Monolithic Dome Home Survives Direct Hit by Hurricane Irma

Tinsley Home after Hurricane Irma.

The eye of Hurricane Irma passed directly over Tinsley’s Monolithic Dome home in Cudjoe Key, Florida, flooding their property but leaving the home—on stilts—untouched.

Paul Tinsley / Submitted Photo / CC BY-SA 4.0

Paul Tinsley and his wife were in their Monolithic Dome home in Cudjoe Key during Hurricane Irma, a Category 4 storm which battered through the Caribbean before hitting Florida in September 2017. “We were at the epicenter of the eye wall,” Tinsley said. “We were in the eye for about an hour and a half.” He described the eye as being still with no wind.

Paul and his wife had been to the Florida Keys several times and decided that was where they wanted to retire. The homes they found were not in good condition, which led them to build a home. They came across Monolithic Domes and attended a workshop at Monolithic headquarters in Texas. After design and construction of the home it was completed only a few weeks ago. Little did the owners know it would shield them from a hurricane just a few weeks later.

High winds literally pushes the ocean underneath the Tinsleys home in this video captured by Paul Tinsley.

Paul Tinsley / Submitted Video / CC BY-SA 4.0

Boats Askew after Storm.

The Tinsleys tied their boat to the dock cranes, so it road out the storm fairly well while some of the neighbor’s boats were pushed up and down the canal.

Paul Tinsley / Submitted Photo / CC BY-SA 4.0

Their home consists of two Monolithic Domes on stilts 13 feet off the ground. This foundation goes into the bedrock below. The domes are on a concrete slab and are situated 20 feet apart. The ocean is located in front of the home, with a canal in the back.

How did this setup fare in the hurricane? “It survived just fine,” Tinsley said. “We slept right through it.” For them, they could hear the wind outside, but not as bad as the freight train the neighbors described it as. The dome held steady and did not move, which Tinsley attributes to the round shape with no eave for the wind to catch on. “You had to look outside to see the intensity of the storm.”

He did get up several times during the night to check on the boats. The wind was strong, and it worried him. He stated his home came away unscathed, except for one minor damage. There was a sliding glass door that was not installed properly and was not watertight. This let in a small leak, but it was the only damage to the home from the storm.

Debris Cover the Roadway.

Fallen trees, damaged roofs, and flooded properties are only part of the damage caused by the Category 4 storm.

Paul Tinsley / Submitted Photo / CC BY-SA 4.0

Storm Surge Flooded Between Houses.

Even after the storm passed, the area between homes remains flooded with storm surge.

Paul Tinsley / Submitted Photo / CC BY-SA 4.0

Ground Level Designed to Flood.

The ground level beneath the home was designed to allow storm surge to pass underneath the house without causing damage.

Paul Tinsley / Submitted Photo / CC BY-SA 4.0

Compared to their neighbors, a small leak was just that, small. Tinsley reported that many of the homes near him “completely lost their roofs or were completely blown apart.” Some of his neighbors had parts of their roofs lifted up. The storm left rubble everywhere; palm trees were bent over, and trees were on the ground.

Another effect of the hurricane was the storm surge. Tinsley reported having a surge of 40 inches at his home, which is seven feet over the mean high tide. This put fish in his swimming pool, leaving him to clean out dead fish days later.

Overall, the Tinsleys survived the storm with very little damage because of their Monolithic Dome home. “Everything was just fine,” Tinsley said. “I couldn’t have expected anything better for a building to withstand a hurricane of that magnitude.”

Tinsley Home before the Hurricane.

The Tinsley’s double dome house before Hurricane Irma.

Paul Tinsley / Submitted Photo / CC BY-SA 4.0