Sunday, February 17, 2008

Housing in AK

I find one of the more entertaining features of Alaska is the houses. There is no building code for homes here, so people can (and do!) build some of the craziest houses. Besides Anchorage, which has its share of California-style cookie-cutter homes, I don't know if I have seen two homes that are exactly alike up here. Every house is a unique creation, and there is just no way to sum them up. Siding varies, from vinyl to log to Tyvek. An amazing number of houses up here have no siding, and haven't had siding for 20 or 30 years. They're just plain wood, weathered and looking very shack-like. Others are tar-papered, while for others the owners actually got as far as putting Tyvek on them. I've been inside some homes like this, and they are very nice and modern. If you saw a house in Michigan like that you would expect the inside to be as bad as out. Not so here.

Other homes have the original logs from when they were built 30-40 years ago, chinked the old-fashioned way because that was the only way to do it back then. These logs were cut down, hauled, debarked, notched and set into place by the homeowner; there was no such thing as pre-done logs in those days.

More than a few people live in 1-room cabins, shacks or 5th wheels year round. I have come across homes that do not have complete indoor plumbing or even electricity. I couldn't say if this is because the people want to live that way or because they cannot afford to live any other way. A number of homes do not have a well, as evidenced by a survey taken in our kids' school: "How do you get your water? a) city water, b) well water c) cistern d) truck. Water trucks are as common a sight as fuel trucks as they travel around the area filling up people's water tanks. Other people have no driveway and park in a pull-off by the road and walk to their house. For some this is just a winter problem, but for others they do this year round.

Housing prices, the last we checked, were outrageous. We found one unfinished house with no water, electricity or road (gorgeous view!!), 3 bedrooms, for $200,000. I think that was just a lot too, or small acreage. The house we lived in in Michigan would easily go for twice the price up here.

For those who appreciate good architecture, houses up here are appalling. For those who like driving down the road and being entertained by the unique variety of buildings, this is the place to be!

No comments: