Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lots of stuff happening

I really have to get better about keeping this blog updated. I know this is probably the most common problem with starting blogs, but we now actually have a lot of stuff happening and I need to get it down as it happens, rather than waiting weeks to finally write a post.

About 6 weeks ago we selected Brian German as our general contractor and he began the process of clearing the land around the site for the home. We met with him on site and walked around tying surveyors tape to trees we want to keep and ones we wanted to get rid of. (two different colors) We identified the path for the driveway. From there Brian started the clearing process and brought in stuff to make a temporary driveway. The house is about 200 feet off the road, so we now have a temporary driveway leading about 200 feet into our land.

We also brought several loads of dirt in to build the pad which the house will sit on. I knew that the land had an incline to it when walking on it, but I did not realize that by the time we had the back of the pad about 6 inches above the original ground level, the front would be about 4 feet up. This is causing us to rethink a bit about the shape and size of the front porch, since there will have to be steps leaving up to the house. Nothing we can't deal with, but like most people we were thinking very 2 dimensionally and did not think about the effect of an elevation change in the design of the house.

We have also been working with Brian to make some of the choices for the inside of the house. We went to look at appliances for the kitchen, sadly all electric since it is a dome home and using gas is not recommended for dome homes due there being little air infiltration/leakage. From a heating/cooling perspective this is a good thing, but from a vapors/smells/humidity point of view this can cause problems.

We also went to Houston to look at some recycled glass kitchen counter tops material. It is called Icestone and is made from recycled glass and concrete mixed together and the poured in slabs and polished and sealed. It is a really beautiful product and very environmentally friendly, but a bit pricy. We're still discussing whether we want to use ti or not. If not, we'll probably go with a granite counter top. Next week we will be looking at flooring options and lighting fixtures as well.

We've also been working with Monolithic Domes and have the airform (the balloon which is inflated) being manufactured and we are working with them to get a time table on when they will be coming out to actually work on the project. As usual it is taking longer than we hoped, but hopefully within a month we'll be building the actual shell of the home.

We have also been working with the utilities and the water providers and have those services set to be installed within a week or so, once the final building permit is issued. It should not be a big deal to get the permit as we've worked with the city closely in the design and documentation phase, so I hope that is more of a formality. I'll tell you all when it actually happens.

One big thing we have decided on is to install a solar hot water heater and a small Photovoltaic system. The goal is to be able to run critical systems for 24 hours should we lose power for whatever reason and to supply for those systems in a clean and environmental manner. During the winter months (when we won't be using the air conditioner) we can almost go off grid completely, maybe even selling some power back to the utility company. This in essences makes the utility meter run backwards.

We have also decided that since we cannot have a gas stove inside the house, that we need a nice gas grill/cook center on the back patio.