Monday, February 4, 2008

Mountain Living w/ Snow

Buying a home in a rural area often means elevations, compared to city life at sea level. In California higher altitude can mean snowy winters - above 4000'. Freeways get closed, roads are nearly impassable & getting your car outta the drive way can be an all morning chore if the snow is deep. Commuters could have a hard time with this task, especially when the M-F 9-5 schedule requires you to be there. Best choice is to work from home, online, remotely.

When purchasing a mountain home keep these considerations in the forefront.

How far do you need to drive? How often? The closer you are to the main road or highway, the easier it will be to escape. County roads are maintained by snow plows on a regular basis, so while you might hear some traffic, you will be able to access the real world without problems of just getting outta your neighborhood. The further tucked back you are, the more seclusion & privacy, but the more likely you will get buried during a good snow season.

Choose a lot with minimal trees on it. Not only will wildfire danger be greatly reduced, but sunshine can reach you easily & warm your home.

Look for a home with a garage. Storing your vehicle out of the elements will help prolong the paint job & the tires. Plus it is easier to get in & outta your home & to your vehicle. Auto repairs can be brutal outside in winter. With a garage you have a safe place to work.

Buy a place on the "sunny side" of the hill. Annual sun patterns puts the ultimate melter low in the southern sky during winter months, December-March. If your mountain cabin faces south, you receive the benefits of the sun. These pluses include melting the snow faster, eliminating the ice, warming the house, easier gardens & growing.

Gravel driveways have grip, even in the winter months, but mud can be a factor. Cement or paved driveways are easier to plow or shovel, but can get iced over easily. Heating elements built inside the cement can run you a small fortune. Steep entrances should be avoided. Circular driveways are preferred, as you'll have multiple access roads to your property - for firewood deliveries & grocery unloading.

Wood burning is by far the most efficient way to heat a rural home & they do not require any electricity. Collect the free kindling & firewood in the forests during warmer months & buy hard wood to create a mix of wood types for best results. Propane or natural gas can get very expensive - especially with an older forced air heating unit. Electric heaters can rack up the bill as well. Pellet stoves require electricity to run, so if the power fails & you are living "primitive" style, then you have no source of heat - which is crucial in winter @ 10 degrees.