Today my guest is Lloyd Kahn, and if you don’t recognize the name, you’ve probably seen one of his books. Lloyd published the seminal book, Shelters in 1973, documenting alternative housing ideas not limited to but including tiny houses, well before the current modern movement.

Lloyd has a lifelong fascination with shelter, and this conversation, we trace the steps of how an insurance broker in San Francisco built his own home and slowly transitioned to publishing internationally about Geodesic Domes, Tiny Houses, Mobile Houses, Driftwood Shelters and more. DIY building. While many thousands of the homes that Lloyd has documented over the years are small or tiny, he’s got a healthy amount of skepticism about the tiny home movement.

In this wide-ranging conversation, we talk about Lloyds books, his original influences of the counter culture of the 1960’s, and how the concept of shelter has changed over the years.

In This Episode:

  • How did Lloyd’s fascination with shelter begin?
  • Why Lloyd’s 1973 book Shelter is the most important of his work
  • Why Lloyd decided to pull his Dome Books off the shelves even though they were selling
  • Why Lloyd says that Builders of the Pacific Coast is Lloyds favorite book
  • Lloyd tells the story of meeting and building with Derek ‘Deek’ Diedricksen
  • Why Dome homes have fallen out of favor (and Lloyd is more than okay with that!)
  • How Lloyd got into publishing in the first place
  • What is causing the current fascination with tiny houses?
  • Lloyds advice for first-time DIY home builders
  • Lloyds two favorite houses of all times
  • Lloyd’s take on aging well (He’s 83!)
  • Lloyds new book coming soon: The Half Acre Homestead (it sounds amazing!)

Links and Resources:

Lloyd Kahn's Building Books (Direct) (Amazon)
Dave Sellers
Yestermorrow School
Stretching by Bob Andersen
Getting Back in Shape by Bill Pearl
Galloway’s Book on Running
West With the Night
The Owner Built Home – Ken Kern
Your Engineered House – Rex Roberts
Hand Made: The Half-Acre Homestead



page from homework by lloyd kahn

Round Home by Louis Frazier in Homework


page from builders of the pacific coast lloyd kahn

Builder Lloyd House featured in Builders of the Pacific Coast

shelter cover by lloyd kahn

shelter ii cover by lloyd kahn

builders of the pacific coast cover by lloyd kahn


homework cover by lloyd kahn

tiny homes simple shelter cover by lloyd kahn

tiny homes on the move cover by lloyd kahn

small homes cover by lloyd kahn

driftwood shacks cover by lloyd kahn


Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn is the former shelter editor of The Whole Earth Catalog and editor-in-chief of Shelter Publications. He has published a series of books on building including Shelter and Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter. 


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