Last year when we were house sitting for some friends I noticed the book and DVD Building with Awareness, The Construction of a Hybrid Home, by Ted Owens. I read the book and thought it was terrific, praise that I don't normally put out there for how-to books. We are currently visiting our friends again and I was reminded of the book when I saw it sitting on the table. I have not seen the DVD but I would assume it is as good as the book. As an aside I want to mention that I receive no compensation for this or any other book or product I may review in this blog.
The book is written in a clear, accessible style and the photos are numerous and instructive. A hybrid home refers to the fact that the house is made of straw bale ( in the exterior walls for its ability to provide great insulation ) and adobe ( in the interior walls for its thermal mass which moderates the interior temperatures through all the seasons ). Owens starts with the design of this small ( 832 sq. ft. ) but very comfortable and efficient home. He reviews the materials he uses and why as well as the basics for passive solar heating and cooling. The chapter on the foundation is excellent and he has a great idea for a poured concrete floor. This being a so called green home he even includes one of the best explanations for an underground cistern for collecting rainwater with an easy to build filter.
Continuing chapters cover building with adobe and straw bale, a photovoltaic overview and electrical wiring, windows, and even earth plasters. All of this is explained in a way that is easy for the beginner to understand as well as new ideas that experienced builders may appreciate. I hope you will check this out.