Arcadia: Our New Monolithic Dome Home
We’re building a new Monolithic Dome home. It’s been ten years since we left Texas and our wonderful Callisto dome house. Although we love living in Cache Valley—it’s like a Swiss valley nestled in the northern Utah mountains—we miss our dome. I grew up in domes. My wife and kids lived in a dome for 10 years. I’m part of the dome business. It’s time to build a dome home.
We looked for years for the right piece of land. We found it in Providence, Utah. It’s two-thirds of an acre sitting on the bench overlooking the valley. It was an older lot (subdivided in 1970) without any covenants and restrictions. Perfect. We bought the lot in spring of 2013 and started the process to build the dome.
Remember, the economy was still recovering from the recession. Mortgages for even the most qualified persons were not easy to obtain in 2013. Instead of worrying about the money to build the house, we decided to sell the conventional house we lived in since 2006. With it sold and off our books, we could focus on getting a mortgage for the dome.
It took all summer but we eventually sold the house. On labor day, we moved into a small townhouse we rented from our friends. The good news, the townhouse had a swimming pool and was right by the school. The bad news, it is small. There are six of us. We figured it would be a year. It took two.
Why did it take so long?
The mortgage industry went through dramatic change during this time. New regulations appeared often and required big changes in how banks lend money. For a while, the only homes getting a mortgage were middle-of-the-road, specification homes built exactly like the neighbor’s house. Add to this their unfamiliarity with the dome structure and the cautious nature of bankers, well, you get the idea.
We worked with a local bank—Cache Valley Bank. They don’t have a national mortgage board to keep them happy. My wife and I worked directly with their loan officer to overcome the various objections to the deal. It took time and patience, but eventually they approved the construction loan and have permanent financing lined up after the dome is finished.
We broke ground this week.
The design of the house is unlike any we’ve done before. It utilizes the walls of the Orion-style dome, but they are laid out in a pattern that opens the middle section more. The Airform membrane pattern is entirely new. We hope this building will prove these design ideas so they can be used for other dome structures in the future.