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Home kits can make Alaska dreams come true: affordable answers for a well-built home.


It is the Alaska version of the American dream--a small cabin in the woods. Across the state, there are companies that can make that dream come true. From log cabins of all sizes to timber frames to structural insulated panel buildings, there's a company to suit a would-be homeowner's needs and budget.

See that smiling man in the photo on page 174? Jerry Green should be smiling, his company, Superior Logs, has over the past 25 years built some of the most-recognized log structures in the state--like the 11,000-square-foot Kenai Princess Lodge at Cooper Landing, the 3,000-square-foot city offices at Pilot Station, the 4,000-square-foot Mat-Su Visitors Center on the Parks Highway, the ERA Aviation buildings and Alaska Railroad Depot at Denali Park, the remote Muskomee Bay Remote Lodge on Afognak Island, and the post offices in Talkeetna (3,400 square feet) and Kasilof (2,800 square feet.).

Depending on the size and how fancy the cabin, prices begin at $45 a square foot for a weathered-in shell and start at $160 a square foot for a turnkey log home, said Green.

Green's well-earned reputation as a log builder begins and ends with two things: the dryness of his logs and the "Simple Yet Superior" copyrighted bolt-together system. Green guarantees the logs leave the mill with a 15 percent to 17 percent moisture content and are manufactured within one-eighths of an inch to plan. That's quite something for a log structure that usually requires mechanisms for doors and windows to prevent breakage caused by the shifting and twisting of the timbers.

"We've never had a report of a door or window breaking," said Green, again with a big smile. This log cabin was built for Valley Sawmill on Cordova Street in Anchorage by Lee's Custom Designs, whose owner, Lee Raymond says he can build anything with logs. Valley Sawmill supplies Superior Logs with logs.


Not a construction company, Superior Logs create pre-cut log packages for owners to either assemble themselves or have a builder do it for them. They come with complete instructions and the claim that anyone with a little building experience can erect their own cabin.

The 8-inch or 10-inch logs earn 4-Star-Plus or 5-Star energy ratings that can earn a tax write-off for energy conservation. Energy Star Homes is a government-backed program to promote energy-efficient homes that are built to use 70 percent or less of the energy required for heating, cooling and hot water than a home built to the national Model Energy Code.

Log homes are Alaska classics and many from the Klondike Gold Rush to the Nome Gold Rush to the post office in Wiseman have lasted for more than 100 years.


Considered by many to be the height of energy efficiency, structural insulated panel (SIP) home kits are offered through Spenard Builders Supply (SBS) and shipped to the Bush.


SIPs are made by sandwiching a core of plastic polystyrene foam (EPS), extruded polystyrene foam (XPS) or polyurethane foam-insulation between two structural skins of oriented strand board (OSB). SIP construction is faster and leaves behind a smaller amount of waste traditional than stick-frame construction, but it's a hard comparison when factoring the cost of shipping the heavy panels as compared to the increased building time with a stick frame. SIP panels replace studs and joists, insulation, vapor barrier and air barrier--it's all wrapped up in one. A 6-inch SIP wall has an R-Value of more than 21.

There's a bit of Alaska history attached to the development of SIPs. In the early 1980s "Hoot" Haddock, who was a construction manager on the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, began research on a cement-skinned panel system called ThermaSAVE (now located in Haddock's home state of Alabama) that he designed to hold up to the Alaska climate.

Soundproof and extra tight, SIP homes do require careful vapor barriers to prevent any moisture interacting with the OSB and a ventilation system, either passive or automatic.

Through SBS's Rural Alaska Sales department headquartered in Anchorage off Minnesota Drive, the company can put together a SIP cabin kit. From the 12x18-foot Rainier for $13,500, the 16-foot by 25-foot Casacde for $22,600, or the 20- by 28-foot Denali at $28,1000, homeowners can put these cabins together quickly on a remote site. These kits include the cabin shell, foundation material, wall and roof panel lumber, roofing, exterior trim, millwork and foam panels.

Recreational, traditional stick-frame cabin kits are pre-cut for easy assembly, beginning with the 16- by 24-square-foot Tanana for $14,779 or the 20- by 28-square-foot Yukon at $17,779 without delivery.

SBS also offers a stick-frame package that comes with everything--including appliances and freight. Most of these homes are shipped out to Western Alaska, said SBS Rural Alaska Sales Representative Rich Barker. SBS can ship anywhere, Barker said, and most frequently it's by barge, but also by air. Prices depend on how far out the final location is and the method of shipping. For instance, a 736-square-foot, two-bedroom home with arctic entry ($54,700 and up depending on the shipping zone) to a 1,904-square-foot, two-bedroom duplex with storage areas (beginning at $119,700). There are other home sizes in between--a 928-square-foot, two-bedroom and a 1,032-square-foot three-bedroom home. The kits can be bought as just a shell or as a whole turnkey package complete with windows, doors, hardware, interior walls, cabinets, carpet, hot water heater, light fixture, paint and roofing material.


Lindal Cedar Homes, in business more than 60 years, was started by Sir Walter Lindal in Toronto, Ontario, in Canada, and moved in 1962 to Vancouver, British Columbia.

The all-cedar homes proved popular and the company later diversified into log homes.

The Alaska Lindal Cedar Homes office is off the Glenn Highway in Eagle River and operates under the name, Pepco. Operated by Scott and Kathi Peppers, this local Lindal dealership has been building custom homes, sunrooms and remodels in Alaska since 1975.

The all-cedar homes are crafted of 2-foot by 8-foot cedar or Stratus Timbers, in each system the timbers lock together for an airtight fit and can be ordered as standard or thermal packages, and with all the bells and whistles inside and out.

Many of the above kit manufacturers said they can accommodate the customer coming in with an original set of plans, but have to be architecturally sound and the plans put into a CAD form in order for the packages to be precise.


So go ahead, dream and plan and sketch it all out on a napkin, there are cabin and home kit builders all over the state that can provide manufactured kits of fair price and sound quality.
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Title Annotation:BUILDING ALASKA
Comment:Home kits can make Alaska dreams come true: affordable answers for a well-built home.(BUILDING ALASKA)
Author:Lavrakas, Dimitra
Publication:Alaska Business Monthly
Date:May 1, 2008
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