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     When people talk about domes and residential construction there are two types that are common: Geodesic and Monolithic. Geodesic domes were invented by R. Buckminster Fuller in the 1950's. The Monolithic domes were put into practical use in the 1980's.
Both Geodesic domes and Monolithic share some of the same virtues: The are both incredibly strong, energy efficient, and can be economical to build.

     Monolithic domes are a more recent trend in the residential construction market. the are created by first creating a thin membrane which is attached to foundation walls. The membrane isa spherical shape. The membrane is blown up like a tent using a fan. Insulation is sprayed on the interior of the shell to a thickness of 2-3 inches. Rebar is attached to the insulation. Light-weight concrete is then blown on to a thickness of 2-3 inches. The fans which inflate the membrane can be turned off after the insulation hardens. Monolithic domes can be built as large as 800 feet in diameter. They are used most commonly for industrial and commercial applications.

Geodesic Domes
     Geodesic domes have been popular with over 300,000 built world wide. They are a sphere made from triangular shapes similar to the construction pattern of a soccer ball. They are often sold in kit form for the Do-it-yourselfer. Pieces of 2 x 6 lumber are cut and assembled with metal brackets. The Geodesic dome was invented by Buckminster Fuller in the 1950's.

Summary of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Domes

Monolithic dome
Advantages- Incredibly strong, can withstand force 5 hurricane, excellent insulator (save up to 50% on heating/cooling), Tornado and hurricane resistant (not a typo), impervious to insects, fire, rot, will last between 100-500 years. No interior posts the structure is free standing.

Disadvantages- Getting building permits may be more complicated, Resale value may suffer, they probably don't meet most neighborhood building covenants.

Geodesic dome
Advantages- Very strong, excellent insulator, easier for the Do-it-yourselfer, free standing, no interior bearing point loads.

Disadvantages- Resale value is suspect, Building permits may be more difficult to obtain, probably don't meet most neighborhood building covenants.

Helpful Links

Dome Technology
Dome Technology is the world leader in monolithic domes. They build domes all over the world. They can also build a house with a dome structure. Domes are one of the few structures that can be engineered to withstand category 4 and 5 level hurricanes.

Professional Dome Plans
Here is a site with excellent information for the Do-it-yourself person... Very interesting!

Oregon Domes
This company has been around for a long time. It also a site that has some very good Geodesic designs.

Dome Manufacturers and Consultants
Here is an extensive list of Geodesic Dome builders.

Timberline Domes
Here is some excellent information on Geodesic domes for the owner builder. Nice pictures and diagrams.


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