Building My Very Own Geodesic Dome

May-June 1984

Mon, May 7
The last ten days have been a real bear. I have been getting around pretty regularly to several construction sites in the area and am starting to build up a fairly sizable pile of lumber in the garage, which includes some longer pieces even up to four feet in length. It begins to look like I will be able to fill a whole lot of my lumber needs for nothing if I can patiently pick it up a little at a time.

I got a call a week or so ago from a delivery company informing me that my Shopsmith was in town and asking me where they could deliver it. I was a little dumbfounded because that was far earlier than I had asked them to deliver it. It arrived at the house on Tuesday, May 1. I have tried to find some time to get it set up which turns out to be a pretty complicated procedure. I am slowly making headway and hope to have it fully operational within just a couple more days. I have had the motor running and I must confess it is somewhat frightening to sense the power of the thing.

Sun, May 13
Finally, tonight I managed to make a telephone connection to John Mercer, the architectural advisory committee for Apple Mountain. In order to build my dome on Apple Mountain I need to secure the approval of Mr. Mercer and the advisory committee. I questioned him about the procedure for my application and he told me to just mail him an artist's conception of the house along with a few critical dimensions and a check for $5 and the approval should be forthcoming with no problem. That was very encouraging news.

I also spent a good bit of time this evening cutting some lumber down to size on the Shopsmith. The machine cuts smoothly, accurately and effortlessly. I think that with a little practice I will be able to do good high quality work on the carpentry related aspects of this project. So now I have in the garage a sizable and growing stack of 2x6 lumber where before I had a stack of lumber in sizes varying from 2x6 to 2x10.

Sun, May 27
I have sent my application off to John Mercer. I have ripped most of my lumber down to the required 2x6 size, although some of the newer pieces that I have picked up still await the ripping process. I haven't been able lately to do much work on the project. This is the time of year when all school related responsibilities really pile up, concerts especially. In addition, pollen has been setting records lately and I seem to have developed a susceptibility to the little boogers so that has kept my energy levels at a pretty low point.

Mon, Jun 25
The time has finally come, I think when I will be able to spend more time on the project. Actually I have been able to get a few things done. Several times I have been able to get out at 9:00 or 10:00 PM and do a little cutting. By the time I could get a few pieces cut and all the debris cleaned up it would be midnight or later. Let me sum up what has happened the last few weeks. 1. The architectural committee sent a letter on May 31 approving my plans for construction on Apple Mountain provided, of course, that the requirements of the local building codes be met. A couple of calls were also made to me asking about lot number etc. I think everyone up there is really curious to see this house take shape. 2. I have cut all the short pieces that I think I will need to form the cross pieces of the T-blocking. This consists of about 53 pieces divided into three different sizes that should fit into the apex of each of the triangles that form the dome structure. There are three different sizes of triangles, hence the three sizes of T-blocking. Each piece is cut with a compound bevel at each end. The angle of each cut is specified to the hundredth of a degree. My Shopsmith is calibrated to the degree which means I had to estimate those little fractional degrees. I can't imagine that a slight inaccuracy of a few hundredths of a degree on a six inch cut will be detrimental to the integrity of my dome. I hope not. 3. I learned about a place in Arlington called the One Stop Energy Center which gave information and advice about solar energy. I spent some time there and have given some serious attention toward including passive solar energy as part of my home. I picked up some information and brochures there and later got a few books from the Fairfax Library.

Today I went to Front Royal to try and learn the ropes in the bureaucratic aspect of the project. That is, I went to find out what I need to do to apply for building permits and so forth.

The building permit process appears like it will not be too difficult and it appears that my dome will be an acceptable type project in the eyes of the Warren County building inspectors. I will find out for sure on Wednesday. I have an interview then with the building inspector.

We drove up to the mountain and everything seemed very nice. We saw some colorful birds which we never see in Fairfax as well as a deer.

Fri, Jun 29
I had my interview with the building inspector. He said the house exceeded by far all the structural requirements that they had and that I should have no trouble getting a permit. He also gave me some good advice about the building process. I left there feeling pretty good. Toney and I then went on to the property and walked around a bit in hopes of finding some of the boundary markers there. We had no luck. In the evening I went over to Ralph's and picked up his map of Apple Mountain with the layout of his lots specified. We will drive up there again soon and hopefully have better luck in delineating the boundaries.

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