Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The new greenhouse

Rather than clutter up this blog with pictures from the building of our second greenhouse, I decided to build a second blog with that story. Here is the link to that blog: http://lynnsgreenhouse.blogspot.com.
I will soon be posting new pictures to show how the plants have grown.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Spring Update

For those of you following this blog, not much work gets done on the inside of the dome in the spring and summer because we are outdoors. This spring, we are in the process of getting up a second greenhouse, and we are getting our pasture ready to rent out. A friend of ours wants to put some cow/calf pairs there. That is great with me, I love seeing the calves, but we needed to tighten up the fence and do some repairs. The fence is mostly done, so we have turned our attention to the second greenhouse. I will post some pictures soon. A friend of ours gave us the frame from one of those 'instant garages'. He had it over his hot tub. After a number of years, the tarp disintegrated. He did not want to replace the tarp, so he have us the frame. For less than $300 we bought enough greenhouse plastic to cover it. My husband is working on that now. The garden is mostly in, but it has been very cool here in central Canada. There is still a frost warning for this evening!
The good news is that my first greenhouse is warm and toasty. I have tomatoes, sweet red peppers and two types of cucumbers planted in there. I have some long green ones and some pickling ones. Once the second greenhouse is finished, my husband will return to working on the garage/shop. I keep reminding him that that is the priority for this summer.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Garage/Shop South wall with windows and doors

You can save a lot of money if you do not mind using second hand material. This picture shows the garage/shop with windows and doors. Thanks to our friend John for the doors and our friend Roy for the windows!

West wall

A couple of nice spring days allowed us to put the metal siding on the west wall. We still have some trim to do. Then we will start on the doors and windows.

South roof finished

Towards the end of March, we finally managed to get the South half of the roof finished!

Monday, March 9, 2009

South half of the roof

We had a cold, snowy, and windy March, but in between snow storms, we managed to get the south half of the roof started and the chimney in place.

Placing the chimney

I know this is a hard picture to figure out, but the shiny, metal thing is the chimney. The east part of the building will be my husband's shop. Once we get the boiler working in the house, the wood burning stove will be moved to the shop. The chimney needed to be in place before we started to put the metal on the south side of the roof.

Roof - North Side

The next project was the roof. We used pulleys to hoise the metal sheet on the roof. My husband would walk it across the roof and slide it into place. I was on a scaffold on the inside, and I would help guide it into place. Once in place, the metal was screwed to the purlins.

South and East Walls

As I mentioned previously, on nice days with little or no wind, we would get out and do as much work as we could. Some days that meant we were only able to get one sheet of metal up. Other days, we were able to do a lot more than that. Little by little, we got it done.The opening at the top of he east wall is for a vent.

South wall with some siding

It was sometime in December when the snow started to fly and it was too cold for us to continue our project. This picture shows the north and east walls at that time. At this point, we started working on the inside of the house again. In December, we tiled the kitchen floor ( yeh!). In January, we tiled the master bedroom and painted it. It is nice to have some color other than white primer!

We also started preparations for installing a boiler which will run the in-floor heating. On nice days, we still worked outside on the garage.

South wall

This is what the south wall looked like before we started putting the metal siding on it. It shows all the "ladders" in place. There will be two man doors and four windows on this side of the building.

North Wall from the inside

This is how the north wall looked from what will be the inside of the garage.

North Wall

We were lucky, the fall weather held out long enough for us to get the sheet metal delivered and the north wall completed.

Cement Floor

It was getting to be late fall. We were not sure if we could get a floor poured before the weather got too cold, but thanks to Kerry and Cory Kincaid, we got one done just before it turned cold!


After we finished the trusses, we braced the trusses and then the purlins were put in place. These are pieces of wood that go on top of the trusses. You may also have also noticed that we had the floor poured. We were able to get that done just before the cold weather set in.

Finishing the trusses

After we placed the last truss ( there were thirteen all together), I was so hapy, so I posed for this picture.


Three spacers were placed in between each truss. One on the north wall, one on the south wall and one in the middle. This picture shows the one in the middle.

Lifting a truss

This is a picture of how the tractor bucket and the crane lifted the trusses into place.


When we were nearing the completion of the ladders ( no picture), we ordered the trusses and had them delivered. Again, the crane was used to lift the trusses into place. This is a picture of one of the trusses on the ground. A long steel pole and two slings were used, along with the crane to lift the truss.

The ladders

Next, boards were placed between the posts, every two feet. We called these 'the ladders' because my husband often climbed them as a ladder. This picture shows the beginning of the ladders in the north west corner.

Top Cap

After all the posts were placed, we put on the top cap and the screed boards ( bottom boards).

Placing the posts

A friend of ours came out one weekend and helped my husband place many of the posts while I tried to keep his four year old occupied and away from the building site!
It was a challenge, but we all had a successful day!

6" x 6" Posts

We needed twenty-seven, 20 foot long 6" x 6" posts for our building. Since it is hard to get straight posts that are that long, we decided to build our own. This took some time to do, but we saved money in the long run doing it this way. In the picture, you see several of the completed posts. We screwed a sturdy wire on the end of each post. That way the crane could pick up the post and place it into one of the pre-drilled holes. The hole was then packed with gravel.


Since there was going to be a lot of heavy things to lift and put in place, my husband built this crane, which attached to the bucket of the John Deer tractor. Using the hydraulics, he could move things left and right. It also had a hoist to raise and lower things. Believe me, we used it a LOT!

Wood Delivered

In September, we had the wood delivered to start our project.

Building a Garage/Shop - Clearing the Site

I know I have not made entries to this blog for a long time, but we have been busy building a garage/shop. After much investigation, we finally decided to build a post and beam building. This picture shows the leveled site for the 32' x 48 ' building

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Summer update

I know it has been a while since I have posted anything new, but during the summer we work in the garden and on our farm, NOT in the house! Someone named Kate left me a comment, but I could not get back to her because of a system error. If she leaves another comment, perhaps I can reply to her, if the system works as it should! The latest development is that we started building a garage & shop! When this is finished, we will be able to move my husband's tools into the shop, and then we can develop the dining room and living room in the dome! I will be posting pictures and more details in the near future.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

East Bathroom

I like before and after pictures. The picture on the top is of the east bathroom before we started working on it. The picture on the bottom is how it looks today. We still have to put a cover on the front of the jet tub, but that is minor compared to all the other things we had to do to it.

Electronics cabinet

One man's ceiling is another man's floor. There is a ceiling above the utility area and the east bathroom. This created a loft. The loft was originally just going to be for storage, but as we started building it, it became clear that this was a nice loft, too nice for just storage. Here you can see the cabinet and desk my husband has built in the loft for his electronics .

Cabinets in the utility area

The utility area is on the other side of the wall of the kitchen. This picture shows the cabinets my husband built for the area. This gives us more storage and more work space. There is a pass through into the kitchen, which is VERY handy! On the left side of the cabinet, you can see the utility sink and beyond that is the washer. The counter tops and he back splashes in both the utility area and the kitchen are made of ceramic tiles.

Completed kitchen cabinets

This picture shows the finished kitchen cabinets! We still want to paint the upper walls and build an island that will match the cabinets ( the one in the picture is temporary).

More kitchen cabinetes

This picture shows more of the cabinets in process. I was so excited to have cabinets, I would start filling them up before the doors were on them. I was tired of living out of boxes and that way I could get rid of some boxes which gave us more room to move around.

Kitchen cabinetes

Finally, in the spring of 2007, my husband started building the kitchen cabinets! The upper picture is of the upper corner cabinet that has a cabinet on each side. The bottom picture is of the parts of the lazy Susan he built that went inside the cabinet.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The guest room

After getting all the books out of this room, we were able to frame a closet ( not shown), drywall, tape, mud, and prime the walls. Then we set up the dresser, bed and night stands.

Sitting area

During the winter of 2006-2007 we worked on many projects inside the dome. It is hard to put these in chronological order because we were working on numerous projects at the same time. This is a picture of the sitting area we created. It will eventually become my husband's office. In order to start drywalling the second bedroom, we needed to start organizing the numerous boxes of books we had stashed there. We organized a bunch of our bookshelves as a room divider which allowed us to create this sitting area and allowed me to start organizing our books. This had many benefits. One, we ended up with a sitting area. Two, we could start using our reference books again. Three, we could start drywalling the second bedroom.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Front entrance

When you first enter the dome, you end up in an air lock. The picture on the top shows the bench, coat rack and shelves that are inside the airlock. There is a similar setup on the other side of the airlock. Then there is a set of garden doors that lead into the dome. The picture on the bottom shows the garden doors from inside the dome. The airlock serves two purposes. In the winter, it allows people to enter the dome without letting the cold winter air into the dome directly. The second purpose is to allow people to enter and remove their coats and boots before entering the main part of the dome. This also works well in summer when you want to remove muddy boots before entering the dome.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bathroom vanity

This picture shows the completed vanity. Since this picture was taken, we have put doors on the closet and a towel rack. We will be putting a tile backsplash on the wall and paint.

Built in linen closet

We wanted to use as many nooks and crannies as possible. In this picture, you wee the beginnings of a linen closet that was built into the curve of the dome wall.

Starting cabinetes

Since my husband wanted to make all the cabinets for the house, that had to wait until he was done with the thermal shutters. This picture shows the beginnings of the vanity for the west bathroom.

Starting the first bathroom

Now, some of this may be out of chronological order, but sometime around the time we got electricity, we put the corner shower and toilet in the west bathroom.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Some of the finished shutters

This is a picture of one of the south windows with a complete set of thermal shutters. The bottom shutters are closed at night to keep the warmth in and the cold out - AND IT REALLY WORKS!!! Custom shutters were made for each of the seven doors and windows. Since this picture was taken, we have painted all the shutters white and my husband created special hinges so the upper shutters could be opened and closed.

Building the thermal shutters

Once we had all the outside preparations for winter finished, we needed to turn our attention to the inside of the dome. The one thing we really needed for winter was to build the thermal shutters so we would reduce the amount of heat we lost through the windows. Our thermal shutters have two inches of foam insulation, to reduce convective losses, and a layer of air foil (aluminized bubble wrap), to reduce radiative losses. This combination gives the windows a combined R value of 20. This picture is of the construction of one of the half round shutters. Also, in the background, you ca see that we were insulating under the window sill. That would eventually be covered with wood and painted. You will see pictures of this later.

An unexpected bonus

Now this may look like an ordinary 60 gallon electric hot water tank, and it is. And it was the last thing we expected to have in our new house because it would use too much electricity. However, we discovered that there were times when we produced more electricity than we needed to fill the batteries and run the house. We could just let the extra electricity dissipate, but instead my husband added an extra circuit to the AC panel and connected the hot water tank pictured here into the circuit through a relay added to the AC panel. When the solar controller detects that the batteries are full, it turns on the relay, diverting the extra electricity to the hot water tank and we get FREE HOT WATER!!! Now, this does not happen all the time, so then we use the instant ON hot water heater, but this electric hot water tank saves us from using a lot of propane. As I mentioned above, one 100 pound tank of propane usually lasts us 4-5 months! There are even days when we produce so much electricity, more than we need to fill the batteries AND heat the hot water tank, then we turn on electric space heaters if it is winter. We are starting to think of more creative ways to use our extra electricity. As we develop them, I will write about them in this blog.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Wood splitter

In the fall of 2006, our neighbor introduced us to a lady who has several quarter sections of land not too far from us. Her property has a lot of old spruce trees on it that died when we had a drought several years ago. She had a logging company come and take out the large trees on one quarter section, but when they logged the property, they left the branches, and the smaller trees they had to cut, in large piles. This quarter section is her pasture, so the cows don't mind, but she hates to see the wood go to waste. So, for the past two falls, we made several trips to her property with our trailer and chain saw, filled the trailer with wood and brought it home. The wood needs to be cut and split, so my husband purchased a blade for cutting wood and a stickler for splitting wood. He then built the wood splitter pictured here. This is still a work in process. He wants to redesign the wood cutting portion of it. It has a small hydraulic motor that runs off the hydraulics of the tractor.

Instand On water heater

We decided to buy an instant On water heater instead of using a hot water tank. That way, you only use propane when you need the hot water. It was hard to find one of these water heaters that run on propane, but we eventually found one.

Propane tank

We are COMPLETELY off the grid. We do not have natural gas coming to the house, but we needed something for cooking and for heating hot water, so we purchased the 100 pound propane tank pictured here. One tank of propane lasts us 4-5 months. Our stove runs off of propane and we have an instant ON hot water heater that runs on propane. When the tank is empty, my husband puts it on the trailer and takes it to town to get it refilled.

Utility sink and washer

One of the first areas we worked on after we got electricity, was the laundry. Up until now, the washer was sitting by the back door and when I wanted to do a load of wash we hooked up a drain pipe that went out the back door, we had a garden hose coming in from the well, and we started a generator to run the well pump and the washing machine. The may seem like a lot of work, but to us, it was better than running to a laundromat in town. We had all the plumbing and electricity in place, but we still had to drywall, tape, mud and paint. It felt good to at least start putting things in place. The utility sink was the first sink we installed so it was used to wash up, and wash dishes, as well as other chores. We still want to do a tile back splash around the utility sink, but that is for a later time right now.

Redigging the water pipes

In the summer of 2005, before Canadian Dome Industries started building the ring beam, my husband dug trenches, six feet deep from our two wells to the center of the dome. Then he laid water pipes in the trenches and covered them back up. he dug them six feet deep because that is what our neighbor in town, who used to live on a farm, said was the proper depth to prevent the pipes from freezing in the winter. However, during the year, we had two of our current neighbors visit the construction site and they both said that six feet was not deep enough, they had to be at least eight feet deep! So, as if we did not have enough to do before winter set in, my husband used his CAD digger, dug up the pipes, dug the trenches deeper and laid the pipes back down. However, this time we installed pitless adapters on both of the wells.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Solar Panels

The picture on the bottom is is how the 10 185 W solar panels looked when they were mounted on the frame. The upper picture shows the back of the panels so you can see how they are connected to each other.