Choosing to build a home in Alaska

Another posting from Fairbanks homeowners Rocky Reifenstuhl and Gail Koepf.

There seems to be something about the selection process regarding those who are drawn to Alaska and settle here, that gives them the drive to design and build their own home in a place where shelter is so critical for survival.  There have certainly been failures, particularly in light of the extreme conditions, but discouraging results are part of the process here, not the end.

One can learn a lot from failure, and rising to a challenge seems part of human nature, the end result being that there is always a next time.   Fortunately there are many great resources to draw from in the circumpolar north, along with a lot of local talent in the homebuilding industry.  The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) continues to fund housing research and home owner incentives directed towards safe, durable and energy efficient home construction. The Alaska Cooperative Extension Service  (CES) has gathered much information regarding energy efficient housing that is available to the public.    The University of Alaska has multiple engineering and research departments whose work contributes to improving our understanding of building science.  The Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC) is specifically researching many aspects of residential construction particular to Alaska’s climate.  Their publications and staff can provide a lot of worthwhile information to those who are out there pounding nails. 

 Gail Koepf and Rocky Reifenstuhl, Fairbanks, Alaska homeowners, are building a new home using sustainable, energy efficient techniques. CCHRC staff are filming aspects of the construction for use in a future “Best Practices” video about homebuilding in the North. We will continue to post entries as their work progresses.