Sometimes folks who like the look and shape of a Monolithic Dome and really would like one hesitate. They begin worrying about the finishing and upkeep of a nonconventional structure. For that reason, Monolithic maintains this How To Section. It includes articles that deal with construction-related issues, such as a “Start of Construction Checklist.” Other articles give detailed descriptions for doing the finishing, such as framing the dome’s interior, installing an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV), and cleaning an Airform. We frequently add topics to this section and work hard at keeping all the information easy to understand and current.
We love to hear from dome builders around the world! It can be hard to build a new business, but the dome building business is definitely worth the time and effort. Recently, we heard from a relatively new dome building company in western Canada—Cascade Domes. Read advice from owner, Steve White.
Often we are asked how to lay out the foundation for a prolate ellipse. Some people want to have their Monolithic Dome home shaped as a prolate ellipse. One reason people might want this design is because they have a narrow lot and need to squeeze the dome in the middle to make it fit. Sometimes they want the length of the dome to be longer so they get more of a look of what is on the outside of the building.
Installing a Monolithic ebook on your Kindle Fire is easy. I have listed the steps in this article, but the best way to read these steps is by clicking on the fist image, then using the captions to give the step-by-step instructions.
As my wife and I prepare for future exterior work on our Monolithic Dome, and to keep up with recommended Airform maintenance, it’s finally time to wash our Airform again.
Generally, in the US, footings are not insulated. By not insulating the footing, we have a place where cold can enter our houses. Monolithic Dome builders may need to consider insulating footings of Monolithic Dome homes to provide a thermal break and reduce chances for condensation and/or mold growth.
When I started building Monolithic Domes, I wanted to know how to make the strongest possible concrete. How much and what kind of cement, water, rock, sand, admixtures, etc. should we use? I went to the Portland Cement Association for advice. I asked other shotcreters. Over the years, I have tried every mix we could think of.
It is imperative that you, the dome owner/builder, understand the basics of foam application to monitor the process and look for potential problems. This article describes the foam application process and could be given to a foam contractor so expectations are clear.
Correct rebar hanger placement takes a detailed, well organized process.
It’s important to understand why we use rebar (reinforcing steel bar) in concrete. It’s used to absorb tension forces in concrete, since concrete has very poor strength as a tension material. So correct placement of rebar is essential.
Monolithic has a 25-page manual that details the start-to-finish steps for building an attractive, permanent and economical concrete fence. It comes with diagrams and photos of the construction process and includes a discussion of shotcrete and concrete design mix.
In the construction of a Monolithic Dome, it’s best to follow time-tested, basic steps when spraying shotcrete.
When it comes to building a Monolithic Dome’s foundation, do-it-yourselfers have a choice: they can contract the concrete work, or with able-bodied help they can tackle the job themselves.
Starting and operating a Monolithic Dome construction company is a challenge. It is not for the faint of heart. But how else can you have the sense of accomplishment you get from building such fine structures, using your own skills? Your efforts will benefit others, and you will leave a legacy of buildings that will be used throughout the next millennium.
When designing your dome for residential or commercial use, it’s worth thinking through multiple construction possibilities early in your planning. Floor plans and fixtures might take up the bulk of your time, but an often overlooked issue is the dressing out of your exterior windows.
So after all the back-slapping, hand-shaking and fan fair during the Airform inflation, you’re finally ready to get down to the business of interior construction. From inside, you’re admiring the eye-catching, organic shape of the inflated Airform and the ethereal translucence as the sunlight filters through fabric, when a contractor derails your train of thought.
When dealing with something as “delicate” as an Airform (Airforms are as tough as a boot but because of their weight they seem delicate), rips and holes will happen. The best way to deal with these problems is to be prepared for them. This article reviews a few of the things you can do to fix such problems.
Covering a Monolithic Dome with tile can be both practical and beautiful.
Why would someone want to cover a Monolithic Dome with metal cladding? David South, Monolithic’s president, says, “Metal cladding is an arrow in the quiver – a problem solver – that’s especially useful when things get really nasty.”
Blistering on a Monolithic Dome is usually minimal because of the materials used. Nevertheless, at times blisters will occur. Each time the sun gets hot on that same spot, it increases the size of the blister as the vapors expand.
Openings in a Monolithic Dome can be made in several ways.
In a Monolithic Dome, an augment is an extension of the Airform. That extension creates a vertical surface, beyond the curve of the dome, where a door or window can be installed. A smooth augment is achieved by properly planning the Airform.
Concrete mix design varies from job to job due to different types of materials and other conditions. However, we have found a mix design that works well in most areas.
The Airform is a highly engineered fabric structure that should be handled with great care. Many factors enter into its attachment to the concrete foundation.
Building the actual shell of the Monolithic Cabin takes a lot of specialized equipment, trained manpower and a specialized form called a casting bed. Therefore, we suggest that you consider having Monolithic build the shell and you finishing the Cabin.
Tasks such as cleaning, repairing, painting or covering the outside of a Monolithic Dome often means workers must climb to the dome’s top and move along its curved roof. For working atop any Monolithic Dome, a correctly installed, permanently set Monolithic Anchor Point is the simplest and most secure.
Airforms for Monolithic Domes are ordered by the square footage of the gross surface area, the number of augmentations, and patterning charges. Calculate the surface area of the Monolithic Dome to be constructed. Look up the square-foot cost in the appropriate table. Multiply the surface area times the cost per square foot.
When constructing a Monolithic Dome, proper inflation of the Airform and continual regulation of air pressure are as important as clean foam and Shotcrete application.
An Airform is a highly engineered fabric structure. Because of its expense, extreme care should be taken not to damage it. The most likely time to damage the Airform is while transporting it to the job site; spreading it; attaching it; and inflating it.
Monolithic Domes are constructed following a patented method that requires a tough, inflatable Airform, steel-reinforced concrete and a polyurethane foam insulation. Each of these ingredients is used in a technologically specific way.
Gordon Cuthbertson, owner of Cuthbertson Mechanical Engineers, of Mesa, Arizona and Ontario, Canada, was a skeptic. When Gordon first got involved with Monolithic Domes about four years ago, he, like so many others, had a hard time accepting and believing what the Monolithic Dome Institute (MDI) says about the thermal mass capability of its structures.
In the United States and other industrialized nations, an EcoShell II can serve the same purpose as an EcoShell I: It makes an ideal, durable and low maintenance garage, workshop, grain storage, small warehouse or shed. Nevertheless, some people feel that the EcoShell II is an improvement over EcoShell I, since its construction system allows Shotcrete to be applied to the interior of the Airform. This difference does not seem like much to some; others think it makes EcoShell II’s construction process more technologically sophisticated and therefore more appropriate for a nation with a developed economy.
An EcoShell I is a super-strong structure that can withstand hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fire, termites and rot that has different uses. In industrialized nations, particularly those with temperate or cold climates, such as the United States, Canada and Great Britain, uninsulated EcoShells make an ideal garage, small warehouse, grain storage, shed or workshop. But in the developing world, most of which has a tropical or equatorial climate, EcoShells can provide permanent, secure, easily maintained and – most importantly – affordable housing.
Once the Monolithic Dome shell is in place, we need to divide the interior into rooms. Our suggested method for this is to use steel studs and sheetrock. You can use wood studs but that interjects a material that is flammable and subject to termite damage. If the walls of the house are simply separators, you can use light gage steel studs and simply put them in place.
Before starting the construction of a Monolithic Dome, each of the items in this checklist must be in place.
Choosing a proper site for a Monolithic Dome is both simple and complex. Obviously, the easiest place to build is on a nice flat piece of land with good drainage, but a Monolithic Dome is so versatile it can be constructed on a limitless number of sites. You can put it on a mountainside, a valley or even over water. No matter where you build, be sure to take advantage of your property and sight lines.
At times it is appropriate to clean the Airform, before or after the building is completed. This may be necessary because of dirt accumulated during shipping or construction, or from our not-so-clean environment.
I installed a RenewAire EV130 ERV that’s small, quiet and efficient in the attic of our home in about three hours.