The best self-build design books to inspire your build

Let’s face it – cosying up with a good book is the new ‘going out’. As we navigate through the global pandemic, it’s never been a better time for a self-builder to start investigating how to design a comfortable home which meets certain sustainable and energy efficiency desires.

Building your own home takes a lot of hard work and time so we’ve done the leg work and selected a few must-reads for self-build inspiration. Taking the time to do your research by reading self-build books can affect every aspect of your modern self-build design.

There’ll be plenty of questions to ask when you’re designing a house and rather than relying solely on your architect (who won’t be there in the middle of the night when you have a burning question!) you can get to grips with the way your self-build house design evolves whether that’s examining the importance of choosing your own materials to increasing the sustainability of your home and making it more energy efficient.

Understanding all aspects of your design can truly lead to more comfortable home whether that’s by maximising natural light or improving the acoustics.

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

First up…here’s what we believe 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 and why this is important.

All of these 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.

Find out more about building a Passivhaus home in our case study; The Passivhaus Self-Build.

The Passivhaus Self-Build

2/ The Sustainable Building Bible: An Insiders' Guide to Eco-Renovation & Newbuilding

Want to know more about sustainable home design? Then look no further than this ‘bible’, which 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. It’s well worth grabbing a copy of you’re short of knowledge about your renewable opportunities.

Written by Tim Pullen, an experienced developer who writes regularly for Homebuilding & Renovating magazine, this guide includes everything you need to know on building a house 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.

3/ The Green Self-Build Book: How to Design and Build Your Own Eco-Home

Want to reduce running costs, create less waste and design for comfort? Building green is the way forward, according to author Jon Broome.

His guide on how to build and design your own home is an informative read – packed full of practical advice for any novice self-builder looking for eco-home design inspiration.

Jon Broome, an architect and self-builder, specialises in sustainable design. He has worked with radical German architect Walter Segal and many self-builders from different backgrounds. Even better, he built his own low-energy house in Forest Hill, South London in 1998 using timber poles and locally sourced materials. He retells his self-building story, with no details spared.

He constructed his house in two years, building it around a couple of dozen Douglas fir trunks. His experiences give the book real clout as he examines first-hand the essential elements of the self-build process and methods of sustainable and eco-friendly construction techniques.

What we particularly love about this book are the inspirational case studies – it’s peppered with real-life experiences and plenty of easy-to-follow advice and plenty of ideas for self-build design. It’s those genuine stories which capture the highs and lows of self-building. From the three-bedroom eco timber constructed home in Basildon to the West London dwelling built in a conservation area using steel framing – there’s an avalanche of inspiration for wannabe eco self-builders.

The cover of The Green Self-Build Book

These are just a few of our favourite reads but we’d love to hear more about what you’re reading and how your project is coming along.

Share your must-read self-build books or self-build designs with us on Instagram and Facebook.