Builders of the Pacific Coast cover
Builders of the Pacific Coast


Sample Chapter
SunRay Kelley

Sample Chapter
Jan Janzen

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About the Author

Author Book Tour


Reader Response

Books on Natural Building from Shelter Publications

Tiny Homes cover
Tiny Homes

Home Work cover
Home Work:
Handbuilt Shelter


The Barefoot Architect cover
Barefoot Architect

The Septic System Owner's Manual cover
The Septic System Owner's Manual

Mongolian Cloud Houses
Mongolian Cloud Houses

Wonderful Houses Around the World
Wonderful Houses
Around the World

Builders of the Pacific Coast
About the Author

Learning to Build
Lloyd Kahn
I started building almost 50 years ago, and have lived in a self-built home ever since. If I’d been able to buy a wonderful old good-feeling house, I might have never started building. But it was always cheaper to build than to buy, and by build-ing myself, I could design what I wanted and use materials I wanted to live with.

I set off to learn the art of building in 1960. I liked the whole process immensely. Hammering nails. Framing — delineating space. Nailing down the sub-floor, the roof decking. It’s a thrill when you first step on the floor you’ve just created.

Ideally I’d have worked with a master carpenter long enough to learn the basics, but there was never time. I learned from friends and books and by blundering my way into a process that required a certain amount of competence. My perspective was that of a novice, a homeowner — rather than a pro. As I learned, I felt that I could tell others how to build, or at least get them started on the path to creating their own homes.

Through the years I’ve personally gone from post and beam to geodesic domes to stud frame construction. It’s been a constant learning process, and this has led me into investigating many methods of construction — I’m interested in them all. For five years, the late ’60s to early ’70s, I built geodesic domes. I got into being a publisher by producing Domebook One in 1970 and Domebook 2 in 1971.

I then gave up on domes (as homes) and published our namesake Shelter in 1973. We’ve published books on a variety of subjects over the years, and returned to our roots with Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter in 2004, and The Barefoot Architect in 2008.
Canon 20D ready to grab. I carry my little Olympus Stylus point-and-shoot in my fanny pack so it’s with me at all times.

Building is my favorite subject. Even in this day and age, building a house with your own hands can save you a ton of money (I’ve never had a mortgage) and — if you follow it through — you can get what you want in a home.

Road Gear

This is my third stick-shift, 4 x 4 Toyota pickup truck. The Tradesman metal camper shell ( is stronger than plastic. It’s custom made with both side windows opening so I can get at stuff in the bed from three sides. It has a pull-out awning that I got secondhand; very quick to get shade, quick to pull in if wind starts blowing too hard.

The rack is made by Hauler Racks™ ( in Southern California; it’s shipped via UPS and you put it together. Its weight rests on the bed of the truck, not the camper shell. In the Yakima Rocket Box I carry two chairs, sleeping bags, small tent, camping mattress, cot, tarps, and one skateboard.

There’s a “carpet kit” in the truck bed, and I’ve built a pull-out drawer in the center for cooking stuff. I can sleep in the back of the truck, which is handy at times. There’s a ton of other stuff, including two other skateboards with safety gear, surfboard, wetsuit, shovel, come-along, saws, wrenches, bailing wire . . . on and on. It’s a fantastic road vehicle. It will go anywhere.