How to Build Dome Homes

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Building and living in a dome house can be a fun and rewarding project. The dome house is a superior design than standard square homes, and the average dome structure will outlast the toughest conventional competitor. Dome homes have increased structural integrity, easier heating and cooling, and require less material to build than a conventional square home. The typical builder will spend about three weeks properly constructing a dome home.

Things You'll Need

  • Socket set
  • 30 bolts and 30 nuts (1/4" or 5/16")
  • 65 feet of 3/4" electrical conduit
  • Saw
  • Tight wire mesh
  • Several bags of mortar-grade concrete
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Measuring tape
  • Marker
  • Arbor press
  • Prepare a building site 24 feet in diameter by leveling and compressing the soil.

  • Cut the electrical conduit into 30 sticks 6.5 feet long, and 35 sticks 7.4 feet long by using a metal saw to slice each section after measuring it. Label the 30 sticks "B", and the 35 sticks "A" with a marker.

  • Flatten the ends of each electrical conduit pole by using the arbor press, so that the flat ends are in line with each other. Bend the ends toward each other at an angle of eight to ten degrees. The pole should have a slightly "C" shape to it.

  • Drill a hole into each flattened end to accommodate a bolt of the proper size. The hole should be centered onto the flat area.

  • Build the metal dome frame by bolting together the electrical conduit poles at their ends. Lay out the "A" poles in a decagon shape, with ten sides, onto the ground where the house is to be placed. This will give a diameter of 24 feet, and a total height of 12 feet, enough to house two to four people. Attach two poles to each vertex, to make a triangle out of each type of pole; make a triangle with the "A" poles, then make another one at the next grounded pole's end out of "B" poles. The result will be four poles to each bolt hole. Secure the struts with bolts, and screw a nut onto each one but do not tighten them completely.

  • Attach the next "layer" of struts, connecting the tops of the triangles with "B" poles by securing them with bolts and nuts. They will make another ten-sided shape, and will be supported by the rigidity of the structure below it. The next layer is a "B" "B" "A" pattern, with the tops of the first layer's "A" triangles meeting the bottom tip of the last layer's "A" triangles. All vertices can be bolted, including the top, and all "B" struts should form a five-sided star for their side.

  • Tighten all struts by turning all bolts and nut clockwise until they are firm. The structure will need to settle for about an hour, then be re-tightened. Welding the metal is optional, and may lengthen the amount of time it takes to complete the house.

  • Cover the entire structure with wire mesh, and make sure it is tight and flat for each open triangle. It is recommended to double layer the mesh onto the dome. Leave holes for doors and windows.

  • Mix the concrete in the wheelbarrow and begin to cover the dome, starting from the ground up. Cover the interior floor at this time, and begin to work the concrete up the walls as it hardens. The first layer can finish the first level of triangles, then be allowed to set. The second layer of concrete should overlap the first, and smoothed on the exterior to hide seams. As the concrete approaches the crest of the dome, it is possible to affix a final cap of concrete or a round skylight to the peak of the struts. Allow all concrete to dry and cure for the manufacturer's specified amount of time.

  • Apply the windows and doors, and floor joists, if applicable. Once the dome is sealed, any interior treatment can be fabricated, such as walls, lofts, appliances, wiring, or flooring, to meet the needs of the builder.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use mortar concrete for a smoother finished dome.
  • Use safety equipment and precautions when working with power tools and concrete.

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