Monday, May 31, 2010

New Requirements for Owner/Builders

In the past year and a half or so, we have seen a definite change in the market. I have noticed that the lending institutions have become very skittish about loaning to Owner/Builders. Most are not loaning unless there is a General Contractor involved. This defeats the purpose for most owner/builders because they wanted to build their home themselves and not use a General Contractor.
In years past we were always building for owner/builders and there was no problem borrowing the money. The banks now want to have a general contractor on the project before loaning the money and the General Contractor has to be on the approved list of contractors for that institution.
We are offering our services to Owner/Builders so they can get the financing. We still do the dried-in shell and even the wiring, plumbing, insulation and sheetrock if necessary but the Owner/builder takes care of the rest with our help selecting subcontractors and products. We are on board to satisfy the bank and keep everything on schedule. We will be recommending sub-contractors to do the work that you can't do or don't have the time to do. Most importantly, we will be helping you with the paperwork which can be daunting if you have never done it before.

Promise only what you can deliver. Then deliver more than you promise. ~Author Unknown

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pending Price Increase

We have experienced a significant spike in material prices in the past few months. Sheet goods like OSB (Oriented Strand Board) which we use for sub flooring, roof sheathing and some wall sheathing, has more than doubled in price. Metal roofing has also jumped 15 to 20%. We are hearing that the earthquake Chile is responsible for the increase in material prices. Lumber is a commodity, whenever there is a large demand somewhere in the world, the prices go up.
We haven’t had a price increase in over three years and have seen our materials creep up over that time. Unfortunately, we are being forced to increase our prices 5% just to offset the increase in material costs.
This is never an announcement we like to make because many people have already budgeted for their home or cabin and 5% can push them over the budgeted amount. I anticipate the increase will take place June first unless we have a dramatic lowering of material prices in that time.

When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Trex Products
We are going to be offering Trex decking on our price list in the next week or so. We have been using the Trex product for over six years and we wanted to be sure we liked the product before we started offering it as a regular option.
We like it! More importantly, our customers like it. There were other companies producing synthetic deck products and many of them had a hollow core and didn’t hold up well. Trex has a solid core and has held up extremely well and requires no maintenance.
Most people don’t know that Trex is made from plastic grocery bags and recycled wood. In fact, Trex uses approximately 70% of the recycled grocery bags in the United States. The plastic is mixed with a wood sawdust to make an indestructible decking product.
It holds up to cold weather or warm weather. The color stays intact for years and it is very easy to clean, it doesn’t cup, warp or split and the surface is non-slip.
We haven’t found a downside except that it is more expensive and heavier than wood. Within a few years it will make up most of the decking in Alaska.
We will have the pricing posted on June 1 with several colors to choose from.

Never miss an opportunity to make others happy, even if you have to leave them alone in order to do it. ~Author Unknown

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Off Grid Living: Solar Edition

Many of the cabins we build are off the electrical grid so it only makes sense to discuss the inovations in Solar, Wind and Water power.
For most locations in Alaska, solar power will be the most practical for electrical needs. Wind power is a viable option in many areas and there are more and more practical wind power systems on the market.
The key to alternative power is learning to manage and maximize efficiency in your electrical use.
If you only need to run a few lights, TV, stereo, water pump and a computer, you can get by comfortably with a simple 12 volt system.
If you want to run more appliances and have all of the comforts of home, you will want an inverter that will convert 12 or 24 volts to 110 just like city power.
If you want to go all electric with 220v capability, electric fridge, electric oven, freezer etc. you are most likely going to need a 48 volt system with large batteries and a sizable inverter system. These applications are normally for lodge use and will require the use of a generator system as well.
You will want to get a couple of solar panels and batteries to start with and my advice is to keep it simple until you learn what your needs really are.
For all of your off grid living needs you can visit Kirk and his staff at Susitna Energy Systems in Anchorage. Kirk not only supplies alternative energy supplies to others, he uses them himself at his remote cabin.
2507 Fairbanks Street
Anchorage, AK 99503-2821
(907) 337-1300

“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six hours sharpening my ax”
Abraham Lincoln

Monday, May 3, 2010