The Owner Built Home and Homestead: Epilog

Ken Kern's writes the epilog to his The Owner Built Home series and introduces his new book The Owner Built Homestead.

| September/October 1970

  • Homestead
    The factors that hamper and outlaw the owner-builder project in urban areas form only one small part of the argument for "rural living" solutions.

  • Homestead

Ken Kern, author of The Owner-Built Home and The Owner-Built Homestead, is an amazing fellow and everyone interested in decentralist, back-to-the-land, rational living should know of his work. Back in 1948 he began collecting information on low-cost, simple and natural construction materials and techniques. He combed the world for ideas, tried them and started writing about his experiments. Eventually, Mildred Loomis started publishing Kern's articles in The Interpreter, Way Out and Green Revolution. Ken has also issued a three year series of pieces (called Technic) on his own and a greenhouse-sun pit design of his has been featured in Organic Gardening. 

This series of Ken Kern's work is being taken both from The Owner-Built Home (already published) and The Owner-Built Homestead (to be published). 


This epilog to The Owner-Built Home series is at the same time a prolog to my forthcoming book, The Owner-Built Homestead, now being written. It is idle to speculate on building one's own home in the city or suburb. One would be pounced upon by various officials before the first nail could be driven. Despotic union bosses and mercenary contractors' association scouts would soon squelch any do-it-yourself building activity—assuming the banker and building inspector would go so far as to authorize the work.

The factors that hamper and outlaw the owner-builder project in urban areas form only one small part of the argument for "rural living" solutions. Very soon in the construction process an owner-builder finds that positive resources are required that can come only from a rural environment in a more or less natural and friendly community. The two most important resources are freedom and health . An urban two-day-a-week, two-week-a-year home building program is next to worthless. One needs a block of free time to build a home. One also needs the energy and well-being that can come only with good nutrition, fresh air and clean water.

So a rural setting can verily support an owner-builder in a sort dovetailing set of circumstances. A family buys an acreage of land in hinterland where land is not so expensive. Taxes are therefore not so high. Building regulations are almost non-existent; so only moderate construction funds need be amassed. The land can be made productive and so cash need be earned for foodstuffs, thus allowing more time and money to be spent on building and land development. Nutritious food raised on the land can improve the family health, and thus more energy available for greater homestead development.

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