10 Rules for the Small House Builder

small is subjective

small is subjective

1. Build what makes sense. Small is subjective.

2. Be frugal. Being frugal means being modest, not cheap. Steer clear of subpar materials. Be willing to pay for quality and save money by limiting your demands. 

3. Reuse the right stuff. Salvaged materials can be great or just garbage. Reuse materials that will enjoy, and deserve, a useful, long life; don't use stuff just because it's used.

4. Avoid engineered products whenever possible. The construction industry has a terrible history of approving - and subsequently banning - products shown to be toxic. Most don't last as long as traditional materials like wood and stone. And most require intensive energy to manufacture and ship.  

5. When possible, use local materials if they're of good quality.

6. When needed, hire local contractors if they do good work.

7. Create beauty. Beauty is one of the most important factors when it comes to sustainability. People are more likely to care for and preserve something built with care and preservation in mind.

8. Build efficiently; and build to perform efficiently. Have your work tested to be sure you've achieved your goals. Verification, which is to say actual performance, trumps any certified checklist.

9. Always use the least toxic materials. 

10. Reject much of what passes for quality construction and design.

Shawn A. DehnerTHE small HOUSE CATALOG