I decided on building my variant of the Exploradome 10' x 10' building, heavily depending on the instructions found on their site (the 11-2012 version of the document). The instructions could really benefit from editing... There are a few inconsistencies and the writing isn't the easiest to follow. But, the diagrams and photos help compensate for this.
I'm not a carpenter. Up until this, I didn't own a circular saw. Or a level. Or a square. I've never built anything of this scale before. I also started without having everything completely planned out, much to the chagrin of one of my engineer friends. Honestly, if I had to plan every last detail in advance, this project would have died again. Although this led to a few "Well, now what?" moments, the project is complete enough that I'm sharing it with you!
A few other details... I'm using Exploradome's 8' dome, aluminum ring and roof panels. While I wasn't completely thrilled with the documentation, a have no complaints whatsoever with the products or people I dealt with. I don't have a neighborhood association, and the county doesn't require a permit on sheds less than 200 sq. ft. So, as far as the county is concerned, this is a shed. I'll be running an extension cord from the house to the observatory, mainly to avoid permitting issues. I'm located in southeast Virginia, within the light dome of Newport News, Norfolk and Virginia Beach, and maybe 20 feet above sea level. Humidity is an ever present annoyance and a main function of the observatory will be as a dew shield. 'Cause, why buy a $500 anti-dew system when one can build... this?
First step: Download SketchUp and 'build' the building using ED's instructions. The theory being "If I can draw it, I can understand it. If I can understand it, I can build it."