Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Today was a cleanup day

I thought that today was a day to spray concrete, however they had to cleanup all the excess polyurethane and get the inside ready to spray the concrete. That is what happened to day, so tomorrow (Thursday) should be the day to spray concrete. Other than that I think the schedule is about as it was earlier this morning.

Finished with the spines

Yesterday the Monolithic crew finished installing the rebar hangers and spraying the rest of the foam. We now have 3+ inches of polyurethane on the inside of our dome. Using the table of R values provided by the Colorado Department of Energy one inch of polyurethane gives an R value of about 6.25, so we have almost R19 already in place, without even considering the outer covering or the concrete. Going inside the dome you can already feel some of the equalizing effect of the dome and the insulation.

The plan for today is to spray an inch or so of concrete on the inside so that the rebar cannot touch the polyurethane at any point. Once this sets they will begin to install the rebar, a process which will probably take most of the rest of the week. Next week is devoted to the plumbing and electrical work. By the end of the week we should be able to call the inspector out to check all the rebar, plumbing, and electrical. If it passes, then on next Friday, June 8th, they will spray the rest of the concrete. It will cure over that weekend and the dome should be finished on Monday the 11th of June.

The Monolithic team will then set their sights on the garage and the other dome and on finishing the main dome slab. Hopefully by mid-June the contractor will be able to start working on the main dome exterior windows and doors.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Almost ready to hang rebar

Inside_Porcupine, Hangers for Rebar on inside of dome
Friday the workers got the hangers mounted on one of the side domes. The picture to the left is a bit grainy but I think you can see the hangers extending a few inches (about 6" actually) beyond the white polyurethane. Onto those hangers the rebar will be mounted making longitude and latitude lines around the dome similar to the mesh you see in a traditional slab poured on the ground. I'm not exactly sure what they do at the north pole (i.e. the top of the dome), we'll see when they get that far. Which should be Thursday of next week.

Friday, May 25, 2012

It's snowing in our Dome

OK, it's not actually snow, but the blowing of the polyurethane foam sort of looks like snow. The entire floor is covered in this blowing white stuff. Yesterday they managed to get about half of the required 3" sprayed on the inside of the dome. Today they will be spraying another half inch, then placing the hangers to tie the rebar on. Once all these are set, they will be adding another inch of foam. The plan is for this to all be done today. Then Tuesday (Monday is a holiday) they will come back and spray an inch or so of concrete on the inside and then, once it hardens, start putting the rebar around that to reinforce the whole dome. So, hopefully by the end of next week we will have the entire 8" of concrete, with all plumbing and electrical, inside our dome and that phase will be done.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

About ready to foam the inside

Last night the crews finished all the framing (well as of 5:30 they were very close) and the plan is to actually spray the polyurethane this morning. They had to remake the second floor window frames since the vertical locations were off in the original plans, but that has been done and everything should be ready. They are going to have to redo the front door frame since we have changed the concept and no longer have the sidelights on the door that were part of the original design.

Apparently they spray about a 2" coat of the polyurethane on and then place the rear hangers on/in it, then they come back and spray another 1" of polyurethane on top of that to firmly anchor them in place. Anyway, by the time I get out there this evening to look, the inside should be all foamed and the hangers should be in place to tie off the rebar for the concrete.

Also, this afternoon I have a meeting with the fire suppression sub-contractor about that system. Since we are inside the city limits, but outside the area they have placed fire hydrants, we have to have an active fire suppression system in the house. This meant running two water lines from the supply main out front to the house, a 1" line for the house water, and a 2" line for the fire suppression system. Each with their own water meter. Anyway, this afternoon we're going to talk about the system, what it will look like visually, and where we want the various sprinkler heads in the house. This fire suppression system was one of the surprises we got when going through the city for all the permits.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Windows and Insulation

Last night I spoke with the head of the construction team from Monolithic at great length about the location of the windows on the second floor. He thought the location, as called out on the drawings, seemed a little funny and wanted to make sure this is what we wanted. It was not and he was right, there was something fishy about the drawings. I have a few guesses at where the issue came in, but anyway I talked to the general contractor and he agreed with us that it was incorrect and is going out this morning to talk with the crew and get the correct location for the windows on the second floor.

Once this is settled, they will remake a "template" for the second floor windows and be ready to spray the polyurethane on the inside of the dome. They have actually framed the entire first floor windows and doors (actually they also still need to frame the front door) and can precisely spray around these, but framing the second floor windows is a bit more difficult, so apparently they build this template out of 1x6's (or maybe 2x6's) and someone climbs the scaffolding and holds the template in the correct location for a window and someone else sprays the foam around it. Then they pull it out and go to the next window. They have done this enough times that I believe this is the most efficient way to do it, but it seems strange to me.

The other thing they did yesterday is to cover the slab with plastic (to catch any drips of the polyurethane) and also spray a contact adhesive to the inside of the dome to improve the bonding of the polyurethane to the airform. This makes the entire thing sticky on the inside.

Anyway, if all goes right today, by tonight we'll have an insulated dome with about 3" of polyurethane on it. I think this puts them on schedule to work with the concrete early next week. Once that's done and set we'll have a dome shell that can withstand F5 tornadoes or Cat 5 hurricanes! then comes the fun part of building the interior structure and letting Monolithic work on the garage and workshop domes. Hopefully by mid June all these will be done and that phase of construction will be done.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Starting a new Week

Scaffolding, Special scaffolding used on the inside of domes
I sort of got behind on posting last week. There was so much excitement building to getting the airform inflated that I sort of felt a letdown once it was up. So we went out and looked at the dome and went, it's up... Anyway, there have definitely been things happening out there.

They have built the scaffolding on the inside of hte domes to help them work up high. The picture shows it. What's cool about this is the way the wheels are set. Look closely and you'll notice that the wheels nearest the camera are facing like car wheels, ready to drive normally. The ones at the other end are facing 90° and thus parallel the outside edge of the dome and make it ready to spin inside the dome. I think it is a nifty way to set up scaffolding.

The other thing they began last week was the building of the window and door forms (called bucks, I think) to assist us in framing and mounting the windows. They have about half of the first floor windows done and all the doors. Monday they should be able to finish most of the rest, including the second story windows. This means that on Tuesday they should spray the polyurethane insulation. It will be a 3 inch thick coat all over the inside of the airform, other than where the windows and doors are. This will make it much darker inside.

Once it cures (overnight?) they will go back and install the rebar for the concrete and any electrical or plumbing that needs to be imbedded in the outside walls. Then comes the final 8 inch coat of concrete and the dome part is done and they move on to one of the other projects here on site. I think this should all happen this week, but it might lap over into Monday.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

And... They're up

Inflated, Main Dome Inflated
Well, the inflation went off with very little difficulty. Mike and Dave South drove down from The Monolithic Dome Institute to watch the inflation and we had maybe 6 other watchers, outside of family and workers, for the event. My wife flipped the switch to start the inflation about 12:15 and the fan kicked in immediately. The airform began to expand and within about 15 minutes it was full and the crew began securing the airlock to allow entry into the dome. By 1:00 we were walking around on the inside of the dome. The inside of the airform is really pretty with the light coming in through it. Too bad it will be covered entirely by insulation and concrete.

The next few days will be building the forms for the doors and windows and getting those installed. Then comes the insulation, the rebar, the electrical and plumbing, and then the concrete. This whole process should take about a week from this point, so by memorial day weekend we should have a solid concrete dome.

Things are on Schedule

I just went out to the site and talked to the crew chief. Things are on schedule for a noon inflation. The site is still muddy, but it has dried out from last night and it should not be too difficult to walk around and see what is happening in a few hours.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Slight delay in inflation

Weather, Inflation Day Weather Forecast
Well, the rains are not going to stop the inflation, but it has been moved back from 10:00am to noon. Above is the weather forecast for inflation day, May 15, 2012. I went by the site on the way home from work and it is VERY muddy there. The ariform was spread across the slab, but it had not been fastened down yet. I suppose they will either do that later this evening or first thing in the morning. In any case, we are still on track for an inflation tomorrow!

Things setting up for inflation

Well, as of last night (Monday Night) the crew was just about ready to start attaching the airform to the slab. They still have to move everything that needs to be put inside the inflated dome onto the slab, so that once it is inflated they won't have to figure out how to carry all that stuff through an air lock. This includes all the lumber for the framing of the doors and windows, as well as the scaffolding necessary to work on the top of the dome once it is inflated.

Today the electrician will connect the power panel Monolithic brought to power the fans. and Monolithic will attach the airform to the slab. Probably this evening they will do a partial test inflation to make sure everything is good for the big moment Wednesday when everyone is watching, possibly even the media. The plan is to throw the switch at 10:00 am and watch the house spring to life. It should take about 20-30 minutes to fully inflate and then another half hour to 45 minutes to install the airlock. Once that is done we should be able to go inside and look around!

The only issue I see at the moment is that this morning we woke up to a nice gentle rain. This is supposed to keep up most of the day with "a few scattered thunderstorms". Tomorrow has a 20% chance chance of light rain, so I don't think that will impair the inflation, but it might dampen the spirit of the media (and maybe some of our friends) and make them wonder about going out in the rain just to watch a house being inflated. If so, that's fine, I just want the thing up and making progress towards being done.

I'm not going to take any pictures this evening of the test inflation (well, I might take them, but I won't post them), so it will be a fresh sight for everyone on Wednesday, but I will report back on the success (or failure, but I hope not) tonight in advance of the formal inflation Wednesday.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Construction on Hold this week

This week very little is happening at the job site. I know we are getting a security gate installed and some lighting and possibly cameras installed to reduce theft/vandalism.

Our general contractor also got out and looked at the poured slab and noticed that it was not entirely flat, but had peaks and valleys in it, not huge ones, but he said some up to one inch high. He and Monolithic talked about it and Monolithic is going to bring out a grinder and smooth out the ridges in the slabs next week. Don't know if that will be before or after inflating of the dome, but it should happen.

We did go out and look at appliances yesterday. Starting to make decisions about how and what we want to put inside the house once it is complete and we worked with a door company in designing our front door. We should get the preliminary drawings back early next week.

Right now the schedule looks like on Monday Monolithic will come out and do a bit of site work and prepare the slabs for the airforms. This includes setting up the basic scaffolding inside the domes that they will need. They will possible start to attach the actual air form on Monday, but it will probably be done at least mostly on Tuesday. They then have to attach the fans and airlock to the airform prior to inflating it. This means that Wednesday morning, May 16, somewhere between 9 am and 10 am the airform should be inflated!!! The first concept drawings/sketches I have on my computer date back to May of 2010, so this has been 2 years in the planning process. The first official drawings exchanged between us and Monolithic date to April 2011. Seeing it happen will be such an amazing thing, we are definitely excited about getting the domes up.

The next update will probably not be until Monday.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Still waiting on an inflation date

I think everything is in place for inflating the air form.  The slab is set, we got a new security gate installed today to help secure the property over night, the water is connected dire tly adjacent to the dome, and the electrical is set up.  There is even one of the fans used to inflzte the dome on site.  All we need now is a date scheduled by Monolithic.  I hope to get that date by tomorrow and we can publicize it widely.  It will probably be early next week if I were a betting man.  This week is the last week of the spring workshops at Monolithic, so most of their people are tied up with that.

Friday, May 4, 2012

All 3 slabs are poured

Finished Main Slab, The main slab has set and the rear to attached the dome is in place.As of this afternoon the slab work in done. The photo above shows the main slab with the rebar waiting to be attached to the dome when it is sprayed. The beginnings of the radial scaffolding can be seen in the foreground on the slab. This is used inside the dome once it is inflated to gain access to the whole thing. Apparently it can rotate within the dome.

You'd have to look very carefully, but the second slab can barely be seen in the background of the same photo (just to the right of the guy spraying water). It looks nice on the full resolution one here.

It looks like the airform will be fitted to the slab on Monday and if all goes right and the stars align properly, it should be inflated on Tuesday. I need to positively confirm that with Monolithic this weekend, but I think that is the plan.

I probably won't have much more to post this weekend, but you never know.

Main Slab is poured

Pouring of the Slab, Concrete pumping truck pours the main slabYesterday was a busy day on site. The Monolithic dome crew did a wonderful job of correcting the errors identified by the initial inspection and about noon yesterday the inspector came back out and approved the site to be poured. Once the engineer approved it, the city had to give it its blessing. They were scheduled to come out at 4:30 that afternoon, but our general contractor, Brian German, called and convinced them to come out earlier, so around 2:00 pm the final approval to pour was granted. By 3:30 concrete was flowing and the crew probably did not actually finish the working and floating of the slab until close to midnight.

Assuming all goes well from here it will probably be Tuesday for the inflating of the airform for the main dome. We should find out today what the schedule is and then we'll contact lots of people about it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tribulations this time

Rebar, Placing Rebar in the slabStarting with the good news, the electricity is now connect to the pole and can be used onsite. This makes everything easier, since they do not need generators to power saws and such.

Now for the tribulations. When the electrical and plumbing subcontractors set the pipe/conduit they each put one piece too close to the slab frame and those must be moved prior to the pouring of the slab. Of course this means that the plumbing has to be re-pressure tested and reinspected to make sure it is still safe. However, this should not actually delay the process, assuming the plumber got back out there this afternoon/evening to move it. They could then pressurize it overnight and be good to go first thing in the morning.

That is not the end of the tribulations though. The slab crew did not correctly read the plans for how to set up the rebar and where to put the beams for the foundation. When the inspector cam e out this afternoon they noticed irregularities and the rebar failed inspection. The crew was going to try working this afternoon, evening, night and maybe into the wee hours to get it fixed and ready to pass inspection first thing in the morning. If the succeed, then the main slab will be poured tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon, if not then it will be Friday at the earliest. Sigh.

If all goes well and they get the slab poured Thursday the actual airform should be inflated on Monday, if not then it will be later next week before things will be happening with the airform. All in all this is not that big a setback, but it is frustrating since we are this close to getting the dome inflated.