Construction Continued: Interior Framing
A couple of coats of paint later, the inside of the dome was ready to be finished with regular interior walls. Most interior walls were built with light-gauge steel studs. These are easily cut to length, are fireproof, and come with pre-cut holes for running wiring and plumbing. The steel top and bottom plates that go with them could be bent to fit the curve of the inner dome surface. We began by getting all the walls correctly oriented (sometimes on the second try) and fastening the steel bottom plates to the concrete floor in the right places. We laid out the lines of the walls very carefully, matching our measurements to the blueprints. At one point, a drain pipe in the floor had to be moved a few inches to match the blueprint. Monolithic Domes was very co-operative about doing this. Holes for the top and bottom plates were pre-drilled into the concrete with a hammer drill (a crucial tool) before the studs were put in place with concrete screws. The studs were cut to length with tin snips.
The picture above shows the main dividing wall between the two domes, looking from the mid-living room toward the bedrooms and bathrooms. The steel-colored rim around the archway is the top plate of the studs. In some places, where the curve of the dome was extreme, making the steel top plates and studs fit the available space was a real challenge. The key was getting the bottom plate in the right spot. Once that was done, we used two steel studs nested together to give us a telescoping measuring rod. With the end of one stud placed inside the fixed bottom track, and the stud placed on the vertical with the level, we were able to mark on the ceiling where the top plate had to go to give us a straight wall. We used the same method to work out the height each stud had to be for its particular place in the wall. No two were alike, so we did this on every single stud.
The wooden-stud walls visible in the two pictures above form a standard sized (5 x 8) hall bathroom. We needed a flat eight-foot ceiling in that bathroom to give us a small attic where we could place our heating and air conditioning unit. We also built flat eight-foot ceilings in the hallway (left of center, through the door) and the master bedroom entry hallway (between the wooden wall and the steel wall immediately in front of it.) This provided an enclosed space for our heating and air conditioning ducts.
We also installed exterior doors and windows to seal off the house from water leakage. This was not always as simple as it first appeared, since on a dome house (unlike a house with eaves) rain flows over the entire outer surface. We had always discussed putting a porch roof over the living room windows and door to protect them from sun and rain, but we were forced to make that an earlier part of the process than we had intended in order to prevent seepage. We also put small eaves over the other windows and doors to help them keep out the rain.
The ceiling track got pretty complicated at times. Note completed bathroom framing in lower half of picture.
|It went pretty quickly once we got the hang of it. View down the hallway from the living room all the way to the second bedroom. Metal box to the right is our central circuit breaker box -- the rough electrical system has been installed. The outside wiring to the electric meter was done by our electric company (TXU). The installation of the electric meter pole itself, and the wiring from the meter through a foundation conduit into the house to our circuit breaker, was done by an electrician on a contract basis.|
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