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Thread: Building Mortgage Free House in Interior AK

  1. #1

    Default Building Mortgage Free House in Interior AK

    I'm trying to get out of the rat race of life, sell my house and build something small and mortgage free.
    My plan is to build with money in savings. I'm an avid woodworker (furniture and such), and have built a 12x16 shed. My experience is very limited.

    I'm trying to figure out how to build simply in Alaska, yet have the comforts for the wife. I need to have running water (holding tank) and electricity.

    I have some questions:
    1) Holding Tank -
    I lived in a small house about 15 years ago with a holding tank. The tank was just buried next to the house. How do you plumb the lines from the house to the tank and prevent freezing? Heat tape?

    2) Foundation
    I plan on pile and post of some sort. I don't have the land yet, but it may or may not be permafrost (depends...)
    If I do sonotubes, do I need this
    http://www.bigfootsystems.com/include/contact.htm

    4) 16x20 now and upgrade later to 20x34?
    I am obviously limited by budget, but I keep having the idea of building 16x20 one room and sleeping loft, then in a couple years when money allows, building 20x34 with a separate bedroom and sleeping loft for the grandkids.

    Can anyone direct me to some resources ? I have the books from Coop. Ext. on Arctic building, and some framing books. The problem I am having is reading about the Lower 48 methods, then trying to figure out the best way in Alaska.

    Thanks for any and all advice!

  2. #2
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    Have a look around the Tok area. You can sink a well around there and the water is excellent which eliminates the need to store water. Land is pretty cheap (5 acres on the road system and power nearby for around $10k), no property or sales taxes either.

    No permafrost generally around there so that makes construction easier than those with it. Simple log construction is about as cheap as it gets. If you really want to go cheap, talk with the local state forestry office and see where you can obtain your own logs for free or buy them already milled from a mill. There are several local businesses Tok, Dry Creek, and Kenny Lake which sell them and even build the cabin if you desire. Prices are pretty reasonable.

  3. #3

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    Thanks... I've heard of Dry Creek and getting logs from Tok.

    I'm looking to stay in the Delta/Fairbanks area.

    I just need advice on building... I have been back and forth on log vs 2x6... I can never really figure out which is more economical.

  4. #4
    Member Gerberman's Avatar
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    When I built my cabin, I used 2x6 insulated with fiberglass insulation and t-111 siding, sheetrock inside, then the next year I purchased 1/2 logs that were 10" to start with, so they were 5" thick, I screwed them over the t-111 so now my walls are about 11-1/2' thick, It looks just like a real log home, but does not have the problems of shrinkage of a real log home. The interior is all nice and flat, easy to work with and the electric wiring was a breeze to do instead of how hard it is with a log home. I added a 14 foot wide porch this last June, makes lots of room for staying out of the rain and snow. I store my firewood and all my machines under the porch, I can even put a Suburban under the porch. It is fun to start with an idea and each year add to the goal of a great place to live.

  5. #5
    Member cdubbin's Avatar
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    The CCHRC, or Cold Climate Housing Research Center, is a great resource. Here's a link: http://www.cchrc.org/baa-i
    It's good to keep in mind that proper building techniques and materials will make a home vastly more comfortable, durable, economical, and, ultimately, saleable. Personally, frame is the way to go, with as high an R-Value (insulation) as you can afford; I'd shy away from OSB sheeting and spend just the few more dollars for exterior-grade fir plywood sheathing (CDX) and subfloor. Find a building code tables book for the correct framing members for floor/roof construction. Steeply-sloped metal roofs are the longest-lasting and least maintenance. The main tools you need to build a cabin are a worm-drive circular saw, toolbags, and a 4-foot level. Remember "Level, Square, and Plumb" and you'll be fine. Have fun!
    " Gas boats are bad enough, autos are an invention of the devil, and airplanes are worse." ~Allen Hasselborg

  6. #6
    Member Vince's Avatar
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    mortgage free? easy enough as long as you STAY OUT OF THE NORTH STAR BOROUGH... you'll never own it, and the tax evaluation will be at least twice what it could be sold for.. and if you miss your tax payment they will steal it, and auction it off right out from under you..
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

    meet on face book here

  7. #7

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    Vince - plan on staying in FNSB... have to with jobs! Eventually I would like to move out of the taxed area.

    Now another question I have... Does everything have to be to code? Like my stairs to the loft... if I don;t have the specified tread depth is anyone going to care? I don't think it matters, especially after seeing tons of houses in fairbanks...

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    Member aktyler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akbou View Post
    Vince - plan on staying in FNSB... have to with jobs! Eventually I would like to move out of the taxed area.

    Now another question I have... Does everything have to be to code? Like my stairs to the loft... if I don;t have the specified tread depth is anyone going to care? I don't think it matters, especially after seeing tons of houses in fairbanks...
    you can build it however you want it... yours is yours... if you ever try to sell tho,,, thats a different story

  9. #9
    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    Unless you have access to REAL good logs, I would stay away from them too. Stick frame is way easier and can be insulated well. Although the "bigfoots" are nice, they aren't a necessity. Make about 4 wraps of visqueen around your sonotubes and you should be good to go. A metal roof with a pitch of at least 6:12 should keep the snow sliding off. As far as a holding take for water, you would have to either bury it below frost line and then have some kind of heated box or something to keep the line coming into the house from freezing. Or build a separate small building you could insulate and heat to contain the tank. I don't know what kind of ground is up there but I have driven in a sand pipe not far from a lake and it worked well with a regular old hand pump. Do you plan on living off the grid? If not just pay to have a well punched in.......far less of a headache over time. Even if you do plan on living off the grid, you can run a well pump with a generator.

    Good Luck...!!!

  10. #10
    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aktyler View Post
    you can build it however you want it... yours is yours... if you ever try to sell tho,,, thats a different story
    that is exactly it ...they are cracking down on it with the banks now also.. you can AS built something on a sale agreement. and OWNER FINACE it.. other wise.. your best to meet at least the basics.. like stair treads and rails.. I have built 35 log homes and a couple frame jobs here in fairbanks/ No po area.. each were inspected by engineers .. there are some SOME exceptions.. for stair treads etc.. for loft applications.. where a perminant LADDER is installed.. a ladder may have treads rather then rungs also.. and be over steep for space saving
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

    meet on face book here

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    its hardly possible that you can get a mortgage free home, rather than going for that option. Why not use a balloon mortgage calculator to get a best quote and live with a small mortgage amount.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mdinfomatics View Post
    its hardly possible that you can get a mortgage free home, rather than going for that option. Why not use a balloon mortgage calculator to get a best quote and live with a small mortgage amount.

    Thousands of people would disagree with that.

  13. #13
    Member cristancanoe's Avatar
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    I can't answer your specific questions, but wanted to say it is doable and good luck! We are living in our not quite finished house that we built ourselves with no mortgage, the only difference is we are on the Kenai Peninsula.

    We had very little building experience starting out and have learned a lot from google and asking lots of questions.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by cristancanoe View Post
    I can't answer your specific questions, but wanted to say it is doable and good luck! We are living in our not quite finished house that we built ourselves with no mortgage, the only difference is we are on the Kenai Peninsula.

    We had very little building experience starting out and have learned a lot from google and asking lots of questions.
    Cristancanoe -

    Would love to hear any advice you have! Any books/resources particularly helpful?

    Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vince View Post
    mortgage free? easy enough as long as you STAY OUT OF THE NORTH STAR BOROUGH... you'll never own it, and the tax evaluation will be at least twice what it could be sold for.. and if you miss your tax payment they will steal it, and auction it off right out from under you..

    So true. Thats half the reason the wife and I are leaving squarebanks in 3 weeks forever.

    Live the dream or a die a slave (if you realize it or not)

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