Five Must-Read Books for a Self-Builder

A book can hold an infinite amount of information, some of it relevant, some of it pointless, but it is the author who inspires and informs the reader. This is the power of literature and when searching for guidance with your self-build, a book can provide you with a bucket load of the right information. You just need to know where to start looking. So, to give you a helping hand we have narrowed them down to five must-read books for a self-builder.

1. Housebuilder’s Bible 12

This not-so-religious bible is known as the UK’s best-selling building guide, and should definitely be read if you’re new to the building world. Written by Mark Brinkley, a previous builder and developer, the Housebuilder’s Bible has been in the pipeline since 1993 and has now reached volume 12. This book covers every step of a housebuilder’s journey, including planning, managing, buying the right materials, and even simplifying builder’s jargon. 

We believe this is one of the best practical overviews for a self-builder to project manage their house. Great for first-timers to read before they start any projects, but also very relevant for the more experienced DIY architects that may have hit a creative wall.

2. The Eco-Home Design Guide: principles and practice for new-build and retrofit

This contemporary guide provides the key principles of eco-home design from a more natural perspective, without the need for expensive technologies. This book can improve your understanding of what a more sustainable home looks like to help reduce your future running costs and minimise your impact on the environment.

Author Christopher Day has received four design awards, including a Prince of Wales Award, for his work on eco-houses and Steiner schools. So, he really is an expert on an ecological lifestyle. This book is fully illustrated and provides great guidance on things like working with your surroundings, choosing the most sustainable materials, and making sure your eco-home suits your own needs. We think this would be the perfect read for anyone looking for some worthwhile inspiration for their eco-home.

3. Building Construction Handbook

If you’re looking for a more technical outlook, the Building Construction Handbook is a great in-depth guide to all aspects of construction, ranging from traditional techniques to modern regulations. And perfect for any self-builders looking to be involved in the construction phase of their build.

Written for students and professionals alike, this book is more formal in comparison to the rest of our selection but contains everything you’ll need to know about construction. Authors Roger Greeno and Roy Chudley are both former university lecturers in building and construction, with an extensive repertoire of experience. So, if you’re feeling up for getting technical with your build, get your reading glasses on and add this book to your collection.

Self-Build Guide

A comprehensive guide for everything you need to think about to realise your dream. 

Self-Build Guide

4. The Passivhaus Handbook: A Practical Guide to Constructing and Retrofitting Buildings for Ultra-Low Energy Performance

This is an essential guide for any self-builder aiming to meet the Passivhaus standards of comfort, durability, and low-energy costs. The Passivhaus Handbook not only simplifies the concept but also focuses on how the right building materials can help you to achieve low energy consumption with the most cost-effective methods.

Some of the key elements of the Passivhaus standard that are covered in this handbook include avoiding air leakage, moisture management, and ventilation strategies. All of which are relevant to a variety of self-building projects, whether you’re fitting a new extension or designing a brand new home. So we think this guide is a great practical option for those who aim to meet the challenge of ultra-low-energy building.

5. The Sustainable Building Bible: An Insiders' Guide to Eco-Renovation & Newbuilding

The Sustainable Building Bible is the second bible in our list but this one delivers a comprehensive yet easy-to-digest guide of how best to build sustainably. Not only does it include facts, figures, pros and cons, it also explains each available type of renewable technology, to aid you in the journey towards a zero carbon home. So, if you’re feeling a little short of knowledge about your renewable opportunities, make sure you get yourself a copy. 

Written by Tim Pullen, an experienced developer who writes regularly for Homebuilding & Renovating magazine, this guide includes everything you need to know to build a home for a greener world. We think it’s a great option for sustainable building inspiration, and suitable for both novice and veteran self-builders through an easy-to-understand layout.


These five books are our top picks for self-builders but there’s also a great array of relevant literature out there, both practical and inspirational, for all of your self-building needs, whether that’s online or in paperback.

All of the above books can be bought via Amazon and we’d love to hear about some of your most helpful self-build reads.