With the big push for renewable energy and inexpensive housing, more and more consumers are looking to the dome home as a practical, affordable alternative to the more expensive trophy home. A homemade dome home uses inexpensive materials and is sturdier than the more traditional stick frame home.
Although the first dome homes were constructed with wooden frames, today's dome homes are built with as much variety as stick structures. Materials that have been incorporated into dome homes include concrete shells, wooden facades, Styrofoam, plywood, sandbags, steel and plastics.
When you think of the word dome house, the type of house that usually springs to mind is the geodesic dome. This structure was invented by Buckminster Fuller in the 1940s. One of the most famous geodesic domes is the Spaceship Earth attraction at Walt Disney World, which has become the iconic symbol of Disney's Epcot theme park. A geodesic dome is composed of a complex circular structure that is divided into a network of triangles. The geodesic home is constructed in much the same way as a typical stick-framed house in that the geodesic frame is put up first, over which is hung the exterior, followed by the interior walls.
An alternative to the geodesic dome that is quickly catching on in popularity is the monolithic dome. Unlike the geodesic dome, which uses a triangular framework, the monolithic dome is formed by laying steel-reinforced concrete inside an airform "bubble." First the footing is set in place. Then the airform bubble is inflated. The inside is sprayed with polyurethane foam, then steel rebar is used to line the interior before a final layer of concrete is sprayed in place to form the home.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The advantages of dome homes over traditional homes include less expensive construction. In some areas, a monolithic dome may cost up to 30 percent less than a traditional stick-frame home to build. Because of its shape, a dome home is also less expensive to heat and cool, and may save up to 50 percent on utility costs. Homes of this type are practical for tornado and hurricane-prone regions, because they are wind resistant, and earth or concrete homes are termite proof. However, this type of home also has its disadvantages. For one, the unorthodox shape means that some cities discourage the building of such homes. Dome homes are often not compliant with city building codes. The shape may also make positioning of furniture and other interior decorating problematic.
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