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September 11, 2012 |

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We are DIYing our moms a Duplex in Alaska! Check out our progress so far as we owner build a home, step by step. Read the Momplex blog here.

posted by Ana White

When you were growing up, did your parents every talk about someday ... maybe someday, like:

"Someday, we'll add on and you won't have to share a room ..."

"Someday, we are going to put a pool in the back yard ..."

"Someday, we are going to gut and refinish this kitchen ..."

And someday just never happened? By the time you moved out, there just wasn't time or budget or motivation to make it happen?

Well, here is the big "someday" that never happened when I was growing up.

"Someday ... we'll get electricity."

It wasn't so bad in the summers when the sun is out around the clock and we played outside anyways, but come winter, when darkness settles in in the afternoon, and not only do you not have lights, but anything else that plugs in doesn't work either ... and life was not easy. And I'm not just talking about the tv and curling iron. Things like refrigerators, well pumps and hot water heaters didn't work either.

In the winter, we froze milk jugs of water outside and put them in the refrigerator to keep cold when the generator wasn't running. The well was run about once a day when the generator was on, and us nine kids had to fight over who's turn it was to take a bath first ... poor child that ended up last! At least if you were last, the water might be not so clean ... but it was warmer. I joke about it now, time has definitely mellowed the memory.

We had a giant wind storm just the other day, and the power was out for just a few hours, and I suddenly remembered very clearly (as clear as you can with a flashlight anyway) what it was like to be without electricity. I remembered what it's like to worry about freezers melting, toilets not flushing because the well is low, and eating a not so romantic and quite cold dinner in candlelight.

That's one of the big reasons we are building the Momplex. So my mom can have electricity, and not spend the rest of her life living in a modern world, but struggling with primitive realities.

I did write about burying our utilities, but wanted to also post about how the electrical gets from the pole to inside the Momplex. Because that "someday" never happened for me growing up, and I was disappointed. But can you imagine my mom, still hoping someday?

That someday is going to happen for my mom this year.


It starts with a giant pole being dropped off on our desk, right next to our coffee and paperwork.

Now the reason my mom never got electricity is the cost. And certainly, this is not a cheap task. But there are SOME parts of this we can do ourselves, and save a little money. Getting the pole ready and running the pipes that the electrical wires will later run through is something we can do.


And this is what is to be done today.


The pole isn't just a big wood log. It's been treated and has been certified with a pole brand that it meets code requirements. And the electrical company will use that pole brand to check to make sure you buried your pole at the right depth.

We ordered the pole and had it delivered to the Momplex.


On the pole we screw on brackets.


And on that bracket comes the electrical panel. It comes as a set with breakers already put in.


And then from the panel a pipe is run upward so the electrical company can run electrical wires from their pole, to our pole, and then down into the panel and hook up the power.


Everything gets bracketed down.


And then we hired a local electrical company to put the pole in for us.


From the pole, we've trenched a ditch to the Momplex.

Now we've gone back and forth on how to bring the power inside the Momplex, and finally decided on burying it. The wind howls up there, and I have a feeling once Mom gets electricity, she's not going to like loosing it. Bonus - no unsightly wires showing!


There is no wire yet in the pipe, that will get pulled through the empty pipe later on.

The trench goes from the pole to the Momplex, and was dug by the Ram with a backhoe. Then the backhoe is used to backfill the trench.


Once inside, the pipe is run up through the walls


And into the breaker box.


And from here, power can be distributed throughout the house.

I know this is thirty years later, but today is that someday!

So tell me, do you have a someday your are planning for your home for your kids? What is keeping you from making it happen?


I started to cry reading this. What a good daughter you are!

posted by Sara B (not verified) | on Tue, 2012-09-11 12:56

This is just...

This is absolutely inspiring. Just inspiring. What a blessing you must be to your mother!

posted by Gina at CampClem (not verified) | on Tue, 2012-09-11 13:12

Love it! Love that you can do

Love it! Love that you can do this for you mom, make her "someday" today!! Crazy to think that something I take so for granted is a luxury for your mom.

posted by atb (not verified) | on Tue, 2012-09-11 13:14


Someday I am not going to be pregnant and will be able get up at a decent hour, will be able to walk without pain and not have my 10 year old do all of the "heavy lifting" for me (third trimester SUCKS!).

Someday starts Nov 16th for me :)

posted by Courtney Wilson (not verified) | on Tue, 2012-09-11 13:16

YEA for ELECTRICITY! And awesome daughters!

Oh, your lucky lucky momma! You are so awesome and such a good daughter. Plus, BONUS, your have an awesome hubby too! I can't imagine going for very long without electricity. We lived 'out' when our kids were little and sometimes we would loose it for 12-24 hours because of wind/storms and sometimes 'really?!?!' cuz it was a sunny day and everything! But sometimes those transformers go out even if the sun is shining. Your mom not ever having to worry about that anymore is amazing. Bet she is super excited!

posted by Marlene Skinner (not verified) | on Tue, 2012-09-11 13:21


Your post brought tears to my eyes. Your mother is blessed to have such a loving daughter. It's wonderful that you're able to make her life easier.

posted by araymon (not verified) | on Tue, 2012-09-11 13:22


I don't post often, but I read all the time. And, I am in awe of everything you are doing for your mother, both of your mothers.

My someday, right now, are luxury things, like renovating our basement and upgrading things in a few rooms upstairs. Thinking about not having electricity in a place like Alaska is humbling in comparison.

Thank you for sharing this with us!

posted by Sandy A. (not verified) | on Tue, 2012-09-11 13:24

Your reply echoes everything

Your reply echoes everything I'm feeling reading this post. Inspired. Humbled. Awe. Respect.

Thanks for sharing... <3

posted by Kerry S (not verified) | on Mon, 2012-09-17 07:23

Thank you...

I finally remembered to make a user account :-) I have been following this project for quite a while via my reader and wanted to comment several time, lol...In a nutshell I really wanted to say that I am in awe that you guys took on such an amazing project. I have loved following along and watching the incredible progress. However, most of all I love all of the love that has been put into it. Just amazing.

posted by SuzMadeMeDoIt | on Tue, 2012-09-11 13:27

Wow. So sweet. Our 'some

Wow. So sweet. Our 'some day' project is enclosing our porch and putting a 2nd story to it which would add another bedroom to the house. We've been here 3 years and the housing market crash just has kept us from being able to do it. We currently have 3 boys in 1 bedroom, ages 13,11,10; and an almost 8y/o girl and her 2y/o brother in another.

We moved into an 1890s farm house that had a TON of remodel work that needed to be done. We live in Pa and there wasn't even any heat upstairs in the bedrooms; but the upstairs was never used by great great grandmom; however, it would be needed to transform a house for 1 into a house for a then family of 6.

I only wish I was as handy and had the time as we could have had much done less expensively AND probably would have our porch enclosed and not have to be using our kitchen as an eat in kitchen and laundry area for a family of 7. I came to the realization that we bought this saying we'd get it done, and 3 yrs later it's not. And 5 yrs from now my oldest will be graduating high school; a year after that his brother; 2 yrs after that my 3rd son and by that time....we just MIGHT have it done but we won't have the need/want for the other bedroom as we just might be down to just our 2 youngest at home.

posted by HeatherL (not verified) | on Tue, 2012-09-11 13:33
brookifer86's picture

Power Poles

I'm glad your electricity project is running smoothly! We've been working with the power company for about three months now, getting easements and cutting down trees and moving rocks. Electricity is no joke! I'm glad your moms will always have reliable power :)

posted by brookifer86 | on Tue, 2012-09-11 15:43

All I can say is wow!

All my someday projects pale in comparison to yours! So glad someday is coming soon for your mom!

posted by Carra (not verified) | on Tue, 2012-09-11 16:56


Wow, what an inspiring post! I teared up reading this today. There are so many people who have experienced their "someday" because of your generosity and talent. What a wonderful achievement! Here's to achieving our "somedays"!

posted by JoanneS | on Tue, 2012-09-11 19:18
Guerrina's picture

Such A Blessing

Ana, you and Ram are such blessings to all of us who are following you on this journey. The thought of your Mom's face when she moves in brings tears to my eyes. I had utilities, but when Habitat for Humanity handed me the keys to a house...a home for my son and I after living for many years in sub-standard apartments, it was overwhelming to say the least and gratitude continues to well up and overflow in my heart. It was a "someday" that wasn't even on my radar!

LOL...my new "someday" is to have a job that will allow me to pay for my heating fuel without worry or robbing Peter to pay Paul. There is no assistance for a single adult with no dependents and higher paying jobs are scarce for everyone much less someone closer to 60! Somehow that "someday" will happen though. I have faith.



posted by Guerrina | on Tue, 2012-09-11 19:32

Very inspiring post! You have

Very inspiring post! You have a lucky mom!

I was left wondering.... How do you get the wire through that really, really long pole that twists and turns? Do you have some sort of neat gadget that pulls it through?

posted by Mari M (not verified) | on Wed, 2012-09-12 06:46

You are amazing! I wish I

You are amazing! I wish I could do the things you do, for my mother. I just wish I could Do the things you do!
My Someday, unfortunately, consists of leaving our beautiful home in the small town with Bad schools and moving to a smaller, older, possibly junkier place in the Great school district. Hopefully in the next 3 years. The sacrifices we make for our children.

posted by AngO (not verified) | on Wed, 2012-09-12 08:12

My someday

My someday is buying a house with land...be able to walk out of my house and not see or hear any neighbors.

posted by Jessica J. (not verified) | on Wed, 2012-09-12 11:51
Ana White's picture

Hi everyone! Thank you so

Hi everyone! Thank you so much for the kindness and inspiring comments. I know we'd all love to be able to give our mom's a new home, and we are so thankful to have an opportunity to, and to share it with you!

We've been at this for over a year now, and sometimes we ourselves get caught up in the details and can loose sight of what this is really about - getting our Mom's a maintenance free, modern home that they can enjoy for the rest of their lives, and your comments really inspire us to think about that, instead of the details to keep us going. We appreciate each and everyone reading and keeping us going, here's hoping Mom get's moved in in the next couple of months!


posted by Ana White | on Wed, 2012-09-12 12:00


I'm curious about any back-up systems you have (or will have) in place for your heating and electricity up there. I know it's no fun when our power goes out in the middle of winter and inside the house gets down in the 40's or less. I can only imagine the scenario in Alaska. Do you plan to have a back-up generator for the momplex? Is that something that is somewhat of a standard there?

Thank you for being so inspiring and working so hard to build and document at the same time. I'm anxiously waiting to see the momplex done!

posted by Shelbee (not verified) | on Wed, 2012-09-12 18:49


I was thinking the same thing - back-up generator, tho that would be a pretty penny to layout for that. Maybe "someday"?

Definitely a good idea to go underground with the utilities. I've worked on some U/G projects and the general understanding is that it appreciates property value by about 10%.

At this point, someday we'll own a house again, tho we'd really like to build our own and use rice bales or something like that.

posted by Dagger108 (not verified) | on Thu, 2012-09-13 02:49

ana, i always love it when

ana, i always love it when you post something that describes a step by step process. this took it all the way back. what a good daughter you are, and how wonderful to think that your mother will be living in a place of comfort, heat, light and a freezer. that makes me fell pretty good.

posted by purejuice | on Thu, 2012-09-13 20:11

power poles

Hi, Ana. I love your website and have been following it faithfully for a long time. In the most recent post of the power poles I couldn't help but notice that there are going to be four, 90 degree bends in the PVC conduit running from the panel to where it exits the house. That could possibly be a very difficult wire pull. I only say this as an experienced electrician. I'm sure that the wire will go through, it'll just be tough and I just didn't want you guys to struggle. If you were to turn the LB to the left so you eliminate that first 90, the pull will be a lot easier. Just thought that I would throw that out there to try and help you guys out....Keep up the awesome work!!!

posted by B Looyenga (not verified) | on Fri, 2012-09-14 05:57

I'm with everyone else, all I

I'm with everyone else, all I could think was "wow" that your mom has lived all of these years without constant electricity and I am so glad and inspired that you're going to be able to give her that "someday". I'm sure both of your moms are insanely impressed and greatful for the wonderful children they raised (and for the rest of the family that has been helping as well).

We have some small things we want to do around the house, but not too much. We have been blessed to grow up comfortably (with modest parents in modest homes, but they were happy and we never went without a need and our parents helped to show us the difference between wants and needs and how to live within our means). My "someday" is a time when I can stop and say to myself "I've done as well with my children as my parents did with me". I want to get to a point where I can keep the house clean and orderly, create a savings for the future while still giving my kids what they need, and raise my children well. I'm currently 5 months pregnant with our first, and trying to prepare our home for our little girl's arrival (including a changing table from your plans using mostly leftovers from our farmhouse bed!) and trying to figure out how to make that "someday" come true.

posted by Kate (not verified) | on Fri, 2012-09-14 14:07


I am out of power for three days and I go crazy! I can not imagine....I really can't

You all are so much tougher than me :)

posted by Christina @ Homemade Ocean (not verified) | on Tue, 2012-09-18 12:21
birdsandsoap's picture

brings back so many memories

brings back so many memories reading about your build.

posted by birdsandsoap | on Tue, 2012-09-18 18:04

God Bless You

I know what its like to forever hope for "Someday" and just this last summer I was able to give my Momma one of her "Somedays" and it was everything I hoped that it would be so I am delighted that you are able to do this for your Mom. Good job. Its worth everything it costs.

posted by Ami (not verified) | on Tue, 2012-09-25 20:57

This post has helped me to

This post has helped me to have another perspective. I am researching this topic for a paper I am writing. Your article provided me great insight of my topic.
booking information

posted by dxwersling | on Sat, 2013-02-09 06:13

Building your own house

I am certified in constructions but I never thought that building your own house it will be such a difficult task.The construction itself is not so complicated but you have to invest a lot of money in order to build it.

posted by Ranina | on Sat, 2013-02-16 04:40

So Sweet

I started back at the very first Momplex post last night and have been reading in amazement at how much work you are putting into this wonderful house for your mothers! I got this far and had to make an account to comment and tell you that this post made me cry - such great children you are to do something like this for your parents. Tearing up at the 'someday' happening for your mommas... so sweet!

posted by sahd721 | on Tue, 2013-02-19 14:32

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