michael G. Smith and Linda Smiley, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2002. This inspiring book includes design strategies, down-to-earth how-to info, and empowering advice for the Òmortgage-freeÓ owner-builder.

You Can Make the Best Hot Tub Ever. By Becky Bee, Groundworks Publishing, 2001. Booklet describing how to build cheap and practical wood- fired cob hot tub. (See TLS#34)



Guidelines to Using Fly Ash for Higher Quality, Eco-friendly Structures. By Bruce King, PE, Green Building Press. A practical guide written for engineers and contractors on recent developments in high performance fly ash concrete.


Complete Book of Cordwood Masonry Housebuilding: The Earthwood Method. By Rob Roy, Sterling Publishing Company, 1992. The most complete guide to the technique, along with useful information on many other topics of interest to the owner-builder, including masonry stoves and solar.


Design Guide for Frost Protected Shallow Foundations. FPSFs provide protection against frost damage without the need for excavating below the frost time. Insulation is placed strategically around the outside of the foundation to direct heat loss from the building toward the foundation and to use the earth’s natural geothermal energy. Used since the 1930s and now in over 5,000 buildings in the U.S. and over one million homes in Norway, Sweden. Details available at  Features updated graphics, detailed drawings and tables.

The House That Jill Built: A Woman’s Guide to Home Building. By Judy Ostrow, Gibbs Smith, 2005. The process of creating a personal dream house Ðfrom design and finance to constuction and management through the experiences of women who have been there, and done that, with inspiring results.

Low-Cost Pole Building Construction. By Ralph Wolfe, Storey Books, 1980.

Mortgage-Free! Radical Strategies for Home Ownership. By Rob Roy, Real Goods, 1998.

The Place of Houses. By Chalres Moore, Gerald Allen, Donlyn Lyndon. University of California Press, 1974. Architects, design/builders, homeowners and others find this book a helpful guide in planning and designing a home. A 20-page checklist outlining choices (and there are more choices not included here) are a valuable part of this book.



Buddha House: Reflections on Building and Being. SunRay Kelley Series Volume 1. By Chris McClellan.Bigger Pictures Technology, 2004. Photos and inspiring sayings come together for insight into a philosophy of living and building, and the facts and history of a house and its builder.

Building with Earth. By John Norton, Intermediate Technology Publications, 1997.  A brief but pithy take on the subject.

Built By Hand: Vernacular Buildings around the  World.  By Bill Steen, Athena Steen and Eiko Komatsu, Gibbs Smith, 2003. The most extensive documentation ever published of traditional (ÒvernacularÓ) buildings throughout the world. Handcrafted, simply built, beautifully composed structures, the work of people who, as builders and homesteaders, have integrated artistic beauty and practical form into their shelter needs. (Reviewed in TLS#44)

Ceramic Houses & Earth Architecture, How to Build Your Own. By Nader Khalili, Burning Gate Press, 1986. An excellent and poetic introduction to earth architecture.

Design for Life. By Sim Van der Ryn,Gibbs-Smith, 2005. Seeing shifting patterns in nature and how these patterns profoundly affect how people live and work in the structures we build, Van der Ryn explores how architecture has created physical and mental barriers separating people from the natural world, and how to recover the soul of architecture and reconnect with our natural surroundings.

Earth Construction: A Comprehensive GuideBy Hugo Houben and Hubert Guillard, Intermediate Technology Publications, 1994. Highly technical, but as the title says, comprehensive.

Ecological Design. By Sym Van der Ryn and Stuart Cowan, Island Press, 1995.  A good intro to the ÒwhyÓ of ecological design that gives its information in a non-technical way and explains the reasons we should approach design this way. I recommend it for all those involved with land and building design and development.

A Home for the Soul: A Guide for Dwelling with Spirit and Imagination. By Anthony Lawlor, Clarkson Potter Publishers, 1997.

Homing Instinct: Using Your Lifestyle to Design and Build Your Home. John Connell, McGraw-Hill, 1999. A very useful overview of basic design
and construction issues by the founder of the YesterMorrow School.

How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built.By Stewart Brand, Penguin USA, 1995. An eye-opening discussion of the evolution of buildings through time.

Independent Builder: Designing & Building a House Your Own Way. By Sam Clark, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 1996. A comprehensive manual of design, planning and building written to be useful to people who have never built their own homes.

The Earth House. By Jeanne Duprau, New Chapter Press, 1992. Thoughts on home, nature, and necessity. A great book for someone building a house for the first time.

Living on Earth. By Yoshio Komatsu, Fukuinkan-Shoten Publishers, Tokyo, 1999. Unparalleled in its full-color celebration of the kaleidoscopic range
of human creativity, this may be the definitive photographic record of the world’s vernacular building traditions.greenhouses.


Building with Earthbags. Available from Dirt Cheap Builder/Taylor Publishing.

Building with Earth: A Guide to Flexible-Form Earthbag Construction. By Paulina Wojciechowska, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2001. The first book out on earthbag construction. Includes discussion of other natural building techniques as well.

Earthbag Building: The Tools, Tricks and Techniques. By Kaki Hunter and Donald Kiffmeyer, New Society Publishers, 2004. A comprehensive, step-by-step guide to building with earthbags.


Build Your Own Earth Oven: A Low-Cost, Wood-Fired Mud Oven; Simple Sourdough Bread; Perfect Loaves. By Kiko Denzer, Hand Print Press, 2000. A charming and practical book. (See TLS#33)



Conscious Style Home: Eco-friendly Living for the 21st Century. By Danny Seo, St. Martin’s Press, 2001.

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. By William McDonough et al., North Point Press, 2001. A clear view of the big picture by the originator of green building.

Green Building Resource Guide. By John Hermannsson, Taunton Press, 1997.

Green by Design: Creating a Home for Sustainable Living. By Angela Dean, Gibbs Smith, 2003. What does it mean to build green, and what should be considered when designing a sustainable home? Photos, line drawings of floor plans and text answer these questions. Includes straw-bale home.

The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture. By Alanna Stang and Christopher Hawthorne, Princeton Architectural Press, 2005. The exhibition of the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., and this book were developed to present exemplary projects in which environmental responsbility is an integral aspect of their design.

Green Living – An E Magazine Handbook for Living Lightly on the Earth.  By the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine, Earth Action  Network, Inc., 2005. Practical tips for living healthier, more eco-friendly lives; a guide to the sustainable lifestyle from pesticide-free food to hybrid cars and beyond.

GreenSpec Directory: Product Directory with Guideline Specifications. Environmental Building News, 2001. American-based directory of ÒgreenÓ products for all aspects of construction. (Reviewed in TLS#41)

Guide to Resource Efficient Building Elements. By Steve Loken, Center for Resourceful Building Technology, 1997. One of the best Ògreen materials guides.Ó PO Box 3866, Missoula MT 59806; 406.549.7678

The New Ecological Home: A Complete Guide to Green Building Options. By Dan Chiras, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2004. Information on ways to build new homes or remodel existing ones that minimize environmental damage and use resources prudently while creating shelter that is affordable, comfortable, and attractive. Geared toward a mainstream audienceÐfolks interested in making their home environmentally friendly, efficient and healthy.

Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls. By Nigel Dunnett and Noel Kingsbury, Timber Press, 2004. Green roofs and walls reduce pollution and runoff, and help insulate and reduce maintenance needs of buildings. This book discusses the practical techniques required to make planting roofs and walls a reality.



Homes that Heal (and those that don’t). By Athena Thompson, 2004. Addresses health problems linked to poor indoor air quality, the health effects of mold, and the overall quality of the buildings we inhabit. (Reviewed in TLS#49)

The New Natural House Book: Creating a Healthy, Harmonious and Ecologically Sound Home. By David Pearson, Fireside, 1998. A classic, revised.

The Natural House: A Complete Guide to Healthy, Energy-Efficient, Environmental Homes. By Daniel D. Chiras, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2000. An award-winning primer on natural building from adobe to rammed earth; papercrete to cast earth, SB and cob. Greywater systems and construction methods covered in detail. (Reviewed in TLS#31)

The Natural House Catalogue: Everything You Need to Create an Environmentally Friendly Home. By David Pearson, Simon and Schuster, 1996.

Prescriptions for a Healthy House. By Paula Baker-Laporte, Erica Elliott and John Banta, New Society Publishers. Revised and expanded 2001.


The Book of Masonry Stoves: Rediscovering an Old Way of Warming. By David Lyle, Chelsea Green Publishing, 1998.

Living with a Masonry Stove. By Kate Mink. Home Power, Issue #103, pp. 54-57, Oct/Nov 2004. Benefits, thermal comparisons with other types of stoves, maintenance schedule and more.


The Art of Natural Building: Design, Construction, Resources. Edited by Joseph Kennedy, Michael Smith and Catherine Wanek, 2002. The most up-to-date overview of natural building and ecological design from very knowledgeable authors. (Reviewed in TLS#38)

Building Without Borders: Sustainable Construction for the Global Villge. Edited by Joseph F. Kennedy, New Society, 2004. Learn how other cultures have built houses for centuries, their designs and methods including thatched roof, strawbale, mud, bamboo, and, micro concrete, earth, clay blocks. Budgets and financing, refugee and post-disaster housing, worldwide examples.

Building a Low Impact Roundhouse. By Tony Wrench, Permanent Publications, 2001. The story of building a very ÒpureÓ natural building in Wales.

Designing Your Natural Home. By David Pearson, HarperCollins, 2005. Complete guide for creating an eco-home through each step of the process Ð the scope of the project through choosing materials to decorating. Learn how to draw up plans, make the most of small spaces, find a builder, and more.

Earth to Spirit: In Search of Natural Architecture. By David Pearson and William McDonough, Chronicle Books, 1995. A beautiful and heartful book about natural buildings around the world. Out of print, but available used.

Japanese Homes and Their Surroundings. By Edward S. Morse, Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1992. First published in 1885, this book is filled with ideas about partitions, storage and decoration useful to any natural builder.

The Lemonade Stand: Exploring the Unfamiliar by Building Large Scale Models. By Maurice Mitchell, New Society Publishers, 1998. The title is somewhat deceptive, but this is one of the most interesting and useful natural building books out there.

Lessons  From Nature: Learning to Live Sustainably on the Earth. By Dan Chiras, Island Press.

Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green House. By Carol Venolia and Kelly Lerner. Publication date June 2006.

The Wabi-Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty. By Robyn Griggs Lawrence. Clarkson Potter, 2004. A book of ÒlifeÓ and ÒstyleÓ in the design and decorating of living spaces that teaches the art of beauty in salvaged materials and artisan wares as well as the humble (wabi) beauty in the progression of time (sabi) of a weathered handmade table and cobblestones.



Architecture Without Architects. By Bernard Rudofsky, University of New Mexico Press, 1964.  One of the books that inspired the natural building renaissance.

Builders Without Borders Strawbale Construction Guide.  By Katia LeMone and Dr. Owen Geiger. 2006  www.builderswithoutborders


Classic Paints & Faux Finishes. By Annie Sloan, Readers Digest, 1996. Extensive information on lime plaster use, casein paints, and photos and step-by-step techniques. Available from Taylor Publishing-DirtCheap Books.

The Natural Paint Book: The complete guide to natural paintsCo-authored by Julie Lawless and Lynn Edwards. The Green Shop, Bisley, Stroud, Glouchestershire, GL6, 7BX; 01452 770629 <> Bridges the information gap by explaining the constituents and properties and natural and eco-paints.  An eco-paint handbook published by Eco-logic Books.


All About Lime: A Basic Information Guide for Natural Building (52-page booklet).  Taylor Publishing-DirtCheap Books. Lime is an amazing, versatile building material useful on the grounds, foundation, walls and for plasters, mortars, cements, and more. Recipes and current recommendations on application and use, history of how lime has been used for building; resources, bibliography and photographs along with technical articles explaining the differences between the earthtypes of lime, when to use which type of lime, how to make natural cement, dry up mud on the work site, stabilize soil for earthen bricks…and more. Explains slaking quicklime, soaking hydrated lime, and more.

Appropriate Plasters for Cob and Stone Walls.  By Devon Earth Building Association. This pamphlet covers use of lime plasters and washes for protection and repair of cob and stone walls.

Building with Lime. By Stafford Holmes and Michael Wingate, Intermediate Technology Publications, 1997. An extensive handbook for construction uses of lime for floors, washes, wattle-and-daub, plasters, moldings, mortars and more. (See TLS#29)

Lime in Building. By Jane Scofield. Black Dog Press, Devon, U.K.

The Natural Plaster Book: Earth, Lime and Gypsum Plasters for Natural Homes. By Cedar Rose Guelberth and Dan Chiras, New Society Publishers, 2003. Step-by-step guide to choosing, mixing and applying natural plasters.


Building Materials for the Environmentally Hypersensitive. By Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 1995.

Building with Free Materials. Available from Dirt Cheap Builder/Taylor Publishing.

Building the Future Today. By John C. Clem, Trio Publications, 2001. A guide to building products and methods for the new millennium.

Green Building Handbook Vols. 1 and 2. By Tom Woolley et al., Routledge, 1999 and 2000. The handbooks are an excellent, though Eurocentric, review of building materials and their impact on the environment. (Reviewed in TLS#32)


The Rammed Earth House. By David Easton, Real Goods, 1995. A well-illustrated guide by the leading practitioner in the U.S.


New Old House: Designing with Redclaimed Materials. By Ed Knapp, Gibbs Smith Publishers, 2002. A blueprint for blending the past and present in home and busines s design, ephasizing the use of vintage materials.

Redux: Designs That Reuse, Recycle, and Reveal. By Jennifer Roberts, Gibbs Smith, 2005. Includes several straw-bale projects, design and construction information in the New Construction chapter.


The Slate Roof Bible: Understanding, Installing and Restoring the World’s Finest Roof, 2nd edition. By Joseph Jenkins, Jenkins Publishing, 2005. Everything you want to know about slate roofs can be found in this award-winning book.


The Art and Craft of Stonework: Dry-Stacking, Mortaring, Paving, Carving, Gardenscaping. By David Reed, Lark Books, 2002. A beautiful, well-illustrated and useful book filled with instructions, recipes and projects for both dry-stack and mortar techniques.

Building with Stone. By Charles McRaven,
Storey Books, 1989.
An introduction by a master stonebuilder.

The Stone Builder’s Primer: A Step-by-Step Guide for Owner-Builders. By Charles K. Long, Firefly Books, 1998.


Straw Bale Building Details: An Illustrated Guide for Design and Construction. By CASBA, New Society Publishers, 2019
Distilling over two decades of site-built straw bale design and construction experience, with contributions from architects, engineers and contractors of CASBA, this book is written to be accessible to
all levels of those involved with a straw bale project and contains the groundbreaking 2015 addition to the International Building Code (IRC) Appendix S, Strawbale Construction – with Commentary.


Thatch: A Complete Guide to the Ancient Craft of Thatching. By Robert West, The Main Street Press, 1988.

Thatching: A Handbook. By Nicholas Hall, Intermediate Technology Publications, 1988. A good descriptive Òhow toÓ with excellent drawings.


Building the Timber Frame House. By Tedd Benson with James Gruber, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1980.

Natural Timberframe.  By Jerod Pfeffer and Wayne J. Bingham. To be published in 2007. Includes straw-bale, timber-framed buildings. Watch for review in future issue of TLS.

Timber Building in Britain. R. W. Brunskill, Victor Gollancz Ltd., 14 Henrietta St., London WC2E8QJ, 1985.

Timber Framing for the Rest of Us: A Guide to Contemporary Post and Beam Construction. By Rob Roy, New Society Publishers, 2004. A practical manual that illustrates simpler techniques for timber framing. Includes design, structural, foundation and roofing considerations plus a detailed case study.  (See Review in TLS #47).

A Timber Framer’s Workshop: Joinery, Design & Construction of Traditional Timber Frames. By Steve Chappell, Fox Maple Press, 1998. If you want to understand traditional timber framing, read this book. Chappell portrays the craft, with all its nuances, the way it was meant to be.


Earth Sheltered House: How to Build an Affordable Underground Home. By Rob Roy, New Society Publishers, 2006.

The Earth-Sheltered House: An Architect’s Sketchbook. By Malcolm Wells, Real Goods, 1998. A wonderfully illustrated book by one of the leading proponents of the technique.


Branched Drain Greywater Systems. By Art Ludwig, Oasis Design, 2000Ð2004. Reliable, economical sanitary, low maintenance distribution of household greywater to downhill plants without filtration or pumping.

Builder’s Greywater Guide: The Guide to Professional Installation. By Art Ludwig, Oasis Design, revised and expanded July 2003. Installation of greywater systems in new construction and remodeling.

Create an Oasis with Grey Water. By Art Ludwig, Oasis Design, Revised and Expanded Fourth Edition. A complete guide to choosing, building, and using grey water systems.

The Humanure Handbook: A guide to composting human manure, 3rd edition. By Joseph Jenkins, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2005.  The definitive book on the subject in its 3rd edition.

Water Storage: Tanks, Cisterns, quifers and Ponds. By Art Ludwig, Oasis Design. This do-it-yourself guide will help anyone design, build and maintain a water system for domestic use, fire protection and disaster preparedness. How to store water for homes, farms and small communities at low cost and ecologically. Also shows how to build a ferrocement tank.

Natural Building Videos

At Home with Mother Earth. A great overview of earth building featuring the work of Nader Khalili, David Easton, and CRATerre. Available from Cal-Earth. (See Resource Centers.)

Building Sustainability into the Codes: The Emerging Path toward Sustainable Construction. By Development Center for Appropriate Technology. DCAT is in the final stages of production of this video. Downloadable for those with high-speed Internet access, and available for purchase at a reasonable price. Other materials will be offered in the future, or made available as they are developed. For order information, call 520.624.6628 or

Building with Awareness: The Construction of a Hybrid Home. By Syncronos. Covers a wide variety of materials, methods, heating/cooling, foundations, floors, earth plaster, and more.

Building with Earthbags. Ninety minutes of construction detail covering all aspects of a twin earth bag dome, PV/off-grid, papercrete plaster and much more.

Building with Papercrete & Paper Adobe. Two-hour video. Available from Taylor Publishing-DirtCheap Books.

Building with the Earth: Oregon’s Cob Cottage Company. By Inner Growth Videos, Cob Cottage Company. Inspirational and philosophical video that introduces the Cob Cottage Company and their work. Not a Òhow-to.Ó

Cob­ÐBuilding with Earth. Available from Dirt Cheap Builders/Taylor Publishing.

Cordwood Building: The State of the Art. By Rob Roy, New Society Publishers, 2003. Rewrites of the best and most useful papers presented at the CoCoCo conferences, along with a bit of cordwood’s history, changes in building techniques, and examples of cordwood building around the world.

Cordwood Homes with Rob Roy. By Rob Roy, Earthwood Building School. Home tours, interviews, and ideas on home design and the owner-builder experience, providing a close-up look at several styles of cordwood homes.

Cordwood Masonry Techniques with Rob & Jaki Roy. By Rob and Jaki Roy, Earthwood Building School. The how-to of building with cordwood from the Earthwood Building School.

Earthbag Methods and Philosophy with Nader Khalili. By Chinle Films. Sixty-minute interview and documentary on using bags for construction. Though it shows some how-to, it is primarily a why to.

Introduction to Fibercrete with Mike McCain. 90 minutes. How to make and mix papercrete, barrel mixer construction details, simple wood forms for blocks and bricks, pouring and pumping slurry, plus structures built, tips, and a burn test. Available from Taylor Publishing-DirtCheap Books.

Permaculture Video Series. By Crystal Lake Video. Three videos from Sepp and Veronika Holzers’ 100 acre high-altitude farm in Austria, chosen as an example of sustainable agriculture for Expo 2000.

Rammed Earth Basics. By EarthWright Institute. 101 S Coombs Ste N, Napa CA 94559.

The Rammed Earth Renaissance. By Lyceum Productions. Overview of David Easton’s pioneering work with rammed earth in the U.S.

A Sampler of Alternative Homes. By Hart Works Productions. Covers papercrete, strawbale, earthships, corkwood, adobe block, rammed earth, earthbags and more. (Reviewed in TLS#23)

Urban Permaculture. By Black Range Films. 30 minutes. Bill Roley, founder of the Permaculture Institute of Southern California, shows how Permaculture can be applied in an urban setting.

Construction and Estimating

Builder’s Guide to Foundations and Floor Framing. By Dan Ramsey, McGraw-Hill Inc., 1995. A basic handbook for any builder.

Estimating Home Building Costs. By W. P. Jackson, Craftsman Book Company, 2001.  More than a book about cost estimating, it’s a practical handbook of each phase of residential construction from site acquisition, permits and services, through foundations, structure, roofing and all the rest, with helpful illustrations, table and charts, and a glossary of terms.

EEBA Builders Field Guide for Hot-Dry Climates. (Also publish Field Guides for Cold Climates, Mixed Climates, Hot-Humid Climates). By Joseph Lstiburek, 1998. Energy  Efficient Building Association publications with construction details, building science principles (some are valid), and a new section on alternatives such as ICFs (insulating concrete forms), precast autoclaved aerated concrete, structural insulated panels (SIPs) and straw-bale construction.

The Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods. By Edward Allen, John Wiley & Sons, 1990.

A Guide to Useful Woods of the World.

Forest Products Society, 2001. A cooperative effort between the Forest Products Society and the International Wood Collectors Society, this book is an invaluable reference for woodworkers, wood collectors, and others interested in wood.

The Insider’s Guide to Marketing Green Buildings. By Jerry Yudelson, 2004. Strategies, data, tools and techniques to help you market green buildings, products, and sustainable design and construction services by the 2004 Chair of the Green Building Conference of the US Green Building Council, LEED National Faculty member, former USGBC board member.

Insulating Concrete Forms Construction: Demand, Evlauation, & Technical Practice. By Ivan S. Panushev and Pieter A. VanderWerf, 2004. Detailed answers on whether or not insulating concrete forms are right for your business or project, what it’s like to work them, how they perform, installation or post-installation trades work.

Making Better Concrete: Guidelines to Using Fly Ash for Higher Quality, Eco-friendly Structures. By Bruce King, P.E., Green Building Press, 2005. Concrete is a widely used building material worldwide and its use for high quality, eco-friendly structures is explored in this first title by Green Building Press.

Roofing: Construction & Estimating. By Daniel Atcheson, Craftsman Book Company, 1995. A handy manual for all builders.

Roofing: Design Criteria, Options, Selection. By R.D. Herbert III, R.S. Means Company, Inc., 1989. A technical guide to the design, construction and materials for roofing.

Roofing Handbook. By Robert Scharff, McGraw-Hill Inc., 1996. From basic to technical information, this book is a valuable resource.

Shelter Sketchbook: Timeless Building Solutions. By John S. Taylor, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 1983. Pictorial history of building that will widen your understanding of the relationship between form and function in building  and open your eyes to some intriguing design solutions to a home’s comfort, efficiency, convenience, and aesthetics.

Textbook of Wood Technology, 1964, Vol. I – Structure, Identification, Uses, and properties of Commercial Woods of the U.S. By A. J. Panshin, Carl DeZeeuw, H.P. Brown, McGraw-Hill Book Company.

Understanding Wood. By R. Bruce Hoadley, Taunton Press, 1980.

Walker’s Pocket Estimator. Frank R. Walker Company, Lisle IL. A practical guide and reference for developing material quantities and labor hours for estimating the cost of all disciplines of building construction. Available from the Shelter Institute.