John Hess built a small house 20 years ago, and he may have the chance to build again in the coming year. But he realizes a lot has changed in residential construction since 1990.
He’d like to incorporate more green-building features this time around while making fewer mistakes than he did with his first house.
“Can anyone recommend a downloadable checklist or spreadsheet which covers the many and varied aspects of building a house?” he asks in this Q&A post.
Given the massive amount of information available in print and online, as well as the long list of building materials that have been developed in the last two decades, Hess’s request seems entirely reasonable: an appeal for greater simplicity in an age of data overload.
No doubt many builders and owner-builders face this same dilemma. Isn’t there some way of boiling down what we’ve learned?
Sorry, but the answer is no
“You’ve got to be kidding,” writes Robert Riversong. “Building a house is, for a human being, like building a Universe must have been for God. What we demand from human shelter today is so extraordinarily complex, it is like building a space station with intricately interacting life-support systems. It IS rocket science.”
Riversong is a believer in simplicity over unnecessary complexity (his own home is a 300 sq. ft. converted hunting camp with no running water in the kitchen and a two-burner Coleman for a kitchen range). And while he once encouraged people to build their own homes, in the tradition of Charlie Wing’s seminal book From the Ground Up, he no longer thinks that’s possible.
And Allan Edwards would have to agree. Building is too complex these days for a simple checklist,…