A Long time ago I told my wife I was going to build her a brick igloo. Being that I am a brick mason it only made sense. I could eliminate the roofers and carpenters and do the entire job myself. Not to knock carpenters, but the last one I put my trust in was Jesus and he is not in that business anymore. After investigating this I found out that what started as a joke, became not only feasable, but seemed to be the strongest, most maintenance-free building you can build for the money. With hurricanes becoming stronger every year, (inflicting damage with both wind and water) house fires on the news every night, (I'm writing this in Feb. 07 cold snap) and the damage I've seen from wood rot through the years (everytime I take brick off a house for whatever reason, I've found rotten wood somewhere) the choice of building materials was easy for me. Masonry. Brick, mortar, concrete and steel. Guaranteed not to rot, rust, or runaway! The Monolithic Dome was invented by David South as a economical way to store potatoes! Potatoes need to be in a controlled climate and since Mr. South was in the foam insulation business, he figured out how to make a dome using an airform, (basically a big balloon) and spraying foam and concrete inside to make a strong and very energy efficient building. He soon figured what is good for an Idaho potato, could work well for a couch potato like myself. Let's face it, I'm lazy. I don't like to paint and I don't like doing maintenance on things that could and should last a lifetime. The only thing I should have to do at my house outside is cut grass and if I can get my hands on enough pavers, I won't have to worry about that! For more details on the Monolithic Dome Institue go to their website at Monolithicdome.com. Getting back to our own construction project we have built the exterior walls out of brick, which with the airform (which makes the roof) will be the form for a 3" layer of polyurethane foam and a 4" thick layer of concrete. The concrete surrounds a 12" grid (both vertical and Horizontal) of rebar, throughout the walls and ceiling. You're probably familiar with the strength of an umbrella with a few pieces of thin metal supporting a thinner layer of fabric. This is the same principal of a Monolithic Dome except you have much more steel and concrete instead of fabric. We will also have a concrete floor with a layer of carpet or hardwood to cushion the feet. I personally like the design of a dome esthetically speaking because it allows a high open ceiling without support. The balloon is now inflated. The foam has been sprayed and the rebar is up. We had the concrete sprayed back in May, but the finished product was less desireable than I expected. Actually it looked like crap. The concrete built up on the re-bar and the outline of it was visible throughout. It took months to find a plasterer to smooth thing out and then it took awhile for their crew to get caught up on existing work so they could ge to it. But, they came in and got everything smoothed out nicely. Now I can start working on inside walls, plumbing, electrical, and heat and air. It's a nice inside job for a mason in winter (it has not got colder than 45 degrees inside, even when it was 14 degrees outside due to ground heat I suppose), but it is very slow work due to details that were very easy to do with my pencil, but diffucult to do with a trowel. I must be one of those people who like self inflicted pain. Here are some pictures of current progress. P.S. Thanks for you help Dad, couldn't have gotten this far without you.
Well, it's been more than a year since I wrote what you just read. We have our occupancy permit and although we're not 100 percent done, we have moved in and after a dozen years living in a $5000.00 house trailer, we are living high on the hog. My dad (who without his help and the grace of Almighty God, I never would have finished this project) passed away June 19th 2009. I wish he could have seen the final product, but he got to see us get moved in and I'm very grateful for that. I think he thought I was plum loco when I told him about my plans at first, but as things progressed I could tell he took a lot of pride when folks would come by and I'd keep on working and he would act as tour guide. This alone probably got me done 3 months sooner! He had been retired for about 10 years when we started working on this and I'm so thankful I got to spend some time with him in his last years. Besides the brick on the outside, there is lots of brick work on the inside. All reminders of what he has given me that no man can take away. A craft where I not only learned how to stack brick and mud properly and with care and quality , but he taught me to love and respect God and other people, loyalty and commitment to friends and family and he taught me about diligence and patience. He never read me a book or gave me a speech about these subjects, he just taught by example. Although I've strayed far off the path he laid for me in the past, by Gods grace he lived long enough for him to get some of that stuff through my thick skull. Anyway, we've still got to put 2 inches of concrete on the roof and finish a couple of floors but for the most part it's done. Seems like another gift from God. I had 98 percent fun building it and I got to do things my way. I worked for a lady one time and I begged her to let me do some things fancy on her house. I was even going to do it for free. She told me she just liked things plain and simple. Well come see what you missed out on Eva! By the way the 2 percent that wasn't fun taught me how to pray and about mercy and forgiveness. It's all good! Thanks again Dad ( and Jesus) See you soon! PS. Message to the darn wolf who keeps knocking on the door, Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin! PSS. Thanks to Jimmy Hudnall, (my mother-in-laws husband) who painted every house my wife and I ever lived in. I thought with brick and stucco I wouldn't need any paint in this house. Wrong again. Evidently bright white and light white isn't colorful enough for this bunch. Thanks for cutting the grass too! I'd still be digging the footer if I would have had to stop to do that everytime it needed it. My hero! Joel Emerson
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