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Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter Paperback – January 24, 2012

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  • Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter
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Editorial Reviews


"...a cornucopia of 1,300 photos featuring 150 different tiny homes, showing how they were built, giving resources and helpful tips of construction, supplying design solutions and inspiration for others, but also conveying WHY they were built. Tiny though they are, they are much more than mere shelter."
-Kevin Kelly,

"Gives me chills, it's so inspiring." - Cheryl Long, Editor, The Mother Earth News

A " new volume ... (by) Shelter Publications founder and green architecture pioneer Lloyd Kahn..." - Publishers Weekly

"The book arrived today, all I can say is Wow! It's beautiful and another one of your masterpieces." - Kent Griswold, Tiny House Blog

"...a dream book...the scale is humble, but the architectural detail is rich..."
-Michael Tortellero, New York Times

"…our friend Lloyd Kahn's beautiful book, Tiny Homes."
—Mark Frauenfelder, BoingBoing

"Tiny Homes is an amazing collection. ...The homes might be tiny but your inspiration is huge."
—Richard Zanuck, Film Producer

"...a quirky photo-rich book that preaches the benefits of a 'grassroots movement to scale things back.'"
—Jeffery Trachtenberg, Wall Street Journal

"...a glorious portfolio of quirky makers and dreamers..."
—Penelope Green, New York Times

"Before McMansions, before the counter culture was granite and marble, there was Lloyd Kahn, champion of the hand-built house . . . progenitor of the new do-it-yourself movement"
—Patricia Leigh Brown, New York Times

"The common thread that weaves between the stories is the builders' immense pride of place, a drive for independence and a vision that, when little goes to waste, life can have greater meaning."

" ...a refreshing view into the wonderful world of small houses."
—Watershed Sentinel, BC, Canada

"...splendid photos of home exteriors, interiors and landscapes..."
—Urban Times

"What these structures might lack in square footage they more than make up for in economy, character and appeal..."
—U-T San Diego

From the Author

TINY HOMES is especially timely due to the current grassroots movements in small homes. The real estate collapse, the economic downturn, layoffs, scarcity of good jobs - these things have many people  rethinking their ideas about shelter - seeking an alternative to high rents, or a lifelong mortgage debt to a bank on an overpriced home.

Here are some 150 builders who have created tiny homes (under 500 sq. ft.). There are some 1,300 photos of homes on land, homes on wheels, homes on the road, homes on water, even homes in the trees. There are also studios, saunas, garden sheds, and greenhouses.

Here are builders, designers, architects (no less), dreamers, artists, road gypsies, and water dwellers who've achieved a measure of freedom and independence by taking shelter into their own hands.

"Scaling back in the 21st century"

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Shelter Publications; Original edition (January 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0936070528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0936070520
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 9 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (218 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

I started building almost 50 years ago, and have lived in a self-built home ever since. If I'd been able to buy a wonderful old good-feeling house, I might have never started building. But it was always cheaper to build than to buy, and by build-ing myself, I could design what I wanted and use materials I wanted to live with.

I set off to learn the art of building in 1960. I liked the whole process immensely. Hammering nails. Framing -- delineating space. Nailing down the sub-floor, the roof decking. It's a thrill when you first step on the floor you've just created.

Ideally I'd have worked with a master carpenter long enough to learn the basics, but there was never time. I learned from friends and books and by blundering my way into a process that required a certain amount of competence. My perspective was that of a novice, a homeowner -- rather than a pro. As I learned, I felt that I could tell others how to build, or at least get them started on the path to creating their own homes.

Through the years I've personally gone from post and beam to geodesic domes to stud frame construction. It's been a constant learning process, and this has led me into investigating many methods of construction -- I'm interested in them all. For five years, the late '60s to early '70s, I built geodesic domes. I got into being a publisher by producing Domebook One in 1970 and Domebook 2 in 1971.

I then gave up on domes (as homes) and published our namesake Shelter in 1973. We've published books on a variety of subjects over the years, and returned to our roots with Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter in 2004, The Barefoot Architect in 2008, Builders of the Pacific Coast in 2008, and Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter in 2012.

Building is my favorite subject. Even in this day and age, building a house with your own hands can save you a ton of money (I've never had a mortgage) and -- if you follow it through -- you can get what you want in a home.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

569 of 617 people found the following review helpful By mj on February 1, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book after reading the earlier reviews. As soon as I saw the low resolution quality of the cover photo, I thought, wait a minute, is this the right book? Then I started looking at the content, and I realized, gee, I've seen this content before. It's pretty old. But almost none of the houses list a date or timeframe. The book mentions a few newer homes and builders, but by and large, I don't feel that this book is really current. At the end, the author says that he wrote this book over the last two years, collecting images off the Web. Maybe that's why there are so many tiny photos in this book, because that's the best resolution he could get.

I wondered why these reviews were so glowing, so I checked their authors. For most of the authors, this book is the only review. Many of the reviews have the same words, and they mention the publisher. How many consumer reviewers mention the book publisher? Come on, something's fishy here.

This book is a hodge podge of sheds, trailers, tree houses, mud houses, mini-vans, etc. Some of them look 10-20 years old, and most are kitschy. Some of the photos have nudity. If you are looking for a compendium of the latest trends in tiny houses, this book is not it. I have been studying and following small housing for several years, and this book was a disappointment.

- - - - - - -
ADDENDUM on Feb-9-2012

I was kind of taken aback by some of the comments I received on my review, so I am adding this update.

In the credits on the last page of the book, Lloyd Kahn wrote: "We combed over 5,000 photos to make our selection. Information came from hundred of blogs and websites. ...
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78 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Stover on February 27, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What this IS: a picture book of very small housing units photographed in some beautiful settings and nicely printed.
What this IS NOT: Useful information for constructing actual, livable small houses.

I thought I would find most examples close to the 500SF cut-off. Instead, in my opinion, there are WAY too many truly tiny units half the size which just can't be a serious option for the vast (99%+) majority of Americans. That's close to the size of smallish camper! There was even a page devoted to Japanese sleeping compartments which is perhaps culturally interesting but doubtless of any actual use to Americans.

Many examples in this book used composting toilets. Are there any building code enforced areas that allow these? Actual success and failure stories by real users
would have been helpful.

Many other readers complained about the lack of floor plans. It's one of my complaints as well. I thought the purpose of this book would be to show the practicality of actually living in a small house .... not just a showcase of those owning them as a part-time curiosity. Tree house for real?????

For me: a waste of money.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Andrea Wasson on February 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've seen a lot of the houses in this book before online, featured in magazine articles, on youtube or in alternative builder books, but it is nice to have them all in one place. I would have liked it better if there had been interior shots and a floor plan for each one, but as it is the book is full of eye candy for those interested in exploring the living small options. This book covers most of them, cob, stone, prefab, modular, tree houses, bus conversions, yurts, vardos, adobe, straw bale, and tiny homes on wheels. Missing was an example of a shipping container home, or if there was one I blew by it.

I am a long time fan of Mr Kahn's books, and the layout of this one is great, the photos are wonderful. Did he take it to the next level? No. As gorgeous as it is, it offers more inspiration than useful info, so it is not the holy grail go-to source for reliable info on the ins and outs of tiny home building/living that I was hoping it would be, and I'm a bit sad it isn't. That OMG, this is IT book still needs to be written by someone, until then I'll continue surfing yahoo groups, tiny house blogs, and living small forums gathering info on how wide and tall can it be and still be mobile, pros and cons of mobile vs stationary, how to figure the house weight to trailer ratios, how to set up viable and affordable off grid power options, heating and cooling options, pros and cons of conversions, stick built, metal frame or SIP construction, how to build and vent a composting toilet in a tiny home, storage tricks, info on tiny house friendly parking options and problems, or what to look out for when buying land to build on. Basic code info would be helpful for stationary tiny homes, like minimum size, foundation options, etc.
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62 of 74 people found the following review helpful By AmazonJavaJunki TOP 100 REVIEWER on January 12, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After eagerly awaiting the arrival of this book, I was NOT disappointed! It is packed full of beautiful full-color photographs on every page. Quality of the book, text, photographic elements and diversity of tiny homes and simple shelters is superb!

Various types of homes, different locations, building materials and styles mean this will appeal to a large variety of people. From city dwellers to cave (and even tree!) dweller, there is something here for nearly anyone. Whether you are just curious, desire a spare space for some peace and quiet or searching for a full-time alternative way of living...this book is sure to inspire a multitude of ideas.

There is a nice selection of pre-fab/kits and other options as well as significant treatment of recycled materials. Examples of tiny homes range from ultra modern to quaint, primative to luxurious little escapes.

Size, price estimates and materials are all mentioned. This is not a blueprint book nor a dedicated "how to" but rather a complete overview with a plethora of examples that will allow anyone to plan the perfect tiny home of their very own.

Interviews with tiny home owners and designers are both informative and intersting. The writing style is engaging and the visuals beautifully executed.

Well worth the wait!
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