Domes As Homes?

When you write poems? I’ll give you a minute to finish groaning and rolling your eyes.

Back yet? Good. A couple weeks ago, I posted an entry in which I mused about building a geodesic dome greenhouse. As nifty as that would be, as I took a closer look at the postage stamp that is our back yard, I couldn’t find a spot that we could realistically plant an eleven-foot diameter dome. In this corner it wouldn’t fit between the deck and the fence. In that corner, it would obstruct my archery range. In this other corner we’d have to move the smoker. And the peach tree. And it would block our view of the roses. And it would be directly over the sewer line. Nope. The dome greenhouse is out. A couple of commenters (thanks Ruth and HTRN) suggested clear plastic film over a PVC frame, and this is likely the direction we’ll go. It’s cheap to build, reasonably effective, and we can pitch the whole thing in the garbage if we get sick of it. As soon as my brother gets done fixing Grandpa’s old tiller* we’ll use it to turn up most of the yard and I imagine that will be a good time to erect a PVC greenhouse.

So, I’ve put the domes behind me, right? Well, not entirely. You see, we have been dreaming for years of building a big house in the country. When we bought our house, it was intended to be our starter home; our five-year house, if you will. That was fourteen years ago. As our baby grew into a teenager, the place got smaller and smaller. Now that I’m running a business from it, it feels like living in a closet. Suffice it to say, we’re overdue. Over a decade ago, laying in bed, Jennifer and I would talk about different features we wanted our house to have. It was clear even back then that our current house wasn’t our permanent home. I always kind of envisioned a roundish structure, but never once even thought of a geodesic dome until poking around on the internet for dome information regarding the greenhouse concept. One of the websites I linked to on that post was

This is a neat website for any aspiring dome owner. It tells you what angles you should cut the ends of your boards for a proper wood-to-wood fit in a dome, or it provides information on hiring a company to build your dome on sight, and everything in between. I am particularly fascinated by this page, which offers several different dome kit options, ranging from a twenty-four foot entry model to a behemoth sixty foot diameter structure. It appears that these are largely all-inclusive, pre-cut materials and plans for a do-it-yourselfer to build the structure on their own. The forty foot wooden model that they offer would evenly replace the 1,100 square feet we currently live in, not counting the 1,200 square foot lower level which I suspect could make a garage and a leather shop. That kit is listed at $13,500, even with the optional 5/8″ external plywood. Moving up the scale, ultimately we see their palatial sixty foot dome which boasts a combined 5,500 square feet of floor space, made from 8″ steel i-beam and finished in 3/4″ plywood for a price tag of $47,000. I understand that the price doesn’t include a foundation, doors and windows, plumbing and wiring, but these prices just seem cheap to me for the amount of space you get.

On the website, they do claim that they give you the least expensive structural option for the space available, and I’m prone to believe it if their pricing schedule is accurate. Even if it cost that again to finish it out, it’s still cheap. We have been planning to make a move for a while now, and we’re within a couple years of a realistic time for that. I wonder what it would cost to pour a round, concrete garage/basement under that big one. I may have to email them and get some more information on these kits. I’d like to see where they orient floors and exactly what comes with the kit. Besides that, it could make for some great blog fodder! And who knows? Maybe this will lead to a good old fashioned… …dome?… …raising. Anyway, I’ll probably be doing some homework to try to figure out soft price ranges of what I can expect to pay for everything else. Even if it came down to living in a project for a while as we worked on it, I think I could live with that.

*That thing is a monster! When it is running again, it shouldn’t take us very long at all to till up the yard.

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24 thoughts on “Domes As Homes?

    • And it may not be. That’s one of the reasons I’m chasing info right now. If we had that kind of space, it would really open up possibilities for C.O.G.S.!

  1. Done right, I’ve read about several very successful, very comfortable dome-houses, they’re supposed to be really good on utilities, and that square footage is just awesome! And while you’re pouring the basement workshop….might as well add on an underground indoor-range, for those days when you just don’t feel like braving the tornadoes to hit the outdoor range, ya know?

    Oh, and if there’s a meatlovers’ pizza involved, gimme a holler!

  2. A dome is probly my ideal house. I’ve been fascinated by the concept since I was a teen and saw a bit on them. Hubby thought I was nuts….till we ran across another bit on them on one of these “weird homes” shows….now he says thats an awesome idea lol. There’s a few companies out there that do domes, they all have different takes on the concept, but the dome kits are very cool….

    BTW, the link HTRN posted on the other post has what looks like decent prices on the film and sheets of poly needed to build a green house.

  3. My dad built one himself, and I grew up in it. They are fairly easy to heat and cool, although in my personal experience I didn’t get the cool much (dad was a tightwad) But with a fire in the fireplace in the center of the house, the whole house kept warm.

    Downsides, it can be difficult to decorate(according to my mom anyways) And there is a loss in square footage simply because not all of it is “usable” simply because of the curvature of the house. Also, because it’s unusual, you sometimes have to find your own way of performing maintenance and such… Personal experience, roofing it can be painful. =0

    • Ooh! Details? What was the general location? Size? Composition? It makes sense that they would represent a challenge in decorating. We’re kicking around a few ideas for finishing out the thing that should make it easier in the long run. Still, this thing is in primordial ooze right now.

      • I wasn’t alive when it was built, so some details are a bit murky for me. But he bought a kit from a company that had all the joints needed to connect the wood frame together(I believe the roof is made of lots of pentagons or hexagons, I only lived there for 22 years…=p The siding was just triangles of plywood, one facing up, the next down, and so on). He and some friends got the frame up in one day, and they did all the work themselves.

        Anyways, the house is located in Missouri, and as previously mentioned the shape does very well in the wind of severe weather. It’s roughly 40 foot in diameter, got the full 1st floor and then a half circle second floor, that’s basically a balcony with some rooms tucked into the edges of the circle.

        I’m running by there tomorrow, so if I remember I’ll snag a few pictures and post ’em.

        As every house does, it has it’s strengths and weaknesses, but I still enjoy telling people I grew up in a dome home.

    • That is all kinds of cool! And, it’s no kind of building, so code enforcement can’t say a thing about it. As you say, one could easily build such a contraption for a fraction of what they are charging. Methinks the conduit and PVC at the hardware store may get a visit this weekend…

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