Sunday, May 26, 2013

Problems with curved walls

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There are some things which you realize might be an issue, but until you see them you don't realize just how much effect the curved walls of the dome can have. The above wall sconces were mounted flush on the walls in our living room. The intention is to have an adapter like thing made to let the sconces mount vertically, but I thought this is a worthy picture for the blog to let everyone see the potential pitfalls of a dome home.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Solar Power

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We now have our solar panels installed. In the picture there are three panels missing, they have now been installed and are capable of powering about a quarter of the power demands of our house. It is now a matter of determining which 25% of the house we want to keep on during a power outage. Historically we don't have many long term power outages. In the past decade there has only been 1 outage lasting more than 24 hours here in the city. However, in the outlying areas and the small cities around us there was an outage lasting almost 2 weeks for some residents about 5 years ago.

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While they are building the electric infrastructure, they are busy putting in the fixtures, plugs, and outlets. This is the light that will be over the dining room table.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Problems with Dome Homes, WASTE

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This is not really a major complaint, but one of the issue we are facing as we finish out the house is that virtually everything we use comes pre-made is nice rectangular pieces: Wood, Tile, Marble, Sheetrock, etc. When you have to make use of those in a round house, there is the inevitable problem of waste. The pile above is the scraps of floor tile after a few days of laying tile. If I would have thought about this earlier, I might have decided to pick some things differently to save money, time, energy, and the environment. I'm not too worried since I am certain we'll make up the environmental problems with the efficiency of the house overall, but it is something for you aspiring dome home builders to consider.

Main Dome Floor Tile

Two quick pictures this morning in the same post, rather than splitting things into multiple posts.
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The floor tile in the main house is complete. It's actually not the pattern we were looking to use, but it is a reasonable alternative. This tile is in the foyer, utility room, hallways, powder bathroom, kitchen, and dining room, as well as the master bathroom and the kids bathroom.

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Also complete is the back splash for the dining room and half of the kitchen back splash. The picture above is the dining room. It's a deep green granite with a river rock back splash. Ungrouted it did not look too attractive, but when the grout is added things really look nice.

The outside rock is progressing as well, but we were surprised to find that no one worked on Saturday (yesterday) when the weather was beautiful (maybe a bit warm, but the longer you wait, the hotter it will get). They have the next section of dome ready with the mesh and the scratch coat, so now all they need to do is lay the rocks on that section. That should take a few days and then we'll be about half way finished with the rocking on the main dome. The contractor says he's hoping for a move in in 30 days. I can't see that happening. I think July 1st is probably a decent expectation at this point.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

City Electric Code

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One surprise we got last week was the requirement to install an emergency disconnect for the Photovoltaic system that the utility company cold disconnect without entering the house. To accomplish this, they had to drill a hole in the dome wall, install a flex tube, remove 2 or 3 rocks, and soon mount an external box to allow the battery pile to be disconnected from the system. Just watch out for unusual city codes and make sure everyone knows what needs to be done. This was not an expensive almost mistake, but it could have been.
One bright spot that came from this si the realization that since we have a penetration through the house right there, we could also install a plug that connected directly to the inverter to allow us to connect a generator from the outside of the house. Thus if things get really bad, we can run the gasoline (or whatever) generator on the patio, and not have to worry about running wires through the doorway or whatever.

Don't look now, but these is something on our roof

I know this is two posts on the same day, but I got really behind during the end of the semester here in school and I want to make up for lost time. I might even post a third this afternoon.
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This is our solar hot water heater panel on the roof. It is going to be connected to a 120 gallon tank, with an electric backup. The solar should be able to heat the water up to 120-130 even in the winter. Since we are in Texas, that does not surprise me all that much, but my concern, being a morning bather, is how will it feel first thing in the morning. The panel is facing mostly south-south-east, so it will not actually catch a lot of the late evening sun. I suspect that in the winter, it will be in the shade by 5:00 in the evening, and 6:00 am is a long time from then. On the other hand, that is why we have electric backup for the system.

A good reminder for us

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Last week we found this little guy sitting on our front porch at the new house. He is about 15 inches long. It is a copperhead. This is a good reason for us to be careful, not only with ourselves, but with the dogs as well. By the time we took this picture, it was already dead.

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We also find a lot of these little foot prints inside the house. These are going down the stairs. It's just little reminders like this that we need to remember we are moving out of the city into a much more rural area. Only a mile or so from town, but still, we have lots of open spaces around us and things like this will be common around the house, especially for the first month or so.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Tile in the Bathroom

It seems like it has been forever since I posted an update. I think the fact that just a little bit happens each day makes it seem like not a lot goes on, so I get lazy and don't write updates (not to mention that it is final week here now and I am busy with that). One of our daughters purposefully stayed away for a few weeks and then went to look and to her it looked like a LOT had happened. WE now have rock on about 25% of the main dome, the floors are about level and ready to have tile laid on them, the counter tops are supposed to go in this week or early next week, the bathroom tiles are being installed in the shower and tub surround. We have about 75% of the light switches and light fixtures installed. Hoping to finish out the electrical fixtures next week and then we can get final electrical inspection and get power to the house properly, rather than having to connect via LONG extension cords to the power pole by the road.

We have been looking at everything and my wife and I ask, "is that really the fixture we picked out for this room?". I'm sure they are, but at least one seems very out of place. When you are starting down this path of building your own home, make sure you write down or even take a picture of all your various selections. I know we should have, and we did for most things, but not everything. Our bad, but live and learn.