Archive | March 2013

Back Early and Safe

What a day! I had planned to spend today priming and painting the second bedroom on Roanoke. I came in to Roanoke knowing rainy weather was on the way for Monday, and I was staying aware. The forecast changed to snow, 2 to 4 inches, and I still thought that would be okay. I was out to McD’s for breakfast and wi-fi and watched the big wet flakes coming down, not too bad. By noon it was starting to stick to the road and still saying 2 to 4 more inches, plus continuing into Tuesday, with a large band coming across TN. I decided to leave early and head straight south, figuring they usually keep Rt 220 cleared and I’d be out of the snow fairly soon. Unfortunately I had just started a load of laundry and had to wait for that, besides pack the car. It was really bad when I finally left, slipping down my narrow driveway between the concrete walls – no scraping, though. The main roads were not cleared, but I figured I’d be okay – it got worse, was not even plowed on rt 220, and someone got stuck and blocked traffic for a while, then I almost got stuck in the same spot as I tried to get momentum going up the hill. Wished I’d had the 4×4. It took nearly 2 hours to drive 60 miles out of the snow and icy rain, but after that, I had no problems. I am very glad to be back in warmer Seneca.

near Tanglewood Mall

along Franklin Rd near Tanglewood Mall

on rt220 just so of Tanglewood

on Rt 220 just past Tanglewood

half an hour later and still in Roanoke Co

Still in Roanoke County on Rt 220. Everyone is staying in one set of tracks.

fifty miles and over an hour later

Finally out of freezing stuff near Martinsville. Quite a difference a short distance south.



Quiet time on the build, and I’m about ready to leave for a few days in Roanoke. I got some nice pictures of the primed dome – to which we are all referring as the igloo now – and wanted to post them.

front with patio

back with patio

view from road past Sharons garden

Patios, etc.

Tuesday was busy. The man from the counter top company came out to measure, arriving almost the same time as the men arrived to start preparing the patios. He was able to finish his work fast. Now it’ll be two weeks before it will be installed.

moving sand and priming exterior

moving sand and priming exterior

The same team who did the original slab for the house did the patios. They are fast and good, a team of two brothers.

back patio form

back patio form

Our painter on the crew was able to finish nearly all of the primer coat on the outside of the dome. There is a small amount of concrete work needed under the entryway overhangs, then prime it and paint the whole exterior. I have selected a light blue with cream trim. On the inside, he completed the woodwork and doors.

My foreman will be away for a short vacation, and I will be gone for a shorter while, but we are going to keep one of the crew busy for the next week and a half. The debris outside needs to be sorted – we are keeping any wood for later use, also foam chunks – and the trash we’ll haul to the dump. Other debris and dead vegetation from clearing the edge of the meadow will be burned. We are afraid of mowing until the metal debris is picked up. There is still the bedroom painting with a darker gray, and a start on the exterior paint.

pouring front patio

pouring front patio

The driver who delivered the concrete was quite fascinated with the dome. He toured it before starting to unload, and felt it really had a lot of space. Of course without furniture, it will feel bigger.

Painting and Electrical

One of the air conditioner/heater units has been installed. Since we decided early to just put in the type used in many motels, with a reverse cycle for heat, I chose to split between two smaller units. It has been left on for heat a couple of nights and for cooling for the weekend. In spite of showing capacity for 350 square feet, it appears it might be able to handle twice that. I think it is the very well insulated building. The unit is very quiet, both inside and outside. It is even fancy enough to have a remote control. The other unit will go in the front room after construction traffic is lighter. It should allow for very specific heating and cooling in the two sides of the dome, where one unit might leave hot and cold spots.

ac/heating unit at back door

ac/heating unit at back door

The electrician has installed all the outlets, switches, and light fixtures. It is confusing with all the new sizes, shapes, and types of bulbs now on the market. I did avoid any incandescent bulbs, going with more efficient (but expensive) types. I was concerned about the front room being a little dark after morning sun, but these bulbs give plenty of light.

Inside, the main dome has had two coats of paint, the bathroom needs one more, and I decided I wanted the bedroom slightly darker, so the second coat will be tinted a slightly darker gray. It has looked lavender in the afternoon sun, but it won’t be a hard change now. I am still considering the floor finish. After speaking with a salesman about the epoxy paint, it doesn’t look like I really need that strong a surface, as it still needs an acrylic top coat. I am leaning toward a stain that will not show the red dirt so much.

layout for kitchen counters

layout for kitchen counters

The patios will be poured in the next couple of days. I plan to have a 10 foot patio the width of the entryway from the bedroom French doors, enough for a couple of lounge chairs. In the front I’ll have 12 feet, and 3 feet wider than the entryway for a sidewalk at the parking space. This side faces east, and will be a nice breakfast spot in good weather. I did not scratch my initials into the initial slab, but I might be tempted on the patio.

Once the patio is poured, we are taking a break for a week. I will go back to Virginia to pack more and handle what needs to be done around that house. I hope to paint a room or two while I’m there. My foreman needs to visit an ailing relative, so we figured now while waiting (estimated two weeks) for the production of counters is a good time.

Lots of Finishing Progress

It is hard to show what is happening on my cottage lately. The place is rather small to get a clear photo of things. The crew completed the jigsaw puzzle of triangles of wallboard for the bathroom dome. It was a long and tedious process for them. The building was originally designed as a storage building and was not constructed like the main dome with the board and re-enforced concrete already applied to the foam. Plus, it is small enough that they were almost getting in each other’s way. They completed the board and taping, plus the various closets that have some strange angles – but I’m happy to have storage in any shape.

They have started to do a knock-down finish of plaster on the walls. It will hide any imperfections and give the interior a polished look. They did a demo in my bedroom closet, with a semi-gloss paint. It looks very good, with the shine giving the texture a nice depth. It certainly looks a lot better than the semi-gloss I mistakenly used on the plaster walls in one room in my Virginia home. It showed every wave and lump, which old lathe and plaster walls have in abundance. They have started the primer coat, tinted with a light gray that I plan to use on the interior.

The septic system is completed, connected to the outlet pipe from the dome now that the electrical conduit has been done. We used our next-door neighbor, Brandon Butts, for this work, and are very pleased. With such a good cleanup of dirt, the grass will recover well. It is nice to be able to meet and hire someone locally (Brandon Butts Grading). He and his family moved a couple of years ago, and are also doing some clearing of their property. The far back edge of the meadow is overgrown on our side, and we are gradually clearing, but will leave a buffer of trees so their house has some privacy.

after septic system installed

after septic system installed

Since we had some great weather days, they completed the final coats of concrete on the small bathroom dome and some around the entryways. I know the crew is anxious to finish and take some time off now, and the end is getting near. Once the place is painted, it will be a fast finish for cabinets, appliances, various plumbing and electrical fixtures to be installed. We are planning a concrete pour for the front and back patios, and a load of crushed concrete for the driveway. I have been putting together IKEA furniture, but there are a couple big items that will wait for the end, as there is no room for the platform bed and headboard or the sofabed frame until the cottage is ready for them.

bathroom dome waterproofed

bathroom dome waterproofed

I think my cats are most anxious to go somewhere else, away from dogs. I am starting to see behavior problems which I can hardly complain about after five months cooped up in one (large) room.


We woke to the first snowfall of the year. It was a magical scene of big fluffy wet snowflakes, falling straight down with no wind. A couple of hours later it stopped, sun has come out and most has melted, but I did go out for pictures in spite of the wet and cold, actually not as cold as yesterday’s wind. The field next door has a mist rising from it as the sun warms it.

snow on the cottage

snow on the cottage

They’ve painted the bottom part of the dome with white waterproofing paint, so the only snow is on the top. It is warm inside, so this shows how well insulated the building is to catch snow so easily.

meadow in snow

Even the construction debris and mud look good with a cover of snow.

back yard of Sharon's house

back yard of Sharon’s house

south side of Sharon's front yard

south side of Sharon’s front yard

We’ve even had a pair of towhees visiting the feeder today. They are very handsome birds, but I was not able to get a picture.

driveway circle in snow


Wishing for a Dry Spell

The electrical line has been run underground to the cottage. Until the final inspection, only one circuit will be connected – good for testing and to avoid the line run from Sharon’s house. That connection sometimes gives the crew problems. Now the septic line can be completed from the house to the septic tank. I understand they have to put the electrical conduit in first when the two lines cross each other. I am learning all sorts of trivia.

electric line, underground through cottage back yard

electric line, underground through cottage back yard

Another item to learn is how to lay concrete block. Both Sharon and I want to learn, with the eye to future raised planter beds. One inspector talked about his experience learning to lay block from his uncle. It is going to take practice, but I know we will manage. I plan to have a patio at the front of the house with multiple planters all around it, and maybe even a firepit. It will give beauty, a sense of privacy, and still leave entryways on all sides. I can paint the block, and change colors as desired. I plan to start with a light blue house, so will try a dark blue planter. Since the house sits a couple feet lower than the slight hill behind it (the whole property has many tiers built into it) we will have a concrete block retaining wall from the parking pad all along the back of the dome. Of course this will also be painted and planted.

problem swampy part of future driveway

problem swampy part of future driveway

Since the rain has washed down the edge where the retaining wall will be, we will need a little more Bobcat work to move that to the edge of the dome slab, and move the dirt left from the septic system dig to level the area outside the front and back doors for the concrete patio pads. Then a concrete truck to pour the concrete will have to drive in over the poor swampy and rutted yard. After that I think we’ll have to bring in a load of crusher run. We decided that would work quite well for the driveway, since it is permeable and the stones don’t scatter like regular gravel. It is crushed concrete and has worked well on the existing driveway. There’s a lot of sand left from what we ordered to use for mortar. We’ll have that moved to a more convenient location, as I plan to park where it is now.

The crew is almost done with drywall work. The entryways and bathroom have been a challenge. They did not come as foam/concrete/wallboard assembled pieces. The crew has been working a jigsaw puzzle to fit the all the odd angles, but they are very experienced with drywall.

When the electric company crew was digging today, they cut through the French drain pipe and found a lot of water. Also found water in some other parts of the trench they dug. We are just so saturated from all the rain, that water is everywhere. At least we know the French drain is diverting the water around the dome as planned. The outside is such a mess with red clay, but I know the end is getting close and we can put out grass seed soon.

back of cottage, view toward the road and Sharon's house

side of cottage, view toward the road and Sharon’s house