Saturday, July 31, 2010

Progress on the shed front

The shed-hunting has turned into a family affair on Aspö. Ann brought over a magazine with a number of possibilities. A new company they found was Jadestugan, but it appears they make the same type of 'plywood' sheds of which Janne disapproves.

He and Margaret spotted a potential alternative close to home, however. A new house is going up on the path near their (and Ann& Dave's) home, and a little stuga was built there a few years back as an initial building. It appears to be a step up from the thin sheds I've been looking at, and it also has the same slanted-roof profile of my X-Houses.

Janne talked to his neighbor and found they were made by yet another prefab provider, Caboden. I checked their website and saw the "Mini Funkis" range, which does indeed look like my X-Houses. As best as I can tell, they have a 6m² model for around 18,000kr, which is double the cost of the cheaper sheds, but half the cost of a full X-House. I take that as good news, as it's likely to be much more sturdy, yet it's still (probably) within my budget. This might be just what we were looking for!

I have sent an email to the company asking if I could talk to someone in English and I'll report back when I (if?) hear from them.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The x-house shed

I had posted previously about asking Stefan for a quote for an X-House shed, which came in at 39,000kr. I asked him it it was possible to do anything different to help reduce the cost. He replied yesterday with what I thought to be a very useful and detailed reply, which I thought I'd share. (NB: I removed prices because that might be commercially sensitive information):

Hello Don,

I agree with you, to build a small house like this shed could be built more cost efficiently.

You cannot compare our building method in solid wood with a simple shed made of thin panel, it is a different way to do it. We don't sell any small houses, our bulding method is most cost efficient in larger houses.

For this small shed I quoted you for example we have one entrance door which have a cost price for us to buy [removed] SEK incl VAT. I have calculated 200 screws, cost price for us to buy [removed] SEK and all other material. I have calculated the offer for you with a very small margin. If we make it in a thinner wall dimension the price will reduce a little bit, but still it is impossible to compete with a shed made on site from thin panel.

For example I have my own shed in Täby from Coop Forum instead of glulam like the X-House. It is impossible to make it in glulam quality like other X-House in the price level they offer at for example: Coop, Bauhaus, K-Rauta etc. Remember that the quality is not the same, but for a simple shed you don’t need more quality maybe.

Regards Stefan

I have always been impressed with Stefan's responsiveness and detail over the past three years. This email is just another example of his patient dealing with a pushy American customer!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A shed-load of sheds

This one's called "Tim" by Polhus, a Swedish company who make a wide range of sheds and cabins. It is a bit more robust, with 28mm walls compared to the 16mm of the Lillevilla. The size is right, at 6.2 square meters. It's pricier, however, about 10,000 kronor.

JABO is a big pan-European shed manufacturer (which is a phrase I never thought I'd use in a sentence.) They have a nice 4.6 sq. m. shed at a good price, but again, the walls are pretty thin, only 20mm.

Janne shares my concern about these thin-walled sheds (he calls them 'plywood' sheds.) He suggested I ask X-House, and in fact, I had. Stefan gave me a quote for a custom shed, built in the same manner as my other two houses. However, their quote was 39,000kr, which is quite a lot when I've been looking at sheds between 5 and 10 thousand.

I replied to Stefan asking if there was a way to lower the specifications and price of their shed. I also dropped Wille a line to see if he had any ideas or recommendations. Even with price concerns, though, I don't want to put up something cheap and nasty. It would be better to have something solid like my X-Houses.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Our Dock

All of the homes on Aspö have access to a dock. The waterfront homes all have their own, of course. Those of us inland use a different arrangement. A master plan for the island assigns properties into groups of communal dock areas. Those property holders agree to jointly share the cost of building and maintaining a dock, and in exchange, everyone has their own space for mooring their boat.

The group of properties to which our house belongs have been mostly vacant, so there’s no communal dock for our house right now. But that appears to be changing shortly, as Margaret and Janne were brought papers regarding a meeting on August 1 about a dock for our area. Janne has volunteered to attend on our behalf to discuss either building a new dock, or extending an existing one to provide access for all. When this is decided, I’ll pay my portion of the construction and then the yearly upkeep. Since we’ll be sharing it among many families, our costs should be pretty small. The new dock will be to the south, a short walk downhill from our house.

I’ll report back after Janne attends the meeting.

UPDATE: The photo is of the dock on the northern end of the island shared by Marg & Janne and Ann & Dave, among others. Unusually for Aspö, this one wasn't built by Janne. And I should point out the beautiful sailboat is for sale, should any readers be interested.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The first shed candidate

This one's from Bauhaus, the European home improvement chain (not the German art school). They have a store near Marcia & Rutger, so we've made many, many visits there over the years.

Bauhaus sells a wide range of little cabins and sheds. This model is appropriately called Lillevilla. It has a couple of things going for it. First, it's about the exact size I had envisioned, 1.8 by 2.4 meters, giving a bit over 4 square meters of interior space. Secondly, the price is right, it's fairly cheap at 4995 kronor.

The biggest downside is that it's pretty flimsy. The walls are only 16mm thick. (That's a bit over ½ an inch.) As Rutger puts it, you can't really hang much on the inside, a nail would go right through. I also worry that exposed life on the island will be pretty tough on such a thin structure. (For comparison, the walls on the little house are 66mm, and the big house, 140mm.)

I think we'll have to go a little bit bigger, or sturdier at least. Fortunately, there are a lot of options out there, and we'll look at another in the next episode of "The Shedhunter"!

UPDATE: I thought I had read that the walls on the Lunar Module were very thin, and I was right, much of it was less than a ¼ inch thick. (It is ironic that I spent time today, of all days, looking at Apollo info on the web!) Unfortunately, in my research, I came across many "moon landing is a hoax" websites, which really annoyed me. Idiots.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blog visitors

I don't have an agenda for keeping this blog other than as a bit of entertainment for myself and my friends and family. I have had a few charming people find my blog and leave comments, but I always thought it was seen by a very small group.

Just for fun today, I looked at the analytical information on the blog, and I have to say I was amazed by the numbers. In just the past 6 weeks, there have been 1,769 visitors, and 789 of them have been new viewers. Who knew?

A dizzying array of information is available about these visitors. As you might expect, most are from the US, UK, or Sweden. However, readers from 50 other countries took a look these past weeks. I appear to have a regular reader in Santiago, so hola, whomever you are. I'd love to visit your country some day.

Reaching back to this blog's beginning, the single most popular subject has been the Cinderella toilet. It looks like people searching (in English) for information on incinerating toilets find my blog from the main Google search page. The second most popular search term is "Marcia Rutger", which I find intriguing.

There are some disappointing stats, however. Most new visitors spend less than a minute on the site, so I don't appear to be enrapturing my audience. And 56% of my visitors use Windows on their computer, which is 56% too many in my opinion. But there are 9 iPad users who've stopped by, so a shout-out to all of you!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Heat!

It's been a scorcher in Europe the past week. Here in London, we've been sleeping with just a sheet and a fan (and Ollie has opted for the kitchen tile overnight).

The heat is even worse on the continent. Marcia & Rutger are in Munich and it's 36°C (95°F) there in a hotel with no A/C!

Margaret reported the same temperature in St. Eriksplan yesterday, although I've just heard from her on Aspö that it's cooler there today, but still warm enough for her to brave the waters off their dock. (My Stavsnäs webcam guy reported 30°C (86°F) as his high temperature.) The Local is also reporting many temperature records this weekend.

Suffice it to say we're not built for those kinds of temperatures over here, although 95°F would be a relatively cool July day back in Dallas!

A Shed

Sheds have a special place in UK culture. They are typically used as a refuge by henpecked husbands, a little bit of manly space in a country that doesn't have much room to spare.

In our case, however, it's not me who is pushing for a shed on our property, it's Sooz. She is anxious to clear the tools and storage out of our little house so she can make it into a proper guest stuga. Her long-term plans involve painting, a little sink, more furniture of course, and although she hasn't said so directly, probably lots of nice Swedish fabrics. But for her to do her remodeling, my stuff has to go. Hence the shed.

I've been doing lots of looking and found a number of alternatives. First, of course, was to decide how big a shed needs to be and where it should go. I measured a few things and I think something about 5 square meters would do the trick. I laid out a space between the two houses about 2 by 2½ meters which fits the area nicely.

Next of course, is what kind of shed. There are many variations available in the size I want. The key question, then, is: hay, sticks, or brick??? Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Day in the Life

I made a time lapse movie of the house on Sunday, June 20. The camera ran from about 7:30 in the morning until 11PM. It's on You Tube now (in HD!), and I think it's a pretty funny snapshot of a typical day from our holiday.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

We couldn't wait to get back...

...and so Sooz and I found a decent price on air tickets for a 4-day weekend, August 14-17. We're going to attend the Wilhelmi's annual barbecue on Saturday, so we'll end up with about 2½ days 'on-island', so to speak.

I want to apply the fungus solution on the front of the house, and also another coat of stain on the deck, weather permitting. But that won't take too long to do, so maybe I'll get somewhere with that 'relaxing' thing I've been meaning to try!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Safely home in London! evidenced by the photo, we're right back into our routine.

Ollie was glad to see us and he seems just fine. It obviously hasn't rained the UK while we were away but otherwise all is well. Now back to real life.

In the Arlanda departure lounge

It's about 3PM on yet another beautiful day (apparently it's raining in London. Ugh.)

Sooz and Grant just left on SAS and I'm a half-hour behind on BA as I cashed in a mileage ticket. Rutger and I went to Bauhaus this morning and showed photos of our splotched front of house to their paint expert. He diagnosed fungus, and we bought a solution to treat the wood. We will have to do that anyways even if we want to paint later, and who knows, that might clear up the spots and make painting unnecessary.

I plan to apply the stuff this August when we hope to come back for a 3-4 day trip. Then we can let it take effect over the next few months. I also got a roller blind at IKEA for the window over the couch.

The bus ride from Stavsnäs yesterday was a bear. Hot, slow, and crowded. I am coming in line with Margaret's dislike for that ride. She takes the longer (but more civilised) Saltsjöbaden boat whenever she can.

Anyways, we'll be in home sweet home soon. We will pick up Ollie on our way from the airport so I'll make one last post of that to close out our holiday.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Aboard the m/s Skärgården

And it's yet another beautiful day. Darn it is hard to go.

Janne gave us a lift from Tony's dock on his boat so we didn't have to haul our stuff overland to the big Waxholms dock. We closed up the house only partially as we plan to be back for at least a couple of days in August.

We'll be off to Marcia & Rutger's for an evening in 'civilisation' and then we're back to London- and our Ollie!- tomorrow afternoon. Lots of stuff to write about in the upcoming days, so stay tuned.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Oh noooooo....

Today's our last day here. Damn. And of course it's clear and beautiful yet again.

To catch up the past couple of days: On Wednesday afternoon, Patrick (Annica's son) took Grant out for an inner-tube ride on his boat and he ended up towing Grant over to Marg & Janne's dock, where we met him with dry clothes. We had a great meal there on a beautiful evening.

Yesterday started out cloudy and a teeny bit cold. Grant went straight to Dave's to complete his painting work and Sooz and I joined Marg on the dock to see her off back to Stockholm.

It cleared up later in the day and Sooz and I puttered around, we discussed extending the deck in front of the house. It's a bit too narrow after we set our dining table and we seem to be edging around a lot. Even an extra 60 or 70 cm would make a difference. I emailed Stefan at X-House and he replied with a couple of photos of another X-House that had a wide stepped deck down to the ground:

We'd like to do something like this but we have more constraints. We like the way the house sets on the rock below, and my favorite part is the cantilevered corner of the deck. I fear filling that space with steps might mess up the house's setting. And we have our favourite pine tree close by, so extending the deck too much would put us right into its branches. On the other hand, having a bigger deck would make moving around much easier and probably safer, too.

Janne came by for dinner and we talked about things we could do; Stefan also gave me some detailed information, so today I'm going to do some measuring and thinking.

Stefan also sent me a link to photos of their new model X-House going up near Arlanda, and I have to say it looks very cool.

Lastly, I talked to Wille to say hi. He's busy as usual up in Leksand, and he is planning to go north "into the mountains" to put up another X-House in September. He'll have to work fast so he doesn't freeze! And in other good news, his son, Eddie, has a contract with the Vancouver Canucks. He leaves this weekend to start with their developmental team, the Manitoba Moose. I'll have to get myself a moose T-Shirt to wear out on the island!