Re: Homelessness in America

James Jarrett wrote:
> Ok,
> I had tried my best to stay out of this line of discussion becasue
> I knew it was gonna degrade into an argument, but I now feel the need
> to put in my $.02  so...
> <Dons Asbestos Undies>
> > This is simply not true.  Dome houses sell in accordance with the
> > neighborhood in which they are built and whether it meets the 3/2
> > standard (three bedrooms, two baths).  If a dome does not meet the 3/2
> > standard, it sells for less than the neighborhood might call for, but
> > this is going to be the case with any home.  If a dome is in a rural
> > location, or an undesireable neighborhood, it is going to be more
> >
> I have to go along with Malcolm on this one, I KNOW that what you say is
> what SHOULD happen, but that fact of the matter is it ain't so.  Yes, I
> know that there are appraisers that will give domes a fair shake, and I
> know that there are lending institutions that treat domes jusk like
> other houses, but these are the Exceptions, not the rule.
> A geodesic design is, to most people, odd looking, strange, unusual etc..
> They have not been converted to the religion of Buckminster Fuller (like
> us enlightened souls) and corporate america will NOT invest in anything
> that is not an "established sound practice".  Banks are corporate America
> and so are most consumers to one degree or another.

My experience in the dome industry, talking with many dome owners who
have sold their homes is that my statement is correct.  Domes in rural
areas or with unusual designs sell slower than those in desired areas
with three bedroom, two bath designs.  We even have folks who have built
domes on spec and had no problem selling them.  People will not build a
spec home if there is any doubt that it will sell.

Also, I would say that about 90% of the domes that I build are financed
through a bank.  Corporate America may look at us askew, but that does
not mean that we are locked out of working with them.  Fannie Mae has
said that they will accept dome mortgages for delivery.  Many appraisers
do know how to do appraisals on domes and do know not to discount them
dramatically.  Where domes are weak at the moment is in comps.  Quite
simply, domes have only been a viable option for about 25 years now, and
so we are just starting to see them turn over, and we're just now
beginning to get a base of domes that have resold that can be used as


> > To begin, building multiple small domes means that you have created a
> > structure with just as much, in fact probably more, surface area and
> > foundation area than a square/rectangle.  See you later any cost savings
> > that you might be able to realize!  A single larger dome is dramatically
> > less expensive than a dome cluster.
> >
> I'm gonna have to argue with you on this one as well.  While I know what
> you are saying has merit, I also know that if you state that a geodesic
> of x square feet saves you 1/3 the materials of a "box" house of the
> same square footage.  Then two of those domes STILL save you that 1/3
> IF you don't connect them via a walkway.

As an example for comparsion, a square 1,850 square foot home will have
about 3,250 square feet of exterior area.  Three 30' domes, providing
about the same total square footage, gives you about 3,903 square feet
of exterior area.  

On perimeter footings (a good comparison, because a great deal heat is
lost throught the perimeter of a foudation), you will find that a 32'
dome has an approximate perimeter length of 102 feet.  Three of these
gives you 306 square feet.  A square home with the same square footage
would have a perimeter footing of 191 square feet.  

> This may sound like I am splitting hairs but I am not.  Robert Conroy has a
> wonderful web site devoted to his 32' dome project.  My wife and some friends
> of ours are in the process of buying some land.  On that land we intend to build
> three of his 32' domes.  We have not decided yet weather we will connect them
> by butting up against one another or by enclosed short (4-8') walkways. But in
> either case, they are an efficeint and cost effective method to do the job.

I've seen his site, and his construction is fine.  You are going to end
up with a better built, more efficient home than most of America. 
However, I don't think that you will save much money beyond the same
money you would save were you to do the same amount of work on a
square/rectangle home.

> The other advantage of 3 small domes (or a dozen for that matter) is you can build
> one NOW and the others later as you have time/money.  You simply can't do
> that with a bigger dome.  And the cost of bulding a bigger dome per square foot
> does not save you that much.  I would rather spend another $1.00 or so per sq ft.
> and be able to get in my dome NOW than save that $1.00 and not be able to move in
> for years.

The ability to be added on over time is the one advantage of smaller
domes (other than the fact that a large dome may have too much space
that someone is willing to pay for).  However, I believe that you would
save money by building a larger dome now, then adding the multiple domes
later on.  Building a larger dome now does not mean that you can not add
to it later on.

> > Secondly, you are not going to see a 45% savings in a dome versus a
> > comparably built square/rectangle.  If you were to have a contractor
> > build a square/rectangle and a dome of the same square footage and using
> > the same finishing materials, you would see the dome come in at about
> > $10.00 less per square foot.  A nice savings, but no 45%.  Contributed
> > labor has a slightly larger impact in dome construction than in
> > square/rectangle construction, but even there, given the same amount of
> > contributed labor in both structures, you are not going to see a 45%
> > difference.
> Agreed, but I think you will in many cases save more than $10.00 per square foot.
> In our area, the average new home goes for anywhere from $50.00 to $75.00 per
> square foot.  The most expensive dome I have looked at having built (from kit or
> otherwise) has been in the $35-$40 range.  This is a difference more than $10.00
> per sq ft in most cases and as a percentage, it is between 20% and 55%  so the
> 45% number, while not the norm, is NOT unreasonable.

Here, you need to compare apples to apples.  You are comparing an owner
built home with a contractor built home.  Contractor built contains a
labor component that you will not have.  Yes, domes do lend themselves
to owner-builder construction because the shell goes up quickly and is
self supporting, but were you to compare an individual building his/her
own square/rectangle home to you building your own dome, you would not
find a 45% difference.

> >
> > What is the reason that they need to understand geometry?  All they need
> > to know is that it is a superior building system.  I'm sure that there
> > are a number of manufacturers like ourselves who would be happy to work
> > with HfH.
> Here at least we agree.  I think only one person, maybe 2, would need to really
> understand the way these go togeather.  They could set up jigs and tell people what
> to do.  The really great thing about Robert's design is it can be somewhat pre-fabbed.
> by volunteer labor on weekends and afternoons in the shop, so that assembly, will only
> take a few hours.
> James


Nathan Burke,
Oregon Dome, Inc.

E-mail:  oregon at domes dot com
Address:  3215 Meadow Lane, Eugene OR  97402
Fax:  (541) 689-9275
Phone:  (800) 572-8943 or (541) 689-3443

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