A Debt Free Home from Salvaged Material (and Trial and Error)

| 9/5/2017 1:26:00 PM

Tags: home building, cabins, natural building, debt free home, salvaged material, redwood, woodworking, California, Lloyd Kahn,


The following is an excerpt from Builders of the Pacific Coast (Shelter Publications, 2008) by long-time MOTHER EARTH NEWS contributor Lloyd Kahn. A continuation of Kahn's journeys into the creative processes of owner-built homes — their innovative techniques, use of sustainable materials, and essential dedication to the natural elements surrounding their designs — Builders of the Pacific Coast explores the aesthetics and techniques of three master builders in California, Washington state, and the rugged terrain of British Columbia.

Alan Beckwith is a carpenter, gardener, farmer, jeweler, and hunter. In 1980, he bought 40 acres in the coastal California hills, and built a homestead in a valley, the house on the banks of a year-round creek. It’s at the end of a long dirt road.

Alan did everything himself: carpentry, plumbing, wiring (solar electricity and hydro), and developed his own water supply. He drives a tractor, maintains several miles of roads, makes beer and wine, and raises pigs and ducks. A lot of people have started homesteads since the 1960s, but seldom have they got as far along as this.

Basically, Everything was Done with No Money

It’s a homemade, home-crafted house with gardens and animals all blending together to create a working entity, a self-created place to not just survive, but thrive. Alan’s not only a good carpenter (he does remodeling and finish work for others), he’s a jeweler, making exquisite gold earrings and other pieces that he sells at Christmas fairs and as special orders.

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