Dome Homes...

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by kesoaps, Jan 29, 2005.

  1. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Have you got one? Do you like it? What did it cost in comparison to stick build or manufactured?
     
  2. Ryan

    Ryan Member

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    Not yet. One of these days. We're planning to build a Natural Spaces dome. They have a double-wall system that I like. They estimate the cost as $40-$50/Sq ft to $65-$80/Sq ft depending on how much the owner does on the project and the quality level of the work. Their site has price lists, information, etc.
     

  3. KindredCanuck

    KindredCanuck In Remembrance

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  4. Renee

    Renee Well-Known Member

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    I live in one. My husband built in 1972-73 and he must love it because we’re still here in spite of my pleas to move. I married him in 1979 so the house came with the man. My husband does not think it was really any cheaper to build than a conventional home. It takes time more time to finish because you are working with all these pentagram and hexagram shapes and weird angles on the outer walls making it tricky to drywall and trim out. It might be more energy efficient… not sure. Originally, this one was not. Surely things have changed and improved through the years with dome construction.
    Our home was a kit from Dyna-dome. It came with plans for the outside shell only so the homeowner had to design the floor plan himself. My husband was about 22 years old when he built this palace and he definitely was not thinking of his older years when he determined the interior plan!
    Whether or not you like domes is a matter of taste. I love OLD HOUSES, farm houses, etc.. Modern structures are not my personal choice. Keep in mind that it is more difficult to arrange your furniture because your outside walls lean in and increasingly so on the upper floor. Our living room is in the loft and I have to place any furniture on the outside walls a distance from the point where the floor meets the wall to accommodate the height of the object. Thus you loose some floor space. If you are a person who likes to hang art on the walls remember you can only hang things on the interior walls.
    Originally this house was sprayed with foam and painted white outside and in. Inside, the struts were exposed on the side walls all the way to the top of the dome. All the windows in this house were built into the skin (frame) of the structure. My husband had to make them. They did not open. There were two vents built into the house that was supposed to ventilate it in addition to the two exterior doors in the living areas. Our house is situated on high ground and during the seasons when the leaves are off the trees it was visible from a road about ¼ mile away. The huge pentagram shaped window faced that direction. The house looked like an observatory. We had cars driving up our driveway (about 350 feet from the road, in the woods) during the night and people looking at the house. Sometimes they would get out of their cars!
    I’m not sure what the attraction was but this was a hot spot for teenagers. One night I came home very late and trapped one of these cars in the driveway. I asked the spaced out looking young men what they were doing. One replied, "Wow, man, like we just wanted to see this house, man, like it’s all round and white, man, uh will you let us out?" Hee, hee.
    Eventually the foam was scraped off and the house shingled. (another challenge with all the shapes and angles). At this time Mike installed drywall on the exterior walls and put a ceiling in the top to make it more energy efficient. We replaced the original triangle shaped windows (which leaked) with conventional windows and built dormers everywhere we placed windows. After these changes the mystique died and we stopped getting traffic up our driveway during the night.
    That’s the story of this dome. I’m sure modern plans are much easier to work with and I think that the shingles might come pre-fabed in the geodesic shapes which would save a lot of time.
    I hope you can get some opinions from someone who has built one more recently.
    My husband’s advice to you…. If you are looking for the cheapest structure to build find a better quality manufactured home.
    Renee
     
  5. jgbndaudio

    jgbndaudio Well-Known Member

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    I've always dreamed of having a different type of house than your conventional all mostly the same stick built. Recently I came across this link. I don't know if this is the way I'll go when I finally do get to move out of where I live now, but it's definitely cool. http://www.rotatinghomes.com/index.html
    Your might also do a google search for straw bale and rammed earth.
    Scotty


     
  6. KindredCanuck

    KindredCanuck In Remembrance

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  7. jack_c-ville

    jack_c-ville Well-Known Member

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    Monolithic or geodesic? I've never lived in either, but I'm a fan of the monolithic structures and a critic of the geodesic domes.

    Good geodesic domes can be built, but more often then not they leak badly, age poorly and look completely out of place in a few years. Geodesic domes end up being disposable housing in most cases. They can cost much less to build than a stick-framed house but be prepared to tear it down in 10 years. Just look at them. It's basically one big roof with, like, 500 angled seams. Of course it's going to leak.

    There are some big proponents of geodesic domes who will point to the 200 domes that they have built and tell you how great they are. And when you are an expert on domes who has been building them for 30 years then you, too will finally be able to build one that doesn't leak. But if you compare the lifespans of conventionally built homes that were built by people having minimal experience with the lifespans of geodesic domes built by the same type of people, the traditionally built houses will generally last longer and work better.

    Monolithic domes cost about the same per square foot as a conventionally framed structure. The advantages are the look (assuming that you like it), the ability to be 'dried-in' extremely quickly, incredible strength and survivabillity in the face of hurricanes and earthquakes, and excellent energy efficiency. Disadvantages include getting your furniture and cabinets to work with the curved rooms and finding a contractor (and subs if you are your own GC) who understands the system well enough to not screw it up. People do run into all kinds of problems with getting windows and doors put in properly. This is not a fundamental problem with the building system but just the inevitable result of contractors learning how to use it. Once they are up they stay up. Unlike geodesic domes, there aren't too many monolithic domes that have 'failed.'

    Keep stick framing in perspective. For centuries, most buildings were timber-framed and required an incredible amount of skill involving years of apprenticeship. Very few people were able to build good houses by themselves. Stick framing (first balloon, later platform) was invented as a radical new method in the 1840's that suddenly allowed anybody with half a brain to build a house or a shed. And let's face it: stick framing is ridiculously easy and fast. There was a massive wave of construction across America as the new method spread. Strong, long-lasting housing was finally available to the masses. The city of Chicago went from a sleepy little town to a full-fledged city in only a few decades. That would have been impossible without stick-framing.

    -Jack
     
  8. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    I don't know. Have thought about building my own house for years.

    The domes and monolith's have a lot of appeal if you look at them from a short term finished viewpoint. I have a good amount of construction experience both in home building and industrial projects. Never did a complete new house but lots of major remodel jobs and some bigger things like new garages, additions, etc.

    Renee comments about domes, ring true in that the utilities are probably going to be a challenge. One big area has to be the interior finish if you want conventional interiors. Drywall / blueboard in something with non-square shapes, just not what one wants. Even curved shaped, yuck. You can deal with it in small amounts in any house, I definitely would not like it to be the norm. Especially with very high ceilings and tilted angles. Just getting one of the things weather tight might be the easy part, finishing it off inside could be a major task.

    I am leaning more toward the high mass type constructions. Something like rammed earth, cordwood or total massive stone. Those have a huge advantage in when the outside structure is complete the interior finishes can also be if that is your desires. Plus they fit well into a unit type construction that one man or a few can handle at all phases. Those type constructions also can be the ones to give the lowest possible cost. They can be super labor intensive but incorporate essentially "Free" materials for most of the structure.

    The one thing that has been evident in the alternative houses and even in normal stick built houses is this idea of code creep and owner expectations. A few years back, just getting the basic shelter was enough, now the demands are for fancy and glitz. In many areas just the permitting process is adding very sufficient costs. Nothing in stick built is very exciting to me any more, plus you will probably be forced to build about the standard cookie cutter box by many forces all acting to shape what is acceptable. The only advantage I see in most stick builts you can retrofit them over and over again.

    For the alternative methods, it might be getting it extremely cheap, good design that will age well. Those high mass houses probably will be a bear to retrofit, especially if you attempt to bury all the utilities in a manner I envision. Just about have to get the design spot right on from day one. Stone, concrete and major mass constructions are difficult to retool the utilities after they are built. Need some major planning ahead for future needs.

    Problems with all houses start from the first day you turn the key in the lock. Few houses are built to anticipate how they will age or what the future might hold for desired changes as they are used different over time.