Thursday, April 22, 2010

Small Housebuilding in the New York Times

Not too long ago, news outlets were churning out stories on the "Ever-Expaning American Dream House" as fast as builders could build the mega mansions. Needless to say, the national mood has changed.

We've written in the past about the growing trend to build smaller. People are building and living really small. Would you consider reducing your home's footprint to 250-square-feet? (To put that number in perspective, in 2008, the National Association of Home Builders estimated the average square footage of an American home at roughly 2,500 square feet.) Yesterday's New York Times included a story about someone who did just that. Michelle de la Vega converted the garage behind her home to permanent living quarters and then rented out the house.

It may be a dramatic change in lifestyle to reduce the space you live in that radically. But it is certainly wise to think about how you can live smaller, especially if you're building. We have a collection of books in our store that detail how to design, build new, or renovate on a smaller scale. If you need more inspiration, take a look at some of the small buildings we've built here at Shelter.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Great Resource

I'll apologize up front for the very geographically specific nature of this post: Midcoast Maine!

Maine is waking up and spring is very much in the air! As we begin to venture out of hibernation and see others venturing out I’ve been given great cause to use my new favorite Maine Coast resource: The SunriseGuide. This a great book that serves as a guidebook to living well in southern Maine. There are articles, tips and ideas that make it easy to be green by connecting consumers with great opportunities and services. But even better than the guide are the COUPONS! There are more than 165 coupons for local and eco-friendly businesses that can save you over $5300. Oakhurst milk, the Portland Symphony Orchestra, the Frontier Cafe, The Downeaster Train and much more. Eat local for less, meditation centers, Tax Credits, Triathlons, Nature-based getaways -- this is a wealth of ideas and knowledge about Maine. If you or a friend are moving to the area or planning to spend any time here this summer this is a must have. The SunriseGuide also has a great web site and newsletter providing excellent opportunities in the Midcoast area for learning about energy efficiency, organic food resources, music and athletic events and much more. And they've got an enewsletter that can alert you to the latest and greatest events.
And of course yours truly offers a discount coupon in it for the retail store of 25% WOW that is a great discount! If you are looking for other Maine products check them out on our website -- we have an entire section of Maine goodies including doormats, books about Maine Homes, books about Maine Cooking by Marjorie Standish, mallets made in Maine by Garland Tool Manuf. and beautiful wood clipboards! And if you have a Maine-made product that you think we should carry let us know!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Intro to Structural Insulated Panels

Intro to SIPs
Saturday April 10, 2010
9:30-10:30 FREE

We have now been designing, cutting, installing and building with SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) for 20 years, and we still like them. In fact, we like them even better now. Come hear what we have learned in twenty years, what has changed, how to best use SIPs in your building projects, how to cut, move lift and install SIPs in a hands on and practical discussion. We will also address how to detail a SIP installation to ensure a long lasting, airtight, energy efficient enclosure. Learn how the International Residential Code’s (the official building code of Maine starting in 2010) prescriptive method makes code-compliant building with SIPs easy and how the Code has recently acknowledged SIPs superior structural integrity with a significant addition to the 2009 IRC. We will tell you the reason that R-Control SIPs continue to be our brand of choice after two decades and over a million square feet of installations. Slides and a quick tour of a small SIP structure will complete the picture of this proven building technology which continues to thrive in today’s environmentally scrutinized residential building climate.
Send an email with your name, address and phone number as well as the class subject and date to or call 207-442-7938 to reserve your spot today. Visit our website for a full list of upcoming classes, lectures and workshops!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Design and Build Your Own Super Energy Efficient Home

Design Build Class May and August 2010
Building or renovating a home involves so many decisions, what to do? Don't do anything until after you've taken the Shelter Institute course. 20,000 women and men have taken this continually evolving course. Perfect, custom, green homes, building careers, and personal competence have been spawned by the exciting teaching of this three-college-credit program, called Thomas Jefferson's "prayer for schooling" by renowned educator John Gato. Taylor also suggested that Shelter's techniques be used as a standard for education. "They take the mystery out of building" - Time Magazine . This class is carefully crafted to teach building concepts from site planning through foundations, alternative energy, value, framing, wiring, plumbing, insulation, weatherization, roofing etc to foster the ability to make wise judgments about the myriad alternatives facing prospective homeowners today. Timber frame? Straw bale? Truss? Air Concrete? Foam? Stone? Steel? Photovoltaics? Stick frame? Which one, where and why? What works, what makes it work better, where does the truth lie? Slightly leaning toward personal involvement, the course creates the competence to assess the quality of hired work while attending to long-term building goals. An enjoyable time on the Maine coast, campfire socials, weekend estuarine canoeing, evening comraderie, learns to drive a 15-ton excavator!

For over 30 years, the Hennin Family has refined and perfected the art of teaching house construction to owner-builders from all walks of life. In two weeks, students learn to build a house in this intensive seminar - based on our fifteen-lecture core series (see syllabus). Shelter Institute's house building class has inspired thousands to build their own - you can too! You will come away with an intimate knowledge of the inner workings of a modern house as well as the Shelter Institute notebook and your own class notes.

Don't have time for the full two week course? Check out our other course offering on our website!