Shelter Masthead

Home Work:
Handbuilt Shelter


Table of Contents

About the Author



Sample Chapters:
Look Inside Our Book

Louie Frazier
The Inspiration for Home Work

The Yurts of Bill Coperthwaite

Natural Buildings
Photography by
Catherine Wanek

Bill & Athena Steen
Cob Houses of Mud & Straw

Michael Kahn
Sculptural Village in the Arizona Desert

Mongolian Cloud Houses
How to make a Yurt & Live Comfortably

Do you know any unique builders?

We are searching for buildings that exemplify creativity, and craftsmenship for upcoming books.
more info

Click Here
to Email a Photo or Two

Feedback from Our Readers

Yes and awright!!

What a great find. I was and am a huge fan of Shelter yet sorta forgot about it. It did indeed inspire me to become a carpenter with the goal of learning enough then building my own home. Well now I'm 43 and have gotten good at building nice square boxes for the masses ( as per their order) and recently had been saving/improving credit to go in debt for 30 years to own my own square box. A recent remodel for a friend had him going to Home Depot and ordering expensive junk vinyl widows and doors etc... and it never occurred to me, and certainly not him, to use the "Shelter Approach".

After one evening of reading Homework I feel like I'm back on track after wandering the business of “fine homebuilding” (no crack on the magazine which I LOVE!).

Glad to see you didn't lose focus or ambition.

Thanks for reminding us what building is all about...Shelter!
Warren Allen

Your new book Home Work was my dessert for several nites. Thanks to my brother "Mr.Sharkey" for sharing his copy with me before he even had a chance to enjoy the whole book.

To my surprise I recognized a building on Page 230 under "Towers" from Somewhere in OR as actually being a building (restaurant) locate in Arcata, CA. I recently moved to Trinidad, CA and drive-by the restaurant(Crosswinds) each week after shopping at the Arcata Co-Op.

Thanks for all you hard work. I plan to purchase a copy for my kids for Christmas.

Pat Scott Kish

Hi there,

I am LOVING (drooling, humming, fantasizing over) the new HOMEWORK. yum yum extra yum.

I live in northern California (Bernal Hill, SF) which I assume you have WELL covered but I travel alot and shoot lots of photos. Are you still interested in photos of BARNS?

I'm heading to Minnesota at the end of the month...

Yours in structural integrity and lots of aliveness,
lori B

Yesterday my husband received a copy of your book Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter. I sat down and read it cover to cover. Our story fit right in there and as a result of our experiences we now view the world as you painted it in your book.

Six years ago we became homeless and had very few resources to call upon besides our love of God. A man offered us his woodshed 8'x 8' to live in and after the back of a Ford Ranger ('88) we felt grateful. The hardest part of being homeless was where to bathe. But like the people in your book we started to adapt and little by little we found ourselves in a position to buy three acres right down the hill from our 8x8.

Being romantics with no experience in building, we settled into our land in a teepee, a Sioux reproduction from a well known local company specializing in reproductions of 19th. century tents.

I quess I thought we were the only ones living in a teepee during the winters with nights and days of 0 degrees. In fact I had no idea anyone was living this lifestyle in 2005. We had happened upon it due to life changes and our personal process of redefining ourselves was quite a journey.

One winter in a teepee was enough to convince my husband it was time to build a shelter we could heat and feel warm. Before the snow fell he managed to carve out of the frozen Maine earth a level space to set out concrete blocks. Through the use of books from the public library and help from a local sawmill owner, my husband figured out each step of the way. Like others pictured in your book we had only a chainsaw, tape measure, a handsaw and invested in two hammers, a six foot level and that was pretty much it except for two ladders when it came to roofing. Like others in your book we had to meet challenges of carrying supplies down a hill as we were in a valley some distance from the road.

We settled on 12' by 12' stick built with 8' ceiling and a loft for sleeping. Compared to the 8x8, it was roomy.

So much of our story follows the lessons and choices it seems everyone practices when they leave the grid. We actually believed we were a small minority, but after reading your book I am beginning to believe otherwise.

If our story sounds at all interesting to you let me know. I see you are looking for material for the next book and for me it is a joy to find out we actually fit in somewhere. My husband got a job a few years after building our shelter as a carpenter. He simply said he had experience building his own home. Three more years have passed since he became a "professional"and our love of carpentry continues to expand as we express ourselves in our own handbuilt shelter.

God bless you all,
Michiline Ernst

I recently took a log home building class ( and found out about your new book.

Thanks for the inspiration,

25 yr. old computer programmer who can't sit at a desk any longer

Just found your book Home Work. Drooling at the pics (light concrete - Wow!!) and now starting to read. I'll be brief but you should know I did the 70's retreat into the woods and built my home with inspirations from Shelter, Wood Butchers Art, Handmade Houses, Etc. THANKS !! I haven't stopped, having built a nice outdoor music venue in recent years (, and I'm now looking at 1000 salvaged cut granite blocks (1/2-5 tons) and a lake site for my next project.

I have a request for some info assistance. I travel a good bit, often 4x4 with various tent configurations including my G-parent's (world travellers) old tent fitted to an old Jeep truck. Your Air Camping Italia rig pictured on page 180 looks ideal but I haven't located a source for that particular rig (I'll keep digging). Your web links are close but I'd rather build a copy of that configuration before buying one of the others. Can you steer me to Air Camping Italia or a source for one of their rigs? It'd be a real plus for an extended North America romp next summer.

Mucho Danka!! And again thanks for the inspirations!!
John Featherston
- centrally located between Cowpens, Thicketty, and Goucher

Dear Lloyd,

I was just in America. Thought I would try to trace some things to do with the spirit of Whole Earth Catalog, Domebook, Shelter and anything related.

Eventually, I found City Lights Bookstore, and there was a copy of Home Work. I toyed with the idea of calling to ask if you could give me contacts or introductions to anyone still committed to such ideas, but time was against me.

Now that I am home, in Sydney, I am pleased to find that you acknowledge people who were inspired by earlier publications. From my point of view at a considerable distance, it looked like you and friends were on the cutting edge of ideas,, in a powerful society. I managed to run a programme with Government support, focussed on lifestyle choices, and my students built Domes in 1976-7, and then two years later I built a house that caused a lot of interest and changed Australian standards, even though it was only fundamentally adobe. I have to compromise a lot with conventional standards, but things are getting nudged along very slowly since my first house had such an influence. I feel like building again, and have been reassured by the Earthships down near Taos which seem so much like my places.

The experience of building changed my life. I have a strong feeling that such core values and interests as shelter and control over circumstances, have a fundamental appeal to any thinking person, and God knows we need many more of them.

My impression of America was one of disappointment. The only people that seem to me to be in touch with reality are people who build their own homes and learn from their materials. Much of America looks decidedly "flimsy and fake" in a "stage set" sort of way, that seems to be the way houses are built as a reflection of the substance of human life. I know the use of words is awkward, but I a sure you will know what I mean.

While at City Lights Bookstore, I found a book by Lawrence Ferlinghetti called America I, which seems to admit that things are no longer running smoothly. Ferlinghetti strikes me as a very perceptive bloke, but what I want to know is how we can use what we have learnt, to start causing new changes in a society that is disintegrating towards compromise.

I was in America to spend time with Terry Tillman, a leadership thinker. He was an inspiration. But behind the positivism, I sense the great need to stop the tide of mediocrity, and maybe it has gone far enough that there is room and opportunity for something new.

I'd just like to thank you for years of inspiration. now that I have been to the "promised land" I realise that what we do here in Australia is no less significant, and can be regarded as equally valid. Still, the ideas cam from bloke like you, and Australians always prefer "experts from far away."

Yours sincerely,
Rod Yates.

I found out about you through the latest issue of Mother Earth News. I loved the articel on HomeWork and have ordered it. I have some questions:

1) One of the people in the article (and book) is John Stiles who runs around CA with a 14 mule driven caravan. I am interested to know how he gets away with it? I was under the impression that it was illegal to ride or use horses on most of the public roads in CA (and USA). Also I wonder how he manages to keep his team fed and watered?
2) With most of the USA suffering from a gut of rules and regulations on building codes, who did the builders featured in the book get away with what they built?
3) If you are ever in Southern CA, you have got to visit the earth housing site of Nadir Kahilil ( as much as I might want to build one of these homes, people keep running into building permit problems. Naturally those permits cost money!
4) I would love to be on your email newsletter list! I didn't see anywhere on the site where I could sign up.
5) I am interested in how Lloyd is able to keep so open and engaged in life. I am "only" 66 and find those around me who are my age and even younger, stuck in their own boring routine and not willing to do much outside their boxes. I do not want to end up like that!!! Is there a secret? If so I want it!!!

Thanks so much!!
Linn Craig