Archive | August 2012

Arrival of Dome Kit

The truck has come and gone, was unloaded in one hour. We have the dome kit panels in the meadow near the build site, and cardboard boxes of supplies on the screened porch. It is a very tangible reality now. We lucked out with no rain, but overcast. The crew worked fast and well together.


Road Trip

This has been a very busy week. I drove to SC, stopped in at the Building Codes office and found the restrictions for owner/builder to be onerous, so plan B is to find a general contractor. I understand the reasons, but it has caused a rapid change.

Sharon and I left her dogs with a dog-owner friend, drove to FL on Friday and stayed with friends in DeLand. Went to Rockledge Saturday to tour the American Ingenuity geodesic dome offices and home. It was a very informative and pleasant meeting. (Pictures below) We learned a lot of details about the construction of the panels and assembly of the kit. Dinner out with our friends and back on Sunday before the rain started. We were a little concerned about Hurricane Isaac.

We have been spending time trying to figure a way to have a general contractor whose work is a known quality, but being new to the county, this has meant emailing friends for recommendations. We also have a problem of time limitations, having the dome consultant available only between Sept 29 and October 11. The slab foundation has to be ready for traffic by then.

The kit has been loaded on the flat-bed semi and is en route, to be delivered tomorrow morning.

The next item on the schedule is to have Sharon ride back to Virginia with me, turn around and drive my pickup back to SC the next day. We are switching ownership to her, and getting rid of her current truck. A money-saving plan for us, to have just 2 vehicles for our 2 households. The snag here has been to find a pet sitter again so soon, but we are interviewing someone who would also be a cat sitter in the future.

Truck leaving the factory

Even doghouses can match

Storage loft – my cottage will have a small loft.




Relaxing in mid-roadtrip

I am in SC this week, at Soul’s Ease. We are heading to Florida to visit A I Domes, and the kit will be delivered next week.

It was such a pleasant morning, I sat on the screened porch of Sharon’s house after she had performed watering tasks in her garden. There were lots of birds and butterflies around the feeders and bird bath. That’s where she has planted a butterfly garden. Retirement is quite enjoyable. I have liked birding for a long time, and this is a great set-up with a row of cedars where the birds like to perch before coming in to the feeders. Since it is in the country, away from so much concrete of the city, the heat doesn’t climb quite as early. There was a nice breeze, perfect to just sit in the rocker and enjoy soothing the senses.

Moving ahead with paperwork. The paperwork was ready for the driveway encroachment off the state highway. I have the form for acting as owner/contractor, and heard pros/cons today, so I am thinking some more about it.

Busy Times

Things have heated up, and I have been scrambling to be ready. I had planned to go to a family gathering in mid-September, then get started on the foundation slab for the dome. I had thought the temperature in SC might be better for the concrete to cure in October. That is beside the point now – I had to hire the dome specialist during the one window he had until the end of the year, and that starts at the end of September. So I am soon moving temporarily into Sharon’s house until the dome is ready. We will have to start the slab work right after Labor Day. My contracting supervisor is experienced in working with concrete, so I am sure we will make it, but I have to get my stuff together in a hurry.

Next week, we are taking a road trip to Rockledge FL to visit American Ingenuity Domes, then a few days after return, the kit will be delivered and we need to unload it. I’m really looking forward to this. Then a quick trip back to VA to pack more stuff and my cats. That is one trip I am not looking forward to making. I may have cats without voices by the end of a 6 hour drive. One of them, Buster, got his full name Filibuster when I brought him home from the house where he was born. He yelled constantly until he fell asleep, then started again when he woke. Now all three cats yell on a short trip to the vet. I’ve had cat valium recommended. We will see what happens.

I have sent off checks for the remainder due on the dome kit, and a retainer for the specialist. He will be there for about 11 days, which should give us a good education and help us avoid the pitfalls he ran into on his first dome. This will be great when I am ready to build the next dome.

The shortened time before I start construction is disappointing in one sense: I have a list of people to visit and sort of say good-bye to. I have been working hard to convert all of my online email addresses to a new one, and I have a lot more than I realized. I don’t get so much spam as I thought! The people I will see later as I come back for checking on the Virginia house and doing more packing. I now realize I am not great for multi-tasking on really big projects, so this is forcing me to concentrate on the new build, leaving the fix-up and staging for later. It’ll happen when I get to it.

One obstacle Sharon and I are focusing on is our fur-kids. We are going to merge 3 cats and 2 dogs for a couple months. At least the cats do not have front claws and the dogs are good with company. Zack is a service dog for visitations and has been exposed to a number of different pet species. They will be well supervised at first, until we make sure of good behavior.

My retirement is getting very busy.

Zack and Shakti

Kinsey in a very calm moment


Leo and Buster cuddled on the radiator

Checking off Tasks

The septic system permit arrived in the mail today! Via email, I received a new house number from the E-911 Address Department. Another couple of tasks checked off the list! I also have to have someone from the state approve the driveway encroachment since it is a state maintained road, have tracked down the right person and spoken to her on the phone. I don’t believe any change is going to be needed, as I will use the existing driveway.

I have received verbal approval for the building permit, next need to pay the fee and pick up the permit. The dome kit will ship at the end of August. It will be stored for another month before we have a slab ready for it.

I have sent an email to contact the dome specialist, to see about hiring him as instructor/supervisor to erect the dome shell later this fall. I plan to be present for whole construction, so will act as my own contractor, but have a right-hand man who will have the experience and knowledge I do not have (yet?). Not that I want to do this regularly, but I am a knowledge sponge. Aging and injuries will not allow me to climb all over, but I will help where I can, even if it means keeping out of the way.


Other recent knowledge: I also found the pension situation is more complicated than I realized. I will actually be drawing from 3 sources. I spent many years under Social Security, and just retired from a major railroad (as a computer programmer), so will draw from the Railroad Retirement Board and some from the railroad employer, too. I had not understood that I needed to apply separately for SSA, but if I wait until my next birthday this fall, I get less decrease for early retirement. The railroad sources will sort out their calculations after I apply. They may not pool information, making me run around finding out what has to be done, but they will figure the amount out later. Government agencies eventually catch up, but we’ll see about the initial efficiency. I expect my first pension check at the beginning of September.

Well-Loved Homes

I love seeing the pictures from the history of Sharon’s house. I own a house built in 1940 in Roanoke and I’m only the second owner. I purchased from an estate, so have no history, but I am sure not much had changed since it was built. I have done some changing. I overhauled the bathroom and took the space of 2 closets to increase the bath, It feels wonderful. The bedroom now has a closet the entire width of the room beside the door, acting like an entry, so the closet is not so noticeably carved into the room. I used free-standing style furniture for a sink and vanity and have a matching linen closet in the large hallway to replace the one the bathroom took. In addition, I added a small closet in the other bedroom, with a window seat all along the back wall. You can never have too much storage. I live in a neighborhood of small homes, so the bedrooms are not expected to be huge, I think the closet space will win buyers over.

The kitchen had very little cupboard or counter space, so I had the room gutted and rearranged. I now have a wall of pantry and there was room enough for an 18 inch wide dishwasher beside the sink. With a small island that hides trash and recycle cans, I have more counter space, too.

When the bath was remodelled, I had rough-in plumbing installed for a basement bathroom, which I plan to have completed soon. I will not be completely finishing the basement, but I do plan to paint all of it.

The landscaping needs so much work. It has been hard to just maintain, as tired as I have been after work. I never completed transforming it from lawn and sparse lawn to a mowing-free yard, so I will sow grass seed and get a standard look to it. The front is a steep hill and needs me to complete the terracing that I started. The year I broke my leg was the year crown vetch nearly conquered the yard. I have been battling since and had to go to a very strong herbicide, but am beating back honeysuckle, too. These things are all introduced via birds and should not be in an urban yard. I look forward to our more casual meadow at Soul’s Ease.

I am getting started with some of this now, along with some packing. Although I don’t expect to be into the new cottage for a few months, I will be staying a Sharon’s house for the construction and can’t leave all preparation for sale until later. Bittersweet, I have loved this house and wished I could have completed all plans for it, but it is not my future, so I have to let go. (I’m not unhappy to leave the snow behind).

House in Roanoke


Progress on Permits

Things are moving along. The health department inspector was out to the site to do the perc test and it passed. The permit for the septic system will be mailed to me.

The plans have been given the engineer’s seal and passed along to the county building codes department. They have never dealt with a geodesic dome before, but I received a call that they have approved them, so my chosen contractor will need to present his license and pick up the permit. They want to come see the dome once it is completed. I am going to have to be visitor ready at all times!

I have spoken to someone about getting a new house number assigned, and she emailed me a copy of the form. I sometimes wonder what we did before email made cross-state inquiries so much easier.

I will have to contact the state, who maintains the road out front, about an encroachment permit. Since there is already a driveway, that should not be a problem. I plan to extend the driveway straight back, then curve it to the center of the property. It is kite-shaped, with nearly 3 acres behind the existing house, and well over an acre of open meadow. There are a lot of trees and weeds creeping in from the edges, but we will work on that as needed.

view toward future home from front of cottage