Despite the efficiency of Google, I still seek information from books. Even if I’m only looking for one specific bit of knowledge, reading the whole book frequently teaches me things I didn’t even know I didn’t know. It’s a lifelong habit, and I credit it as the reason I was able to ever land a job as an editor despite never having graduated college.
So, yeah, books are good.
And there are a lot of books on building– “A Pattern Language,” “How Buildings Learn,” anything “Larry Haun” ever wrote about framing, and of course Joe Lstiburek’s legendary “Builder’s Guides.” One could probably argue that books which focus on energy conservation are the most important ones to read. But of all the books I’ve read on building, the one I’d recommend above all is William B. Rose’s “Water in Buildings: An Architect’s Guide to Moisture and Mold.”
“Water in Buildings” isn’t an easy read. It’s more like a college textbook than anything else, although there’s more humor in it than I ever found in a textbook. To understand it, I even had to engage that bane of every English major—what I should have majored in at Rutgers instead of beer—algebra. I can’t claim to have noodled through every equation in the book, but some basic understanding of what to do when the alphabet intersects the real-numbers system is vital. And yet, in the end, the purpose of “Water in Buildings” isn’t to provide pat solutions or approaches to dealing with water in buildings.
So, why do I recommend the book so highly if it doesn’t solve specific problems or tell us how to build carbon-neutral or carbon-negative houses? Most builders are only ever going…