Shangri La

Shangri La

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


In the corporate world, if you have to estimate something but really have no idea, you put a figure on paper and let everyone know that it’s a ‘SWAG’. That is, a ‘Silly, Wild-Assed Guess’. In cobbling together an estimated budget for The Dream, I did the same thing in a couple of areas – one of them being getting power to the cabin. $500 should cover it, I thought; $750 at the most.


Discussions with the good folks at Central Vermont Public Service Corp (and they really were a pleasure to talk with) yielded a revised figure of about $35/foot. The good news is that I’ve got that power company right-of-way on the property; the bad news is that I’ve still got about 110 feet from the closest pole to the cabin site. Anyone? Anyone? That’s right: $3,500 – almost 5 times what I anticipated.


The way I see it, my other option is a generator for construction – $750 to $1,500 – followed by solar power for the well pump and house for as little as $750 - $2,000. The solar-powered well pump is low-flow, however, and will require a holding tank at a higher elevation than the house, so the overall cost is likely to exceed the CVSC hookup fee. To be fair, I suppose we could also go with hand tools and a manual pump for the well, but I’m not sure we’re willing to ‘get back to the land’ quite that far.

I was told that the CVPS estimate was free, so I’ve opened a work order and hope to meet with a rep in a couple of weeks to get the ‘official rough estimate’. The excavator opined that sending the line underground would probably be about the same price once you factor in the additional pole and tree clearing that will likely be necessary. If I go with this option, CVSC suggested that I send the power through the foundation and have an electrician hook up the meter on a temporary board with some outlets rather than using a pole on the edge of the job site. This will save me about $80 as I won’t need the company to move the power line to the house later, and we all know that $80 saved is $80 earned.

Fortunately, this was the last SWAG I had in the budget. In the future, I’ll be blaming my low numbers on ‘the optimism factor’.

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