Re: Homelessness in America

It seems that I skipped the second part of your post with some

> > There are alot of assumptions going on in
> > this paper and in my post.  My take on domes
> > selling for less came from various discussions
> > over the years with real-estate agents, which
> > would hardly constitute a study.  There are
> > several factors involved (I tried to acknowledge
> > that there were acceptions) with the value of
> > a home, location not being the least.

Real estate agents are a good resource, but very few of them have any
experience with domes, so what they have for you is essentially an
educated guess.  A lot of this guess comes from selling manufactured
homes, which do take a discount when selling versus a site built home. 
However, domes (and log homes, for that matter), have the same qualities
in construction and livibility (or at least perceived qualities, such as
a foundation) as ranch houses do, and so tend to track with the
conventional shaped homes.  There are a few real estate agents in our
area who do have experience with domes (Eugene has a good, high dome to
square/rectangle ratio).  We visit with these folks fairly often in
selling homes in this area.

> >         The report references "Self-help labour"
> > throughout as a major cost reducing element in
> > the concept.  I'm just not sure that that a dozen
> > homeless/impoverished people chosen at random would have
> > the geometry skills necessary to "Self-help labour"
> > a dome together, teepee's are probably a better solution.
> > Granted there is certainly no shortage of people who do
> > have the geometry skills who would be willing to take
> > part in the "Self-help labour" effort.  Jimmy Carter
> > probably does.

Self-help labor can substantially reduce the cost of a home.  One can
figure that about half the cost of a home is labor cost.  This, however,
is true in any home, dome or square/rectangle, and so discussing these
savings is not, in my own opinion, relevant when discussing the savings
in a dome vs. a square/rectangle. 

There is a potential savings in a dome, but it depends on taking
advantage of the reduction in materials.  To do this, you'll need to do
a single dome of comparable size to the square/rectangle you are
comparing against.  Multiple domes increase costs dramatically because
the surface area increases, the foundation area increases, and the labor
increases with complexity, as you have more than one foundation and roof
to install. 

Say that you are looking at a dome plan and have decided to get a bigger
dome instead, but you want to pursue the most cost effective way of
ramping up to the larger dome.  One way to look at the cost/complexity
issue is is to compare the cost of finishing a 50' dome triangle vs. the
cost to finish a 30' dome triangle, both of the same dome configuration
(a 3v icosohedron), so that the triangles have the same geometry.  The
materials cost for finishing the 50' dome triangle is proportionally
higher than the cost of the 30' dome.  However, the labor cost is
essentially the same in each triangle.  

To increase the size of the home, you have several potential methods: 
You can increase the diameter, keeping the same configuration, increase
the diameter and increasing the frequency of the dome, go to a 5/8 dome,
or add a second dome.  In every option but the first, you increase the
number of triangles, increasing both labor and materials.  In the
simplest option, increasing diameter, you really only impact the
materials to finish the dome shell.  

This is a simplified reason of part of the dome cost picture (if you
could follow it, I've never claimed to be a writer blessed with
clarity).  This is why I promote the single, simple dome concept over
more complex solutions.  Now, did that relate to what you wrote above?

> > As a dome builder have you ever suggested dome
> >         designs to Habitat for humanity?

We briefly worked with a woman and even came up with a design for a
habitat home.  My impression is that part of the reason that domes have
not been pursued is that the people that would live in them do not
initiate the process looking for domes.  They seem to have a great deal
of influence over the selection of a design.

> > Are you aware of any response from Habitat for
> >         Humanity to propositions of utilizing domes for
> >         their contruction projects?

Nope.  We are working on other low-income housing projects though, that
may see the light of day next year.

> > What is the percentage savings of a "typical" dome
> >         from Oregon Dome to a comparable square house
> >         of the same living/bathing space?

We usually see savings in the realm of $10.00 per square foot, which
translates into about 10-20% savings for most of the US.  There are
designs that increase the savings, as well as those that decrease the
savings.  I've talked to a lot of people who expected to save 35% or
more off the local building cost just because they have selected a dome,
and I've heard dome folks tell people that there is no way that their
cost per square foot is going to be above $35.00 per square foot, no
matter where they build.  That this sort of thinking persists scares me,
because I don't want the dome industry to get the reputation for getting
people started in projects that they can not afford.


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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