Saturday, July 30, 2005

Kidz in Da Dome

Ali's friend K. was here last night for a sleepover, so in the morning, we zipped out to the dome to see how the framing is going. The whole first floor is framed! We can finally walk the spaces that we have been visualizing on paper for a year. The dining room seems HUGE.

Sometimes Hunter is so adorable, I can't help myself. We are in the dining room here, with the pantry & the powder room (half bath) visible behind us.

Meanwhile, the girls went exploring on the bottom of the property. The grass is summer-tall & you can't take a step without a cloud of grasshoppers zipping away in all directions. We'll bush-hog and seed it next spring, once the construction is done & the driveway & landscaping is finished, but for now we've just let it run wild. We have many mature trees on the bottom that we'll be able to keep -- our own private grove.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Atop the Dome

Today was a gorgeous day, a day like no other. The heat wave has broken & there was a bit of a breeze keeping things cool. Mike & the guys took advantage of the perfect weather to get atop the dome & start finishing the seams. (The unfinished seams leaked like a sieve in Tuesday's thunderstorm, by the way, but once they're finished they should be completely watertight.)

This is what the finished seams look like; they are slightly rounded to highlight the dome geometry. Look at the view from the top!

Yay, we have basement stairs now!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

First Floor Framing

Framing has started on the first floor; here Todd & Rob work in the laundry room & the pantry areas. Oh how I will love having a laundry room that's not a garage or a patio.

Tomorrow the basement stairs go in. Right now it just looks like a yawning pit. Yikes!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

Actually, we're still quite a ways short of the sink; but here is the framing for the back-door/kitchen window dormer. The sliding glass door (on the left) will open out onto a wooden deck, while the window over the sink (on the right) will look out over farm country all the way to the county line. The kitchen will be generously sized, with a large center island with built-in range. Well, you'll see it all later.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Dome Shell Completed

A momentous occasion! The last panel is lifted into place.

Dropping it in to finish the shell of the dome.

Home sweet dome.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Another Dome Blog

Poking around on the Web for links, I came across these folks who are blogging their dome. It's a trend!

More Skylights

The rest of the skylights are going in, over the four upstairs bedrooms. (Each bedroom will have a dormer & a skylight, but all facing different directions, of course, so it'll be interesting to see how the light differs in each of the finished rooms. The kids are already jockeying for what they consider to be the best views.) It's looking like the shell will be complete by the end of the week.

Yesterday was one of those days with lots of little mishaps that could have been much worse. I hate it when Mike comes home & tells me, "Well, I'm lucky I still have all ten fingers" or something, but it's not the first time -- it's just a side effect of working with power tools. (He used to do that to me when he was working at the laser place too.) Plus, they almost dropped a panel on poor Bob, which could have been disastrous. Thank the gods that nothing horrible did happen, and pray the whole crew stays safe right through.

We're finalizing our door & window choices so they can be purchased in the next few days -- we're talking about going with a set of 96" double doors to go in that high-profile entryway. I've always thought that tall entry doors were particularly elegant. Won't they look nice there?

Friday, July 15, 2005


Turns out the chimney won't work in the location we originally planned for it -- there's no way to route the flue other than smack in front of the second-floor dormer, which is 1) asthetically crap and 2) illegal, since the dormer framing contains flammable elements. So, we are talking about going back to our original plan of a small wood-burning stove. We abandoned that idea because it was first gong to be located in a corridor that was far too close to a foot traffic lane -- I had horrific visions of a kid or a guest carelessly bumping into a white-hot stove -- but now, Todd points out that the kitchen-side corner of the family room is an ideal location: simple to punch a hole in the riser for a flue, out of the traffic pattern, and not directly underneath a second-floor dormer. Visions of a cozy little nook with a small box stove, a basket of kindling, and a rocking chair are filling my head. Plus, a wood stove can still be used for heating & cooking when the power goes out, as I think is going to be inevitable in late winter when the ice storms hit.

Mike points out that wood stoves can be so efficient that my little fantasy of a rocking chair next to the stove may be laughable. He grew up in a house with a wood stove that would actually drive people out of the room, it got so hot. He also remembers a Portland silver thaw (ice storm) that knocked the power out for three weeks when he was about ten. His family was the only one with hot food for blocks around. :)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Going Up

The openings for the second floor dormers are going in! These will be framed with the windows for the upstairs bedrooms.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Entry Skylight

The first skylight is lifted into place over the front entrance. The dome will have five skylights, as well as large casement windows all around the first & second floors to catch breezes from any direction. Open & airy, light & bright! This is one of the reasons we chose the dome plan.

Here's the front entryway, the high profile going all the way up to the top of the second course, crowned by the skylight.

All the other first-floor dormers have a lower profile, which means that a foam slab is filled in between the dormer & the next course, and finished with stucco. Here Todd & the guys fit the chicken wire.

We've got rain in the forecast, a little sideswipe from the last remnant of Dennis, but nothing that should cause problems. It's amazing how fast this thing is going up once it's rolling!

Saturday, July 09, 2005


You can see in this photo that we have started putting in the first floor dormers, which is what goes into those gaps between the panels. Inside the dormers is where you put the regular old architectural features like doors and windows -- you just frame 'em into the dormer space using conventional framing techniques. There will be four first-floor dormers -- the front entryway, the kitchen/back door going out onto the deck (which is above the garage), and then some cool picture-window spaces in the family room & master bedroom. We designed a fireplace between two windows into the family room dormer, but I am not at all clear yet on how the chimney will work. I suppose I'll find out soon. :)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Chrysler Building

The third course went up today, taking us to the point where we can start putting the dormer frames in the wide openings. Right now, the narrow spots between two dormers look a lot like the logo for a certain automobile manufacturer ;-)

Across the back (northwest) quadrant of the dome, there's a wider span without a first-floor dormer (a bathroom & utility room will be located there.) This is where the emerging dome shape is best seen. It's facing the highway, too, and is clearly visible from the road, about 1/4 mile away. It is actually stopping traffic. The other day as I was leaving the dome site, I came down the county road & waited at the stop sign to make my turn onto the highway, because there was a red Jeep on the road, maybe 100 yards down, coming towards me. And I waited. After a bit, I realized he wasn't moving & went on in front of him, muttering about dumb drivers. It didn't dawn on me till later that he was stopped in the road right where you could get the best view of the dome construction! OK, so I'm dense sometimes.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


The last two days have been spent repairing the damage of the storm last week. The whole dome twisted & settled a bit in the high winds. The guys have been using the skiploader to nudge the risers back into their correct positions & straighten out the triangular panels.

The first two courses are set (or re-set) and ready to mud.

Friday, July 01, 2005

A minor setback

A great big thunderstorm rolled through yesterday afternoon, just as the guys finished cementing the first two courses. (The beveled edges of the panels are filled in with a cement mixture, just like a giant grout job.) The cement all washed out, of course. Plus, it was blowing so hard that the scaffolding toppled right over. Grr. One step forward, two back. None of the panels were damaged, though, so it's more annoyance than trouble.