Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Saga of dr dodges house

  1. Oct 3, 2011 #1
    good evening folks,

    Some of you will remember me from a couple years ago. I was laid off as a metrologist from GE after 15 years, due to down sizing, but that is another story (maybe for the lounge)

    anyway, I have a very unique home. It is made of 8 inch styrofoam blocks (think cheap cooler). It was designed by an engineer and built as his "dream home" in 1989. It originally had stucko on the outside, then developed leaks, and was covered in spray ureathane and elastomeric (sp?) roofing compound to "solve " the problem. I am the 3-4th owner after the original person built it. (and my wife and myself absolutely love it)

    I have owned it for 10 years, and unlike the previous owners, have actually learned to repair, and modify it. I upgraded the windows from the single panes to low E thermopanes using the "foam in a can" great stuff. I have also started using what I call (tounge in cheek) elastoglass to repair and strengthen the outside from holes (original simple elastomeric is pretty wimpy) using polyglass window screen and the roof coating.

    I am pretty proud of where I have come on this but, I will tell you what is a real problem now.

    I have a spiral staircase that goes up one floor, and it has issues. Appears as it was decked with scrap from the construction of the interior and is sagging real bad. Central post is round wood, ~6 inch, and is split 1/3 of its length at the top, bolts thru it and 10 stairs at slightly less then 360 around. I am renovating my house and would like to fix this but am kinda' stumped. Can not add verticles under the stairs as this would mess up "ergonomics" of the house. I'd re-deck it, but the main problem originated because the 2 x 10's that were cut to fit have all split at the post side because they are <2 inches at the post side, and am concerned it would just happen again.

    I will try to get some pics on here. Additionally, I am doing the house all 1930's (2011) art deco, so could pull off anything "machine look" and have kicked around redoing the stairs in stainless steel, well, that is until I priced it, ...lol.

    I live in the Houston, TX area, and anyone that would want to check it out in person, no pressure on the problem, just to see the house, I would welcome with a nice dinner, and an adult beverage (or two). Any input is most appreciated.


    dr dodge
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 4, 2011 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Neat and cool.

    I assume you are taking about the stair tread being narrowed to 2 inches or less at the post side, and that is where they are splitting. That is a bit unsafe. Did he use some kind of made up stringer at the post side for support for each tread, or does it rest on a bolted piece of wood? You could use a 2 x 10 but not narrow it down so much, but instead cut the post end in a half circle to fit the post, and use an angled piece of wood for the support underneath, or some variation of that. Who says you have to stay with 2x10 - you can go wider of you like.

    Here is a little program you might find helpful
  4. Oct 4, 2011 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I probably can't help you with your problem, but I definitely would come check it out.

    What part of Houston? I'm in Baytown, on the east side. I'm at UH main campus (45 and Cullen) every Mon-Thurs from 7:30-4ish. I'm enjoying an adult beverage right now just thinking about it (and celebrating a break from exams for a few days and homework for a few minutes).

    I thought I remembered you doing something with instrumentation...
  5. Nov 5, 2011 #4
    good evening again,

    I have been rebuilding walls, hanging drywall, mudding, sanding(x5), painting, fab'ing and such since the last post, and I am finally getting to the stairs (whose butt I have kicked very well with hauling all the stuff upstairs) I still don't know what I am going to do. Maybe some 4 x 4's cut to pieces under the tread/risers. I have talked about a "spider" of rods and turnbuckles, but....wow....has stuff not gone up, or what!! unbelievable!! even between trips to lowes!! (and the misses does not seem impressed...lol)

    oh, and by the way, I re-read my last post and forgot to say my house was a 2 1/2 story dome. actually not a bucky ball, its different, shape wise.

    s happens, (and anybody else) would enjoy having you come out to brainstorm, because, honestly, this house has been an amazing challenge. everyone that buys a house can usually rely upon the "Norms (this old house) of construction" NOT HERE!!! every material has to be tested first if it disolves styrene. many insecticides, paints, and other products don't make the curve. which makes my (learning) curve undefined, but, in all actuality, it kind off makes it fun, so I feel that I will try my damnest to preserve, protect, improve and document this house.

    if anyone is interested (for the pro engineers.....no liabilities attached) to visit/brainstorm I welcome anyone, and all ideas
    (pets are welcome outside, too, aka...fenced yard)

    dr dodge
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook