Archive | June 2017


Well, I was not paying attention to where I stopped in the yard and stood on a fire ant nest. To those who don’t live in the area they are found, it does not take long for them to swarm out and let you know how unhappy they are. I learned after moving here (Roanoke does not have them), to wear slide on-off shoes and no open toed sandals. I just wasn’t careful, as we were out pointing at the site and waving our arms about where pipes were going. The ant nests are small and not very visible, as they have done a lot of moving with the equipment stirring up their nests. Antihistamine and some soothing cream really helps. Good news is that I think I’m developing a tolerance, as the welts and itch were gone in 4 days. They still hurt when they bite, though.

We got bad weather from the early tropical storms off the gulf coast, had enough rain one day over the weekend that part of the foundation looked like a moat. When we built the original dome, the winter was one of the rainiest in a long time. I seem to have this thing with water problems.

I think this is a spot I will use to take pictures of the progress at least each week.

We won’t be pouring the foundation and slab until next week, after the holiday. Too bad it wasn’t ready this week, as temperatures were much better. We’ve been continuing a series of small delays, but nothing as serious as the truck accident. We have the plumbers tomorrow to put in the pipes needed to set in concrete. The inspection by Building Codes is scheduled on Monday.

Still a good drop out the front door with 6 inches of gravel, but soon to have concrete

I sure hope we get the shell up in July. The small delays start to add up to bigger costs. I’m already making alternative plans if the budget gets too tight. I grew up in a house that my father worked on constantly, so a partially finished place I could tolerate, but really wanted it done and settled. As long as I can pass occupancy, I’ll be okay with waiting. It’s going to be so nice when finished. Only the bathtub is a luxury item (and that’s debatable with our older achy bodies) Sharon and I both plan to use the soaking tub. She claims visitation rights until she can redo her bathroom. It is more convenient and not more expensive than a hot tub. Most of the cost is in items I want for ageing in place. I want a safe and comfortable old age. For example, I have a modified drawing for the electrician with what I want, and in the 800 square foot addition I have 32 power outlets between indoors and outdoors. We have so many things that require power and I certainly don’t want to have the tripping hazard of extension cords. My old house in Roanoke had no outlet in the bathroom when I moved in. But in 1940 when the house was built, there just weren’t the small appliances like hair dryers and electric razors to need it. Times change. I plan to have a charging station for electronics, too.



I truly am an introvert. It surprises me how much I hate having ‘strangers’ around my house. I know these are guys working to build my addition, but some days I feel like my cat, ready to growl when I see someone outside. Weekends are so relaxing. And this doesn’t have anything to do with my needing to get up really early. Since I retired I keep later hours, but I know with the heat of the summer the crew wants to work as early as possible and quit when it is too hot. That is fine with me, especially since that would also avoid the ‘possibility of afternoon thunderstorms’ that seems to be every summer afternoon. I have been adjusting my schedule.

foundation work

Even with afternoon and evening rains, the crew is making progress through the red clay mud. It’s quite a challenge, translating the plan with all of its ‘normal’ angles of the dome, plus the special link to connect the old and new is a whole weird set of angles itself. Doug did a good job with the first one and is making sure this one is accurate. He had to reset things just once today. He has also set a pipe under the foundation to drain off the rainwater that has gathers in the driveway and runs through that area. It will prevent washing out in the future, and likely keep standing puddles out of the drive.

view from my front door

Tomorrow we get a load of gravel so they can continue to prepare for the foundation pour. After that is the slab. That will still have a height difference from my front door of a few inches, as the flooring in the new part will be different. That’s better than the couple of feet currently outside the door. I’m parking at the back of the house and using the back door for the duration. I know there is always debris that may puncture tires. I’ve given them my parking spot for the mortar mixer, convenient to power and water. Since I have crushed concrete for the drive, it won’t hurt to drip there, either. Sharon did not like mowing over chunks of mortar drip.

We were lucky with the first build, as Doug easily found an electrician to work on it. He was semi-retired and passed away a year or so ago, so we are looking. So many people are leery of the dome, even though most of the wiring goes through the interior walls, which are standard construction. This is nearly the last licensed subcontractor we need, chronologically, so we aren’t excited yet, just frustrated.


scary damage to the truck

Truck arrived Wednesday and was unloaded within 3 hours. Only a couple of scrapes in foam on a couple of panels and one broken corner. Nothing serious, all easy to fix. The poor truck has a lot of scrapes, and it showed how lucky everyone was to have no injuries. If the driver had rear-ended my driver’s truck, we would have had quite a set-back on the schedule, probably having to get a new place in the production line.









stacks of panels spread around the meadow

The crew had a concrete saw and cut up and removed the part of my front patio that will become a true foundation under the addition. For the duration of the build, I will be parking in the grass and using my back door. And it is now loaded with everything that used to be in front. They stirred up a couple of ant nests, so I’ve been spraying where they were climbing the outside wall. After I had an invasion last year, I do not want any ants inside.


patio removal prior to new foundation

Thursday was unscheduled, as the bobcat driver (with the great laser level) was not available until Friday. I headed to Charlotte to pick up a waterproofing compound that will go into the mortar in the seams between the panels. I heard about Kryton on a This Old House show, and it sounds like it will prevent any intrusion of water. Even though the last paint we used is very good, I’d like to have an additional barrier. It’s expensive, except considering what can be saved if it works as promised: frustration at leaks, more expensive paint, and more labor to deal with it. I will report on the results, but probably won’t know until another winter/summer temperature cycle.


This project is just not destined to be completed anywhere near then end of summer. I was awakened by a call this morning from the truck driver who was in Florida yesterday and took on the load of panels from AI Domes. There was an accident near Colombia this morning – thankfully no injuries, but another truck behind him didn’t get stopped in time and slid between his truck and the one beside him, blowing out tires. He said it did not look like much touched my stuff, just a few gouges (easily repaired with spray foam or concrete). Since he doesn’t know how long it’ll be before he gets towed in to replace wheels and tires, we are planning for tomorrow. At least I was able to reach my foreman before he left home and only the most local worker showed up here before Doug reached him. Just not a good day to start things, I guess. We have to leave enough room in the meadow for the truck to turn around, so no other work will start until after delivery.

“Tomorrow’s another day.”

Here’s a picture of the truck leaving the plant yesterday morning. Lots of stuff.

loaded truck


I’m Ready to Start

Things are getting close to starting on the build. I have the engineer-sealed plans, have gotten approval of my septic system, and we have been working to get everything else lined up for county to approve a building permit. Got it today! Since I’m putting the connector to the new dome over the current front door, I will lose a lot of light in my kitchen. I have had the 2ftx3ft windows replaced with 2ftx5ft windows and they look great. The A/C unit beneath them has been removed, too. I’ll have to start parking in back and using my back patio doors, as the concrete at the front will need to be removed and a regular foundation will eventually be poured. There are still a few plants to be moved, and we’ll probably have to get a load of dirt for leveling the site. It is on a small slope, so looks unlikely we’ll have enough without tearing up the yard too much. Adding it will be easier.

new kitchen windows

Sharon and I had planned to go to the annual Mensa gathering this summer, but decided it was going to be a lot easier if we just waited to go next year. She is hoping to have a litter of puppies started, and I’m starting on the addition – plenty to keep us occupied. This also means I won’t be worried about getting jewelry ready for a market there. I’ve gotten so far behind while healing the shoulder, having to cut back to keep from getting too sore.

I am back at working my upper body for strength training again, increase of weight after 3 or 4 weeks. It still is not feeling like normal, but I can lift a lot more everyday stuff. Shoulder injuries are certainly not an easy recovery. I have also been doing a lot of stretching of my hips, various modified yoga poses. It is slowly easing up and allowing me to move more easily.

We (2 cats and I) are settling into a new routine with the third cat gone. They are each trying to fill some of the empty role Buster played. It would help if they got along better. I will have to consider another grown cat after we have more room.  I think they will survive the build by being closed into the back (bedroom) half of the current dome. They are both fairly shy cats and hate the noise and commotion, but did all right while the windows were changed out. It will probably drive me crazier.

Rather than try to match up the pale gray paint in the kitchen, since the plaster is torn up around the windows and more will be when the door is replaced with an open doorway, I will probably start with the one wall in a yellow. I love a yellow kitchen, especially one that faces north. With the room open to the top of the dome, I don’t want to have to paint that for a good while, so it will stay pale gray. I really had colors I liked in the other house, so will go back to using those. Sage and forest for living room and bedroom, and a combination of terracotta and a muted yellow for the master bath. And best of all, my stuff goes with those colors, so nothing to replace, saving money.

We have a really big oak to one side between Sharon’s and my houses. A very large limb fell just as she was having a fenced area started for a dog run. After a problem with the new chain saw, they are finally getting it cleared and back to the fencing. At least the tree is solid, just one limb was bad. They counted 65 rings on the limb.

tree limb cleanup

After my spending many hours on the computer and phone, we are getting a lot of stuff delivered for the build: Porta-potti, a lull (extended forklift), the panels for the dome, a water cooler for the workers (it is already pretty hot around here), probably will need a load of fill dirt when the site is leveled and compacted. I made a run to Ikea for things that won’t wait for after completion (like bathroom sinks and lights). I will be ordering the rest of the bathroom fixtures in a couple of weeks. I hope my budget survives with enough to afford solar panels, we shall see.

preparing to store panels under these trees