A Monolithic Dome home is more than concrete and steel. It’s a feeling. Yes, a feeling. A feeling of warmth on a cold winter’s night as well as a cool, clean feeling on a blistering summer’s day. A feeling of serenity during a terrible storm. A feeling of beauty as light fills vaulted rooms. Living in a dome changes your expectations of how a house should perform.
A Monolithic Dome house is extremely strong and can withstand tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, fire, and more. It is also energy efficient — cutting energy bills in half while maintaining a comfortable interior. It will last a long, long time with less maintenance. But first of all, a Monolithic Dome home is beautiful.
We live in a world of cookie-cutter houses. People drive by hundreds of homes every day without giving them a second glance. A Monolithic Dome home provokes a response. People slow down and look, intently, at the design of the house and its surroundings. For some, a dome is too “out there” for their tastes. For many, it’s exactly what they are looking for.
A dome home, like any house, can be a work of art or utilitarian. It can be a multi-million-dollar beach house with sweeping curves and an ocean view. Or it could be a small home — built by the owner’s hands — hidden in the woods.
Whatever the design, the Monolithic Dome home is a fulfillment of someone’s dream. Its real beauty is in the home’s worth to the owners.
Every Monolithic Dome home is a custom house. There are no “standard sizes” like roof trusses or plywood. Each dome begins as an inflatable membrane — custom manufactured for the design of the home — which can be nearly anything.
It can be a single dome, well built, and tightly designed. Maybe it’s multiple, connected, individual domes inflated as one. How about an underground home with separate domes connected by tunnels? Or it could be a dome partially embedded into a hillside, so there are ground-level entrances on every story. It can be tiny, only 16-feet diameter, or huge — seriously huge. If you want a house that covers an acre of ground, it can be done.
When the shell is complete — the air-form inflated, polyurethane foam applied, steel-rebar tied, and shotcrete sprayed — the interior is a blank slate. There are no columns or internal supports.
Beyond bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, and living spaces, you can add a gymnasium, a swimming pool, a home theater, or maybe just a home office. The design is limited only by your dreams — well, and your budget, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
A forest fire ran over a Monolithic Dome home in California. The home was unscathed. An EF-4 tornado struck a dome in Ohio. The dome saved the owners’ lives. The eye of a category five hurricane passed over a home in Florida. The homeowner sat safely inside and filmed it. There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of stories where a Monolithic Dome survived a disaster. We don’t hear about most of them because the house remained undamaged. Is it a disaster if nothing breaks?
The key to the Monolithic Dome’s strength is the double-curved concrete shell. When an object strikes the dome wall, the forces distribute across the entire structure. The outer air-form membrane and polyurethane foam act as additional buffers and can capture flying debris.
There is a terrible game people play in the midwest. Every so often, a massive storm comes through, and tornado warnings are issued. Sometimes it’s at night. Millions of people stay up late watching the weather, wondering, “Will my house be next? When do I run for shelter? Where would I go?”
The feeling of safety is arguably more valuable than actual safety. Yes, a Monolithic Dome home might be called on to survive a tornado — or a fire, an earthquake, a hurricane, a blizzard — but knowing it can survive gives peace of mind during every storm.
The inner concrete shell of a Monolithic Dome home has a huge ability to store energy as thermal mass. The outer layer of polyurethane foam — arguably the world’s best insulation — protects the concrete from outside weather. The concrete mass acts as a flywheel, absorbing interior heat during the day and releasing it at night.
The practical upshot is a structure that maintains an even internal temperature regardless of the day/night temperature swing.
Heating and cooling equipment for a Monolithic Dome home is sized for the average temperature, not the extreme weather in a given area. Less equipment saves money, but the real savings are the utility bills. A Monolithic Dome will typically save 50 percent or better compared to a traditional home.
It’s interesting to note that you can’t tell what the weather is like outside by feeling the dome wall. It could be freezing or sizzling outside, but the dome wall feels the same — year-round.
Imagine getting out of bed and dressed, going into the living room, looking outside, and realizing that the weather is terrible. You have to go back and change. Don’t laugh. It happens.
Saving money is nice, but living in a dome that feels comfortable when outside it’s not, is priceless.
The Monolithic Dome shell is low maintenance — not zero maintenance, let’s get real. But the dome wall is basically inert. It doesn’t rot. There are no gaps for mold and mildew to grow. It isn’t edible. Termites, bugs, rodents leave it alone.
And it’s a green structure. Monolithic Domes conserve natural materials, space, and energy.
Plus, the indoor air quality is under your control. The dome is virtually air-tight. You can bring in outdoor air when it’s nice and keep it out when it’s poor. Furthermore, if you need a hypoallergenic home, that’s possible, too.
We all have a dream home, a picture in our mind of the perfect house with the exact features and rooms we want. We also have a price in mind for our dream house. I hate to say it, but that price is wrong. Sorry.
There are too many variables to put a single number to house construction. Where are you building? How much are building materials there? How complex or straightforward is the home? How difficult is the local building board? Are you going to construct some or all of the house yourself? Do you want it turn-key, ready to move in? Are you going to install bath fixtures that cost $2,500 each (this happened)?
The housing market can be broken up into a range of prices. At the low end are trailer homes and manufactured housing. Next up are shared housing like condominiums and townhouses. Then we find the bread-and-butter of the housing industry, the specification home. These are homes built in tightly controlled subdivision developments where you can have any house you want as long as it’s one of four plans with minor variations. And finally, we have custom housing.
All Monolithic Domes are custom homes. It’s unavoidable. So one way to gauge the cost of a Monolithic Dome is to research recently completed custom homes in your area. What did they cost? Knowing those prices is a good starting point. It would include land, utility, and home construction pricing.
Keep in mind that a Monolithic Dome home is a premium building built with foam, steel, and concrete. Remarkably, it’s competitive with conventional custom construction.