Dragonfly Hill?

No, but a similar earth sheltered home pastedGraphic.pdf

built by our friends Nigel & Lorraine in Dixon, California.  I went down there for a quick visit and to see up-close some of the waterproofing and finishing details that we will be dealing with on our structure. We stayed up late eating fresh Kumo oysters that I brought from Oregon Oyster Farm and chatting about our homes and the building process.  I spent the night in their beautiful home.  It was such a warm and nurturing space, just as I expect our home will feel like when we move in.


Nigel and Lorraine chose to plaster the walls with American Clay.  It is a beautiful contrast to the stark lines of the steel.  This is the same effect that we will be doing in our house.


pastedGraphic_1.pdfNow back at home… As you recall from the previous posts, we have been working on the guest bedroom and bathroom wall framing.  Due to an odd angle in our bathroom wall, we have to install the bathtub before we can finnish framing in the wall.  So we ordered our “dream” tub.  It is a 66” soaking tub.  We also decided to go with adding the Thermal Air Hydrotherapy option with heated back and headrest. This is a bit of an extravagance and we may have to rent out the tub to help pay for it but in the long run, I know we will appreciate having it. (As will our guests.)


While waiting for the tub to be delivered, we started work on the wall that will house the electrical box.  Soon we will be able to pull the main power line in from the meter .

A Head.er The Game

This weekend saw great progress on our interior framing.  First we had to frame in a header for the doorway to the guest bathroom.  From the picture above, it looks like we must be putting in a massive entrance to the bathroom. We will be installing a pastedGraphic.pdfpocket door so the header needs to be twice the width.  It will also support the ceiling/storage platform above the bathroom.

We will be using this beautiful fir and glass door that we have had stored for a number of years at a friend’s house. (Thanks, Kay!)

The glass will let light into this bathroom which is the only room in our house that has no window.  And don’t worry, shy friends, the glass will be obscured.

Next we framed in the guest bedroom closet.  There were some challenges as there are lots of odd angles involved.

pastedGraphic_1.pdfIt’s not a very big, but then again we don’t want our visiting friends and family to bring too much clothing. :-)

There will also be a storage platform above this closet.

By Sunday, we had the pocket door hardware and framing installed.  Now when you look at the picture, the doorway is more to scale.

pastedGraphic_2.pdfSince the shell of our structure is not fully waterproofed, we have had to deal with water seeping into the house making for unpleasant working conditions. Concrete is a very porous material.  A friend turned us on to an amazing product with a rather silly name. “Hey’Di Powder X System”.  This stuff is amazing! You take a handful of this powder and press it into an “active leak” and just like the story of the kid sticking his finger in the dyke, the leak stops…. for the most part.


We, and by we, I mean mostly Jeff, have eliminated all but a few persistent leaks. But even those are minor drips now.  This is really just a stop-gap measure until we can save up for the real waterproofing, which will be installed on the exterior of the shell before its buried. But the drier conditions are certainly making it more pleasant to work inside our house.


What’s a header?  he he!
Monday, February 13, 2012 – 02:56 PM
A header. dear anon. covers the span of a window or door. It needs to be large so that the weight of whatever is underneath cause sagging across the open space. Correct me if I’m wrong, Steve.
Monday, February 13, 2012 – 03:28 PM
Does NOT cause sagging, I meant to say
Monday, February 13, 2012 – 03:31 PM
It boggles my mind how you two are building everything on your own when  you have not had an engineering type background education/experience in the past.  It is very impressive all you have accomplished, and the fortitude you continue even after major setbacks is even more awesome and to be most admired.   You deserve many cudoes!   And before you know it, this house will be on Newport’s list of what tourists  must see.
Have you thought ahead about selling tickets for public showing – to recoup expenses?
Tuesday, February 14, 2012 – 09:55 AM
Dear Anonymous
Thanks for all the encouragement. Sometimes we really need it. Steve is the big reason why we’re able to do what we’re doing. He really is one of the smartest people on the planet. I just do what I’m told. (He saves the grunt jobs for me).
As for charging admission: see my as-yet-unplished novel, “The Three-Dimensionality of Clouds” about paying to visit the house!
Tuesday, February 14, 2012 – 12:40 PM
Jeff & Anonymous,
Jeff, let us not discount Mr. or  Ms. A’s suggestion to sell tickets.  Just incase we need a little more above and beyond your novel royalties to pay for the Thermal Bubble Massage option for the bathtub I want. And to answer the question about background education/experience.  Aside from being blessed with the “Clever Gene” (I got that from my dad), My sordid past includes owning a custom furniture and cabinet business, doing house remodeling and building boats.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 – 09:33 AM
Right. I forgot about the thermal bubbles….
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 – 09:38 AM
Gary Betts
Steve and Jeff

Spent a most enjoyable adventure this morning and early afternoon reading your blog.  I am so impressed with your efforts and accomplishments!  It is a joy to see your progress.  Thank you for sharing.

If the dry concrete shell had been fully weatherproofed, would you have been able to leave the two layers of foam insulation board in place?  I thought it looked really nice. Seemed to me to be such a loss to scrape it off.  I am also enamored of Dozy and Dumpy.  Those guys are tough hard workers.

Best wishes for your continued progress


Thursday, February 23, 2012 – 03:41 PM
Hi Gary, Thanks for the comments. There is a valid reason we didn’t leave the foam in place on the inside of the structure. The whole energy efficient concept of this structure is based on Thermal Mass. Once we bury it. (and we will be placing the left over scrap foam on the outside), The exposed concrete in the house will absorb and hold the heat.
Dumpy is now for sale. (he doesn’t work well on a hill) Just wait until you see Pugsley, the latest member of our family.
Monday, February 27, 2012 – 10:29 AM
Pugsly elbowed out Dumpy in the “git-er-done” department, cute as Dumpy is.
Monday, February 27, 2012 – 12:12 PM