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Superinsulated Dome

Solar Collector, Dome, Driveway

The dome is for sale. It's 46'-8" in diameter and 1850 square feet. We're asking $250,000, which is a lot of money for a house in Fairfield, but our hope is that someone will recognize its particular advantages as being worth paying for. These include:

  1. Insulation -- There's ten inches of spray foam insulation. The top of the dome is all closed-cell foam, for an R-60 "roof." As the dome shell gets closer to vertical, it's a mix of open-cell and closed-cell, for R-40 "walls." Spray foam stops air infiltration more effectively than other forms of insulation, for a comfortable, draft-free home.
  2. Longevity -- The surface is covered in copper-colored Reinke aluminum shakes. Any house with asphalt shingles is a house with an expensive roofing job in its future. The Reinke slogan is "Shingle for the last time!" and with this dome that's already done. Take a look at Reinke's Hail and Tornado page if you need further convincing.
  3. Strength -- What good are shingles that won't blow off if the whole house blows over? Spheres are stronger than cubes, and triangles are stronger than rectangles. A sphere made of triangles is a very strong structure, and domes regularly survive tornadoes, hurricanes, and straight-line winds that destroy conventional houses.
  4. Health -- Iowa has the nation's highest radon levels, but this house has a radon pipe. It tested below 4 pCi/L with the ventilator turned off for a week. Normally, the Energy Recovery Ventilator would be delivering fresh air, expelling stale air, and further reducing radon levels. Modern building science recognizes an airtight building envelope plus tempered mechanical ventilation as superior to the old-fashioned approach of relying on the inherent draftiness of typical construction.
  5. Beauty -- This is of course subjective, but we've had many compliments on the dome's appearance, both inside and out. Personally, I have found it very uplifting to live in a space that resembles the curve of the sky. Sarah Susanka's best-selling The Not So Big House proposed valuing detail and delight rather than scale and square footage. Paying a little more for beauty is nothing to be ashamed of, it means you're operating on a higher level.

Here's a page about the early stages of the building process, some construction photos, and more on the solar heat.

The front door and driveway:

Front Door


The living room's flooring is Marmoleum Click, color African Desert.

Front Door


The west end of the living room becomes the kitchen:

Kitchen


The loft in art gallery mode:

Loft


Marcia hand-glazed tiles and installed them behind the kitchen sink and in the shower:

Kitchen Tiles

Shower Tiles


Steve's studio, which we're calling a bedroom because it has an openable window and a closet (also a half bath):

Steve's Studio


Marcia's studio, which we're also calling a bedroom:

Marcia's Studio


We talked to a local realtor, and apparently we can call this room a third bedroom after all. While it has no closet or window, at 9' x 14' there is room to add a closet, and it has two doors for emergency exit options:

Bedroom


Floor Plan. The shaded area is the loft.

dome floor plan


Double-wall construction minimizes thermal breaks:

Fisheye View of Dome Interior

Dome at Dusk

"Call it the groove factor, call it the hipness quotient... there is a timeless, future-primitive chic to the geodesic that few houses offer. The dome concept appears to be erected on the improbable intersection of hippie culture and the space age."

-- Matt Jones, Independent Online