A Winning Team
When Karen and Dan Tassell of Magnolia, Texas decided on a Monolithic Dome home, they agreed that Karen would do all the decorating, inside and out, and Dan would be in charge of construction details.
That proved to be a very workable, sensible agreement. As Dan, a Senior Communications Tech with the Houston Police Department, put it: “Karen’s the creative one. She just knows how to make things look really good. And I like to research and get things right.”
In February 2004, after several years of planning, the Tassells moved into their new Monolithic Dome home. Dan said, “When I hung the first clothes rod in the master bedroom closet, my wife began moving stuff in. She couldn’t wait.”
Sitting on an appealing, six acres just outside of little Magnolia, population 1100, their dome has a diameter of 53 feet, a height of 18 feet, a main living area of 2200 square feet and a loft with 425 square feet.
A generous, open area that includes living room, dining room and kitchen dominates the downstairs and shares it with a master bedroom and two others, two full bathrooms,a laundry room and a utility room that houses a freezer and back-up power equipment.
A spiral staircase leads to the loft that circles about two-thirds of the dome’s interior. Dan said, “We have room for two bedrooms and a bath up there, but right now it’s just storage space.”
In 2008, the Tassells decided to cover their dome with manufactured stone. “It was our 21st wedding anniversary,” Dan said, “and I told people I was taking my wife to Italy! We drove to Monolithic’s office in Italy, Texas and talked with David South and Gary Clark about putting stone over the Airform. They gave us all kinds of information, including pictures of domes that had been covered.”
Then the shopping began. Dan recalled, “We went to a home show in Houston and met a guy whose company made cultured, manmade stones out of concrete that have a coating embedded in them and really look natural. But what we liked was $4.00 a square foot. Then Karen, who’s a great shopper, found the same stuff on Craig’s list for $1.85 per square foot. It turned out to be the same guy we met at the home show. He just didn’t want to make that color anymore. But we loved it.”
The stone they ordered came in about four, well coordinated, shades of color and twenty-four shapes and sizes. For an adhesive, following Monolithic’s advice, the Tassells used a Dow Corning product. “It cures in about three days,” Dan said, "but after a year it becomes a permanent bond, so you can’t pry the stones off.
“Karen and her mom did all the stone work,” he added. “They’re both very creative and skillful. They just knew what size and shape went where.”
Like most Monolithic Dome homes, Karen and Dan’s is all-electric. But their utility bills are about 50% less than those of neighbors in similar-size, brick homes. Dan said, “We have a 2-ton air conditioning unit. Most homes of this size in the Houston area use at least 5 tons.”
Dan is interested in renewable energy. Currently, his power system includes inverter equipment and a battery bank and he plans to add to it.
Taxes and Insurance
When the Tax Assessor visited, Karen and Dan could see that he was very interested in seeing the inside of the dome, so they invited him in. That was a pleasant experience. What followed was not! "We got our first tax statement," Dan said. “It was horrible. We were assessed at $250,000. We couldn’t afford that. And why would anyone build a home they couldn’t afford to maintain?”
Fortunately, that assessment got amended when Dan showed paperwork that documented their construction and finishing expenses.
As for insurance, the Tassells carry coverage only on the contents of their dome. Dan said, “I’m secure in the fact that our home is indestructible. I just don’t worry about it.”