A dome house is a geodesic dome sitting on a foundation with access to modern amenities i.e. electricity, water and sewage.
Dome literally means half a sphere. So a dome house is spherical in design and sits on a flat foundation. The spherical design gives the structure its rigidity and allows it to withstand the bulk of natural forces, such as harsh wind forces and earthquakes. Dome houses are sustainable structures, and they are the future of construction (cited from ResearchGate)
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Dome House Designs and Plans
I have listed below the three designs for modern dome houses.
- Single dome
- Multiple non-connected domes
- Multiple connected domes
So as you can see you can go for either type, whichever suits you the most.
Single Dome Houses
Single domes are very easy to build and their build time and construction cost are fairly low when you compare them with the multiple dome options. Single dome houses can be as small as 250 square feet to as big as 4500 square feet and above. It is usually advisable to go with a single dome structure if your square footage is low. A single dome house of 500 square feet is gonna cost significantly lower per square foot than a dome of 4500 square feet dome house.
Let me explain. A 500 square feet dome house can cost just 175$ per square foot. On the other hand, a 4500-square feet dome house will cost almost 300$ per square foot. This is because the dome is a sphere. As you increase the square footage you increase the diameter of the sphere that needs to be constructed to form the dome. This causes your ceiling level to get higher and higher as you increase the square footage, and this causes the costs to go up as well.
You can usually hire a company that specializes in building dome houses and get a quick quote. You will not need to go through an architect usually, as these companies usually have pre-designed plans. Using a pre-designed plan can significantly lower your cost as you will not need to go through and architect first.
Multiple non-connected domes
Multiple non-connected domes are exactly what they mean literally. Many separate dome houses are a few yards away from each other. This scheme is mostly utilized by resort builders and those who want to rent the spaces out. As dome houses look huge from the inside, as compared to what the actual square footage is, most developers want to build this kind of building for resorts, new developments and camping hotels. The dome houses can be placed close to each other and look very cosy.
You can usually place four dome houses in an area of just 4500 square feet (I keep mentioning 4500 square feet as it is a standard home size in most of the world and is the area that most builders will use when designing a house). So I would not recommend going with his option if you want to live in the dome houses as you would have to literally go outside whenever you want to move to another room of the house. This design philosophy only suits hotels and resorts.
Multiple connected domes
This is the most popular method in which most modern dome houses are built. You will only see these types of houses in the media. Why? Because they are the ones that look the coolest. These houses are usually built with at least 4 domes. Three domes for three bedrooms (or two bedrooms and one patio) and one dome for the living area and kitchen. The bedroom domes are usually smaller than the main living space dome and hence the house sits with multiple levels of elevation that give a cosy feeling to the house.
The domes are connected via archways with circular tops that mimic the domes of the different rooms. The whole house is constructed with curves in mind that make the house able to withstand very high wind velocities. See the image above. The problem with a dome house of this sort is that it usually requires an architect and the cost to build such a home can be higher than a regular house.
Bear in mind every building will require approval from the government authorities and you need to discuss the rules with them before you decide on constructing a dome house.
How much does a geodesic dome house cost?
A dome house will roughly cost 175$ to 200$ per square foot for just the basic setup. This includes the actual dome structure and the flooring plus basic drywalls and plumping. You don’t need to factor in the cost of insulation as this the Styrofoam material that the dome is usually made up of acts as insulation in itself.
As homes are very modular the price may come down if you go for a very standard build for the purpose of renting out. You can also use premium materials and hike the price too as high as you want basically. Dome houses used to be a very cheap alternative to building a vacation home in the past, and the average price per square foot used to be around 130$. This has changed as the market prices of the Styrofoam material and housing regulations have changed.
Most people will be best off by just building a dome house comprising of one giant room because as you increase the number of domes for the number of rooms you want, you can even take the cost higher than a usual wooden home.
If you just want a vacation home, building a giant dome of roughly 1125 Square feet can be the best way to go. This size dome will cost you around 196,875 to 225,000 dollars roughly depending on the location and the extras you go for. This sized dome will include a kitchenette, a full bathroom, a living area and a full bedroom. You can even go for outdoor living space and two full bedrooms instead of one if you want to rent out the space.
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