The Complete Guide to Alternative Home Building Materials and Methods: Including Sod, Compressed Earth, Plaster, Straw, Beer Cans, Bottles, Cordwood, and Many Other Low Cost Materials

Overview

In the United States alone, the annual construction of over one million new homes causes a very substantial drain on natural resources. Today, approximately 60 percent of the timber cut down in our country is used for building homes. Using alternative home building materials and creating a greener home are about creating better homes that are environmentally friendly, are less expensive in the long run, and create healthier occupants. Unfortunately, many people are unfamiliar with alternative building materials ...

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Overview

In the United States alone, the annual construction of over one million new homes causes a very substantial drain on natural resources. Today, approximately 60 percent of the timber cut down in our country is used for building homes. Using alternative home building materials and creating a greener home are about creating better homes that are environmentally friendly, are less expensive in the long run, and create healthier occupants. Unfortunately, many people are unfamiliar with alternative building materials and do not know the first thing about going green. However, The Complete Guide to Alternative Home Building Materials & Methods will teach you everything you need to know about this movement toward natural construction methods.

This book will show you how to identify, locate, and effectively use alternative building materials. You will learn about straw bale, cordwood, cob, adobe, rammed earth, light clay, pisé, earthbag, bamboo, earth-rammed tires, cork, wool carpeting, sod, compressed earth, earth plaster, beer cans, bottles, as well as living roofs and more. In addition, you will learn the costs and performance characteristics of these materials and construction techniques for each, as well as how to integrate plumbing and electricity into these unfamiliar materials and substitutes for conventional approaches.

You will also learn about the structure, climate control, siting, foundations, and flooring options you gain when using these materials. Also included are the advantages and benefits of alternative building materials for both consumers and builders and the key ecological design principles. Ultimately, you will come to understand that these materials are cheaper, easier to build with, stronger, more durable, and more fire resistant.

Architects, designers, students, homeowners, home buyers, owner builders, and those who want to build for a sustainable future will want to read this book. If you are concerned about the environment, want to create a healthier, more enjoyable home, and want to save money, The Complete Guide to Alternative Home Building Materials & Methods will show you how.

Atlantic Publishing is a small, independent publishing company based in Ocala, Florida. Founded over twenty years ago in the company president’s garage, Atlantic Publishing has grown to become a renowned resource for non-fiction books. Today, over 450 titles are in print covering subjects such as small business, healthy living, management, finance, careers, and real estate. Atlantic Publishing prides itself on producing award winning, high-quality manuals that give readers up-to-date, pertinent information, real-world examples, and case studies with expert advice.  Every book has resources, contact information, and web sites of the products or companies discussed.

This Atlantic Publishing eBook was professionally written, edited, fact checked, proofed and designed. The print version of this book is 288 pages and you receive exactly the same content. Over the years our books have won dozens of book awards for content, cover design and interior design including the prestigious Benjamin Franklin award for excellence in publishing. We are proud of the high quality of our books and hope you will enjoy this eBook version.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781601382450
  • Publisher: Atlantic Publishing Group Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/4/2009
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword 11

Preface 15

Introduction 19

What Is Alternative Building? 20

The Importance of Green and Sustainable Building 24

Using Readily Accessible Materials 26

Chapter 1 Planning and Permits 29

Dealing with Building Inspectors 32

Seeking Professional Help 34

Chapter 2 For All Owner-Built Homes 41

Choosing Your Site 42

Planning Your Plumbing 44

Laying Your Foundation 60

Electrical Wiring 76

Heating and Cooling 99

Roofing 108

Living Roofs 114

Insulation 118

Framing 121

Windows and Doors 124

Papercrete and Earth Plaster 127

Chapter 3 What is St Like to Build Your Own Home? 137

Cordwood Homes 143

Constructing Cordwood Walls 153

Chapter 4 Adobe and Light Clay Homes 159

About Adobe 160

About Light Clay 164

Adobe Brick Considerations 167

Chapter 5 Rubber Tire Homes 185

About Building with Used Tires 188

Constructing Tire Walls 188

Chapter 6 Straw Bale Homes 193

About Straw Bale Building 196

Building Straw Bale Walls 198

Chapter 7 Earthbag Homes 209

About Earthbag Building 210

Building Earthbag Walls 210

Chapter 8 Cob Homes 215

About Cob Construction 216

Building Cob Walls 219

Chapter 9 Sod, Rammed Earth, and Compressed Earth Homes 229

About Sod Construction 230

Constructing Sod Walls 233

About Building with Rammed Earth 235

Constructing Rammed-Earth (Pisé de Terre) Walls 237

About Compressed Earth Blocks 241

Building CEB Walls 243

Chapter 10 Aluminum Can and Glass Bottle Homes 247

About Can and Bottle Construction 248

Chapter 11 Sustainable Accents for Alternative Home Builders 251

Bamboo 253

Cork 255

Reclaimed Lumber 256

Salvaged Materials and Components 257

Wool Carpet 258

ACompletely Recycled Home 259

Conclusion 263

Glossary 267

Bibliography 273

Additional Resources 279

Green Builders, Designers, and Architects 279

Pictures 280

Organizations 280

Conventions 281

Periodicals 281

Websites 281

Author Biography 283

Index 285

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 3 of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 5, 2010

    The alternative version of the tale of Three Little Piggies

    Just based on the title, this book seems promising. "Going green" is the craze right now, why not start with where we live? Upon opening the book, we are treated with a witty dedication that sets the tone. The rest of the book is just as humorous, clever, and fun.

    The book adds a whole new dimension to the classic tale of three piggies. Turns out the piggies who built their houses about of straw, clay, and some new unconventional materials, such as rubber, plastic and glass, prevailed after all. Plus, they can save the planet.

    Don't be mistaken. This isn't a how-to book on how to build your own house. By that I mean the book doesn't give step-by-step directions for everything that needs to be done in order to build a house-it just gives an overview of alternative home-building strategies, your choices and why. So if you're really serious about building your own house, you're going to need another, more technical book on what pipe connects to what hole, what each part of a house is, etc. In other words, this book doesn't give much technical basics; it's more specialized.

    However, the book is still VERY informative. It doesn't miss much. Though it won't answer your really small, technical questions, it will answer most of your problems. Though the author claims to only cover "some" of the alternative home-building methods, I'd say it covers enough to build at least twenty different types of alternative homes.

    If you're like me and are too lazy build your own house but love the idea of alternative home building, this book would make a great gift for your local builder. In fact, I think I'll buy one for them right now.
    After all, unless we collectively make the change towards alternative home building, we'll all die of overpopulation and global warming. And to top it off, buying the book will save animals. You can feel that you contributed to a good cause because a portion of your purchase will go to The Humane Society of United States).

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 10, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Can you really build a house out of beer cans?

    If you look houses that look just a bit unusual, or you like the idea of “going green” with home construction, “The Complete Guide to Alternative Home Building Materials and Methods” is an interesting book that, frankly, may make you snicker when you first read its claims, but then you’ll likely be looking for projects around your house where you can put its ideas to work. The book’s subtitle promises you can build houses with sod, plaster, straw, bottles and even beer cans -- and it delivers when it shows you, even with color photos, just how to go about using those odd materials rather than plaster and wood. You probably won't be able to gather up the sod in your yard and make a new house, but you'll have fun learning about whether you should, and about people who have done that. This book isn’t just an interesting read for people who actually build houses, but for those of us who like reading about unusual construction, and really, who would think you could build a house of beer cans? Which, by the way, the book doesn’t really recommend, which is kind of disappointing. Instead, it suggests you recycle your cans and use the money for something else. Aside from this one small flaw, this is an interesting read and you’ll have fun thinking of your next dream house while you read it, or you’ll be inspired to work on one of your own.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 1, 2011

    A house made with beer cans?? That's right!

    Ever consider building your own home? If you have, did it automatically include the use of timber or brick? Author Jon Hunan begins the information on the back cover of his book with this unsettling statement: "The construction of more than one million new homes each year causes a very substantial drain on natural resources." In his book, "The Complete Guide to Alternative Home Building Materials and Methods: Including Sod, Compressed Earth, Plaster, Straw, Beer Cans, Bottles, Cordwood, and Many Other Low Cost Materials", he shows his readers how to avoid contributing to that substantial drain and even help the environment by utilizing other more unconventional materials. "The Complete Guide to Alternative Home Building" is a fun look at the myriad possibilities to consider when planning the construction of an alternative materials home. Nunan covers everything from sod and compressed earth to cordwood and even tires and beer cans! He begins by noting that his book is not the only resource his readers should use then goes on to impart a wealth of information on permits and planning, site considerations, roof choices, insulation, and much more. And while he's correct in saying that no one book can truly be a 'one stop shop', he gives so many helpful pointers that I kept thinking, 'what else is there for me to research?' He continues by addressing the various alternative materials, the pros and cons for each, what works best in which climates, etc, etc, etc. Coupled with Nunan's witty style, the text was both informative and full of personality. I especially enjoyed the color section included in the middle of the book - it really brought the information to life. For readers with little to no exposure to these types of structures, it helped bring a sense of clarity to what Nunan was describing in his chapters. The black and white photographs throughout the book were wonderful as well but it's fantastic to see these amazing projects in full color! Every green builder - whether novice or professional - needs to consider alternative materials when undertaking a construction project and "The Complete Guide to Alternative Home Building Materials and Methods: Including Sod, Compressed Earth, Plaster, Straw, Beer Cans, Bottles, Cordwood, and Many Other Low Cost Materials" is the best place to start! Reviewed by Vicki Landes, author of "Europe for the Senses - A Photographic Journal"

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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