Zoning and Building Permits

Zoning is a huge subject.

It could easily take a book or two. But fortunately as it pertains to Monolithic Domes, we have just a few things to cover.

First rule to keep in mind: zoning differs from area to area. What may be allowed in one location may not be allowed in another – even if it’s a neighboring community.

So if you’re concerned about zoning, contact the Planning and Zoning Department in your proposed building area and get the information directly from them.

Hint: start by asking about the zoning for homes. Don’t start by telling them you’re planning to build a dome. If you do, you may spend most of your day describing a Monolithic Dome and its benefits, and/or you may encounter a person prejudiced against anything that’s not conventional.

Zoning often requires a minimum square footage for a home. Many places want a type of exterior. Some specify a specific look, such as colonial, ranch, Spanish, etc.

Others areas may want certain construction features: a roof of hand-split shakes or a roof of fire-retardant materials. A few may even tell you what the pitch of the roof must be. One Utah city, that we have been working with, will not allow a house that doesn’t have a three-twelve pitch. Well, a dome house has a tiny little spot that is flat, so you won’t be able to build in that city – kind of dumb, but it’s a zoning law they passed.

In many places, a home’s exterior must be brick. You can brick a dome. Others may call for exterior walls of concrete. Not a problem; you can put concrete over a dome’s exterior.

Each location has its own set of zoning rules. Learn what they are and you will have the information you need. Chances are you will be able to design your Monolithic Dome home to fit the rules.

But even if that seems impossible, you can ask for a variance. Variances are just as varied as the zoning. Some places will easily give you a variance. Others absolutely refuse.

In addition to zoning, many locations include rural areas or pockets within counties or cities where property owners set the rules for constructing there. When such an owner sells you a lot, s/he can specify what can be built: its size, shape, color, look. These rules are in addition to zoning, so if you decide you want to buy a piece of property, make sure it doesn’t include special construction rules.

Building Permits

Ask about the cost of your Building Permit. In Texas most Building Permits outside of city limits cost less than $100. Inside city limits, they can be anything the city imposes.

Most Building Permits in California cost $40,000 to $50,000. Some California cities will not issue a Building Permit until you provide a landscaping plan and escrow the money to pay for the landscaping. So getting a permit varies widely.

We are fortunate where we live. You can just take a plot plan of your property, walk in, pay $75, and they hand you the Permit. In other places you must provide full sets of drawings, engineering and other information. Then after you have the Permit, you can expect unannounced, periodic visits by Building Inspectors.

Important Note: Monolithic Domes meet or surpass any building code in the United States. If the code has to do with strength, fire or safety, no other type of structure can beat the Monolithic Dome. It is tornado- and earthquake-safe.

But it looks different. No matter! Properly landscaped, a Monolithic Dome is as pretty as any other building on this planet. It is just not the usual building. Yet it’s the greenest structure that can be built, and in some areas the population is looking for green structures. Unfortunately, others just want the same old thing!

Please do your homework and good luck. We would like to hear your story. Please email us at [email protected] and tell us about your Zoning and Building Permit experiences.