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Home > Books > Home Design Books

We Found 101 items, sorted in Bestselling order.

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1.

THE GOOD LIFE

Helen & Scott Nearing
Paperback

Price: $16.00

This new edition of Living the Good Life and Continuing the Good Life brings together the Nearings' classic guides to the theory and practice of rural homesteading. This couple abandoned the city for …

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This new edition of Living the Good Life and Continuing the Good Life brings together the Nearings' classic guides to the theory and practice of rural homesteading. This couple abandoned the city for a rural life with minimal cash and the knowledge of self reliance and good health.

Today, more than ever before, our society is seeking ways to live more conscientiously. To help bring you the very best inspiration and information about greener, more sustainable lifestyles, Mother Earth News is recommending books to its readers. For more than 30 years, Mother Earth News has been North America’s “Original Guide to Living Wisely,” creating books and magazines for people with a passion for self-reliance and a desire to live in harmony with nature.

2.

TIMBER FRAMING FOR THE REST OF US

ROB ROY
Paperback

Price: $24.95

This is the first book to describe in depth the timber framing methods used by most contractors, framers and owner-builders — methods that use modern metal fasteners, special screws, and common-sense …

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This is the first book to describe in depth the timber framing methods used by most contractors, framers and owner-builders — methods that use modern metal fasteners, special screws, and common-sense building principles to create post and beam structures in much less time. The book includes everything an owner-builder needs to know about building strong and beautiful structural frames from heavy timbers.

Recommended Product for Wiser Living: Today, more than ever before, our society is seeking ways to live more conscientiously. To help bring you the very best inspiration and information about greener, more sustainable lifestyles, Mother Earth News is recommending books to readers. For 40 years, Mother Earth News has been North America’s “Original Guide to Living Wisely,” creating books and magazines for people with a passion for self-reliance and a desire to live in harmony with nature.

3.

HOME WORK: HANDBUILT SHELTER

Lloyd Kahn
Paperback

Price: $26.95

Building on the enormous success of his original Shelter book, Lloyd Kahn continues his odyssey of finding and exploring the most magnificent and unusual handbuilt houses in existence. Among the intri…

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Building on the enormous success of his original Shelter book, Lloyd Kahn continues his odyssey of finding and exploring the most magnificent and unusual handbuilt houses in existence. Among the intriguing domiciles described in Home Work are a Japanese-style stilt house accessible only by a cable across a river; a stone house in a South African valley whose roof serves as a baboon trampoline; and a bottle house in the Nevada desert.

More than 1,500 photos illustrate various innovative architectural styles and natural building materials that have gained popularity in the last two decades, such as cob, papercrete, bamboo, adobe, strawbale, timber framing and earthbags. If you love fine, fun and/or funky buildings, you will want to own this splendid book.

4.

EARTHBAG BUILDING

Kaki Hunter & Donald Kiffmeyer
Paperback

Price: $29.95

More than 70% of Americans cannot afford to own a code-enforced, contractor-built home. This has led to widespread interest in using natural materials — straw, cob and earth — for building homes and o…

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More than 70% of Americans cannot afford to own a code-enforced, contractor-built home. This has led to widespread interest in using natural materials — straw, cob and earth — for building homes and other buildings that are inexpensive, and that rely largely on labor rather than expensive and often environmentally-damaging outsourced materials.

Earthbag Building, a Mother Earth News Book for Wiser Living, is the first comprehensive guide to all the tools, tricks and techniques for building with bags filled with earth — or earthbags. Having been introduced to sandbag construction by the renowned Nader Khalili in 1993, the authors developed this "Flexible Form Rammed Earth Technique" over the last decade. A reliable method for constructing homes, outbuildings, garden walls and much more, this enduring, tree-free architecture can also be used to create arched and domed structures of great beauty — in any region, at home, in developing countries or in emergency relief work.

This fully-illustrated guide first discusses the many merits of earthbag construction, and then leads the reader through the key elements of an earthbag building:

  • Special design considerations
  • Foundations, walls and floors
  • Electrical, plumbing and shelving
  • Lintels, windows and door installations
  • Roofs, arches and domes
  • Exterior and interior plasters


With dedicated sections on costs, making your own specialized tools, and building code considerations, as well as a complete resources guide, Earthbag Building is the long-awaited, definitive guide to this uniquely pleasing construction style.

About the contributors:

Kaki Hunter and Donald Kiffmeyer have been involved in the construction industry for the last 20 years, specializing in affordable, low-tech, low-impact building methods that are as natural as possible. Together, over the last nine years they developed the "Flexible Form Rammed Earth Technique" of building affordably with earthbags. They have taught the subject and contributed their expertise to several books on natural building.

5.

MORE STRAW BALE BUILDING

Magwood, Mack and Therrien
Paperback

Price: $11.00

CLEARANCE ITEM. PREVIOUS RETAIL PRICE WAS $32.95 AVAILABLE ONLY WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!

Straw bale houses are easy to build, affordable, super energy efficient, environmentally friendly, attractive, and c…

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CLEARANCE ITEM. PREVIOUS RETAIL PRICE WAS $32.95 AVAILABLE ONLY WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!

Straw bale houses are easy to build, affordable, super energy efficient, environmentally friendly, attractive, and can be designed to match the builder's personal space needs, esthetics, and budget. Despite mushrooming interest in the technique, however, most straw bale books focus on "selling" the dream of straw-bale building, but don't adequately address the most critical issues faced by bale house builders. Moreover, since many developments in this field are recent, few books are completely up to date with the latest techniques.

More Straw Bale Building, a Mother Earth News Book for Wiser Living, is designed to fill this gap. A completely rewritten edition of the 20,000-copy best-selling original, it leads the potential builder through the entire process of building a bale structure, tackling all the practical issues: finding and choosing bales; developing sound building plans; roofing; electrical, plumbing, and heating systems; building code compliance; and special concerns for builders in northern climates. New material includes:

  • more extensive sections on electric wiring and plumbing
  • updated sections on bale finishes and finishing
  • a section on prefabricated straw bale walls
  • a wider selection of case studies, photographs and illustrations
  • a section on common mistakes
  • budgeting for low-, medium- and high-cost projects
  • new testing data that is in no other straw bale book


Down-to earth and complete, More Straw Bale Building makes the remarkable benefits of straw bale building available in the most comprehensive and practical book on the subject to date.

About the Contributors:

Chris Magwood and Peter Mack are professional straw bale builders and consultants who have constructed over 40 straw bale buildings, consulting on many more. They have taught workshops and seminars across the continent and overseas, and are authors of one of the first straw bale how-to books, Straw Bale Building (New Society, Publishers, 2000) which has sold 20,000 copies. Chris Magwood has been editor of The Last Straw Journal, an international quarterly devoted to straw-bale building, since 2001. He is also the coauthor of Straw Bale Details.

6.

THE HAND-SCULPTED HOUSE: BUILDING A COB COTTAGE

Evans, Smith, Smiley
Paperback

Price: $35.00

Cob cottages are the ultimate expression of ecological design. Made of earth, clay, sand, straw and water, they are their surroundings, literally rising up from the earth. These houses are light, ener…

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Cob cottages are the ultimate expression of ecological design. Made of earth, clay, sand, straw and water, they are their surroundings, literally rising up from the earth. These houses are light, energy-efficient and cozy, with curved walls and built-in whimsical touches.

The Hand-Sculpted House is theoretical and philosophical, but intensely practical as well. You will get all the how-to information to undertake an earth and straw building project. As the modern world rediscovers the importance of living in sustainable harmony with the environment, this book is a bible of radical simplicity.

7.

GOT SUN? GO SOLAR

Rex A. Ewing and Doug Pratt
Paperback

Price: $20.00

If you're considering a solar or wind system for your home or business, this solar power guide is a valuable resource. In Got Sun? Go Solar, the authors explain how installing a solar or wind system i…

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If you're considering a solar or wind system for your home or business, this solar power guide is a valuable resource. In Got Sun? Go Solar, the authors explain how installing a solar or wind system is an economically attractive and environmentally responsible option.

From Vermont to California, homeowners are plugging in to a hot new idea — reducing or eliminating their electric bills by using free energy from the sun and wind. In this straight-talking new solar power guide, authors Rex Ewing and Doug Pratt tell other grid-connected homeowners how to capture alternative energy and put it to use in their home.

Renewable energy is going mainstream, thanks to affordable new technologies with rebates and incentives from many states. Today more and more homeowners believe that installing a home RE system is the economically-attractive and environmentally-responsible thing to do. Whether they install a solar/wind system to benefit their checkbooks or to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, they also enjoy the added independence of a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

This solar power guide covers battery backup versus non-battery systems, as well as equipment needed and installation considerations. Other topics include legal and safety issues, incentives/rebates, and permits and paperwork. An extensive appendix of resources, state energy offices, system sizing worksheets, and much more turns this 160-page book (filled with more than 120 photos and illustrations) into a must-have book for anyone interested in exploring their power options.

Contents:

  • Why invest in renewable energy for your home?
  • Is it legal and safe?
  • How solar electricity works
  • Batteries or not?
  • Sizing your system
  • Got Wind?
  • What does it cost?
  • Any financial help out there?
  • Permits and Paperwork
  • The Nuts and Bolts: what to look for, what to avoid
  • Who does the installation?
  • Appendix: manufacturers, web resources, state energy offices, sizing worksheets, glossary and more

About the authors:

The authors of this solar power guide know firsthand how these systems work. Rex Ewing, author of Power With Nature has lived off-the-grid in the Colorado Rockies since 1999. Doug Pratt, the former technical editor of the Solar Living Sourcebook, lives in a grid-tied home in northern California, and has been on the front lines of the renewable energy revolution since 1985.

Recommended product for Wiser Living: Today, more than ever before, our society is seeking ways to live more conscientiously. To help bring you the very best inspiration and information about greener, more sustainable lifestyles, Mother Earth News is recommending books to its readers. For nearly 40 years, Mother Earth News has been North America's "Original Guide to Living Wisely," creating books and magazines for people with a passion for self-reliance and a desire to live in harmony with nature.

8.

SOLAR WATER HEATING

Bob Ramlow and Benjamin Nusz
Paperback

Price: $14.95

This Mother Earth NewsBook for Wiser Living reviews the history of solar water and space heating systems, then presents the basics of solar water heating, including an introduction to modern solar ene…

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This Mother Earth News Book for Wiser Living reviews the history of solar water and space heating systems, then presents the basics of solar water heating, including an introduction to modern solar energy systems, energy conservation and energy economics.

Heating water with the sun is almost as old as humankind itself, and it is done all over the world. Yet there are strangely few resources on the topic in North America. Solar Water Heating fills this gap.

Drawing on the author's experience as an installer of these systems, the book goes on to cover: types of solar collectors, solar water and space heating systems and solar pool heating systems, including their advantages and disadvantages, system components, their installation, operation and maintenance, system sizing and siting and choosing the appropriate system.

Since people often get turned off by the up-front cost, the book focuses especially on the financial aspects of solar water or space heating systems, clearly showing that such systems can save significant costs in the long run. Well-illustrated, the book is designed for a wide readership from the curious to the student or professional.

About the Contributor:

Bob Ramlow is the solar thermal consultant for the Wisconsin Focus on Energy Program. The owner of a renewable energy company, he has over 30 years experience with solar energy systems and is a founder and director of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA).

Benjamin Nusz currently works as a solar water heating consultant and site assessor in Wisconsin.

9.

YOUR GREEN HOME

Alex Wilson
Paperback

Price: $7.50

CLEARANCE ITEM. PREVIOUS RETAIL PRICE WAS $17.95 AVAILABLE ONLY WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!

More and more homeowners today want houses that are healthy to live in and cause minimal damage to the environment. …

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CLEARANCE ITEM. PREVIOUS RETAIL PRICE WAS $17.95 AVAILABLE ONLY WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!

More and more homeowners today want houses that are healthy to live in and cause minimal damage to the environment. That's what green building is all about.

Your Green Home, a Mother Earth News Book for Wiser Living is written for homeowners planning a new home — whether you are working with an architect or builder, or serving as your own general contractor. Intended to improve the overall environmental performance of new houses being built, the book sets out to answer some of the big-picture questions relating to having a home designed and built — and getting what you want.

Your Green Home covers:

  • Home location and its relationship to the community
  • Site design
  • Construction systems
  • Building design to optimize energy performance
  • Renewable energy systems
  • Material selection
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Water efficiency
  • Material selection


This book will prove useful not only to future homeowners, but also to designers and builders seeking to meet this demand. Building professionals well-versed in green building may find this a useful book to give to potential clients to convey the scope and principles of green building.

About the Contributor:

Alex Wilson is President of Building-Green, an authoritative source for information on environmentally responsible design and construction, which also publishes Environmental Building News. Co-editor Mark Piepkorn has extensive experience with natural and traditional building methods.

10.

THE SEPTIC SYSTEM OWNERS MANUAL

Lloyd Kahn
Paperback

Price: $17.95

Fix your septic system with The Septic System Owners Manual. Learn how conventional gravity-fed septic systems work. Read about maintenance and upkeep for your septic system.

There is als…

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Fix your septic system with The Septic System Owners Manual. Learn how conventional gravity-fed septic systems work. Read about maintenance and upkeep for your septic system.

There is also basic information on the recent evolution in composting-toilet systems and designs for simple graywater systems.

This is a basic manual for the average homeowner, based on conventional systems and providing practical advice on how to keep these systems up and running.

Recommended Product for Wiser Living: Today, more than ever before, our society is seeking ways to live more conscientiously. To help bring you the very best inspiration and information about greener, more sustainable lifestyles, Mother Earth News is recommending books to its readers. For 40 years, Mother Earth News has been North America's "Original Guide to Living Wisely," creating books and magazines for people with a passion for self-reliance and a desire to live in harmony with nature.

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