We’re nearing the end of the project! There will be one more video after this with some of the finishing touches and then I’ll go on to some other videos about the aquaponic setup. You may also notice that some of these segments may look out of order. I was working on everything at the same time depending on the weather, but wanted to group similar segments together to create a better story line.
I needed a large door in the dome so that I could move tanks and grow beds in and out of the building. Garage doors leak a lot of air so I decided to build some custom doors. The doors were framed using 2 by 4’s and pressure treated plywood. When they are completed, they are bolted to some strong hinges and anchored directly into the building’s frame. I still need to add some gaskets and weather stripping to create a good air-tight seal.
I also needed to remove some of the struts from the dome structure to make a larger opening for the equipment. I removed 6 struts and it didn’t seem to make any difference with dome’s structural integrity.
To level out the floor, I brought in several yards of sand and spread it throughout the building. I then racked it out and roughly leveled it out by eye.
Now that the sand was in place, I was able to do a final leveling and compact the area where the stock tank belonged. I decided to place the tank directly on the sand to help protect the base, and save a few dollars by not needing to put brick pavers under it.
To keep the floor from settling over time, I borrowed a plate compactor and compacted the entire area. When this was complete, I also borrowed my neighbor’s laser level and raked out any of the high or low areas, and then compacted everything again.
There are about 5500 bricks that are used in the floor so I made up a couple of carriers which made the job go much quicker! It’s still a lot of work to carry them all in, but at least the bricks remain flat and oriented so that setting them into place is fairly quick. Between carrying them in and laying them out, I average 10 bricks per minute.
To get started, I set a straight string across the floor and lay out a course along the line. This will act as the base reference for the rest of the rows.
The bricks are laid in an alternating, or basket weave pattern and can be adjusted a bit to compensate for their imperfections.
Along the edges, I roughly cut off the bricks so they would fill any gaps that were smaller than a standard brick. Since most of these areas will be covered with grow beds, I wasn’t concerned about making them look perfect. Any remaining voids were filled with gray sand.
The same type of cuts were made around any of the plumbing that comes up through the floor since these areas will also be well hidden by grow beds.
The shed area and northern walls are all insulated to help retain heat during the winter. I decided to use a do-it-yourself spray foam instead of fiberglass batting because of all the odd shapes that needed to be filled. It also will reduce air leaking, and minimize mold. The foam sticks to everything, so I had to protect the polycarbonate from over spraying by stapling painter’s plastic throughout the dome.
Not only does the foam stick to the dome, it also will stick to clothes and skin. Full body protection, goggles, and a respirator is needed!
The foam comes as a complete kit. Each kit contains 2 tanks with A and B parts, hoses, disposable mixing nozzles, and spray tips.
It took a little while to get used to a good spraying technique. The first few cavities were a bit uneven, but once I got a feel for how it worked, I was able to fill the areas better. The kits come with a fan spray for regular stud spacing, and in hindsight, it would have been better to use that tip everywhere.
The biggest problem I ran into was spraying the majority of the foam overhead. My goggles kept getting foam on them and I couldn’t clear them. By the time I was done with a set of tanks, I could barely see anything!
I also insulated my custom-built doors.
The fan tip worked really well at controlling the spray pattern. The foam comes out a bit slower, but you have far more control and a more even fill. To save a little money, I sprayed the standard sized wall cavities with one layer and plan on using standard fiberglass batting.
The knee-wall under the dome is also filled with foam. Once it hardens, it’s easy to cut off any of the excess that sticks out. I then cover the walls with treated plywood.
That’s about it for now. We’ll wrap up the series finishing up the exterior and a few odds and ends. Thanks for watching!