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Building a Low Impact Roundhouse - book review

'Building a Low Impact Roundhouse' by Tony Wrench.

Second Edition with a 10 Year Update. Published by Permanent Publications.

'Building a Low Impact Roundhouse' describes in detail the construction of the author's own roundhouse, covering the selection of materials, the frame, the roof and walls, water, sanitation, and energy supply.  The result, judging by the pictures, is far from primitive and appears to have all the modern comforts one would expect. The book is in paperback with 139 pages and has plenty of pictures and illustrations of the roundhouse at the various stages of its construction, although only a few of these are in colour.  From page 105 the book continues on from the first edition and gives an update ten years after the original was published, describing how the building has worked and how the separate den was added.

Tony Wrench's style of writing is humorous but to the point. He describes the building of the roundhouse in a casual manner and presents the project with an ease that allows the reader to access the information easily without the need to know any architectural jargon. Indeed, in his introduction he is keen to point out that he has no relevant qualifications and readers embark on similar projects at their own risk!  The two-chapter feedback section is informative, including a description of adjustments that Tony has made to the house. I especially liked the end of the cobwood walls section in the update, which gives a good example of the humour with which Tony writes:


"A common question I am asked by people worried about mixing wood and mud is 'Doesn't the wood rot?' to which I reply "Do the books in a Library rot or does the wattle in wattle and daub rot? Wood rots if it keeps getting damp. These walls stay good and dry. If they don't - worry."

The reason I personally am so interested in the book and the reason I am writing this review is because I am currently scheming away at designs and gathering materials to build my own roundhouse in Radnorshire. This book was accessible enough for me - someone with no architectural training at all - to do just that. It would have taken me a lot longer to get started without the aid of this book.

'Building a Low Impact Roundhouse' is a must-read for anyone wishing to build their own eco-friendly house - a 1st class book, humorous, blunt and practical.

James Brimer

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