Challenges of building in Western Alaska
AVCP Regional Housing Authority service area contains 56 federally recognized tribes, is home to 23,000 residents and encompasses 54,000 square miles about the size of Illinois. The majority of residents rely on commercial fishing and subsistence hunting to live.
Construction season is planned for July thru end of September to get homes shelled-in or completed and this must coincide with barge companies shipping schedules from Seattle who deliver materials to remote locations.
In some cases, when the main barge arrives materials must be off loaded or “lightered down” to smaller barges to traverse the smaller rivers and rivulets to a village. The winters are harsh, demanding and unforgiving. If materials are wrong, missing, lost or stolen it will affect efficiency and cost – good planning is essential.
Materials and Methods:
Foundation systems are either post and pad or steel pipe piling. Walls are 8” prestressed foam core panels placed on a wood deck with prefabricated trusses spanning the width. Finish materials are metal siding and metal roofing. Heating systems in the smaller homes is Toyostove, windows are triple pane, and insulation value for entire building envelope yields an R50.
The average cost of construction for residential Bush construction is $200/sf single story moderate design.
The components of cost are: site control, civil engineering; foundation preparation; foundation installation; construction materials and freight charges; mobilization to site; construction of the homes – wages; per diem; transportation of personnel to remote villages; equipment rental; housing rentals for crews; fuel; demobilization and 1 year warranty period. These elements of cost are multiplied by: difficulty to site, terrain; weather; infrastructure requirements and available construction crews. Land is usually donated by long term lease from the tribes and is not a cost factor.