HOUSE-DREAMS: How an Amateur Builder and Two Rookie Apprentices Turned an Overgrown Blackberry Patch, Ten Truckloads of Lumber, a Keg of Cut Nails, and an Antique Staircase into a Real Home

Hugh Howard, Author . Algonquin $23.95 (306p) ISBN 978-1-56512-293-2

With no training in construction but an understanding of the principles of architecture, Howard (The Preservationist's Progress) designed and built a house in a town two hours north of New York City. Gleaning much of his information from the writings of the first century B.C. Roman architect Vitruvius and the 16th-century Italian architect Palladio, Howard managed to do everything himself, except for the foundation and the masonry—and to get it done in the year and a half between August 1993 and December 1994. The book guides readers through the entire process, from framing to cabinetry. His design incorporates Palladian proportions, as well as details that capture the spirit of 19th-century American architecture. To accomplish the latter, he uses 100-year-old nails, antique doors, window glass and moldings, and a staircase from an abandoned 1870s parsonage. Howard, who was recently featured on Oprah as part of her "Remembering Your Spirit" segment, found great satisfaction in obtaining these materials, and he succeeds in conveying such pleasures, along with the anxiety he suffered as costs mounted. Howard was forced to sell his old home—and then rush to finish the new house so his family would have a place to live. (Lively depictions of his family, his neighbors and other helpful players keep the narrative moving throughout.) This absorbing book should appeal to readers who dream of building their own houses, but also to those who have less lofty ambitions. Small b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, Dominick Abel. (June 8)

Reviewed on: 05/07/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-56512-752-4
Show other formats
Discover what to read next