Building Dome Interiors
Here is another update on my house construction at CoolTop. Consider me the victim—I am learning how not to do a dome interior first. What I learn will be applied to doing the interior of the bunkhouse and the first Geek Dome right. It will also inspire some changes in how the shell of the next three Geek Domes will be done.
Let me start off by saying that I still think the domes are very cool. They offer security, thermal mass and something that can be built with typical Nicaraguan albañil skills. But, "just do it" is clearly not how to get a dome done. Doing stuff right from the start will make it a lot easier.
So far, here are my "bad experiences" with a bit of a look at solutions (when I have them).
- Windows—Domes are round. Window openings are rectangular. This is just an attention to detail problem.
- Same story for doors but you also need to make sure the space where the door must open is as big as the space where the door must close.
- Speaking of doors, the size of the opening for say a 32 inch door is not 32 inches. That is just the width of the door. And, when calculating the height you need to take into account the height of the floor that will be placed on top of the concrete slab.
- If a dome is not part of a sphere—that is, it is sorta almost but not really—where rafters changes in distance and direction from the center.
- If two guys in the US can pour and make flat a 24 x 24 foot garage floor, eight guys in Nicaragua should be able to do the same with a 25 foot diameter floor.
- Nicaraguan 2x4s are not necessarily 2 by 4, the size at one end is not necessarily the same as the size at the other and the direction between one end and the other is not necessarily a straight line.
- Why is a "2 to 3 inch thick" wall sometimes over four inches?
Total disaster? No. But the combination of variable concrete work with variable wood does not make for an easy finishing job. We are just starting the gypsum work and, well, I am not thrilled with what I expect the next week to look like.
I don't have the solution—yet. But, I have some ideas. Aluminum studs are one possibility. Or, concrete columns. Maybe plycem with wood strips at the joints instead of gypsum and a lot of tape and mud. I'm still learning and still thinking. Once I know the best answer for Nicaragua I intend to write up the details.