Monday, June 27, 2011

Hello Again.

IMG_20110530_223827.jpgIt has been a while since my last post... sorry about that.  Life has been busy and much progress has been made however.  The problem has been that I am so close to being in a "more presentable" state, so I keep wanting to get everything done before I write about it.  However the closer I get to being done, the more comfortable it becomes and suddenly various other projects seem to be more of a priority.

DomeBriefly, the interior is mostly done.  I pained it all with Drylok stained a very light green and it helped considerably with the somewhat cave-like atmosphere.  I will probably add windows someday, but until then it is nice and bright inside with the door open or just a few lights on.

I put a floor in, just having a deck seemed like it would be sufficient when I started, but there were a couple of issues... drafts and bugs... mainly spiders.  I ended up putting down linoleum since I was given some for free.  Now the dome is air-tight except for the skylight and the door.

I added shelves and desks and cleaned and painted everything.  Installed a small portable air conditioner a tiny refrigerator and a decent sized freezer.  Got a bunch of random cooking stuff.  So now finally after seven months or so I am living fairly comfortably.  Don't let this scare you off... I made a lot of mistakes that wasted a bunch of time and I only had half days to work on it.  I was doing it by myself and I did not really know what I was doing.  My biggest mistake was that I was living in it while I was working on it.  You may be able to pull this off with a normal sized house, but with a 19 foot diameter dome there is just not enough room.  I should have got a cheap travel trailer or something... it would have been worth a couple thousand by the time I was done.  If you are thinking of doing this and like the idea of a dome, I still think it is the most practical, and least expensive option.

The final total on cost seems to be about $3200 or so.  This is broken down roughly as follows:
$800 Deck
$300 Frame
$200 Cement for papercrete
$300 Paint and Drylok
$200 Wood for motorcycle-port.
$200 Skylight
$300 Desks and Shelves
$250 Trampoline
$650 Misc. stuff like tape, saw-blades, screws, nails, brushes, drill-bits etc.

The cost of tools was about $5000, which is somewhat embarrassing really since if I had had more patience I could have borrowed and found most of them used... but I was in a hurry and was thinking of it as an "investment".  Hopefully that will pay off, but I have found that "investing" is often just an excuse to buy something that you want when you know you don't really need it.

It is also worth considering that the cost of just the structure is only about $500.  If I used an earth or stone floor and skipped the trampoline it would have been much less expensive... but I really like the trampoline :).

It is summer now, we have had a couple 100+ degree days, and the usual Arkansas humidity.  I found that the dome is mostly comfortable just using a fan.  The main source of heat was actually the skylight, the sun shines in and turns it into an oven, so I had to block the skylight with some metallic looking bubble wrap and Velcro   I think if I break the plexiglass again I will try some tinting like the stuff they use on car windows.  At night if it is hot and humid I use the air conditioner.  It is a standalone 10,000 btu unit that is kind of worn out, so it probably only manages about 6,000 btu at the moment.  The nice thing about having so little space is that it takes very little to get it comfortable, which means that I only have to run the AC when needed and it only takes about 10 minutes to get comfortable.

The exterior I will probably paint with whitewash perhaps stained with coffee.  I experimented a little with putting a drip hose on the outside of the dome so that it would provide evaporative cooling.  The idea being that if I did not seal the papercrete completely it would absorb some moisture that could then evaporate and cool the interior.  There was about a 5-10 degree difference depending on humidity and I am undecided weather that is enough to justify messing with it.  The whitewash should allow a little permeability and it is much less expensive than paint in any case... probably more durable as well.

IMG_20110607_090601.jpgApart from the dome the garden has been going well... so much so that I am tripling the size of it this week.  It is being shared by about five people so that is the priority for a little while.

Next project will probably be an outhouse shaped like a pyramid.  Then begin terracing for the hot-tub and building the aquaponics dome.

Not sure what other details people might be interested in, so feel free to leave questions in the comments. I am planning to borrow a better camera when things are all presentable and take a bunch of pictures so hopefully I will get that in the next few weeks.