Dome home

The Monolithic Dome home in Cudjoe Key, Florida. This recently completed dome home helped the owners survive a hurricane. (Paul Tinsley)


Monolithic Dome survives Hurricane Irma

Paul Tinsley and his wife were in their Monolithic Dome home in Cudjoe Key during Hurricane Irma, a Category 4 storm which battered through the Caribbean before hitting Florida in September 2017. “We were at the epicenter of the eye wall,” Tinsley said. “We were in the eye for about an hour and a half.” He described the eye as being still with no wind.

Paul and his wife had been to the Florida Keys several times and decided that is where they wanted to retire. The homes they found were not in good condition, which led them to build a home. They came across Monolithic Domes and attended a workshop at Monolithic headquarters in Texas. After design and construction of the home, it was completed only a few weeks ago. Little did the owners know it would shield them from a hurricane just a few weeks later.

Their home consists of two Monolithic Domes on stilts 13 feet off the ground. This foundation goes into the bedrock below. The domes are on a concrete slab and are situated 20 feet apart. The ocean is located in front of the home with a canal in the back.

How did this setup fare in the hurricane? “It survived just fine,” Tinsley said. “We slept right through it.” For them, they could hear wind outside, but not as bad as the freight train the neighbors described it as. The dome held steady and did not move, which Tinsley attributes to the round shape with no eave for the wind to catch on. “You had to look outside to see the intensity of the storm.”

He did get up several times during the night to check on the boats. The wind was strong, and it worried him. He stated his home came away unscathed, except for one minor damage. There was a sliding glass door that was not installed properly and was not water tight. This let in a small leak, but was the only damage to the home from the storm.

Below is the view from inside of the home of the hurricane.

Compared to their neighbors, a small leak was just that, small. Tinsley reported that many of the homes near him “completely lost their roofs or were completely blown apart.” Some of his neighbors had parts of their roofs lifted up. The storm left rubble everywhere; palm trees were bent over and trees were on the ground.

Another effect from the hurricane was the storm surge. Tinsley reported having a surge of 40 inches at this home, which is seven feet over the mean high tide. This put fish in his swimming pool, leaving him to clean out dead fish days later.

Overall, the Tinsleys survived the storm with very little damage because of their Monolithic Dome home. “Everything was just fine,” Tinsley said. “I couldn’t have expected anything better for a building to withstand a hurricane of that magnitude.”

Home after storm

The home after the hurricane, with the storm surge and debris visible. (Paul Tinsley)

Side view

A side view of the home with debris floating. (Paul Tinsley)

Storm surge

The storm surge with debris floating below the home. (Paul Tinsley)

Neighborhood after storm

The boats and view of the neighborhood after the storm hit. (Paul Tinsley)

Debris on road

Debris on the road and around the area after the hurricane hit. (Paul Tinsley)