My new book, Designing for Disaster, is available for sale on and at your favorite local bookstore. Speaking of which — I’m doing a book signing and presentation at Politics and Prose in Washington DC, on February 2nd 2020, at 1 p.m. Be there or be square.

Publication of the book marks the end of a three-year journey into the fledgling practice of resilient architecture. If you are building a new home today, you’ve got a 50 percent chance that it will be the victim of a 100-year storm within the next 50 years. The odds are much higher, of course, if you are building by the sea, within Tornado Alley, or near a forest or earthquake fault line. What’s a better investment — building a home that can withstand a natural disaster or putting a home theater in the basement? I’d say the former.

It wasn’t easy finding homes to profile in the book. Too few resilient homes are being built. To be considered for publication, homes had to meet a three-pronged test. They needed to be as green as possible, so that they wouldn’t contribute to global warming, though it would be hard to make a difference at this point. They needed to resist natural disasters. And they had to operate on their own if a major weather event knocked out utility services.

The homes also had to look good — or no one would buy the book. Finding resilient homes with inspiring architecture turned out to be harder than anticipated. The easy way to meet this challenge is to design a featureless concrete bunker, with limited windows, eaves, and details. Unfortunately, these are the same elements that make homes look appealing and live well. If you are living in the mountains by a forest, you need to be able to see the trees from the house. If you are building a home by the sea, you need to be able to gaze at the ocean.

I found that few new homes are designed to resist all types of natural disasters. Most do one or two things well — like resist flooding and high winds, or earthquakes and mudslides. Local building codes may or may not provide guidance. It’s really up to homeowners, working with diligent architects and builders, to figure out which protective features are needed. An appendix to the book provides a list of resources.

The National Academy of Sciences has clearly linked global warming with the rising tide of most severe weather events. Rising temperatures in the lower atmosphere contribute to severe droughts, extreme precipitation, coastal flooding, and heat waves. But it’s harder for scientists to find a direct link between warmer temperatures and hurricanes and tornadoes. They are complicated events, caused by a variety of factors. But they too appear to be growing in intensity.

Resiliency is a bigger issue than green architecture. Even if every home were built to the greenest standard for the next 50 years, it wouldn’t stop global warming and the growing threat of extreme weather events. Homes need to be built to last, so that can be passed down from generation to generation, in the face of rising tides, Category 5 hurricanes, and burgeoning wildfires.

Anatomy of a Great Home

What elevates a house to best-of-class status? Find out in this insider’s look at more than fifty award-winning homes designed by nearly three dozen A plus American architects.

Regardless of their size or design style, the best new and remodeled homes share common traits. They deliver eminently livable space that can accommodate nearly any lifestyle event. They respect and relate to the natural environment. They take on the personalities of their owners. And they are works of art that no one will ever want to tear down―the ultimate test of sustainability.

Comprehensive in scope, this book profiles a wide variety of extraordinary homes―from urban infill to custom homes, suburban remodels, seaside cottages, and subdivision housing. It distills their broad patterns and refined details into practical lessons with endless applications, making it an inspirational guide for designers, builders, and anyone planning their own dream home.


Cover of the New New Home by Boyce Thompson

The New New Home

Boyce Thompson’s previous work, The New, New Home, was published in late April 2014 by The Taunton Press.

The book demystifies the new-home buying process and provides guidance to potential home buyers who want to buy a new home that not only fits their lifestyle, but also has the best shot at appreciating in value. After the housing downturn of the last decade, consumers need to go into the home-buying process with their eyes wide open. Yes, interest rates are low and new homes in some markets are more affordable than they have been in recent memory. But substantial risks remain, especially as interest rates inevitably rise.

The New New Home surveys the many innovations in housing design, construction, and technology that occurred during the housing downturn with a eye toward helping buyers select the ones that work best for them. As the housing market improves, the danger is that builders may ignore some of these innovations that helped them survive the recession in favor of cosmetic changes that won’t improve the long-term value of new homes.

A new generation of high-performance homes has burst on the market that not only economize and prioritize the use of space within homes but dramatically reduce utility costs and increase durability. The problem is that buyers will need to know what to ask for in order to get these features. Chapters in The New New Home identify minimum feature levels that every buyer should insist on getting in their new home.


Reviews of The New New Home

Newspaper Suggests Anatomy of a Great Home Would Make a Good Gift

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A reporter from the Current newspaper was on hand at my recent book signing at Politics and Prose

Home on cover of Boyce Thompson's The New New Home

The New New Home Wins Book of the Year

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The New New Home won the Robert Bruss award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors for best real estate book published in 2014.

New Jersey Record Piece Focuses on Energy Efficiency

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Kathleen Lynn, writing for the New Jersey Record, focused on the energy story within The New New Home. Buying the most energy efficient home possible makes a lot of sense for a variety of reasons. Not only can you save on your utility bills. But a history of low payments…

Chicago Tribune Article Probes Author Pyschology

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I’m not sure what was more difficult — writing a 250-page book with plenty of technical material — or building show homes for 15 years.

Realtor Magazine Gives Book Thumbs Up!

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Lily Oberman, writing on the National Association of Realtors’ website, says that The New New Home would be useful to anyone planning to build the home of their dreams.

Home on cover of Boyce Thompson's The New New Home

Early Reviews Highlight Different Objectives of The New New Home

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Early reviewers have found nice things to say about my new book, The New New Home. Each review highlights a different goal of the book.