Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Swedish loans

Ulrika from Nordea bank sent me an email about my loan question. She's sending an application form to us, and seems positive about our prospects.

I don't yet know the terms, or even how much I would plan to borrow, but it is a good start. I think having a loan in kronor would be helpful in terms of cash flow and protection from currency exchange swings.

The psychology of having a "holiday home"

I was traveling for work last week, and feeling a bit stressed, I sent Sooz a text: "I really want to be back on Aspö".

It was more than a little whine- at the time I wrote that SMS, I didn't just want to be away from my job. I really wanted specifically to be at our little house, not to be away, but to be there. That subtlety didn't come across in my little message, at least I didn't think so.

This weekend, Sooz said to me, pretty much out of the blue, "I know what you mean. I want to be on Aspö, too". She had been thinking the same way, and received the meaning of my message after all, which was nice.

It got me thinking. We're still in the honeymoon period of our little house; we've had the excitement of building and furnishing it, and it's been pretty much a non-stop party once we moved in.

After we're there next month, though, we don't have any firm plans to go back until April. It seems odd to me to leave it empty for 5 months, but it also seems wrong to go to the trouble of visiting just to visit (especially in the winter).

Also, the money we'll be spending on the house going forward won't be as exciting. Paying for insurance, taxes, electricity, etc., isn't nearly as much fun as designing kitchens or researching types of tarpaper (which was fun for me, at least).

So- what's going to happen in the upcoming months? Will the "holiday home honeymoon" be over quickly? Will it be a case of "out of sight, out of mind"? Will I start to resent sending money away to Sweden when I'll have college tuition to pay for?

I posted before about making the transition from a "building" blog to a "living" one. These are the kinds of questions I plan to blog about during the winter months.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Swedish helicopters

Margaret sent me a news article about a daring robbery in Stockholm involving a stolen helicopter. (I checked, and it wasn't the same chopper we hired to move our house last year. Phew.)

Marg pointed out her favourite quote: "Swedish police couldn't pursue the thieves because a bag marked 'bomb' had been placed outside the police heliport, and officers had to deal with the bag before they could enter."

That seems like a scene from a Roadrunner cartoon to me!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

We've settled on the roof

I spoke to Jesper this morning and Janne this evening. As per my previous post, we're going to do a metal roof. Janne will order the roof panels, I'll carry them up to the house when we're there in October, and Jesper will come and do the installation later in the month.

Jesper will need a few pieces of wood trim and other accessories. He'll send me an email with all of his requirements, and Janne will place the whole order to be sent to the midsummer dock.

If all goes well, I'll have a metal roof by Halloween, at a cost near my original budget of 25,000kr.

There once was a man from Nantucket

...who contracted a nasty tick-borne illness from the island's deer.

The New York times has an interesting article on the problem. There are parallels with life on Aspö, although our island is much smaller and less developed.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Roof finances

I talked to Anders and he thought a paper roof would be a little bit less than a metal one- but still close to 70,000 kronor.

Janne and I talked tonight and he still fells that's too much. He said he could order metal roofing and have it delivered to the midsummer dock for about 13-14,000kr. If I could get the metal roof panels schlepped up to the house (perhaps by doing it myself in October), all I'd need to do is pay for a day or two's labor (at 350-400kr an hour), making the total cost–for a metal roof–around 20,000 kronor.

I like the idea of moving the roofing material myself; it keeps me involved and saves me money too. I left Jesper a message tonight to see if he'd be willing and able to do a metal roof if I provided and delivered the material, and if so, how much.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


...is a Swedish word that translates literally as "window color". But practically, it's a type of non-transparent stain that is used mostly on window frames and doors, hence its name.

When we visit in October, we're going to stain the doors and window frames with an opaque stain, because the jarn vitrol has, despite our best efforts, made a number of indelible streaks on our nice pine doors.

The question then, what color? Red is typical for Swedish homes, but we really don't have much red in the colors of our house. I prefer blue; after all, we want to name our house "blue moon", and the house is blue-grey already. And Sooz is thinking about green, which does fit in well with our environment. The colour swatches are from a US website, but they're representative of what we're thinking about.

To close, dear readers, I seek your input in the comments. Feel free to write in with your colorful thoughts.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More roof info

Jesper sent me a message today with the details of the product he proposes to use: the Mataki Självtäck 5000 (which sounds like a Japanese robot to me).

Självtäck translates as "self cover"; it's designed to be easy to roll out and glue together. The '5000' version is much thicker and is designed to be used on roofs like ours with a shallow pitch.

I'm waiting to hear Anders' new price for a paper roof, and I want to talk to Janne, too, before I decide. But the clock is ticking; the roof really needs to be done within the next 6 weeks.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Back to the Roof

I spoke to Anders this morning. He thinks a tarpaper roof is a perfectly fine choice, and has installed them on houses in the islands before. He mentioned Icopal as a good roof provider; here's a link to a brochure (in Swedish, but with lots of photos).

A takpapp roof will cost less than metal, but the key is how much less. Anders is going to check and get back to me on a renewed price.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thank You For the Music

We're off to Hyde Park this afternoon to see Benny and Björn and a cast of singers performing ABBA's hits.

I was already pretty jazzed about going until I found out that Kylie Minogue will be singing "Super Trouper". Wow. It hardly gets better than that!

UPDATE: After re-reading this post, I wonder if it makes me come across as a bit camp. Readers? Your opinion please?

UPDATE 2: A great concert, enjoyed with my sweetie and 35,000 of my friends. Kylie was, of course, the highlight. Her version of "When All Is Said and Done," accompanied by Benny on his piano, was superb.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fritz De Quervain

...was a Swiss doctor, who in 1904, first reported a thyroid condition which eventually took his name. Sooz was disgnosed with it yesterday after a number of tests.

The good news is that it's relatively benign, as thyroid ailments go. It should, over time, heal itself, so there will be no need for surgery or medication. In fact, she's felt pretty good the past few days.

One wrinkle is that Sooz was found to have a little nodule growing on her thyroid, which doesn't have anything to do with the de Quervain's. It's possible it has been there for a long time, but her doctor has ordered a follow-up test, to check it out more thoroughly.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Letter from Ann-Catrin

A signed note from Ann-Catrin arrived today, and I'm sending it, along with our original land purchase contract, back to Lantmäteriet for another go.

I wrote a cover letter in Swedish. I tried to keep it simple, but let's hope not too simple. I don't want the authorities to think a 6 year-old is trying to register a land purchase!

Roofing costs, Part III

I spoke last night to Jesper, a friend of Wille's who runs a Stockholm-based construction business. He was out with Wille when they came in June for the final finishing-up, so he's seen our house.

We spoke about my roofing needs and he felt strongly that roofing paper was the way to go. He called me with a quote for the job:
  • 18,000kr for the material plus transport costs. This is 125 square meters of high-quality roofing paper, which should last 20 years, plus all of the trim, metal edging, glue, etc.
  • 20,000 to 26,000 for the labor, which is 3 guys for two days, with about a half-day allocated to schlepping the big rolls of stuff. I dearly wish Grant and I could come out and provide the labor to move all the rolls, but that's the cost of being a non-resident homeowner.
So we're talking 36-44,000 kronor, which is more than I had budgeted, but is still a third less than Anders and Tommy's quote.

In fairness, their price was for a metal roof, so I really need to talk to them before I make a final decision.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A potential loan

Margaret was at Nordea last week and asked her banker (who's our banker, too) about the possibility of our taking out a small loan.

The initial response was positive, although I expect a complication or two as we aren't Swedish residents. But if I could borrow just 5% of the value of the house, that would simplify the household finances quite a lot.

I hope to follow up on this when we're there in October.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Roofing Costs, Part 2

When Anders and Tommy were over in July, I talked to them about doing our roof in corrugated metal.

I received an email from them a week ago and they gave me a price of 75,000kr. This is nearly three times what I had planned! I haven't yet spoken to them for details but obviously I can't proceed at that price.

I have talked to another builder, though, and have a potentially different solution. Currently, the roof is covered with two layers of tarpaper. It's pretty lightweight stuff, but there are much more robust versions of roof paper (in Swedish, takpapp). The high-quality versions have a 20 year guarantee.

I found a good website of a provider which shows takpapp in detail. (It's in Swedish but has lots of photos). It's a little specialised in that seams need to be glued using a heat source, but if done properly, it's solid and long-lasting. It's even approved for a 14º roof pitch like ours.

Another advantage of the paper is that it can be transported in rolls, and is overall simpler to move and handle than corrugated sheets. As I've posted before, being on an island makes transportation a significant part of any building decision.

So, you ask, how much for a takpapp roof? I should have a formal quote in a couple of days.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Swedish bureaucracy

This is an interesting twist. When I came home tonight, I found the postman had delivered a thick envelope from our friends at Lantmäteriet.

Inside were all the papers I sent them as part of my application, each dutifully stamped and initialed in an official manner, plus a big detailed printout called a inskrivningsdagbok, which I translated as "enrollment diary".

It appears to me that everything has been officially approved and recorded, despite our rejection letter of earlier in the week.

I've sent scans of the inskrivningsdagbok to Tony and Rutger for their opinion. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: I talked to Rutger and my optimism was misplaced; our application is still "avslag", or rejected. We still need to submit a note from Ann-Catrin, which is on its way to me.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Reply to Lantmäteriet

I talked to Tony and it appears the people at the Lantmäteriet need a short statement from Ann-Catrin regarding the land sale. She will send me a letter with her approval and I'll send all the paperwork back.

As Janne said, "at least we have a dialog with the authorities," so I'm relaxed that it will all be sorted out.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

We've received a letter today...

... from the Lantmäteriet about the registration of our land (as I had posted previously).

Unfortunately, it's been rejected. Sooz has translated the letter, and it appears there's a problem with the purchase contract. I don't believe there's anything significant, however.

I'll send a copy of the letter to Tony tonight so we can determine what to do next.