Thursday, May 26, 2011

More information about the property

Right now we are still waiting to hear back from the title company about closing on the land. I hope that is done soon and we'll have one step along the way completed.

Jari has been doing a lot of phone calling about things. The property is within the city limits and so will have city water supplied by Wellborn Water. However there does not appear to be a fire hydrant in the area, so we have to consider that when designing the house and more importantly the driveway. It has to be able to handle a full sized fire truck, but in weight capacity and in turning radius. yet one more thing for us to consider.

We do not yet know about whether we will have city sewer or if we'll have to run a septic tank. We also don't know about cable TV/Internet. Those are still on the find out list.

We do know that the city has no objections to a Dome Home, so that is a good thing.

There is no gas service in the area, so we'll need to use propane for the gas. That's sort of alright, since it is recommended that Dome Homes be all electric anyway. The dome seals so well that you run the risk of vapors building up and causing problems with gas. Implicit in this is no fireplace.

We are still kicking around the idea of setting up some sort of photovoltaic system to supply at least part of our power requirement, but that is still under discussion. I'll probably devote an entire post (or more) to that discussion in the future.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Hopefully have some land

This weekend has been a very busy weekend. On Friday morning we left town to move my daughter's stuff back from her first semester of Graduate School. She is still up there for a week or two finishing up her job, but we got her furniture and big stuff back this past weekend.

The night before we left our real estate agent called and it looks like we have a contract on some land. Almost 2 acres of land in the area we have been looking it. There are a lot of trees on the land, some of them fairly large. The only water feature is a small creek bed running across the front of the property. it is dry most of the year (especially now) but does handle runoff during rains. The back edge of the property is about 3 feet higher than the front, so it drains towards that little creek bed.

Once we close on it we'll get a complete survey to mark the edges of the property and then we can look at contour maps and think about house placement. There are many trees that are WAY too nice to even consider taking out, so we may have to be a bit creative to locate the house amoung the existing trees.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Type of Dome

One of the first things we had to decide.  There are two major types of dome homes that are build today: Geodesic Domes and Monolithic Domes.

A Geodesic Dome is based on the concepts popularized by R. Buckminster Fuller back in the 1940's.  The basic idea is to take a sphere and approximate it with a series of triangular faces.  This is normally done by actually starting with an icosahedron (think a 20 sided die)  and then subdividing the edges and projecting the out on the circumscribed sphere.  These are somewhat easy to construct, but being exact is difficult due to the number of triangular faces required for a smooth dome.  If you are not very good then your dome will leak, causing both water damage problems and decreasing on the energy efficiency inherent in the dome shape.

About 30 years later David South designed the first Monolithic Dome.  Monolithic means one stone, and the dome is exactly that.  It is a dome shaped piece of concrete.  How you build that is the trick.  The process, in short, is to make it sort of like you make papier mache balloons.  You blow up a really big balloon (well, a half balloon actually) and the cover it with concrete.  In practice, you will cover the inside of the balloon (called an air form) with a layer of insulation and then spray concrete inside of that.  The result is a structure that is very energy efficient (the walls are rated at at least R60 insulation and is very durable.  Structurally they can withstand an F5 tornado or a category 5 hurricane.  I actually had these structures pointed out to me by a fellow co-worker many years ago, Hank Wigley.  Hank died in a car accident many years ago, but I still remember him.

Anyway, we have firmly decided on the Monolithic Dome concept and have made two trips to the factory in Italy, Texas to discuss the concept with them.

Setting the Stage

My wife and I have long dreamed/talked about building a dome home. During the last year we have finally gotten serious about the concept and are actually making progress on the design and securing land. It's not like the house will spring up in the next few weeks (or even months), but maybe within a year we'll have a new house.

The purpose of this blog is going to be documenting the process, the ups and downs, of the whole process. Initially the posts will be somewhat irregular as initially not a whole lot happens. We have already had our brainstorming time where we laid out the rooms and sizes we wanted and we have submitted that to the Monolithic Dome company and are in the process of iterating to find a design we like.

We are also looking at land in our area and hope to be purchasing some in the not too distant future. We actually made an offer yesterday. Once we get the land I'll certainly talk more about it.