When Brent Johnson began building his home in 1975, he relied heavily on trial and error.
In the first year, all he could get done was the basement, so he and his wife spent the winter in the small space underneath a flat roof.
"That was an error," Johnson said with a chuckle.
As he expanded the house, he put on a new roof of shingles. But, because of the way it was constructed, a big warm spell produced much unwanted condensation.
So in 1985, he replaced the roof with the current one made of galvanized tin.
"You build something, and if it doesn't work you do it a different way," Johnson said of his strategy.
Now, he's looking to replace the roof again.
"I think it's ugly," Johnson said. And the shape of the grooves traps snow and ice in the winter.
This time, Johnson isn't going to make a hasty decision.
"Life's too short to do everything by trial and error," Johnson said. "That's a stupid way to do everything."
Johnson is running unopposed for Kasilof's Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly seat, and he says he'll approach decisions on the assembly much like he's approaching his plans for refurbishing his roof.
"I'm someone that gathers information and I want to hear all ideas and all sides and weigh it on merit," Johnson said.
Johnson's considering several options for his roof. He could go back to shingles because at least with shingles, the ice won't cake on the roof. He could use differently shaped tin that will allow ice to slide off instead of stay trapped. He's also thinking about running some tubing underneath whatever roof he eventually erects. The tubing would allow him to heat the roof and melt whatever wintry mix attempts to collect atop his home.
"I don't know which thing I'm going to do," Johnson said. He and his wife need more time to deliberate.
Johnson sees debate on the assembly as a way to round out views on particular issues.
"Discussion helps me shape my thinking," Johnson said. "Once you draw a line in the sand, you might get some new information and that could end up being pretty embarrassing."
Johnson constantly has a new project. If it's not replacing the roof, it's draining the beach cabin. If it's not draining the beach cabin, it's welding aluminum boats for his commercial fishing business. If it's not welding boats, it's excavating a restraining wall so that he can expand the house to possibly build an apartment onto one end of his home.
How does he manage it all?
"I just work as hard as I can," Johnson said.
On the assembly, Johnson does not plan to introduce a lot of legislation immediately but will instead "hang back a little."
"I'm not running for the assembly because I have some certain things I want to fix," Johnson said.
If only he could say the same thing about his house, he might be a little less busy.
"If we don't get it done then there's always next year," he said, looking into a basement storage space in his house that he's hoping to add an entryway to. "And if I die, I'll die with a lot of projects yet to do."
Andrew Waite can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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