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Community and Q&A

Monolithic dome homes

mikeolder | Posted in General Questions on

Hello everyone.  Zone 5 in Iowa

I’m surprised there isn’t a write up or article about monolithic concrete dome’s here on GBA.  Only one article called “Can We Live Happily Underground?” by 

Really, the only thing that appeals to me is the storm/tornado resistance. What I don’t like about them is that concrete cracks, and low resale value.  A  face book friend of mine has one off grid and likes it, is why Id like to know what the consensuses is around here.  


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  1. Aedi | | #1

    They are not a practical choice.

    While it is true they are quite storm resistant, they are other options that approach the same level of storm resistance that are cheaper and more livable. ICF homes are a common option. Straight walls means the living space is more usable, and the insulation is already integrated into the walls. You don't have to worry about concrete cracks with them either, since the concrete is behind the insulating forms. And it goes without saying that they give you a lot more design flexibility.

    If you love the ideological purity of monolithic domes and don't mind paying extra and ordering a bunch of custom furniture, go for it. Otherwise, there isn't any point to them.

  2. mikeolder | | #2

    Thanks Aedi. No love for them other than the storm resistance. But my FB friend love his off grid dome.

  3. this_page_left_blank | | #3

    My take is they are relatively expensive, not overly ergonomic or easy to furnish, and definitely not green.

  4. burninate | | #4

    Non-rectilinear options like this make less and less sense as the structure gets smaller. If your structure has four stories and a bunch of interior walls, furniture and ceiling headroom is a lot less of an issue than if it's one or one and a half stories.

    My suspicion is that a cylinder or near-cylinder with reinforced gable ends is going to be a lot more economical & buildable if your goal is to survive the heart of an F5 tornado or a WW1 artillery barrage. You can construct a steel building out of easy to use materials and then go over it with shotcrete.

    'Thermal mass approaches' like having thick concrete or soil walls make a lot more sense in the desert (with extreme day-night temperature shifts and no water) than they make in most places.

    Of course, goodbye windows, and goodbye resale value.

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