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Rex Roberts' Your Engineered House Hardcover – December 1, 1987


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Little Brown & Company (December 1987)
  • ISBN-10: 0871315335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871315335
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 7.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #759,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Peter Monro on January 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
Other opinions notwithstanding, Charlie Wing has done a much needed update on a classic, innovative reconsideration of housebuilding. Wing had the benefit of 20 years of hindsight on what worked and what did not work among Rex Roberts many sugggestions for fundamentally changing the basic American house. Wing, educated in physics and experienced in the building trades, helped found an owner-builder school prompted by Mr. Roberts' original book. His buildings and Mr. Roberts are the basis for his update. The tin-foil insulation is not mentioned because it was a disaster -- it did not insulate but it did cause condensate and rotting, even on Mr. Roberts own house. Enough said. If you insist on reading the original, take no action based on it until you determine whether it's included in Mr. Wing's update. Otherwise, enjoyable and thoughtful reading all round. I've built a house based on these principles and thoroughly enjoyed it.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Mark Henry on September 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
The book, "Rex Robert's Your Engineered House-Revised, Updated, and Edited by Charlie Wing" is out of print for probably a good reason. Charlie Wing's "revision and updating" detracts from and degrades the original classic. It attempts to update with information on new techniques & materials and corrupts the original intent of Mr. Robert's book. And that is the crux of the matter-Mr. Wing either doesn't agree with Mr. Robert's original book idea or with Rex Robert's vision.

Rex Robert's philosophy on house building was keep it simple, well thought out, livable, enjoyable, durable and economical. He recognized some Building Codes, custom, fashion, and prejudice (not to mention ignorance) can make building ones own home a needlessly expensive proposition. Rex Robert's was an engineer and consequently his reasons for doing things the way he did was logical from an engineering perspective not to mention seasoned with Mr. Robert's many other talents and accomplishments.

Mr. Wing updates some materials and costs but his editing and updating also takes the form of deleting some of the most important parts and ignoring others. For example the tin foil Rex Robert's used for a radiant barrier he totally deleted. Construction techniques and the progression of construction stages used in the original where also deleted such as how and why Mr. Robert's built a foundation, roof, floor, and walls and in that order. He deleted Mr. Robert's explanation of dew point/ condensation and then has an illustration of a building technique that could lead to condensation problems. And there are other examples of things substituted or left out.

The original was a book, I believe, that was designed to get you to think.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By George D. Exoo on July 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
A friend tendered Rex Roberts' book to me in the mid-1970s as I began to consider building a passive solar house. What Mr. Roberts taught me carried me through to the completion of a successful building project in Charleston, SC facing the Intracoastal Waterway, just off Folly Road, Nr. One Tranquil Drive. The house worked for both cooling and heating. It still does although later owners have taken out the Vermont Castings woodstove and installed central AC. Designed as an envelope house by San Francisco architect, Lee Porter Butler, I contracted the house myself with the help of a master builder, Jim Bowring. During construction I followed the roofing advice of a retired engineer who during the Second World War designed passive solar housing for the military, both in Antarctica and in the tropics. I followed Roberts' siting instructions dutifully in selecting a lot. I want to comment on the aluminum foil, apparently derided in the book's revision. The most successful part of the house's passive cooling came from the vented skin, mill finished aluminum roof with insulation inside the house backed with aluminum foil. During the six years I lived in the house, the highest temperature reached 105 degrees F one July afternoon, yet the upper part of the solarium, the envelope never topped 90 with the sun beating down. In fact, the whole 2000 sq. ft. house stayed cool and dehumidified using just one 1800 BTU window AC unit. Why? Aluminum has a low emissivity for (blocks) radiant heat.
Rex Roberts' aesthetic details might be a bit rough for some, but his engineering principles are as sure as the Rock of Gibraltar. George David Exoo, Unitarian Minister, Beckley, WV
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kyle J Marsh on December 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The hidden gems in this book (which is already a hidden gem among 'how to build a house' books) are the following sections:

1. A scathing critique of the stupid things/ways people build houses now (now=1970-something) which is really a treat, and helps dispense with the basement, high-pitch roof...
2. A well presented and logical consideration of the layout and planning process (Arrangement for use) of the actual spaces in the home - never before or since have I seen such a logically consistent layout process. I still use it today in all my homes and can see no reason to ever abandon it's core philosophy, though different things are constantly being added to enhance it, the core remains true to the Rex Roberts idea.
3. A similarly well presented treatise on site planning and layout, which remains invaluable.

Notes:
His construction details are a little dated and promise a very chilly home, but are extremely interesting. The most useful I found was the roof structure concept.

For the updates on the construction details, be sure to pick up From the Ground Up by Wing.

Good luck I strongly recommend this book!
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