A frequently asked question here at Monolithic is, “How long will it take me to build a Monolithic Dome home?” The quick answer is two to four weeks for the shell. But the real answer is determined by many contributing factors. The timeline here is intended to provide potential dome owners with a general building timeline.
To build or not to build
The decision to build a dome home involves location, reasoning, lifestyle consideration, jobs, family living style and much more.
“For which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish (Luke 14:28-30).
When we “sitteth” down to consider building a Monolithic Dome, we need not only to consider the cost but also construction time. Many of us know someone who started a home five years ago and still hasn’t finished it. He made a hobby of the project and is in no hurry. On the other hand, some of us prefer to finish in a more timely manner. Anybody that promises you a house in less than six months is either a large tract builder or is kidding. Custom houses take time. Generally it takes two to six months just to design the house.
Finding and purchasing land also takes time, often six months to a year. Buyers should remember the best deals are often hidden and must be vigorously searched out.
Design, Blueprints and Permits
A designer can design a house in a few short hours. But you will want to include some of your own work. You will want to make some changes, measure and remeasure the rooms, and be sure the design follows your Word Picture. All of this takes time. Designing your dome and finding land can run concurrently but, in general, you need the land first so you can design your dome to fit the site. This usually takes a minimum of six to ten weeks. In some areas and states, it may take twelve to eighteen months.
Acquiring a building permit is tied to the blueprints and land purchase. The timeline for this depends on location. It is not a dome problem as much as it is a bureaucratic problem.
Feasibility Study and Financing
A complete Feasibility Study helps set your budget. This information will aide your financing efforts. Most people don’t have the cash in their pockets to buy a new home outright. So, the hunt for reliable financial institutions begins. Not all financial institutions are the same. Some like some types of borrowers, some like another. Some are fussy about location. Some are particular about the construction method. Others are choosey about the buyers. Being informed about Monolithic Domes, their benefits and construction, is essential and will serve to help locate a willing financial lender.
A full set of drawings is needed to complete funding. After funding is in place, construction can begin. Generally, four to six weeks is needed to complete the Airform, because we must allow time to schedule your Airform’s patterning. Most Airforms are custom built and require extra time for patterning, especially if augmentations are involved.
Finding a Builder
Take the time to research the background of the dome builder you choose. ALWAYS CHECK REFERENCES. If a second contract is signed for interior finishing, check this contractor as well.
Next step includes foundation construction: the floor and under-floor work. This can be done while the Airform is being built. If the weather is nasty, extra time may be needed. Once the floor is done, and the Airform is onsite, a Monolithic Dome can be inflated and standing within two to four weeks. At that point, you will walk inside and say, “Wow, we are almost done.” But that isn’t the case.
Now is the time to create the partitioning walls, electrical, plumbing, and eventually the sheetrock and the finishing touches. If you want relatively inexpensive prices for items, you must research and plan. You also need a schedule for various workers. For example, plumbers aren’t standing with hands on the phone waiting for your call. They generally have other work. To give you a reasonable price, a plumber must fit your project into a schedule that includes others. But the plumber may be tied up for a few days, and a tied-up plumber delays the sheetrocker who must wait for the plumbing to be done. A bottomless wallet eliminates many scheduling problems, but most people don’t have that luxury.
Quality finishing touches take time – usually six to nine months. You don’t want a worker to hurry and do a sloppy job. Unfortunately, the best crafters are generally busy. Again, you must work your project into their schedules.
One day you might walk into your dome home and the cabinets will be in place, everything might seem done, and you might say, “Wow, we ought to be ready to move in here in just a couple of days.” Wrong! Just when you think you are just about done, you are usually several weeks away from being totally finished.
Generally, a custom home requires at least a year to build – from the time you get started to the time you finish. Design and financing could add three to six months to that time estimate. So be patient.
Note: This article was first published in March 2005.