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Attention: Please read Endeavour Centre's response to [COVID-19](https://endeavourcentre.org/covid-19-updates/)

HOW-TO BOOKS

There’s nothing like a good book!

Endeavour is all about open-source information, and you’ll find a lot of great, free resources here on our website. 

But for in-depth, technical information it’s hard to beat a good book. So Endeavour is the series editor for New Society Publishers’ Sustainable Building Essentials series. The series covers a full range of natural and green building techniques. Firmly rooted in building science and drawing on decades of experience, these large-format, highly illustrated manuals deliver comprehensive, practical guidance from leading experts using a well-organized step-by-step approach.

Written by world leading experts, these succinct, user-friendly handbooks are indispensable tools for any project where accurate and reliable information is key to success.

 

Essential Sustainable Home Design

A Complete Guide to Goals, Options, and the Design Process

by Chris Magwood

Many people dream of building a beautiful, environmentally friendly home. But until now there has been no systematic guide to help potential builders work through the complete process of imagining, planning, designing, and building their ideal, sustainable home.

Essential Sustainable Home Design walks potential homebuilders through the process starting with key concepts, principles, and a project vision that will guide the house to completion.

Coverage includes:

  • How to clarify your ideas and create a practical pathway to achieving your dream
  • A criteria matrix to guide design, material, and systems decisions
  • Creating a strong, integrated design team and working with professionals and code officials to keep the project on track from start to finish
  • Key building science concepts that make for a high-performance, durable building
  • Primer on building logistics, material sourcing, and protocols to ensure that the initial vision for the project comes to fruition
  • One-page summaries and ratings of popular sustainable building materials and system options.

Ideal for owner-builders and sustainable building contractors working with clients aiming to design and build a sustainable home.

 

Essential Building Science

Understanding Energy and Moisture in High Performance House Design

by Jacob Deva Racusin

 

Poor heat and moisture management are the enemies of durable, comfortable, and efficient housing, and good building design and construction starts with a solid understanding of good building science.

Essential Building Science provides a highly visual and accessible introduction to the fundamentals of building science for residential construction.

Part one covers the rationale behind high-performance design and the fundamentals of building physics, including thermal dynamics, moisture transfer, and hygro-thermal dynamics such as vapor drive and condensation.

Part two teaches the vital critical thinking skills needed to consider buildings as whole systems and to develop thermal and moisture control strategies regardless of the specifics of the design. Case studies and examples from across North American climatic zones illuminate real-life problems and offer builders, designers, and DIYers the insights and tools required for creating better new buildings and dramatically improving old ones.

Good science plus critical thinking equals high performance buildings.

 

Essential Hempcrete Construction

The Complete Step-by-Step Guide

by Chris Magwood

 

Hempcrete is a versatile, energy-efficient natural insulation material, useful for walls, roofs and floors. Made from the inner stem of the hemp plant mixed with a lime-based binder, it is a very strong, lightweight and breathable alternative to manufactured insulations. Essential Hempcrete Construction is a fully illustrated practical guide to this affordable, renewable method, from procurement to finishing.

Going well beyond the scope of many natural building books, this indispensable manual includes a complete introduction to hempcrete, packed with all the information you need to determine whether it’s the right choice for your project. It covers:

  • Material specifications, testing and building code references and climate data

  • Detail drawings for design reference

  • Tool lists, and complete step-by-step instructions for mixing and placing hempcrete

  • Finishing and maintenance techniques

  • Budgeting and labor estimates

  • Additional resources.

Essential Prefab Straw Bale Construction

The Complete Step-by-Step Guide

by Chris Magwood 

Prefabricated straw bale wall panels combine the performance and low environmental impact of traditional straw bale with reduced labor and more consistent results. These structural insulated panels (SIPs) are built offsite and transported to the job site, or built onsite and “tipped up” into position. Essential Prefab Straw Bale Construction is a fully illustrated practical guide to this affordable, scalable method.

Going well beyond the scope of many natural building books, this indispensable manual includes a complete introduction to the use of prefabricated bale walls, packed with all the information you need to determine whether they are the right choice for your project. It covers:

  • Specifications, engineering details and building code references
  • Comprehensive step-by-step instructions and detail drawings
  • Finishing and maintenance techniques
  • Budgeting and labor estimates
  • Additional resources.

 

Essential Light Straw Clay Construction

The Complete Step-by-Step Guide

by Lydia Doleman

Light straw clay — straw mixed with clay slip — is a versatile, easy-to-use wall building material. Also called “slip-straw,” its durability has been proven in beautiful, centuries-old buildings across Northern Europe and in modern high-performance buildings in North America.

Building code compliant in the US and using “waste” materials with high insulation value and excellent moisture handling qualities, it’s both high-performance and low-impact. 

Distilling decades of experience, Essential Light Straw Clay Construction is the most complete book in English on the broad range of light straw clay techniques in use today. Fully illustrated, it provides step-by-step guidance for both the DIYer and professional designer and builder alike. It covers:

  • Material specifications, performance, and when and where to use it
  • Estimating quantities, costs, and sourcing
  • Illustrated, step-by-step guidance for mixing and installation, including “slip-chip” variations
  • Detail drawings for various wall systems including stud, timber, and pole framing, Larsen trusses, I-joists, plus retrofits
  • Code references, compliance, and best practice
  • Finishing and maintenance techniques
  • Additional resources.

Essential Cordwood Building

The Complete Step-by-Step Guide

by Rob Roy

Cordwood construction — log-ends set in insulated mortar — is a versatile, economical, low-impact, and beautiful building method. Its durability and performance has been proven in beautiful, centuries-old buildings in North America and Europe.

Yet until now, there has been no trusted, practical guide to cordwood construction using the material in a wide variety of construction projects.

Distilling decades of experience and best practices, Essential Cordwood Building is the first fully illustrated, step-by-step guide to cordwood building. Ideal for the DIYer and professional designer and builder alike, it covers:

  • Wood species selection, log-end length, and seasoning
  • Cement, lime putty, and cob mortar options
  • Wall cavity insulation options
  • Budgeting and estimating
  • Highly illustrated, step-by-step building techniques
  • Window and door frame installation
  • Pointing and chinking, finishing, and plastering
  • Special designs and decorative features
  • Code references, compliance, building science, and best practices
  • Troubleshooting and maintenance

Essential Natural Plasters

A Guide to Materials, Recipes, and Use

by Michael Henry & Tina Therrien

Natural plasters made of clay, lime, and other materials mixed with sand are beautiful building finishes. Fun to work with, low-impact, and allowing infinite creativity, they are high performance and provide proven, centuries-long durability.

Yet until now there’s been no resource that has pulled together the best North American plaster recipes and how-to into one place. Essential Natural Plasters covers it all:

  • Sourcing and selecting materials, including site-soils
  • Clay, lime, and gypsum plasters as well as fibers and amendments
  • Interior and exterior use and specialty plasters such as tadelakt for bathrooms
  • Preparing substrates, from straw bales and cob to lath and sheetrock
  • How to set-up a safe, efficient worksite
  • Mixing, testing, tinting, and applying plasters and plaster repair
  • Coveted recipes from leading plasterers in Ontario, Vermont, New Mexico, France, and New Zealand.

 Richly illustrated and deeply researched,

 

Essential Earthbag Construction

The Complete Step-by-Step Guide

by Kelly Hart

Earthbag construction — building with polypropylene bags usually filled with earthen materials — is a versatile, easy-to-master, low-impact, and highly durable form of building, suitable for structures from houses to root cellars.

Containing over 75 photos and illustrations, Essential Earthbag Construction is a practical guide to this affordable method of building. Going well beyond the scope of other sources, this indispensable manual is packed with all the information you need to determine if it’s the right choice for your project, and to start building. Distilling decades of experience, research, and best practices, it covers:

  • Material specifications, performance, and when and where to use it
  • Pros and cons of different fills from gravel, to earth and clay, to insulative perlite, rice hulls, and volcanic stone
  • Illustrated, step-by-step guidance for efficient bag filling and installation
  • Details for various designs, including domes and arches
  • Foundation options and seismic and stability considerations
  • Finishing and maintenance techniques
  • Tools and materials
  • Additional resources.

Essential Earthbag Construction presents the practical guidance and best practices for both the DIYer and professional to design and build high-quality earthbag structures.

 

Essential Rammed Earth Construction

The Complete Step-by-Step Guide

by Tim Krahn

Everything you need to know to build with rammed earth in warm and cold climates.

Rammed earth – sand, gravel, and clay or lime/cement binder packed into forms – is a low-energy, high-performance building method, yielding beautiful, sustainable results. It’s thermally stable and can be insulated, can actively modulate humidity, provides a healthy indoor environment, and allows site materials to be used for major structural and building envelope elements.

Essential Rammed Earth Construction covers design, building science, tools, and step-by-step building methods for any climate, with a special emphasis on building in cold climates of the northern US, Canada, and northern Europe. Coverage includes:

  • Overview of earthen building
  • Appropriate use of rammed earth walls
  • Stabilized versus raw rammed earth
  • Design considerations, including structural, insulation, and building envelope details
  • Special considerations for cold and freeze-thaw climates
  • Construction drawings, with step-by-step building instructions
  • Tools and labor covering industrial methods, low-tech techniques, formwork options, mix design, budgets, and schedules
  • Codes, inspections, and permits.

This guide is an essential resource for experienced builders, DIY home owners, designers, engineers, and architects interested in learning about rammed earth construction.

 

Essential Composting Toilets

A Guide to Options, Design, Installation, and Use

by Gord Baird & Ann Baird

From wastestream to mainstream, a practical guide to composting toilet systems.

Composting toilets are a key feature for local resilience, money saving, water conservation, resource recovery, septic system replacement, and an improved bathroom experience in rural and urban buildings.

Essential Composting Toilets is a streamlined manual that takes a practical, how-to approach to composting toilet system selection, design, installation, and operation, while meeting universal health and safety objectives. Drawing from existing regulations and research, this book dispels myths and provides tools to assess various systems. It includes:

  • Easily-understood drawings, plans, and photos
  • Coverage of all main composting toilet systems
  • Selection criteria including site considerations, urine separation pros/cons, renovations/new builds, ventilation, servicing, and composting details
  • Design and installation details.

Offering a professional approach accessible to DIYers, homeowners, designers, building consultants, water conservation advocates, and regulators, Essential Composting Toilets provides key information for redesigning toilet systems anywhere in the world.

 

Essential Rainwater Harvesting

A Guide to Home-Scale System Design

by Rob Avis & Michelle Avis

Design a rainwater harvesting system for any home in any climate.

Water is a crucial resource increasingly under stress. Yet rainfall, even in arid climates, can make up a sizable portion of any home, acreage, or farm’s water requirements if harvested and utilized with care. The key is high-quality site-specific design and sensible maintenance. 

Essential Rainwater Harvesting is a comprehensive manual for designing, building, and maintaining water harvesting systems for the warm and cold climates of the world. Presenting design considerations and approaches for the most common household rainwater supply scenarios – primary, supplemental, and off-grid supply – this step-by-step approach covers:

  • Planning for full-property water security
  • Guidance on navigating regulatory requirements
  • Templates for building your own spreadsheet-based calculation tool
  • Site-specific planning and spatial layout
  • Materials and component design and selection
  • System maintenance and upkeep.

Incorporating the latest independent research, this practical resource provides DIYers, trades, and rainwater practitioners with the essential tools, methods, and technical know-how to design, confidently build, and maintain rainwater harvesting systems that produce quality water without necessarily needing end-of-line disinfection or sterilization. 

 

Other Great books we reccomend!

Book Cover

Straw Bale Buildings Details

Straw bale buildings promise superior insulation and flexibility across a range of design aesthetics, while using a typically local and abundant low embodied-energy material that sequesters carbon—an important part of mitigating climate change.

Making Better Buildings:

Fully revised and updated, The Art of Natural Building is the complete and user-friendly introduction to natural building for everyone from do-it-yourselfers to architects and designers.

The Natural Building Companion

This guide offers thorough, up-to-date, and advanced installation details and performance characteristics of straw-bale, straw-clay, woodchip-clay, and cellulose wall systems, as well as earthen and stone wall systems and a variety of framing, roofing, flooring, mechanical system, and finishing options

The New Carbon Architecture: Building to Cool the Climate

Fully revised and updated, The Art of Natural Building is the complete and user-friendly introduction to natural building for everyone from do-it-yourselfers to architects and designers.

A Tiny Home to Call Your Own

Tiny house guru Pat Foreman examines the hows and whys of tiny-home living, to help you assess whether it’s the right solution for you.

The Art of natural Building

Fully revised and updated, The Art of Natural Building is the complete and user-friendly introduction to natural building for everyone from do-it-yourselfers to architects and designers.

Book Cover

ROCKET MASS HEATER BUILDER’S GUIDE

Earthen masonry heating systems are well-suited for natural and conventional builders alike. A super-efficient, wood-burning, rocket mass heater can help you dramatically reduce your energy costs while enhancing the beauty, value and comfort of your home.

Book Cover

EARTHEN FLOORS

A comprehensive, fully illustrated manual covering the history, use and maintenance of this attractive, practical flooring option. This detailed, fully-illustrated guide explains every part of the process.

THE SCOOP ON POOP

The Scoop on Poop presents a wide range of ways to answer the call of nature, and in so doing to maximize the benefits of existing wastewater. This book explores proven alternatives to Western wastewater disposal.

The EcoNest Home

The EcoNest Home is an in-depth exploration of the benefits of choosing this technique over conventional alternatives, combined with a complete practical guide for prospective designers and builders.

How Your House Works

Understand how to maintain everything in your home—including the kitchen sinkHow Your House Works, Third Edition reinforces the fact that it pays to be an informed consumer.

 

The Visual Handbook of Building and Remodeling, 4th Edition

The 4th edition of a bestseller, The Visual Handbook of Building and Remodeling is the most complete and detailed guide available for homebuilding and renovation projects.

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