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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 2/28/2007

Book recommendations have come up in several topics, I was thinking it would be nice to have all of these in one place.  So fellow seasoned O-B's looking to assist new O-Bs, what books are critical to have in your possession.  Although we literally read 100's of books (courtesy of the library), we must have picked up 1,000s of them from the library shelves.  Most aren't worth your time, you learn pretty quickly which ones are.

I will start with the only books I actually purchased during the planning process, these are invaluable:

1) Quite obviously The Owner-Builder Book, and having skimmed through the fourth edition last night I have to say this is the finest project management book of its type out there (and no, Mark isn't paying me to say this).  I had originally checked the third edition out from the library, and after renewing it several times decided I must have a copy of my own.  My original is very marked up, ragged, ear-marked pages, just plain worn out but I certainly got my value out of it.

2) I really liked Better Houses, Better Living, by Myron Ferguson.  This book isn't a design manual per se, but it certainly teaches you to look at a floorplan and identify minor changes to make the house much more livable (or more importantly to look at a floorplan and say that no matter how nice this house looks, I would hate to live here).  You will find after reading this book, and then going through open houses, that you can identify minor changes that would make these houses much better to live with.  Myron also delves into regional building techniques that you may want to consider that aren't standard in your area - I found some great ideas here.

3) And once I got into building, and decided I wanted to do some of the work (or more importantly I decided my bids were too high and I could save money by supplying labor), I found the Taunton Press For Pros by Pros series to be invaluable.  They have many of these, depending on which trade you are tackling, but I wouldn't hesitate to use these as a starting point for any effort you are DIY.

4) And of course your relevant code book.  I must admit, I didn't buy this.  I had my code authority copy and fax relevant citations to me as I needed, to ensure that any work I did met code the first time.  You will find that most of your trades don't carry these in their trucks (and I found the inspectors didn't either), so it behooves you to have and be familiar with the code yourself.


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By Tom in Stroudsburg, PA on 3/1/2007

If you plan to be the builder or designer it is virtually impossible to know if techniques you have seen are allowed or if a 2 x 12 is suitable for a 30' floor span without the code book. The International Code Council is responsible for the Residential Construction Code book, it is the Bible of minimum specifications on how your home is put together. You will find it mentioned in many of my posts but for the record I have no affiliation with them or any government agency. 

NOTE: verify which code is locally adopted and enforced as not all jurisdictions use the most current

2006 IRC


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By Michael Penn in Dripping Springs, TX on 3/8/2007

I just did a "bibliography" as one of the supporting docs for my loan proposal.  I'll post it below.

One recently published book that I've found very helpful is "Building an Affordable House".  The author Fernando Pages Ruiz is a homebuilder who specializes in highvalue, lowcost homebuilding.  The book goes chapter by chapter through most all the phases of designing and building a house, pointing out costsaving, valueadding opportunities along the way.  Very well illustrated too, so it's easier to grasp what's being discussed than with some books.  Generally seems to be very balanced among alternative solutions, while still offering experience-based preferences.

I've also especially enjoyed "Houses are Designed by Geniuses & Built by Gorillas".

Title Author Year
The Owner-Builder Book, 3rd Ed. Smith, Mark and Elaine  2003
Building an Affordable House  Ruiz, Fernando Pages 2005
Build Your Dream Home for Less Woodson, R. Dodge 1995
Better Houses, Better Living Ferguson, Myron 2004
Be Your Own House Contractor, 5th ed. Heldmann, Carl 2006
Independent Builder Clark, Sam 1996
The Complete Guide to Contracting Your Home McGuerty, Dan & Kent Lester 1997
The Well-Built House Locke, Jim 1992
Your New House Fields, Alan and Denise 2002
Houses are Designed by Geniuses & Built by Gorillas Johnson, Bob 1998
Good House, Cheap House Obolensky, Kira 2005
The Not So Big House Susanka, Sarah 1998
Creating The Not So Big House Susanka, Sarah 2002
Home by Design Susanka, Sarah 2004
Riverbend Timber Framing Riverbend Timber Framing 2005
Carpentry and Building Construction Feirer, John & Gilbert Hutchings 1976
The Visual Handbook of Building and Remodeling Wing, Charlie 1990
Rainwater Collection for the Mechanically Challenged Banks, Suzy w/ Richard Heinichen 2004
Insulate and Weatherize Harley, Bruce 2002
Fine Homebuilding Construction Techniques 2 Fine Homebuilding Magazine 1986
The Natural House Catalog Pearson, David 1996
The New Kitchen Idea Book Bouknight, Joanne 2004
Home Workspace Idea Book Zimmerman, Neal 2002
The Brand New House Book Salant, Katherine 2001
The Builder's Secret Ehrenhaft, George 1999
Walden Thoreau, Henry c1948
Special Reports--The Owner-Builder Book Smith, Mark and Elaine  2003
Owner-Builder Build and Do (ebook) Falzett, Bill 2006
The 1'0 Commandments of Owner-Builders (5 DVD's) Smith, Mark and Elaine 
The Owner-Builder Workshop DVD's (3 DVD's) Smith, Mark and Elaine 
Rainwater Collection for … (DVD) Heinichen, Richard 1999
Your Home Improvement How-To DVD Hometime--Dean Johnson 2001


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