Echo, echo, echo…

Well, we are finally putting up paneling – something we expected to do a couple of month ago until we found out about the additional fire proofing foil paper that was needed. On the bright side, seeing the dome covered in what is essentially tinfoil is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It looks like the set of a cheap 70’s science fiction movie. Though it was easy to light up at night with a single bulb. There isn’t much to describe about the process – we stapled up the FSK (Foil-Scrim-Kraft) paper and taped all the seams just like we did with the vapor barrier. The FSK paper also acts as a vapor barrier. Had we known ahead of time that we needed it we could have skipped the 6-mil plastic that we put up before it. The FSK paper does tear easily so it’s probably better to have the plastic barrier as well.

While the FSK paper was being put up, Mike spent most of his time carrying interior triangle panels around. Each panel needed one coat of stain and two coats of fire retardant. That means each panel was moved at least 9 times – from the dome (where they are stored) to the staining “station” (the side of the back extension), to the drying racks (a couple of tarps on the ground), and back to the dome once they were dried. Times 3.

With all that work finished, we are finally seeing some nice results. The last two visits we put up a little over half of the interior panels (we would have gotten more done, but our generator conked out on us over the labor day weekend and cut our visit short.) The acoustics in the dome are slowly changing as we get the panels installed. We have a radio playing while we work – in one part of the dome the sound appears to come from your right, in another your left, and in some places it’s balanced and you can’t tell the source. It will probably take another two visits to install the remainder of the panels.

We also had a couple of truck loads of dirt delivered to our future garden site. I think there was some miscommunication as to the size of the garden so we are getting a couple more truck loads dropped of this week to make it bigger. It will be about 1500 sq feet when complete. Sara ran some PH tests on the soil and found it to be very basic – 9.2 or so. We will need to pick up some sulfur (sulphur?) to try and drop it to 6.5. On our last trip I colonized the dirt with a pound of mycorrhizal fungi. That is the fungi that forms bonds with the roots of plants and help to gather additional nutrients and protect the roots from disease. All soil contain these fungi species, but freshly “manufactured” bulk dirt tend to have low levels since the composting process kills most of them off. Once the fungi takes hold and the sulfur helps the soil PH we’ll plant some clover as a winter cover crop. With any luck we can plant some vegetables come spring (after we build a fence.)

This week the trench to the well should be filled in as well. We can then trim the water proofing on the foundation to the correct height and call in the siding company (hopefully they can get to it before the winter rain/snow hits, otherwise it will have to wait until next spring.)

We will be placing a order for all the wood we’ll need for the interior walls/loft soon. We already have the walls and doors marked in Sharpie on the floor. We will start building those as soon as we finish with the interior panels.


Staining triangles

Sara wiping down a triangle


Mike spraying a coat of stain


Most of the 35 larger triangles we stained


Triangles out drying.  We also had another swath of trees cleared – you can see one of the two brush piles on the left.


A couple triangles didn’t stay together too well


The trench for the water line to the house.  On the left is the second brush pile – in the center is our new gigantic log pile.


Progress on the fire barrier.  We may need flashing lights – we’re going to have the inside of a disco ball!


We struck water!

We didn’t go to the dome this weekend, but here is the update for the last one. We packed up and left Thursday night so we would be ready for the insulation/vapor barrier inspection on Friday. We had about an hour or two worth of work to do before the inspector came. Since he could come any time on Friday (and they start work at 7 AM) we finished it up late on Thursday. He ended up getting there a little after noon on Friday, and while we passed the insulation/vapor barrier, we found out that our wood paneling isn’t thick enough for fire code (which requires 3/4 of an inch. The paneling is only 1/2″.) The easiest way of remedying this is to staple up some fireproof “paper” over the vapor barrier. That is going to take another two trips to install.


On Saturday we installed a hand pump on our well. We had to feed the pipe assembly down by hand as we installed each nine foot piece of piping and sucker rod. While it’s only 150 feet to the water level we installed 220 feet worth of pipe. That way we don’t have to add any pipe in the future if the water level changes or we use a lot of water at one time (the well only produces 4 gallons per minute.) The depth of the well is 350′ so we will probably install the electric pump even lower then the manual one. The pump seems to work great. We probably get about 1 cup of water per pump stroke. It takes about 20 or so pumps to get it started since it drains about 4-5 feet worth of water from the pipe to prevent freezing. We didn’t get to drink any of it yet – we had to pour bleach down the well to kill any organisms we introduced with the pipe assembly. We’ll find out next weekend how it tastes.


The rest of Saturday and Sunday Mike and Sara worked on cutting and stacking firewood. They made a dent in the big pile of logs next to the garden area but it will take many more days of work to chop them up completely. I worked on creating some in-wall shelving in what will be the back of Mike and Sara’s closet. Behind their closet is about a food of dead space formed when we framed in part of the arch opening that sticks out into the back room. It was harder then it normally would be since I had to frame in some room for insulation since we will be leaving the back room unheated.


The fire proof paper didn’t arrive in time for us to visit the dome this weekend, but I got a call today from Arrow Lumber saying it arrived, so we’ll be there next weekend.

We Got Water!

The bottom well pump – it’ll be 220’ down in a bit…


The well head and the metal piece holding the pipe from falling

 Well head

One 9’ section of pipe at a time

 Mike, Sara, Neil

We brought Tinka.  She was thrilled! 


Pumping water


Neil worked on closet shelves while Sara and I worked on firewood.


Piles of wood and our well after a weekend of work.