Anyone needing a break from the petty tyranny wielded by modern code enforcement agencies and building departments should get a copy of Lloyd Kahn’s Builders of the Pacific Coast. Paging through the book (or the slide show thoughtfully provided by the publisher) you enter a world that seems as long ago and far away as Narnia, but was actually here, on the west coast of the United States and Canada, less than half a century ago.

Kahn, also the author of the classic Septic System Owner’s Manual, spent years journeying up and down the Pacific Coast, in and around Vancouver, British Columbia down to the San Francisco Bay Area, interviewing intrepid, imaginative souls who built fabulously imaginative, artistic constructions out of timber they felled or found on the beach.

They are gorgeous and amazing and structurally sound, and I bet you couldn’t get a permit to build a single one of them today – at least not in Sonoma County, CA.


  1. Hi fellow renovator..

    I just stopped by to check out your project. Our beach cottage was featured this week at Hooked on Houses.

    You look like your having fun! I crave a good reno. Code enforcement and all things “permits” and “inspection” are a real doooooooozy, huh. It cracked me up when I read about your inspection you didnt pass. It so so allll depends on the inspector (god) who you receive that day, and if his wife cooked him a good breakfast, or how his traffic was that day. UGH. We had the unfortunate experience of a little tyrant a few times, then he decided he didnt like the drive out to the beach..Voila!! signed inspection. (and the electrical he was inspecting was done professionally…)who knows…

    We absolutely loved doing our reno ourselves..but the very late nights and EVERY weekend did get a little monotonous after a few months. Especially when we both have full time jobs and children in the mix.

    I am excited to see your progress..
    Coastal Nest

    1. Lisa, thanks so much for stopping by! I loved your beach cottage – I am so impressed with how much you have done and look forward to seeing more projects as you enjoy it! -beth

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