Inside An Icelandic Holiday Home
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Inside An Icelandic Holiday Home

With front row seats to a rare sight: greenery.

By J.S. Marcus
Fri, Oct 1, 2021 4:25pmGrey Clock 4 min

With its waterfalls and glaciers, Iceland offers views that are hard to beat. But Tina Dico and Helgi Jonsson managed to do just that with their new holiday home, built on a lot where the view is made even more spectacular by a rare bit of greenery.

Less than an hour’s drive from the couple’s main house in greater Reykjavik, their half-acre property above Thingvallavatn, one of Iceland’s largest lakes, has a clear sight of Skjaldbreidur, a 3,500-foot mountain formed by an extinct volcano, and, just beyond, the top of the Langjökull ice cap, Iceland’s second-largest glacier. But what sealed the deal was a number of spruce, pine and birch trees.

“When you’re used to having no trees around, which is pretty much how it is here in Iceland, this place is like walking into a green haven,” says Ms. Dico, a 43-year-old Denmark-born singer and songwriter.

Ms. Dico, who performs under the name Tina Dickow in her native country, and her husband, a 41-year-old Icelandic musician and painter, bought the property in 2013, not long after she relocated to the subarctic island. They paid US$226,800 for the property, which came with a 500-square-foot, A-frame house dating to the 1970s. Ready to take advantage of recent zoning laws allowing larger buildings, they decided to replace the structure with a 1,600-square-foot, three-bedroom home that has one full bathroom and a second-story sleeping loft. It also features a deep bathtub in the main living area that converts into a daybed. The couple share the house with their three children: Emil, 9, Jósefína, 7 and Theodór, 4.

The couple worked with KRADS, an architecture studio with partners in Reykjavik and Copenhagen, but, aided by their families, they ended up building a large part of the house themselves. The couple estimate that they saved up to US$156,400 by doing everything from applying the facade’s Siberian larch cladding to putting up their own doors.

Construction started in 2015, and the home was completed in mid-2020.

Iceland, with its rapidly decreasing glaciers and rising sea levels, is on the front lines of climate change, and there is no bigger story for the country, says Mr. Jonsson.

The Langjökull ice cap, whose peak is visible from the family living room, is getting smaller, like so many of Iceland’s glaciers. Mr. Jonsson compares it to the current state of a glacier in southeast Iceland, where he took childhood hikes. “It used to take 10 minutes to get to the edge of that glacier,” he says. “Now it takes an hour.”

Issues related to sustainability and the project’s carbon footprint were on the couple’s minds when they planned the house.

Instead of just tearing down the original A-frame, which was in still in good condition, the couple gave it away. It is now being used as a guesthouse by the father of one of their contractors, who had it lifted by crane and then transported by flatbed truck.

They also opted for an environmentally friendly sod roof, which, says their architect, KRADS founding partner Kristján Eggertsson, is more expensive to build. The packed soil, he says, “filters impurities out of the rain water before it returns to the ground.”

The house is close enough to their main home—a 5,000-square-foot four-bedroom equipped with a recording studio—for a quick day trip, but offers a radical change of scenery.

In the summer, lush moss adds to the area’s otherworldly greenness. “But it’s even more amazing in the wintertime,” says Ms. Dico, when there is more snow than in the coastal region, where they live.

The icy country roads and deep snow can make it difficult to get to, she says, but the family doesn’t hesitate to make the trip to enjoy atmospheric nesting.

When the children are older, Ms. Dico says, she plans to take advantage of their access to Skjaldbreidur—which she calls “the old volcano across the lake”—and take up cross-country skiing and winter hiking.

For now, “We do a lot of sleighing and drinking hot cocoa, while enjoying the view, the peace and the fireplace,” she says.

The couple is busy recording an album—their first since building the holiday house—and they are taking stock of how the new refuge may affect their creativity. Ms. Dico is looking forward to a double-dose of artistic stimulation. She says the drive to the house goes through a typically treeless stretch of landscape, which she likens to being on the moon, then ends at what she describes as the home’s fairy-tale setting. “It’s all just incredibly inspiring,” she says.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: September 29, 2021.



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Thousands of Australian companies on the brink of going into administration as EOFY nears

Along with high inflation and weak consumer spending, there’s another key factor pushing a record number of businesses to the edge

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More than 10,000 companies are expected to have entered external administration by the end of the 2024 financial year, a level not seen for more than a decade. Data just released by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) shows 1,245 companies became insolvent in May, the highest monthly number this financial year. At present, a total of 9,988 businesses have gone bust in FY24 with data from June yet to be finalised.

Deloitte Access Economics Partner David Rumbens said the surge in business insolvencies this year was a “clear sign of economic distress”.

He commented: “[ASIC] predicts that by the end of the financial year, the number of companies entering external administration will likely exceed 10,000 – a level not seen since 2012-13, in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).”

Mr Rumbens said the elements contributing to this year’s surge in insolvencies include high inflation and interest rates, weak consumer spending, and the commencement of more proactive tax debt collection activities by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

“One of the key factors contributing to this surge in insolvencies is the [ATO] pursuing debts that were previously put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Mr Rumbens cited ATO figures showing collectable debt rose 89 percent in the four years to June 2023. This has particularly impacted small businesses, which account for approximately 65 percent of the total debt owed at about $33 billion. “But more strictly enforced debt collection is coming at a time of tough economic conditions. High interest rates and cost-of-living pressures have weakened consumer spending, particularly in more discretionary components of spending.”

The construction sector has seen the highest number of insolvencies by far in FY24, mirroring the trend of FY23. Of the 9,988 insolvencies to date, 2,711 of them are in the building sector, which faces several challenges. These include a substantial lift in the cost of construction materials that is well above inflation and has made many fixed-price contracts signed within the past few years unprofitable. There is also a significant labour shortage that is delaying new home completions and new project starts, and also adding higher costs to projects.

“The construction sector has been hit particularly hard, with construction firms leading industry insolvencies in every quarter since mid-2021,” Mr Rumbens said. “They have accounted for approximately 25 percent of all insolvencies during this period. The residential construction sector is already facing a backlog of projects to complete as a result of skills and material shortages in recent years, and increased insolvencies in the sector may only exacerbate the problem of housing shortages.”

The ASIC data shows the next biggest industry affected is ‘other services’, which includes a broad range of personal care services such as hair, beauty, dietary, and death care services. The sector has seen 939 insolvencies in FY24. Retail trade is next with 687 insolvencies, followed by professional, scientific and technical services with 585 insolvencies.

“The food & accommodation sector has also experienced a wave of insolvencies. High input costs, worker shortages, and weak consumer sentiment have put pressure on businesses. Specifically, in March, cafés, restaurants, and takeaway businesses accounted for 5.5 percent of total business insolvencies, the highest proportion in the last three years.”

Mr Rumbens pointed out that while the number of insolvencies was high, it represents a lower share of the business sector at 0.33 percent than it did in FY13 when it was 0.53 percent. “This reflects the increase of registered companies in Australia, which has risen from just over two million to 3.3 million since 2012-13. Even so, the continued lift in insolvencies since 2021 highlights the difficult conditions many businesses face at present.”

 

 

MOST POPULAR
11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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