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Main page » Non-Fiction » The Solar Home: How to Design and Build a House You Heat With the Sun

The Solar Home: How to Design and Build a House You Heat With the Sun


I am a first-time DIY owner-builder, presently in the early planning stages of my house project. I picked this book up at Borders as my first book on homebuilding, and was glad that I did.
It was a quick and easy read, and its friendly, informal, confident style makes the first-time homebuilder feel that perhaps doing it yourself is not so daunting a task after all. The book contains enough detailed explanations and drawings to give one a feel for what kind of work is involved in all the various stages of a typical passive solar homebuilding project, while remaining brief enough as to not be too intimidating. However, I agree with the previous reviewer that this is only a snapshot of one particlular way of building an energy-efficient house, and many alternatives are not covered, for example, alternative insulating wall materials such as straw bales or SIPS board. Also, the book is biased towards construction in far-north climates and does not extensively address the needs of warmer regions where keeping the house cool may often be a bigger concern than keeping it warm. Also, the authors seem overly obsessed with putting up completely airtight vapor barriers on their interior wall surfaces; they themselves describe high interior humidity problems that they had as a result. And personally, I would not want to live inside an airtight plastic bubble! It is my understanding from talking to architect friends that you want water vapor to be able to get out of your house, while preventing moisture from coming in, via selective membrane type sheathing materials such as Tyvek. Other sources I've read (e.g. straw bale books) seem to agree that it is possible for a wall to allow water vapor to pass through relatively freely while still retaining a good insulation value. But, aside from those qualifications, I found this book to be a reasonably good, gentle introduction to what's involved in DIY passive solar homebuilding, at least for wood-frame homes of a certain typical style.

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Tags: project, first-time, enough, stages, homebuilding, Solar