The Year of Mud: The Book?

by ziggy on December 23, 2009 -- 11 comments -- Follow

Ever since I started building my house, I’ve thought about writing a book about the process of building. Now that my house is actually complete, I’m thinking more seriously about the prospect. The possibilities seem numerous, and the prospect is exciting. I’ve kept up this website and an actual written journal very obsessively so that I have clear documentation, and I also have plenty of photos of the entire construction, as well.

The time seems to be now to start thinking more seriously about how to actually do this, and what form a book could take on. There are several possibilities. Here are a few of the ideas I have had:

  • to write a personal story about building my cob house, from the perspective of a first-time builder with no experience
  • to write about specific how-to building techniques, such as building a reciprocal roof
  • to create a photo book of my home building process, with notes throughout
  • to edit this blog into a downloadable e-book
  • to create a zine (or series of zines) about natural building and my experiences building a house

Some of these ideas can be combined. My current thinking is that I would like to create a book about the story of building a house from the ground up, with little previous experience, to get other novice builders inspired. (I’ve gotten plenty of emails from folks who have been inspired and are really excited about building with cob.) The book can have specific how-to information sprinkled throughout (again, such as how to build a reciprocal roof), but it probably would not contain a complete step-by-step “this is exactly how to build a house” formula.

I also like the idea of creating a photo book, but this seems like it would have a much more limited appeal. (I could be wrong, though.) A zine might also be pretty fun to write up.

This is where you come in! If you have any thoughts to share, I’d love to hear them! Let me know if you would be interested in any of the above ideas, or something completely different. Would you buy The Year of Mud: The Book? Would you like a physical book, or something you can download and print yourself?

Comment, email, let me know if you have any thoughts to share. I’d like to have a dialogue about this if there is interest!

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  • Beth Reese

    Ziggy, congratulations! Writing a book is exciting.

    I am found your blog because I am planning my first cob project- a greenhouse and artist cottage- over the next 3 years. I am reading every helpful page of The Hand-Sculpted House. That book does a beautiful job explaining the philosophy, design and step-by-step procedures of cob building.
    I wish there were more photos- I would love a book with lots of photos for me and to show others as I explain what I am planning to do.
    I also would love a simple book of the whole building process by a beginner- pitfalls, joys, technical tips learned from personal experience.
    I wouldn’t mind the photos online but would prefer it all in a book.

    Good luck!

  • is a DIY photo book design company – you download their design software, assemble your photos/text into a book, and they print out x number of copies, however many you want to sell online.

    It seems like a pretty nifty thing, but if I did this I would want to have a good idea of how many folks might actually buy a book like this… Either way it would probably be a quite small run (under 100?, I can’t even guess how many would sell)…

    Thanks for commenting, Beth!

  • Leona

    Hey Ziggy,

    we have read your blog and been very inspired by it. We are inspired not only to bild a house of cob, but also to share about the whole project. We want to make a zine or probably more than one. We like the idea about zines, because they’re diy, cheap and can be downloaded and printed if thei’re online and copied if thei’re offline. But if you like to make a book, that would be pretty cool, too!

    Leona und die Meeresbande

  • Emily

    Your blog has been a big inspiration. I have loved your HONESTY on the pros and cons, victories and flops. Your book ideas all sound great. I am a visual learner and I end up reading Hand sculpted House and the Cob builder’s handbook over and over for it to sink in. I would love,love love a book with tons of pictures. That would be so helpful and there really isn’t anything like that out there, so I’m guessing the market would be good. I know I’d buy it.

    Many Blessings,

  • Wil

    I have loved reading your blog over the last year. I have watched you home grow from the ground up. And it has been amazing to see. Personally, I think a mixture of your ideas might be a good idea, but in what proportions, I don’t know. But I also would love to buy a book about your year building your home.
    This site has also inspired me as well. Thanks.

    Bright Blessings,

  • Josh

    I would definitely buy a book. I have enjoyed reading your blog and would love to see a complete timeline of photos with techniques and comments about what is going on in those photos.

    I try to live simply and limit my personal items, so I would prefer to buy an electronic version. If only a printed version was available though, I would certainly still buy it.

    Your house is beautiful. If only I could build such a thing on top of my apartment building here in Boston!

  • I think a how-to ebook with step by step photos, drawing, and plans would be a big hit.

  • Great site, any chance you would be willing to write for my small web based publication (see website above). I’d love to be able to share your knowledge and experiences with my readers. Drop me an email if you are interested and we can discuss compensation.

  • Alm

    A wonderful idea .
    I would be perfect to get a book with a series of plans or sketches, just ideas of cob houses, photos, your own and others experience.
    Considering cob builders throught the world are tending to save money, the option of getting pdf version would be great.

  • Hello! I bookmarked this site quite a while ago, and since then have visited to see how your house was coming along. An idea of a book would be amazing. I, myself, would seriously benefit from something like this. My husband and I, along with our baby girl, are saving up to make a cross-country move to Montana and will eventually build a cob house on some land out there. We would like to begin our project within the next 5 years. A book like you described would be so inspiring! Perhaps something documenting what you’ve learned, the ups and downs, how to did your plans and what problems you ran into that may help others down the road, pictures and drawings would be awesome! I agree with Emily that there isn’t a book out there like this yet, it would be something I would most certainly purchase. I have the Hand Sculpted House, Becky Bee’s book, and would really love to add your book to my resources. I’ve subscribed to your blog feed so I can stay up to date with this. Thanks for having such great information and blogging about your journey!

    I look forward to hearing more! Good luck!


  • Trish

    Hi there. I live in Zambia and would be very interested to find out any info that you can share with me about building a cob house!! How is the foundation done??? What sort of size can one go up to??? How long does it take to fully dry…. Any help is really appreciated. Thanks.

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