Housing Reclaimed for Next to Nothing

I was given a copy of a new book and enjoyed reading it, so I want to share it with you.  The book — Housing Reclaimed: Sustainable Homes for Next to Nothing — was written by Jessica Kellner, who is an editor of Natural Home and Garden Magazine.  In Housing Reclaimed, released on October 4, 2011 by New Society Publishers, Kellner explains why the standard housing model is broken and how readers can find an alternative housing model in the form of salvaged materials and sweat equity.

Kellner documents several projects, but these aren’t necessarily to be read as case studies or design guides.  The book includes several photos (a mix of black/white and color), and Kellner talks with project owners to share more of the human story behind each project.

For example, one of first homes detailed in the book is a cozy cottage built by a couple and their three teenage boys in Alabama.  The family worked together for about five years to create their “handbuilt home” and learned a lot about perseverance, thrift, and hard work in the process.  One of the sons reflected, “Money isn’t what’s needed when you do something like this — the main thing you spend is time with people you love.

As a country, generally, we’ve gotten away from putting this kind of time into our homes.  We outsource construction to someone else in exchange for a mortgage or a lease and, perhaps, miss out on significant benefits in the process.  Kellner explains why this is happening and has a few suggestions for readers interested in a debt-free homestead.

Kellner includes a resource section in the back of Housing Reclaimed for readers looking to find more about using salvaged, recycled, and existing materials.  The section includes a state-by-state list of companies, outlets, and organizations dedicated to materials reuse.  If this is something you’re curious about:

[$] Buy a copy of Housing Reclaimed on Amazon.com.

[Ed. note – the giveaway of this book has concluded.]

  • Muhenyerijm

    nice book

  • http://profiles.google.com/bagelpower Hannah Whitehouse

    Love that it has a resource list by location, always looking for those hidden gems of salvage places each place we travel to.

  • Ava Anes

    I have been dreaming about this idea for several years now. I plan to start working on my own in January!

  • http://www.ronestudio.wordpress.com Jeremiah

    Ironically I’m writing a blog post about retrofitting the suburbs. Hopefully I win the giveaway. Otherwise I’ll just have to purchase my own copy. :)

  • Zachary Geary

    Wouldn’t you know it, I love salvaged items, books and pictures! I would treat this book so well that I would not allow it to be flagged as a ‘bathroom book’. The book would become an extension of me. I would model my personality after it. Might even ask it to the Winter Dance. If I could only get a copy…

  • Davidhubert

    Looks like a much-needed contribution to the topic of alternative housing.

  • Mike Meade

    This book looks quite interesting.  It could certainly help me with my old house.

  • Atom Dari

    i’d love to read this book. but i do see one problem standing in the way.

    permits and code enforcement are now so complex, and opaque, that you can have any project shut down for reasons you’d never know were an issue. As a person studying the current building code, i feel like half the time i’m reading a bowl of oatmeal.

    safety is paramount and efficiency is very important, but i think our current code system makes it so hard to understand that you HAVE to hire a guy to at least oversee a new construction or renovation, or risk having your work torn down as a health hazard.

  • Chuck Newton

    I would love to read that book.

    [Ed. note – Chuck, I’ve removed your address/phone because we’ll email you to get that if you’re randomly selected as the winner. Good luck!]

  • ScottD

    COOL BOOK! I’d love to be able to share this with my Green Building Concepts class at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, NC. Thanks for the opportunity and info.

  • Geofftice

    Interesting looking book.

    • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston


      Congrats!  You’ve been selected as the winner of this book giveaway.  I’ll email you separately to get your contact information to ship this out to you. 


  • Pam

    I love anything green sustainable and small footprint……and hoping to build my next in just that manner
    Pam Temmen

  • Dennis Duce

    Sounds like a great book and a much needed resource.

  • Jknapp

    My husband and I are starting to work on the kitchen and bathroom in our house, and have  a very small budget, but a willingness to put in the time. I think the ideas in this book, as well as the resource section are a great idea.

  • Justin

    I think we outsource because most of us can’t wait 5 years to complete a our home and  are better left to an expert.  “A jack of all trades, is a master of none.” I wouldn’t suggest trying it unless you have plenty of time and money to fix mistakes.  If any of you have tried to take on your own construction project you would know what I mean.  

  • Marc Wilson

    this is exactly the guidebook we are in need of, thanks for sharing

  • http://profiles.google.com/alexandra.cosgrove Alexandra Cosgrove

    Very cool looking book! Thanks for offering it as a giveaway!

  • Rob Zdanowski

    im an architecture student whose projects deal with reclaimed materials as well as spaces. Most recently a trip to the islands of Cape Verde with Phd student has helped myself furthur develop more ways in which reclaimed materials into usable objects and structures. this would be a great resource!

  • Lmnj

    Sounds like a helpful book…going to have to check it out

  • Trackwindsor

    Would love a copy

  • Kelby Barnes

    I am working with a local earthen building materials group right now and we could use another source of information to help us cut down costs. We also work with the home owners, making it a collaborative effort rather than what can each side bargain from the other. This would help us build our community in the right direction. Thank you for exposing this information to a large number of people.

  • Ahsila

    What a fantastic idea!

  • mcollin

    I would be very interested in learning more!

  • W Pfeiffer

    Salvaged, recycled, and existing materials- it is a family tradition. You should have known my Dad!

  • smtmercer

    Another cool resource highlighted by Jetson Green! You always bring to light timely and interesting stuff.

  • Susan Walter Sink

    Reuse, reclaimation and preservation are some of the most creative forms of art, allowing the “builder” to preserve prior historical values while providing new form and function at minimal cost to our environment, when executed with thoughtfulness. Unfortunately, as you pointed out, it’s not fast or easy. Maybe that is why so few engage themselves in the process.

    Osborne Jeffreys
    Portridge Plantation
    Louisburg, NC c.1790
    National Register of Historic Places

  • Sally M.

    This looks like a wonderful resource, especially the state-by-state listings. There are never enough good guides like this for people like me who are interested in preserving materials and re-using old, good-quality construction materials. Love to visit salvage yards where ever I travel-much better than any fancy boutique…
    I really hope that I win it!

  • Joey

    Would love to see these homes

  • Rmmock

    We live in a disposable society.  We have long needed to change it to a renewable society.  Perfectly good building materials are sent to the landfill
    along with perfectly good relationships.

  • Memo Saenz

    I totally dig this concept of house construction. I frequently donate to and buy from Community Forklift in the Washington, DC area. Now if this were combined with the not so big house and issued as case studies, that would be a welcome volume 2.

  • la nina

    would love to read this book!

  • Ladibutterfly

    I would love to win this book, my husband and I have been researching building or renovating a GREEN home for as little as possible (using alternative or recycled materials). We would like to be able to pay less for our house payment and utilities so that we can use our extra money for other things that are more important to us like Mission Trips and Ministry Support. Plus we are also saving to pay for our adoption. We could put this book to use quickly as we will be looking into buying or building a house soon to make room for our growing family. Good luck everyone. :)

  • Caleb Schafer

    Great job Preston, keep the great material coming!  

  • Thom in Denver

    Reclaiming your life and your humanity is what it really sounds like to me. Learning from others is a great way to start.

  • Barry Rosengrant
  • est qwerty

    interesting – waiting for one :)

  • http://twitter.com/percentblog Kat McEachern

    Would love to read this, hopefully I win a copy but bookmarking this in case I don’t.

  • Rachelandwill

    have been building a earth intergrated nest for 5 for 3 years, have spent 400$ on recycled materials, Everything is out there ,no need for gov insentives. use your imagination world and come to grips with what we have all ready!!!!!

  • http://www.danielfootwear.com/ Steve Waltz

    ..Really nice book and topic. I love it..Really good idea. 

  • http://twitter.com/FuturesFurnitur Futures Furniture

    Since 2008 Futures Furniture has been advocating for a healthier environment inside the home. It’s great that people want to build homes made with recycled materials, salvaged materials, and eco friendly design materials. Once step further is the home furnishings. Stopping at the floors, the walls, and the countertops is only part of the solution. Off gassing from your home furnishings is another. You respect the landfill – then respect yourself. 

  • Ccbdiver

    Sounds Interesting, I wonder how it looks at poor zoning policies in the challenge to repurpose old buildings and spaces.

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