Out There

Cool Alaska Homes

Posted in Uncategorized by Pete on October 29, 2012

We’ve thought of building a home where we live in the bush for quite some time.  There are some, no many, major hurdles though, like how do you acquire land when everything is native allotments or federally held?  I was also told by a guy who has built scores of homes in the Alaska bush that no bank will fund (loan) a home project in any village like ours.  They are ok with Nome, Barrow, Kotzebue, Bethel, etc, but not the outlying villages, unless you qualify for funding under some government programs targeting native home ownership, which we don’t.

Homes built and lived in by kassaq families are basically unheard of in our region, other than Bethel.  I can’t speak for all 50-something villages that call Bethel their hub, but I’m familiar with at least a dozen of them and have never heard of it happening.  One obvious reason is outsiders don’t live in these places, other than teachers.  And teachers would have to move from teacher housing with it’s subsidized rent, running water, and free heat to the reality of what their neighbors face:  crazy high building costs, outrageous heating bills, and probably no running water (although that is slowly changing, village by village in this area).

I say all this as a backdrop to three homes I’ve read about over the years and thought were pretty cool as they address the water, heat, and power issues.   Here is the first one, and here is the second, designed by the same guy.

This third one is a home built in the 1980s that “makes” its own water.  That link is a bit “fluffy,” so if you want the  good details see this narrative by the guy who designed it, including lots of free plans telling you how to go about doing something similar yourself.

Of the three, the last is the coolest to me personally because water is such a bedeviling challenge out here on the YK Delta.  HUGE money is spent trying to put in piped water systems that won’t freeze up in the winter.  This house uses rain water and reuses its own “grey” water and requires no external pipes.  Admittedly, all three of these designs require big up front investments, but I don’t think the payout period is too outrageously long.  At least not here where we pay $7/gallon for heating fuel, over 50 cents a KwH for power, and who knows what per gallon of running water which mostly doesn’t even exist yet.

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