Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thursday, February 7, 2008

-40 below

I thought I'd say something since Andrew has been doing most of the posting lately. This post will be utterly unhouse related. It is cold in Fairbanks today, it has been cold for the past week. -44 below at my work. I've lived in Fairbanks for about 8 years now but I'm still surprised when I'm expected to go on with daily functions during this kind of weather. Why doesn't Fairbanks just close down? That's just a rhetorical question as I know that some people have to go to work or we wouldn't have electricity, water, heat, etc. My window faces a Fire station and EMT unit. When it gets to be in the -40 or -50 below weather those guys are in and out of the building all day long. Which tells me that there are significantly more emergencies then any other time of the year.

On a personal level I think the administration of our University should give it's employees and students the option to stay home. But they don't, your expected to be here. If I stay home I have to use my vacation leave. I can't even take leave without pay. So what are my options? Use my precious benefits or come to work. Risk breaking down on the road (which could result in many other problems) or just stay home and use my benefits. Most individuals don't even have the benefit of vacation time. So people who work minimum wage jobs and are without benefits have more pressure to put themselves at risk in these temperatures. They could loose their jobs if they don't go to work. Hmm, this would make an interesting Fairbanks sociological study. Look at the influence of temperature on accidents and then of those accidents what are the individuals involved economic status.

I always find it amazing how much pressure the acquisition of money puts on us. Risk your life at this moment or risk your future. This post may seem a little dramatic and whiney. But sometimes I feel this way. Especially when I'm walking up a hill, at -44 below, because I don't even get to park close to my building.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Garage plans already

I'm such a nut. I've already priced out every last piece of the 2 car detached garage, which is the project for this summer. About $20k, done right. Super-insulated, radiant floor, etc. I'm excited about building something so easy. Each major part will take one weekend: Foundation, Framing, Roofing, Siding, Insulating, Wiring, Drywall! No crazy 21 foot walls, odd angles, hanging lofts, 900 square feet of tile, etc.

But, is it worth it? Most places, a garage ads little to no value to a house. In Fairbanks, it's almost a necessity. When we get our loan, I'll ask the appraiser.

Our Jenn-Air stove kicks butt

We went all-out with our stove and spent a fair chunk of change (at least we got 30% off by buying all our appliances at once and signing up for a sears card at the same time)

I really enjoy cooking, and especially enjoy cooking on gas. It heats up and turns off instantly. But it can have some problems, like difficulty turning down enough without the flame going out.

Not a problem on this stove. All four burners are different, and one turns down to a "melt" setting. It also has a super burner to boil water quickly, and one extra wide, dual ring burner for big fry pans or woks.

The grates remove easily, and underneath is a smooth glass surface that's easy to clean and doesn't catch grime in hard to get at holes.

Also, it's a downdraft vent, so no vent hood is needed. It sucks the smoke and grease down, and it actually works pretty well except for tall pots.

Marcy is more of the baker, but the oven part is fancy too. It has a convection fan which blows around the air so you can cook multiple sheets of cookies at once, or cook other things about 25% faster.

Most importantly, it's pretty!

Monday, February 4, 2008


Soon we're going to have to get an appraisal done on the house, which is both exciting and nerve racking. How did we do? Did we effectively work all year for $20 an hour? $40? negative $20?

The magic number we're hoping for is $210k. That lets us take out a really good 80% loan, pay off everyone, build the garage, and have a little left over.

We've put plenty of money into the house, and it's gotten fancier as the process went along. We didn't originally know we'd have radiant heat, or cherry cabinets, or nice built-ins, etc. We know we could have built a simpler house just to make money, but I'm glad we built a truly nice house.

We're starting to get glimpses of what the house might be worth. The insurance company thinks it will cost $240k to rebuild just the house. Add on land value, and we did really well! But I don't think it would sell for that much. The City appraised the unfinished house for $194k. This is really good. Houses here sell for more than the city appraised value. And that's without siding.

All we can really do is wait a couple months, and finish the house!

Friday, February 1, 2008


It seems like some of you actually enjoy reading this blog. Since the stairs were the last big thing on the inside, and we won't work on the outside until May and then the garage maybe in June, I thought we'd start doing some little microposts about various things we really like (like the Jenn air stove) and things we don't like, or screwed up on, or would do differently.

It might be interesting, or it might help if you are thinking of building your own house some day. Stay tuned...