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How to Design and Build Your Own House Paperback – October 12, 1987


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 2 Rev Exp edition (October 12, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394752007
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394752006
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 9.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

This book guides you systematically through the whole process of designing and building your own house. It offers practical assistance from the moment you begin thinking about the kind of house you want. It helps you focus your ideas and translate them into working plans. It shows you how to estimate costs. Then, step by step, it shows you how to construct the house -- explaining and illustrating every step systematically so that you can proceed confidently from beginning to end.

Here are complete, clear instructions on everything you need to know, including:
-- How to decide what you want the house to be like -- inside and outside, and in relation to the environment and neighborhood
-- How to translate your ideas and decisions into working drawings
-- How to deal with all the components of a house: structural (roof, floor, walls, columns, foundations), mechanical (plumbing and heating), electrical, interior and exterior finishing materials
-- How to establish the exact dimensions of everything, how to decide and specify where components go (from windows, heating ducts, and electrical outlets to toilets and showers)
-- How to choose and specify those parts of the house (windows, doors, furnace, hardware) that can be purchased prefabricated and ready to install
-- How to estimate costs of everything specified
-- How to incorporate the latest energy-conserving materials and equipment
-- Step-by-step directions on how to build the house section by section, from excavation and foundations to floors, walls, and roof; fireplaces, chimneys, and stairs; plumbing, heating, and electricity; wood shingles, gutters, and waterproofing; how to lay brick and principles of brick construction...everything!

Practical information is provided on purchasing materials and tools. And, throughout the book (exactly where needed) are pertinent instructions on basic techniques such as how to mix and work concrete, build forms, lay block, toe-in a nail, install a lockset, cut gypsum board and tile. Tables are included for calculating heat loss, loads, distances between structural elements, and so on. And the 748 line drawings illustrate every aspect of design and construction.

With its clarity and authority -- and its extraordinary wealth of specific, detailed instruction -- this is the single most comprehensive and useful book ever published on how to design and build your own house.

About the Author

Lupe DiDonno and Phyllis Sperling are both distinguished young architects, both graduates of Pratt Institute's School of Architecture. They have had work exhibited in the "Women in American Architecture" show at the Brooklyn Museum. They are members of the American Institute of Architects and are practicing architects in New York City. Sperling and DiDonno are also the authors of How to Redesign & Renovate Your House or Apartment.

Customer Reviews

A good reference if you plan to build your own house.
Chelsea Walsh
It offers a wonderful combination of design ideas, structural tables, and common sense advice.
Rich Sundquist
The item came well maintained; very happy to give to my in-laws as a present.
Kristina Parsons

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 58 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
Anybody can sit down and draw a rough floor plan. But this book tells you to think in terms of how you use space rather than rooms. That simple piece of advice makes you think differently about what you want in a house and what you need. If you are thinking of building, GET THIS BOOK. Even if you're going to a contractor or architect, get the book and sit down with your whole family to make plans. You'll find out about personal privacy issues, how your rooms and spaces should flow, how to make your house more efficient not from an energy standpoint, but from a "how I use my house" point of view.
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69 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Rich Sundquist on October 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
I used this book to design and build my first house 15 years ago. I am now a general building contractor and continue to use it so much that that first copy is worn out and I'm buying a replacement. It offers a wonderful combination of design ideas, structural tables, and common sense advice.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
Great attention to many points which must be considered for design and building a home. While the material (particularily the pictures) are dated, the overall advice is timeless. Impressed that it admits not everyone is suited to the demands of the process.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By misterbeets on January 27, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's not easy to cover such a huge subject, but these two architects do a remarkable job. The illustrator gets equal billing, and it's well-deserved, as the drawings alone are worth the price of the book. The best part is on design. I've never seen a book that allowed you to figure loads and size columns, or provided a worksheet to calculate heating requirements. The final section on construction is more of an overview but the important issues are always addressed. You'll need to supplement your reading, especially since newer technologies--housewrap, truss roofs, engineered lumber--are not covered, but everything in this book is useful.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By M. Smith on February 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
As a person who is looking to build their own house the book provided a good start. It gave a great overview of how to design living area and incorporate ideas to the plan. As others have pointed out it is not current to todays innovations, however, it is a great start. I would use other construction type books to supplement the education received via this book. It also contains many formulas for calculating loads and other calcs for construction. I wish it covered more regarding slabs other than the crawl space one used in the example house that was being designed. It did go into detail about some of the more overlooked things in building a house - ie: stair and fireplace design. Overall, I don't think it would be for an experienced builder, however, it gives someone like me who does not know much about overall design and homebuilding a great start.
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful By James D Cross on December 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
Many of the concepts are timeless but the edition I received was 15 years old and much of the technology and materials in house building have changed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chelsea Walsh on March 26, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great reference for all the phases of building. A good general overview, does not go in depth on each portion. A good reference if you plan to build your own house.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cary Diehl on January 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this thinking I'd give it to my mother as a Christmas gift... not a good idea. When you open it up and read through it, it is an engineering book with the formulas for structure.
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