Advice for those considering a geodesic dome house

Guest post by Judy
geodesic dome house
Photo courtesy of Trillium Domes.

We live in a three-bedroom, two bath two story geodesic dome house with 4 ft. riser walls on the central Oregon coast. Built in 1981, we are about 2 city blocks from the beach and elevated 151 ft above sea level, tucked into the trees with ocean views on two sides among conventional houses. We are the third owners and have lived here for twelve years.

We were lucky to receive the initial plans for the dome, which showed a relatively simple, rustic interior design. The first floor houses two huge bedrooms, a nice bath, kitchen/dining area, and entry/living room. Up the open stairs is a loft, small bath, and huge open room. A door leads from the room to a hexagonal balcony There is a giant hexagonal skylight framed in timber at the top of the dome.

The entire dome is heated with the original radiant heater in the floors, and copper pipe/hot water system. The structure and the garage — a smaller dome, were sheathed in 3-inch double-laid cedar shake the likes of which are no longer produced (Oregon logging is no longer the state industry). This includes all the beautiful, defining,triangular angles.

The history of our geodesic dome house

The second owners got creative and added a bump out south-facing front entry with wall-to-wall double panned windows, an east-facing unheated brick floor service porch with wall-to-wall windows, and glass slider entry off a deck. They upgraded and tiled the bathroom. They installed ceramic tile throughout the living/kitchen/bath area, then presumably ran out of money and painted the cement floor in one bedroom and had indoor/outdoor carpet glued to the second bedroom floor. Both bedrooms have “creative” closets and two large windows. They were owners were well-known locals with an artistic touch.

After buying the home, we hired local tradespeople to make changes we heard stories of the prior ceramic tile floor installation of red painted floors which — not surprising, considering the soft pink ceilings, lime green accent walls, partially wallpapered stairs, purple with flowering arches stairway, giant purple pyramid upstairs motif and blue ceiling with white clouds kitchen!

We feel in love with the idea of restoring some dignity and grace into this iconic Buckminster Fuller concept home.

And so we have. Gallons of paint, an eclectic mix of comfortable furnishings and art have transformed our dome into a place our friends and family adore and love to stay in. Our bed is placed upstairs under the skylight, and we watch the moon and stars dance through the night. The dome is magical in its own right, we simply let the art of the architecture shine through.

After 37 years of months of annual rain and 80+ MPH winds we realized we needed to re-roof. I’m not going to sugarcoat the process of finding a roofer-it took a year. Many came, saw and declined to spend the extra hours of labor it would entail.

Here is where all this finally comes to the point I need to make if you are considering purchasing a geometric dome house.

On the entire roof only two panels needed replacement. The rest of all that wood was as clean and clear as the day it was originally laid. Some bees had claimed one, improper flashing another. If you want to purchase a geodesic dome home, the most important thing to consider is the QUALITY of the initial build.

Don’t go cheap and buy someone else’s problem. If the owners are having leaking windows and roofing — you will too. We went in knowing our dome was structurally sound. It had a history of 25 years of problem-free service.

So ask around. Talk with the neighbors, and check how often it has changed hands-did people stay awhile? If you find a good one-buy it! Life’s too short to live vanilla.

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