Retaining Walls Seaside

Thursday, February 8, 2024

The building of the retaining walls

Walls, Drainage, and Earthworks

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Walls and Earthworks

The swales designed and described in the prior post did not survive the Category 4 hurricane that visited the property in...

Swales and Pools

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

The most critical erosion problem was caused by our neighbor building a retaining wall and stealing our large rocks which had stabilized the earth for...

Earthworks Week: Septic System search and Clean Out

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

The last 10 days of August I attempted to finalize the project: find and connect the septic to the new bathroom; prepare the ground for more annual water...

Electrical and water infrastructure

Friday, August 4, 2023

Infrastrucure Photos and Summaries
Electrical and Water Connections
The main water pipe and 2 conduits (one electrical, 8 guage wire and one ethernet...

Building Shelves and Shower Walls

Monday, June 26, 2023

Building Shelves and the Shower
This is the frame that Andres and Cesar used for the new bathroom sink (called a ‘vento lavababa’ or window sink)....

The Dome Village Thus Far

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Looking at pics from 16 years ago when we built the original complex of domes, look how much my neighborhood has changed:

Niches #2 - Learning from Mistakes

Thursday, June 1, 2023

The niches I made in the Sunrise dome are two of my favorite (and most useful) attributes of dome living.  One is my bookshelf and the other my 'art...

Plastering - Pollido and Fine Coats

Monday, May 29, 2023

The finishing coats of plastering (‘fina' which uses sand and is smooth,  ‘pollido’ which is pure cement + water and brushed on is much smoother) are...

Fixing the 'Dimples' We Made

Monday, May 15, 2023

Because we over-tamped Eli’s dome, the rustic plaster layer attempted to ‘smooth out’ the error (for a narative on this see the Nov 26 2022 post titled...

Plastering the Domes - Rough Coat

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Benito and Carlos Victoria, two gentlemen from Oaxaca, have been hired by Jose Maria (Chema) to plaster.  I haven’t helped much, except to share the...

Framing the Doors and Windows with 'Eyebrows'

Sunday, December 11, 2022

‘Ceja’ is the term for ‘eyebrow’ and we use one on each window and door.  They serve two purposes:
Provide a visual break to the dome's flat surface...

Niches in the 3 Domes

Sunday, December 11, 2022

I was commited to making niches before curing took place, as during Hootenanny I we didn’t do the ‘carving’ early, before the concrete 'cured’.  This...

Framing vs Cutting: the pros and cons of two approaches to Windows and Doors

Thursday, December 8, 2022

This was the main motivation for trying another set of domes: by avoiding the framing process, it would provide significant time and material savings....

The Bathroom Dome - freestyling with the metrics.

Monday, December 5, 2022

The bathroom is an appendage onto the Bedroom Dome, accessed via an interior door.  As such, it can ‘lean' it’s weight onto the bigger dome.  The plan...

Closing the Bedroom Dome

Friday, December 2, 2022

This was a long project, as it's a big dome, using 16” bags the Dome is 176" inch (14.6 feet) diameter.  With the ‘keyhole’ door, 3 arched windows, and...

Ending of the Hootenanny Phase - was it worth it?

Sunday, November 27, 2022

The Hootenanny will end today with the leaving of Scott and Amy Hartwell.  There are no more gringo visitors planned, and Kate and Eli have just two...

Can a dome be built in 2 days, from foundation to closure?

Saturday, November 26, 2022

I certainly had confidence a dome could be built in 2 days, from foundation to closure.  But I was 14 years removed from actual earth building work and...

Teen Dome Closing, Notes on how to close a dome

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Once the Hootenanny cast dispersed back to N America, we were left with the core Mexican team of Blas, Raul, Gomez, and Ceasar; with Kate and Eli and...

The Hootenanny Was a Success

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Hootenanny II was an amazing experience. The team started to arrive on Monday night and we spent Tuesday getting to know each other. Starting early (7...

Let the Hootenanny Begin

Monday, November 14, 2022

The preparation has been laid to rest. It’s time to begin the Hootenanny!  We finished laying all foundation and buttressing bags over the last week....

Foundation for 3 new domes is ready

Friday, October 21, 2022

The chalked lines I had readied in June were completely erased by the September hurricane. Luckily, the ability to edit my earlier markings yielded better...

Earth preparation with piping readied

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

When I was in Baja in late May, I met with Jose Martin to prepare the site for the November build. What we decided:
Teen Dome
This will be dug...

Hootenanny Two Takes Form

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Welcome back to Earth building. It’s been 14 years since I last practiced this art form, and I’m GLAD TO BE BACK!  
The plan is to start with a 12’...

The Table Rises - Stronger Than Ever

Friday, October 15, 2010

Santiago and Arthur came to install the power and drill a hole for the lights that will bring ‘Baja Christmas’ to Las Domas each night we turn ‘em on....

The iconic table falls over

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Upon arriving back to Las Domas after 9 long months, I was greeted by the table having fallen over.  Yes, expecting an untreated piece of driftwood to...

Bienvenitos Casa De Las Domas

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The last few days have been long and tough, but full of fun and adventure.   As is typical in this community, the workers had done most of what had been...

Aglow in the evening

Friday, March 20, 2009

Wrapping up the Hootenanny

Thursday, March 19, 2009

That didn’t happen.  I was ecstatic upon my arrival, as some of the finishing touches I’d forgotten about had been done beautifully: the table surrounding...

End of the Hootenanny

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The last few days were 18 hour days - getting my ‘checklist’ of finishing items ready; choosing tile and paint colors; rounding up the final pieces needed...

The WIndscoop - and expensive air conditioner

Sunday, January 18, 2009

When we altered our plans for the scoop back in early January (read the posting on January 17 ‘Windscoop Thoughts’ if you care to re-visit), I was gung-ho,...

Exterior Plaster Strategy

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Here in Baja, we have less rain than nearly anywhere else on earth. We’re not going to do the final coat of plaster, because I want to percolate designs...

Solar Water Heater - it’s cool

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The ideas was hatched by Christopher, who had built ‘brea box’ solar heaters in the 70s.  And it’s very similar to a solar oven I had built in Peace...

Our Domes Are Complete

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It is a major thrill. We do have some considerations we’re having about plaster and the windscoop, For those reading the details, here’s a summary of...

Bedroom Dome is Closed up

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The tops of the domes proved to be a tougher project than projected.  Closing them in and making a small cap of cement is no problem, as bags naturally...

Kitchen Dome Has been closed

Monday, January 5, 2009

Today is a massive accomplishment with the kitchen dome closing in. Having forgotten to place the vent tubes in, we had to go back and cut away the earth...

Lancet Arch ‘Eyebrow’ Windows

Friday, January 2, 2009

Besides the eyebrows, built with small shots of rebar and wooden forms to hold the arched concrete, we’re adding 18” paper forms to make ‘star gazing’...

Happy New Years To All

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

From all of us here in El Cardonal, we wish you a happy and prosperous New Year.  We enjoyed a lovely evening of fresh sierra (mackerel) on the bar-b-qd,...

Our Kitchen Adventures

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

We delved into an outdoor dining platform. With the help of Romero and Estabhan, the Gringo team dug a trench for a semi circular kitchen. It was a lot...

Palapa Ready and a Trench

Monday, December 29, 2008

The image above is of the forms we poured today to hold our palapa over the shower, and the hot water solar heater/palapa over the toilet.  These are...

First experience with plaster

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Eli and I made the plaster mix, Kate and our crew helped apply it.  Ricardo believes we need to first plaster the ‘gap’ between the bag layers.  While...

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 25, 2008

This was a short work week for us, and very little got done from the gringos, though my crew worked 2 full days. Progress was made, for a 2 day work...

first round windows

Friday, December 19, 2008

I knew I wanted round windows to allow star gazing at night.  But the position had to be ‘solar smart’, so that we didn’t introduce heat during the day....

Windsccoop thoughts

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The tube-like feature shown above was intended to be built on the bedroom dome, so that it bent around between the Sunrise and Bedroom domes.  But with...

Earth bag arches are a lot of work

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

After working all day on the arch, we realized we’d become spoiled by laying long bag - progress goes quick. Once you fill and shape a whole lot of smaller...

Orca feast

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It was an extra special day for the Sea. We awoke to seals playing on the reef, dolphins jumping, and a school of small rays jumping out of the water...

Walls Are a Rising

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It’s hard to think we’ve really stated to see the top of the domes.  All 3 domes now are fully into height rows corbeling inward.  We have used a ‘3...

Keyhole Door

Thursday, December 11, 2008

We are making progress beyond my plans.  We’re now climbing over all the door, window, and keyhole frames.  Today we laid the height compasses on each...

Window forms and windscoops

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

We used our last bag of cement at 10 am today, and were promised 2 deliveries that never came. But what a time to break for form building!  Luckily,...

tema - the extra mile adventure arrives

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A break form the rhythm of the building process occurred at ~ 9 am, as the TEMA bus arrived, led by a local after they made a few wrong turns and wound...