Books to Read … if you are considering building a house

A few of my favorite reads….

None of these are really “how to books” but all are worth reading if you are considering building a custom home.

The Fountainhead
A classic … honesty in architecture …

When The Fountainhead was first published, Ayn Rand’s daringly original literary
vision and her groundbreaking philosophy, Objectivism, won immediate worldwide
interest and acclaim. This instant classic is the story of an intransigent young
architect, his violent battle against conventional standards, and his explosive
love affair with a beautiful woman who struggles to defeat him.  As
fresh today as it was then, here is a novel about a hero–and about those who try
to destroy him.



Never Again by Richard La Plante

Written by my friend Richard, this memoir completed in 2012, describes the incredible journey of a homeowner building their own house, complicated new home, in heavily permitted Southern California.
If you are considering being your own contractor – READ THIS!

Richard La Plante promised after he and his new wife completed building their family home in East Hampton, New York.But he did not keep his promise. Instead he bought twenty acres of raw land on a mountaintop located three and half thousand miles away, in a small town that he had only visited by internet… And the nightmare began. A house in New York to sell, a massive loan to pay off for the newly purchased land, dishonest builders, some of the most stringent building codes in America, and the economic collapse of 2008. With no general contractor, because they had decided to save money by doing it themselves, La Plante and his wife face an empty bank account, a black widow spider infestation and a large wooden frame with no windows. With two young sons to raise, a stony silence between them and a marriage counselor who says in sagely fashion, “There’s only one answer. Finish the house,” the La Plantes stumble from hilarious disaster to not-so-hilarious disaster to ultimate success.

Never Again is a seven-year chronicle of trial and triumph, both a warning and inspiration to anyone trying to build a dream.


House by Trace Kidder

It’s been a while since I read this one, but a great story of the challanges and triumphs of a couple building their  home in New England.

If you are thinking about becoming a builder, or are thinking about having a house built for you, this is a must-read. Be prepared for Kidder’s no holds barred account of how devious a home buyer can be just to save relatively little money, how unprepared a builder can be to deal with such situations, and what crucial role good communication between the home buyer, architect, and builder plays getting the project completed on time and on budjet. Kidder emphasizes the fact that building a house is not just about people doing buisiness in an impersonal manner, but that personalities play a crucial role in any business relationship. Kidder also makes clear that the involved parties’ abilities to see the other sides point of view in a dispute are paramount to achieving the ultimate goal in business: the customer gets a quality product on time and no one feels they’re cheated at the end of the transaction. This is not an instruction manual; Kidder offers little advice on what is proper or what the characters could do better. Kidder simply relates an accurate account of the process of building a home, mostly with an eye toward human relations; a wise reader will learn from the successes and mistakes of the characters herein.


Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Although more famous for his spy novels, this great read was turned into a TV min series.  Particularly interesting is how these buildings were built over the course of several generations.  Could you imagine a house taking 100 years to build!!!

The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of the lives entwined in the building of the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known-and a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother.

















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Written by Otis Bradley, a Custom Home Builder, in Southern California
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