Dome Homes Guide: Geodesic vs Monolithic

The PropertyClub Team
Jul 13th 2020
Geodesic vs. monolithic dome homes: What are the pros and cons of each, what do they cost, and where do you find them for sale if you'd like to buy one?

In the 1950s, a lot of people used to believe that humanity would live in cities built under domes. As we all know, that didn’t quite come true. However, they were right about something: domes would start to play a bigger role in our housing as years pass. Dome homes, for example, are one of the newer trends in modern housing. 

This brand new, Space Age-style housing trend is just starting to get attention from major groups. Wondering what these homes are, what they offer, and if they’re really as futuristic as they’re made out to be? Check out our guide below.

What Is A Dome Home?

A dome home is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a house that is in the shape of a geodesic dome! It’s made to be a circular (or elliptical) shape. Aside from that, it has all the same gear as a regular home, including doors, windows, and roofing. 

They’re still a relatively new concept that’s taking hold, which means that there hasn’t been a general consensus on the common name for them yet. Dome homes can be called a number of different names, including geodome homes, “circular” homes, as well as “that really cool house that looks like a circle.” 

There are two main types of dome homes currently on the market: geodesic dome homes and monolithic dome homes. Here’s what you need to know about each. 

Geodesic Dome Homes

Geodesic domes aren’t perfectly round. They’re made up of smaller polygonal shapes that connect together to form a circle. This style of architecture has been around since the middle of last century, and remains the most recognized form of modern dome architecture in the world. 

These homes are known for being closer to traditional houses, since they still offer a way to have sturdy roofs and walls. That being said, they have a risk of getting leaks through their seams.There’s also a higher chance of wear and tear at one of their many joints.

So, while they aren’t the sturdiest type of dome homes, they are pretty common. 

Monolithic/Concrete Dome Homes

As the name suggests, these dome homes are what one would consider a “true” dome. They’re a single piece dome that is perfectly round in shape, with an exception for a door and possibly some windows. These domes are all in one piece, making them particularly sturdy against natural disasters. Even FEMA lists monolithic dome houses as an official “safe space” for natural disasters like Category 5 hurricanes. 

There are two major drawbacks with monolithic dome homes. The first is their appearance, which often borders on “alien” in some peoples’ opinion. The other is that they can be very difficult to remodel. 

Why Get A Dome Home?

Considering that they’re a fringe design preference, it can be hard to figure out why people would want to get a home that fits this model. Truth be told, there are plenty of perks to choose from. These include:

  • They are incredibly sturdy compared to regular homes. Both geodesic domes and monolithic domes are known for being able to weather storms and high winds better than typical houses. This is because domes are naturally more sturdy than boxes. Monolithic domes are also less likely to have pest problems and leaks than a typical house. They’re even FEMA approved.
  • Energy efficiency is their deal. Studies show that living in a dome home can save you as much as $2500 over the course of five years—all of it on energy bills. This is because dome-shaped buildings are easier to cool and also remain easy to set solar panels on. 
  • Dome houses are low-cost to build. It takes less material to build a dome home than it does to build a traditional home.To make things even cheaper, most dome homes are modular homes designed for easy installation. As a result, you end up with a home that’s easier to afford.
  • They are a statement-maker. In a world of McMansions and endless suburban clones, doesn’t it feel good to have a house that stands out in a crowd? If you love that concept, dome homes are a no-brainer.

Why Would People Avoid Dome Homes?

Truth be told, dome-shaped housing isn’t for everyone. Many of them have an odd look that make them off-putting to a lot of people. Moreover, most homeowners’ associations will reject them based on their unique look. Depending on the design, privacy can also become a major issue. 

The bigger issue with dome homes, particularly with concrete homes, is that repairs can quickly add up. Cutting through concrete and fixing the foundation can be very expensive and may require a specialist to do. That being said, most concrete homes are very resilient and rarely ever need repairs. So, that’s a perk that comes with the pitfall. 

Do Dome Homes Work For You?

If you are considering getting a dome house, it’s good to think of what you want in a home as well as the situation that you’re in. A dome house might be a good idea for you if:

  • You don’t have a homeowner’s association and you’re allowed to have a dome house on your land. Not all areas allow dome houses in their vicinity, primarily because of their appearance. Before you can even consider this as an option, you need to make sure it’s viable. 
  • You are open to building your own home. Since it's not always easy to find dome homes for sale, building your own is often a must. 
  • The look of a dome home works for you. If you’re not a fan of the unique and quirky, chances are that you should stick to a more traditional style of home. 

How To Find Dome Homes for Sale?

The easiest way to find a dome home for sale is online. Believe it or not, they have specialty marketplaces that let you buy a dome house of your own. However, dome-shaped houses are few and far between, so if you don't find a model you're interested in for sale you might have to build your own.

While it’s possible to build your own from scratch (or hire professional builders to do it), the best way to make it happen is to buy a modular dome home and get it assembled. Modular dome homes are sturdy yet affordable and are designed to be quick to install. 

How Much Does A Dome Home Cost?

This can vary greatly depending on the size of the home as well as the method that you use to make it. It is possible to make your own for as little as $10,000. Modular dome homes, on the other hand, can range in price from as little as $20,000 to upwards of $500,000 depending on the size and style you choose. 

If you choose to get a dome home off the market, expect to pay slightly more (or a lot more) than houses of a comparable size. This is because most real estate markets will ask a premium price for unique homes, especially if they are designed to be as eco-friendly as a dome house.

Conclusion

Dome homes first started seeing their entry into the real estate world in the middle of last century, and they’ve been a delightful niche house product ever since. Though they’re not for everyone, dome houses offer a lot of benefits—including being eco-friendly and having a unique style. 

Of course, domes aren’t for everyone. Due to their quirky appearance, they can be hard to come by. That’s why many people choose to get modular home kits in the form of geodesic domes and why it’s usually best to build them from scratch.