home

Utilities.

Since the house is set so far back from the road, bringing in the utilities was a fairly major expense. There was about three hundred feet of trenching & screening to get done. It's a tricky business, since you have to get everyone coordinated so that the utilities go into the trench at the right time, and in the right order. You don't want to leave the trench open for two long, since a good rain can collapse the walls. I also found that talking with the utilities was a bit of a strain, since they're used to dealing with builders who know exactly what's required, guys who don't need every last thing explained to them. Persistent questioning got me through this phase.

Gas, electric, and water all come in from the street, and each starts at a different place on the road. These three separate trenches then meet about 100' in, and a common three foot wide trench will bring all three utilities in the rest of the way.

The gas line was installed on the left side of the trench by a contractor hired by the gas company, my plumber laid the water line down on the right side, and I shoveled about 6" of screening (fairly fine gravel) on top of both. My electrician then laid down a conduit through which the electric company pulled their cable through. After this electric conduit was laid in the trench, the phone and cable T.V. companies dropped their cables into the ditch, and my excavator piled all the dirt back in. Voila! It works, amazingly.

For simplicity's sake, the wiring, plumbing, and heating pipes all run through the interior partition walls - nothing's brought up through the outer wall of the dome. The only utility installation done in the dome walls was for electric and phone outlets.

We're using a gas boiler and baseboard hot water radiators for heat, along with an Osburn 1600 wood stove. A ceiling fan will be installed in the large open room to help circulate the wood stove's heat. Until the radiators were hooked up, the wood stove did a very nice job of keeping the house warm while we were working.

At a future point, we'd like to add central air conditioning. We're going to do this by installing the air exchanger upstairs so that the cool air will blow out from a vent at the top of the dome, and circulate naturally throughout the home. For now, we have the electric line for the air exchanger, and copper lines for the coolant and condensate already installed in the walls. This ought to make final installation easy when we decide we have some spare cash for cooling.

We'd also like to install a central vac at some future point, so for now, I'll run the PVC piping necessary for the system, and add the vacuum unit itself a little later.

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