This blog post is selfish. It is more of a document for us to remind ourselves of all the cabin & yurt improvement projects we squeezed in during the summer of 2022!
The yurt certainly took priority this year in terms of where we focused our attention, between putting in the outhouse at the 11th hour before our first guest when the snow finally melted, upgrading our heat system from an inefficient—yet cozy—electric fireplace to a Toyo oil heater better suited for the shoulder seasons, creating an outdoor seating area, improving the drainage on our property (especially the outhouse path that flooded last spring), lining the driveway with rocks, and installing an overpriced and fancy water system.
The main yurt project to highlight in this post is the water system.
Did we come by the water system easily? Heck no. Did Justin have to do endless research, make countless calls, and search for parts near and far? Heck yes. Did it finally start working at the 11th hour before our first guest arrived, then need tweaking and surprise us with unanticipated hurdles? Of course, because … Alaska.
The yurt was built with a full sink, so theoretically, you can install proper plumbing. And I was pretty adamant that I wanted an easy way for guests to properly do dishes (you can only give so many directions to Airbnb guests and expect to follow the rules). However, I’ve referenced that we don’t have a “city” water line, so most folks in these parts either have a well or holding tank. We went with the latter, but on a much smaller scale. And we could NOT have done it without our Alaska expert friend with all the skills, Ric.
The big investment was the DAB ESYBOX, aka, the evil green box. On paper, it sounded great—it allowed us to combine a water pump with a pressure tank. The plumbing store sold us on it, especially because we couldn’t find an on-demand water pump that didn’t need turning off/on like in an RV (did I mention Airbnb guests can only follow so many directions?). The problem was the green box is a new concept, and the company is German. So the directions were mind-boggling, with very little troubleshooting advice. Hence the countless calls and part-searching. Happy to say we finally are singing the green box’s praises, despite its initial headaches.
The other pieces of the puzzle are a small water heater, 20-gallon holding tank and a grey water drain.
In our opinion, 20 gallons should be PLENTY of water during the 2-day rentals for dish- and hand-washing and brushing teeth (remember, there is no flush toilet or shower at the yurt). However, we (mostly Americans) are not mindful of water consumption because we don’t have to. On average in a traditional home with a washing machine, dishwasher, toilet, shower, etc., a single person uses 80-100 gallons of water per day. We try not to be judg-y, but there was this one set of guests who needed water refilling 3 times during their 2-night stay …
As for our primary home (the cabin), we’ve only accomplished little projects since the big install of our shed and well house in 2020, which bled into 2021. But little details are important!
First up, the never-ending project of clearing the property of trees to give a buffer in case of fire. The reality is if there is a nearby fire, we are probably screwed given the fact that we live within the forest. BUT, with spruce bark beetle marching its way north toward us, winter storms tearing down trees and just an overall annual cleanup, we did some more clearing and hauling trees to be woodchipped at our transfer station.
The second and bigger project was a long-overdue railing for our deck. When we purchased the cabin, we planned to immediately put up a railing on the beautiful back deck. But we kept putting it off because we really enjoyed the “infinity” look of the backyard scenery. Not having a deck railing and having a deck that stands 10+ feet off the ground was asking for trouble … so we succumbed to sacrificing some scenery. Turns out, we love the look of the deck railing, thanks to our neighbor’s incredible handiwork (the only work we did on this project was the endless staining of the deck, which seems to be necessary year after year).
We did other little things, like replacing some heat tape for the pipes from the well house to cabin, improving the well house heating, improving our winter shower situation (since we can’t drain in the winter and shower in a bucket), caulking the interior of our cabin ceiling, sealing the gutters and the endless task of re-organizing/labeling our gear shed and supplies underneath the cabin. Obviously, anyone who owns a home knows there’s a never-ending task list. We are sort of in a holding pattern of any big improvement projects for 2023, so time will tell what goals we make and achieve!