If You’re Building Your Own Home, Check Out These Recommended Resources

Ellis Hein was my guest for DestinySurvival Radio for May 12, 2011. (Since the link for that show no longer works, contact me if you’d like to have a copy of the MP3 file.) He sent me the following information which will be useful for you if you’re homesteading and building your own home.

Find the recommended books by clicking on their linked titles.


There are a number of books that your readers/listeners might be interested to know about regarding building your own house. They have been useful for us in what we have done here.

  • Simplified Design of Wood Structures, originally by Harry Parker. This is a primer for engineering your structure to meet code requirements.
  • The Steel Square, by H. H. Siegele. An introduction to the many things you can accomplish by using a framing square, from drawing a circle, designing an octagonal opening, or cutting all the members of a complex roof structure.
  • The Straw Bale House, by Athena Swentzell Steen, Bill Steen, David Bainbridge, with David Eisenberg. A must read for anyone contemplating building with strawbale. Good, solid information. The Steens offer other books, hands-on workshops for learning strawbale building techniques, and workshops for natural plaster. All this can be seen on their website at http://www.caneloproject.com/.
  • The Natural Plaster Book, by Cedar Rose Guelberth and Dan Chiras. Foundational information for using natural plaster. This discusses technique, composition of the plaster, and various additives to make the plaster work better. However, I did not stay with her suggestions all the way through as I discovered something that worked better for my situation. I didn’t need any other reference material to get started plastering my own house.
  • Hand-Sculpted House, by Ianto Evans, Michael G. Smith, and Linda Smiley. A book about cob building. It has some good information, but I found I had to wade through a lot of unnecessary information that told me nothing about how to build or design a cob house. I was interested in how to work with cob, not the other stuff.
  • Earthship, by Michael Reynolds. A good book on using car tires to build house walls. This also contains its share of sappy stuff, but the good information outweighs the other.
  • Living Homes, by Thomas J. Elpel. An overview of several different, alternative building styles. I found the section on masonry heaters to be particularly thought provoking. I will eventually build one of these and draw heavily upon this resource.


Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.