A Good House; Building a Life on the Land Summary

Richard Manning

A Good House; Building a Life on the Land

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

As a reporter who had investigated environmental issues involving logging and other land-use issues, Richard Manning had become increasingly aware that there are enormous consequences resulting from the way people live their lives. Recently remarried and anxious to restart his life, he began feeling the urge to build a home where he could center his relationship with his new wife and bond with his son from his first marriage. From the start of his planning, he kept in mind the idea that he could build better with less. Manning wanted his house to have as little negative impact on the environment as possible. When it came to cutting down trees, the fewer the better. To reduce the expense of heating a house in the long Montana winter, he chose an earth-shelter design. Using the natural insulating properties of the earth, his house would be sheltered by a warmer medium which would make it easier to heat in cold weather. In summer the house would stay cooler.

A GOOD HOUSE is not a how-to book in the strictest sense. There are no detailed blueprints or itemized lists of construction costs. Still, the book does cover chapter by chapter the various stages involved in building the house. There are frustrating encounters with the bureaucracy in getting building permits approved and a fascinating look at how a water-witch located water on Manning’s property.

This is a book about more than building a house. It is the story of how Manning discovers a way to live which is more in harmony with nature and the land. At the same time, it tells how one can use independent thinking and the courage to follow one’s inner voice to build a better life in this endangered world.