Wednesday, June 29, 2005


The concrete & foam panels are going up!

Todd lifts the triangular panel with the crane, while Mike & Bob guide it into place.

Once the panel is snug in place, the mesh edges are clipped together and the beveled edges will eventually be filled in with concrete.

My sister, visiting from California, saw the dome for the first time today and pronounced it "supremely cool".

Monday, June 27, 2005


The frame is complete. No, this isn't a duplicate of Friday's picture. Note the 4' risers all around the bottom, which give the dome its final height of 28' at the center.

Framing was a sometimes arduous process, and the frame would often threaten to wobble itself to bits up until the bottom bracing was put in place. Then, the whole thing became steady as a rock. This is the nature of the dome shape -- it exerts pressure evenly downward and out, so it will pretty much never collapse as long as the foundation ring is uncompromised. Concrete domes have been known to stand for centuries completely unaffected by the passage of time.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Behold the Dome

Today around noon, I came around the corner by the farmhouse and saw the frame arching into the blue blue sky. It took my breath away. The curve of the dome is so lovely and organic, nothing like an ordinary house.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

First Floor

Today we finished laying the ground floor and started building the support frame prior to erecting the dome panels.

The last little bit of floor going in. That's Todd's son manning the adhesive gun.

The start of the frame. It will support the dome panels until they are cemented in place, at which point the dome shell will be completely self-supporting; then, the frame will be disassembled and recycled in the interior framing.

A note regarding that turkey

The turkey that met its early demise at the hands of Steve's van's grille has, sadly, not fulfilled its destiny of becoming dinner. It has been quite hot lately, so Steve picked up a cheap-o styrofoam cooler on the way back from the errand (one of the reasons it took so long), and threw Mr. Tom in there along with some ice, so he would make it home in edible condition. But, later in the day, the cooler suffered a destructive impact from a toolbox that was dropped during a somewhat careless offloading moment. The cooler would no longer hold ice at that point. Not wanting a smelly turkey carcass in the van, Steve transferred the whole shebang to Todd's truck, thinking the boss would deal with it. Inexplicably, however, Steve failed to tell Todd that he had done such a thing.

Next morning, Todd had one of these kind of moments when he opened up his truck: "Holy crap, what's that smell? Hey, what's this cooler doing in here?"

So Steve didn't get a turkey dinner after all, and Todd has to ride around with no air conditioning and the windows down in the 95° heat for a few days.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

More Framing & First Floor

Things are hopping! The basement is framed and we are close to having a first floor.

The garage, with the rec room behind it & workshop on the right.

Looking up through the first floor joists. We are using an engineered wood product here for strength & greater span.

The guys working on the first floor. The view behind them will be what we see from the master bedroom windows, roughly.

You can see the opening for the stairwell on the right side here, it's the thing that's not at a right angle. Domes make funny angles, and while the plans made as much use of right angles as they could for laying the joists, you still have a few oddball cuts here & there. I think the guys are getting used to it.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Lumber & Framing

Lumber was delivered today, and framing started for the basement. Todd's checking the manifest here. The kids were at the site this morning -- Hunter is wearing his dad's hat, since he got a bit of a sunburn yesterday.

The crew starts to lay out the frame.

Look, we have walls! This will eventually be the utilities room with the water heater, a/c unit, etc. (on the left), and the 3/4 bath on the right. Two of the smallest rooms in the house, actually.

Todd sent Steve out on an errand that shouldn't have taken too long, but he didn't come back for over an hour. Just as everyone was starting to wonder what happened to him, he showed up with a slightly mangled turkey. It had flown up in front of the van & he couldn't avoid hitting the stupid creature. (Note the feathers stuck in the headlight.) Not one to let a perfectly good gobbler go to waste, he threw it in the truck & brought it back, already planning a turkey dinner.

Friday, June 10, 2005

See what's on the slab!

The concrete guys managed to get the slab poured today, despite the intermittent rain that's been plaguing the region for the last few weeks (& will continue for at least another week, according to the forecast.) This was the last thing before framing! Hopefully you will see actual rooms in upcoming pictures.

Bonus Picture: Your friendly neighborhood dome builders Mike & Todd.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

More Power!

Now that we have the all-important power pole at the front of the property, we must run the line down to the dome, of course. Todd & Bob discovered that the power was not actually working during this process. A jumper must have been blown down or something during the weekend's storm. (We are figuring that power outages will be a regular feature of rural life once we get out there, and have already made plans for a backup generator, just in case you were wondering.)

Anyway, Bob called the power company to report the outage & get someone out to fix it. He was laughing when he got off the phone. When he gave them the location, the power company guy said, Oh yeah, that's the new pole we just put in for the grain silo.

Uh, yeah.

Saturday, June 04, 2005


We were awakened this morning a little after six by the sound of the tornado sirens. It didn't look too stormy at that particular moment, but a huge cloud front loomed like a black wall to the west. The rain hit about 20 minutes later. Good gracious, was it windy! A tornado had touched down near Holden, the next town to the west, and was said to be headed our way. We duly herded the kids into the designated tornado hall (we don't have a basement), and listened to the wind howl. Fortunately, the tornado passed a couple miles south of town, no damage.

Mike, naturally, hopped in the truck & drove out to the dome site as soon as the winds started to slack a bit. He found the dome kit's cement panels were wet but absolutely undamaged; the foam panels, on the other hand, had been blown hither & yon. He & Todd spent a couple hours rounding them up & containing them, just in time for the next storm front, due to roll through about dinner time or so.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Power to the People

We are now part of a rural electric co-op! I love the idea of a co-op, let's get some o' them solar cells set up & maybe a wind turbine & let's get that meter turning backwards. Lots more on that later.

The cement guy is dragging his feet for some reason, we still don't have a slab in the basement. Tomorrow, he says. We'll pass on holding our breaths. Oh well, we had some time built in to slip here, so it won't impact the schedule all that much.