If you appreciate funky architecture and want to do your part to save the environment, concrete dome homes might be a good choice for you.
What is a Concrete Dome Home?
A concrete dome, also called a monolithic dome, is a well-insulated shell covered with concrete. Most are based on the structure of the geodesic dome, which relies on a pattern of intersecting triangles to distribute stress across the surface of the structure.
These homes aren't made of solid concrete, however. To begin construction, a round concrete foundation is poured and reinforced with steel rebar. Typically an airform, a fabric balloon, forms the roof and walls. It is attached to the foundation and inflated. Polyurethane foam is then applied to the airform as a base, and steel reinforcing is attached to hold its structure. Finally, shotcrete, a strong spray-on concrete, is applied to the dome's surfaces.
While concrete domes may look very different from traditional homes, they offer many benefits that make them an appealing alternative.
Concrete domes are significantly cheaper to build than the average house. For example, a 40' kit may cost around $34,000. However, you must keep in mind that this figure does not include some elements, such as doors, windows and interior partitions. Check with the manufacturer to estimate the final cost.
These structures are extremely energy efficient, using about half the energy of a typical home. The thick wall structure and insulation mediates hot and cold temperatures, and they work well in almost any climate.
Most natural disasters are no match for the concrete dome home. Many are made to meet FEMA standards and can survive such catastrophic events as earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes.
Domes can be grouped or clustered together to form a larger structure. Aside from functioning as a residence, they can also be used for storage spaces, schools, sports arenas, and more.
Ease of Maintenance
Practically the only exterior maintenance required is painting. You may customize your dome by painting it any color, but lighter colors are the best choice to maximize energy efficiency.
While many domes look similar on the exterior, the interior is entirely up to you. It is finished like a traditional home and you may divide the space as you desire. Unless you plan to do the work yourself, expect to hire electricians, carpenters, plumbers and all other required trades to finish out the space.
Construct Your Own
Stock plans are available for monolithic domes. You should select a contractor who is familiar with this building type and shotcrete application. Be sure to obtain all necessary building permits.