Monolithic Dome

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Tango, Jan 26, 2005.

  1. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Does anyone live in a monolithic dome? I don't mean the Geodesic; they seem to have leaking issues. Contemplating a monolithic for a new homestead and am wondering how others like their's. Ease of finding an architect/builder, how long the building took, heating and cooling, ventilation issues, and would you do it again type of things is what I'm looking for but anything is appreciated. We had decided if we ever moved to another place in Florida we would build a monolithic dome because they stand cat 5 hurricanes. Thinking of moving to the MO Ozarks now I've read they can also withstand Zone 4 earthquakes.
     
  2. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We have friends who have been working on a monolithic concrete dome for a few years. The dome itself was done quickly, but they had contractor problems, lawsuits, etc., and are now trying to get the inside finished and usable. They ended up with leakage problems due to contractors that were unfamiliar with what they were doing, around windows in the upper levels of the dome. Since it isn't done or lived in yet, I can't answer some of your questions. Be sure your contractor has done others that you can look at, and talk to the owners of them. Remember that there is lots of wasted space in them because of the shape, and that rounded walls are hard to deal with when using straight and square cabinets and furniture.

    Jim
     

  3. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Jim. That confirms what I've been reading about architects and contractors without previous experience. I hope your friends get to enjoy their dome soon without further delays or problems.
     
  4. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for this idea.

    I will be moving to Ohio this year. Basically want to get either a small farm or some land and build my own paradise.

    Never heard of this idea being this far developed on a commerical scale. Knew a guy who built something similar way back when. I worked as an engineer for a couple of the big A-E companies and we had this one structural engineer who built a concrete house and sprayed it with foam. He used to bring photos into work and glow about the advantages but most people at the time used to treat him something like a nut case.

    Will have to dig into this idea in great detail. I like things made out of concrete and masonry. The interior volume space could be tackled in many ways. Should be easy to build a post and beam structure that can essentially be a free standing unit inside the dome to utilize that volume space in the best manner plus give some spectacular views. Would think it also can be concrete, using standard industrial techniques of columns / slabs. Would seem to lend itself to many radiant heating cooling ideas with the structure members themselves, plus other things that might be difficult to do in normal home construction.

    Wondering up front why the insulation is not on the outside, with the shotcrete sprayed over that??? Use the thermal mass idea to heat the inside as done in rammed earth and some prestressed concrete type methods.

    Also owned and ran a small construction / remodeling type company so am very familar with construction and all its problems, details and usual procedures. Like an idea where most of the work can be done yourself or the costs can be very accurately projected. Might be a type method that could be well done in the old barn raising spirit by folks in a common area for some of the heavy lift areas. I love projects where I can be completely in charge / control and do most of the work myself.

    This might be very neat as smaller domes interconnected. Maybe on different elevations. House, barn, garage, workshop, heating / cooling / power plant. Integrate decks and outside thingees into the scheme. Old brain is liking the way this is feeling.

    Got to study up a lot more on this one. Might start to move up on my priority list of ways to build Paradise. The more websites somebody finds or photos the better. Be interesting to hear how the local authorities are treating these structures in the permiting phase????
     
  5. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    The general idea is that the insulation foam is blown inside the airform, then rebar inside of that and fastened to the insulation and then shotcrete inside of that. The form is left on the outside as the waterproofing and protection for the foam insulation.
     
  6. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    Yup, I had misread the general idea. Seen this before, where a balloon affair is inflated and a concrete shell is poured. This idea of the form being the outside skin is the flaw in this case. Not good. Reject ..... Reject.

    General idea is pushing my buttons. I am firming up in my mind that I want everything new. Done my share of remodeled tacky shacks, none of the normal methods are going to thrill me. Rehabing some draftly old shack just will be another job and compromised in the end.

    Something heavy into masonry. With ability to really build in interior stone walls and massive weight structures. Use ceramics in different ways, wood only as trims and offset decorating features. Getting a concrete or shotcrete shell as the outside would be the ticket. Something along the line of a ferro-cement boat. Maybe three layers. Ferro-cement outside, foam, ferro-cement inside. Or stone interior walls up to a certain height. Maybe ferro-cement in geo-dome. H,mmm not something I had been thinking about. But masonry is what I really want in some form.

    Want the shell only if it must be by someone else. Me to do all the rest.

    Had thought of using something like an old Quonset hut as a form and doing a stonework arch and maybe ferro-cementing that, even making it pretty much buried. Can just see them permitting guys if somebody were to walk in with some of these ideas. ......... You want to do what?????? :no: :haha: :rolleyes: :eek: :(

    They even want to tell where to put the sofa. Those guys that bought the abandoned missile silos always where something along the ideas I wanted. A cave converted into a living space.
     
  7. jack_c-ville

    jack_c-ville Well-Known Member

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    Cosmic,

    What don't you like about having the airform double as an exterior insulation membrane? As I understand it, many hundreds of buildings using this specific system have been built over the last 20 years and they are performing very well with regard to both weathering and energy efficiency.

    The monolithic dome company also makes systems for what they call 'eco-shells.' It's the same principle as the regular monolithic domes except that the airform is reusable and doesn't act as insulation. You carefully remove it when you are finished. The eco-shells are intended as a system for unheated outbuildings but if you were dead-set on using some alternative insulation method then this could be the way for you.

    With both types of forms, part of the advantage is that you are not doing a pour. You are inside of the inflated form using a shotcrete sprayer. The weather can't hold you up.

    -Jack


     
  8. Badger57

    Badger57 New Member

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    The problem with having the form outside is that gravity will attempt to pull both the isulation and shot crete away from it. I agree that doing it like that will just be an invitation to voids and delamination during the process. It would also be tough to keep the rebar a consistent distance from the foam when you are trying to "hang" it overhead. I think that putting the membrane inside makes much more engineering sense. The dead weight of the concrete might be an issue, but if you put on a good layer of foam, then rebar and finally built up the shotcrete in thin, consistent layers, I think it would work. It would depend a lot on how much presurization you can get into the membrane.

    Getting a real thin and even first layer of shotcrete would be key; if Bubba decides to build up 8 inches on one side it will collapse the whole thing.
     
  9. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    Yup, think Badger57 sort of got the drift of what I was thinking. Lots of ways for things to go wrong. Plus I have had some experience with the membrane type roofs. Something will damage it, then what? Think I did see this idea the other way round. Now remember it might have been more industrial in nature. They use a big rubber balloon, blow it up and slip form concrete IIRC. All I need is some country hick calling me a Yuppie too. :haha:

    The entire dome idea has a lot to offer if you really want all that space and ability to do a very non-conventional interior design. That is not super big in my book. Think I have seen these domes in Texas back a ways, probably didn't really know what they were.

    What I really want is the ability to build something quite massive and use the thermal mass idea. To include being able to use stone walls as part of the interior walls. Building radiant heating into the structure itself using scronged materials. A big part of my requirements are to be able to do it pretty much totally by myself and extremely cheap. Really want to avoid the use of wood in the structure components.

    So far the best idea seems to be rammed earth. That Bobcat mixer would be so nice for such a project. The rammed earth really breaks the standard rule of 1/3 project cost for materials, 1/3 labor & 1/3 profit. If you just have to pay for materials maybe the best method. Cement and dirt is about as cheap as it gets.

    Fine Homebuilding had a neat article that I saved about how some guys used a forming system that leaves the wood in place for the poured concrete beams and is a type of slip form using pipe clamp systems to do the walls. The Bobcat could really take a lot of the heavy labor out of it. Maybe a high ceiling house, single level on slab with a conventional roof. One or two guys should be able to do it fairly quick and very, very cheap. Should work nice with some solar designs. Build some heating / cooling / energy storage ability into the interior walls too.

    The only place you need skilled extra manpower in that scheme is pouring the main slab but that is very predicable in cost. The real attraction is a design that can be broken into bite sized chunks that one man can handle. That ability to mix / pump concrete with the Bobcat should make it a slamdunk. Another big advantage of the rammed earth, they typically do not need wall insulation. Even your interior fit out can be very nominal if desired.

    A lot of these type projects really depend on not being tied to super building code regulations. That rammed earth the way I envision doing it really wants to be able to bury electrical in conduit in the walls as formed, same with plumbing, heating, etc. You can't get the normal inspection type phases as with stick built wooden houses. Think that will also come up in many of these projects, even like the domes.

    Another idea I still haven't abandoned is the geo-dome. Don't want it out of wood tho. Might be able to do rebar frames poured in molds, lifted in place by a crane and then maybe a shotcrete coat over the entire dome to seal it. You always come up with how to wire it, plumbing, insulate it, etc. Probably need to pour a knee wall inside or maybe do it in stone after the dome is up to route the utilities inside around the parameter.

    Still the other good way might be to duplicate the ferro-cement method used in building sailboats to get a shell on any shape. The down side to that, it typically needs lots of skilled labor in a very intensive short period and will still have all of the potential wiring / plumbing / insulation drawbacks.

    Still in the dreaming phase. Guess consider everything. A rammed earth house with a neat little barn plans I saved from Mother Earth News would probably be the ticket unless I find some other method to build extremely cheap and can be done with mostly my labor.
     
  10. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    There is cheaper but I doubt you could find much better than this.Andy Davis built a cement earth covered home,1200 sq. feet.Used 127 cubic yards of cement.Lasts forever,no maintanence,gotta love it!

    www.motherearthnews.com/arc/4315/

    BooBoo
     
  11. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for that.

    Another good idea to explore would be that culvert house. Those shapes as metal prefabs are readily available as farm sheds. Wonder why he is having trouble finding them??? They come as kits. Some with some nice straight sides and an arched top.

    Might be something to consider spraying with gunite or shotcrete both inside and outside. Or could do stone walls inside up to a point and finish with shotcrete. Good way to bury the utilities once installed. Interesting, do the metal frame, install utilities, build the stone wall interiors for strength (pour solid the interface area once stone walls are formed, could even tie stone wall and shell with tack welded bars together as a unit prior to the interface pour), shotcrete outside in thin coats to seal the structure, stonewall both ends to seal the structure. Leave both ends exposed, bury the sides.

    Again might have the advantage of being something a one / two man team can do most of the work. Maybe lot of volume for the money. If you make the stone interior walls load bearing, could make it two story using industrial decking with poured slab.

    Very interesting concept. Might look pretty good too as well as being relatively fast and cheap.
     
  12. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

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    Yup I love it.

    One type of idea I have also bounced around a lot. Especially since it is a stone interior house. I would modify his method and build the stone structure first and use it as the forms that stay in place. Talking very thick masonry walls. Might not have to bury it if you didn't want too.

    If you lay up two stone walls with an space between them of say 6 - 8" and tie the two walls together with crosstie rebar or any old steel rods you can get your hands on, Then install rebar for the to-be poured concrete wall running in a linear horizontal / vertical fashion as you work your way up in elevation, plus build in your utilities inside that to-be poured concrete wall, electric in conduit, PVC piping, copper water lines in PVC jackets, could be talking one nice house for essentially zip for money. If you pour a very high strength concrete mix say > 6000# it is essentially waterproof. Be one strong Mother. You can pour the concrete walls in lifts as required, should be able to do ten feet lifts. Maybe even don't have to use Redi-Mix, if you can score some very cheap cement.

    My idea gives a lot better potential for selection of stones, sizes, colors. Your exterior / interior walls are smooth lines, the bad sides of the stones are into the walls and forms the perfect nooks, crannies and bonding areas to really tie the poured sandwich together.

    Again could go two story if you used the industrial decking, poured second floor, could even have a conventional roof if desired. This also has that super idea of breaking the job into bite sized chunks for a few people. Again only the main slab needs a bunch of skilled people. Could look pretty much like a standard stone faced house.

    The cavet is that is moving one big stone pile. If you have ever built stone walls will understand what that means. A good guessimate, each stone is moved 8 times before it actually is in place in a wall.
     
  13. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    cosmic asked

    Its a lot easier to spray the inside than the outside. Same goes for both foam and cement, minimal scaffolding.

    Lloyd Turner invented this technique. The only patentable idea the people at monolithic have added to this process is the rebar hanger, although they try to lead you to believe it is all their doing. The hanger keeps the rebar positioned for good quality shotcrete. They also do not give much credit to the low pressure inflatable approach, because it kind of leaves them out of the profitable inflatable business.

    When I first saw some of the monolithic structures, I really wanted to build one, just beautiful stuff. Some of them are very large structures with dynamic cutouts. Some are pretty bland, (in my opinion). I was frustrated in my research because a lot of important details are not shared until you pay.

    Lloyd Turner made an inflatable for use at last years Thin Shell Concrete conference. We used a small rented squirrel cage fan to inflate it. Then we used a $60 home deport texture sprayer, hooked to a compressor to put several thin concrete layers on top. The thin layers had pva fibers and a few more layers would have made it structural enough to stand on it's own- we stopped at about 1/8 inch because the land owner didn't want a concrete bubble setting on his land. It was about a 10 foot diameter.


    Lloyd Turner's house is more like a series of soap bubbles. Each bubble is a room sized for its purpose. Skylights make everyroom seem light. He buried the bubbles.

    Thin shell technologies are within reach of the do-it-yourselfer, whereas a shotcrete approach is not.
     
  14. ibcnya

    ibcnya Well-Known Member

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