Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start learning, or how to continue learning after formal education is complete. Here is a list of resources I’ve found helpful, roughly categorized. If I list a book – I’ve read it. A podcast – I’ve listened to it. A website – I visit it. All of these resources I’ve found useful, and I’ve included notes to help you find value in them as well.
Jump to a section:
- General Updates on the World – resources to help stay well-rounded
- Introductory Residential Construction Books – for the student or self-learner
- Building Science/Construction Podcasts
- Building Science Websites/Magazines
- Construction Blogs to Follow
General Updates on the World
Staying mindful of the world outside personal interests and responsibilities isn’t the easiest task, it’s easy to drop that kind of knowledge off the priority list when everything else is vying for your attention. Finding writers/publications that can be little points of light can be hard, here are some of my favorites. Email newsletters are once again the new cool.
The Prepared Newsletter
Spencer Wright and his team put together a weekly newsletter on manufacturing technology and developments highlighting the quirky edges of the invisible world which produces almost everything we use on a daily basis. They also have a blog and podcast, but the newsletter is the real star.
Matt Levine writes at Bloomberg and while you can read his work on their website I highly recommend subscribing to his daily email newsletter. He unravels odd financial dealings and covers major money news in a quick daily read. It’s Matt’s quick-witted writing style that makes it work. The link above goes directly to the newsletter sign-up, his column is here.
Derek Davison does an incredible amount of work to produce this newsletter on foreign news and the historical context that led to our human world. He puts together a global news/conflict update at least once a week on major developments – I just pulled up last weeks and twenty-two countries had a blurb. One of the few places I get regular information on African nations. These news updates are interspersed with overviews of major historical events, like “The Night Attack at Târgovişte” under the narrative framework of Today in History.
Introductory Residential Construction Books
I originally posted an early version of this list on Hacker News and got some good feedback. This list is really meant for readers outside of the construction industry who want to gain some basic familiarity in a friendly context. I have focused on texts which prioritize narrative and voice, something you don’t observe as often in advanced and industry publications but which typically results in a more engaging text.
This Old House: Restoring, Rehabilitating, and Renovating an Older House
Bob Vila, 1980
An older book, so many construction details aren’t relevant today, but a nice picture-driven exploration of sensitive home renovation. There is a reason why they are still making This Old House.
A Place of My Own: the Architecture of Daydreams
Michael Pollan, 2008
The subject of this book is a simple work cabin, the complexity of the project emerges due to Pollan’s inexperience. It’s therefore a good introduction to how to understand what you know and don’t know about construction, design, and site selection. Plus, Michael Pollan is an enjoyable writer.
Tracy Kidder, 1999
Follows the construction of a home in Massachusetts with a lot of builder perspective. Explores the common issues associated with running a small carpentry company frame to finish. There is also The Apple Corps Guide to the Well-Built House by Jim Locke which is written by a member of the firm profiled in House – haven’t read it yet.
Last Harvest: How a Cornfield Became New Daleville
Witold Rybczynski, 2008
Follows the evolution of a farm field as it becomes a subdivision. Rybczynski is prolific and writes about the built environment often, this is my favorite of those I’ve read. The subtext of the book is what I enjoy most: the final outcome of development is the product of a thousand branching decisions… and does anyone end up happy?