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Living Homes book cover.

Living Homes
Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
Building Your High-Efficiency Dream Home on a Shoestring Budget
By Thomas J. Elpel
6th Edition, 2010

     The house of your Dreams does not have to be expensive. The key is all in the planning. How much a house costs, how it looks, how comfortable it is, how energy-efficient it is--all these things occur on paper before you pick up even one tool. A little extra time in the planning process can save you tens of thousands of dollars in construction and maintenance. That is time well spent!

Slipform Stone Masonry DVD.

See also
Slipform Stone Masonry on DVD
     Living Homes takes you through the planning process to design an energy and resource efficient home that won't break the bank. Then, from the footings on up to the roof, author Thomas J. Elpel guides you through the nuts and bolts of construction for slipform stone masonry, tilt-up stone walls, log home construction, building with strawbales, making your own terra tile floors, windows and doors, solar water systems, masonry heaters, framing, plumbing, greywater, septic systems, swamp filters, concrete-fly ash countertops, painting and more!

      Living Homes was completely re-organized and revised for the new sixth edition, based on five additional years of building experience with low-cost, high efficiency construction methods. Get the latest ideas on how to build a high-performance house that will stand the test of time! The sixth edition includes fifteen pages of new material covering the latest stone masonry tips, plus revised and expanded tips and techniques throughout the book. Living Homes is 245 pages, including an incredible 300+ drawings and grayscale photos. 6th Edition. 2010.

     Environmental Note: Everything but the cover is printed with soy ink on 100% post-consumer recycled paper, bleached without chlorine.

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See our Package Discounts below for big savings!

Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction.
Living Homes

Slipform Stone Masonry DVD.
Slipform Stone Masonry DVD

Build Your Own Masonry Fireplace DVD.
Build Your Own Masonry Fireplace DVD

Also Available

Stone House: A Guide to Self-Building with Slipforms.
Stone House

Package Discount
Living Homes and Slipform Stone Masonry DVD.
(Save $10.00!)
Living Homes
Slipform Stone Masonry DVD

Total = $45.00

Package Discount
Living Homes, Sllipform Stone Masonry DVD and Build Your Own Masonry Fireplace DVD.
(Save $25.00!!)
Living Homes
Slipform Stone Masonry DVD
Build Your Own Masonry Fireplace DVD

Total = $55.00

Package Discount
Living Homes and Stone House books plus dvds.
(Save $40.00!!!)
Living Homes    Stone House
Slipform Stone Masonry DVD
Build Your Own Masonry Fireplace DVD

Total = $75.00

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Living Homes and Green Prosperity.
(Save $15.00!)
Living Homes
Green Prosperity

Total = $45.00

Package Discount
Tom's books package.
(Save $56.00!)
Participating in Nature
Botany in a Day
Living Homes
Green Prosperity
Roadmap to Reality

Total = $100.00

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      I'd like to thank you, Thomas, for your excellent books. They have been informative, thought provoking and inspiring, and more so every time I read them! I have found Living Homes to be especially useful just lately as I am starting to wonder if maybe I should start thinking about settling down and planting some roots.

     You and I seem to have in common a deep love for the land we hail from. I myself live in the southern foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York, as has my kin for four generations before me. A beautiful, rugged place. I've seen much of the rest of our country, and some of the rest of the world, but I don't think I could thrive anywhere else! Your book will be a crucial resource in building the simple, well-ordered Adirondack home I have in mind. Thank you, for that and everything you do and stand for!


Joseph D. Reynolds

Be sure to read my on-line article
Building a House on Limited Means

Check out this
Stone mansion built by a person who read Living Homes

Here is a brief overview of the
Log Construction featured in Living Homes

Slipform Stone Masonry DVD.

Also be sure to see
Slipform Stone Masonry
our video companion to Living Homes.

Table of Contents


  • Building a House on Limited Means: The Elimination of all that is Unnecessary to Achieve a Dream

Part I: Dreams, Goals and Ecology

  • Integrated Design and Construction: Homesteading in the Twenty-first Century
  • Choosing a Location: Planning a Thousand Years into the Future
  • Disaster-Proofing Your Home: Preventing the Obvious. Preparing for the Inevitable
  • Building Codes, Permits and Inspections: Exceed the Minimum Standards!
  • Defining Your Goals: A Blueprint is the Sum of the Criteria

Part II: Principles of Energy Efficiency

  • Warm Houses for Cold Climates: Insulation, Thermal Mass, Solar Gain, and Air Locks
  • Insulation and Insulation Systems Many Choices, Most of Them Bad
  • Air Quality: Finding Fresh Air in a High-Efficiency House

Part III: Building the Walls

  • Footings, Foundations and Floors: Starting from the Bottom Up
  • Cement Mixing & Measuring: Aggregates, Admixtures, Substitutes, and Reinforcement
  • Slipform Stone Masonry: A Stone Masonry Primer
  • Tilt-up Construction: A New Lift to the Ancient Art of Stonework
  • Log Building Basics: For Builders with Little Time or Experience
  • Building with Bales: It's Fast, Inexpensive, and Energy Efficient

Part IV: Closing It In

  • Putting the Roof On: The Search for Better Solutions
  • Terra Tiles: Hand-Made Tile Floors from Sand, Cement, Dirt, and Dye
  • Wood Frame Construction: Building Interior Floors and Walls
  • Windows and Doors: Putting a Plug in the Thermos

Part V: Plumbing, Heating, and Wiring

  • Water Supply, Management, and Recycling Squeezing More Use out of Less Water
  • Practical Plumbing: Important Tips I Could Have Used
  • Heating Systems: For Backup Heat & Hot Water
  • Revival of the Masonry Fireplace: An Old, but Efficient Heating System
  • Electricity: Wiring the Alternative Home
  • Rethinking Appliances: Energy Efficiency is the Path to Independence

Part VI: Finishing Details

  • Concrete and Fly Ash Countertops: A Nice Kitchen Doesn't have to Be Expensive
  • A Primer on Paint: Reusing and Recycling

Conclusion - Reinventing Housing: The Road to Sustainability

See what the press is saying about Living Homes!

Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction


      I just want to thank you for creating such wonderful and useful books. I was given your book Living Homes while I was building my house, and I subsequently read Participating in Nature. I'm certain that you must receive constant compliments on your work. As a filmmaker, I know that it never stops feeling good to have people appreciate your work. So I just wanted to let you know, you're work is very much appreciated!!

Adam Starr

      Looking for life-changing resources? Check out these books by Thomas J. Elpel:

Green Prosperity: Quit Your Job, Live Your Dreams.
Roadmap to Reality: Consciousness, Worldviews, and the Blossoming of Human Spirit
to Reality
Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills.
in Nature
Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat.
Foraging the
Mountain West
Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
in a Day
Shanleya's Quest: A Botany Adventure for Kids

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