Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, where Ida and Dale Pember built their Monolithic Dome home, describes itself as the “gateway to the Northwoods and a nice place to live and visit.” The Pembers agree.
Actually, Ida has loved their 76-acre homesite and her hometown for many years. She is a fourth generation resident whose ancestors trekked there, from Missouri, in a covered wagon.
The start of an idea, hope, goal
About ten years ago, the Pembers decided to build a new home, and, after investigating alternatives, decided to make that new home a Monolithic Dome. So Dale, a professional plumbing contractor, enrolled in the Spring 2001 Monolithic Workshop. What he learned, coupled with his years of experience in construction, convinced Dale that he and Ida – occasionally with help from friends – could build their dome home.
Dale said, “We have a friend, a mechanical engineer from Denmark, who also has a Monolithic Dome home in Wisconsin. I knew that he had hired a contractor for the shell, but he did most of the finishing himself. I decided I would do our shell construction and the finishing myself – with Ida’s help of course.”
They decided on an Orion, a style that includes straight walls or panels joined into a circle and topped by a dome.
“We got most of the equipment we needed – two-inch concrete pump, mixer and foam machine – through Monolithic,” Dale said. “Then the real work began.”
A four-year project
Ida and Dale began their site preparation, including the installation of a septic system, water lines and footings during the summer of 2003. While continuing to live near the dome but in their old house, the Pembers spent most of their evenings and weekends constructing.
Following procedures developed by Monolithic, Dale and Ida set up and sprayed their Orion panels and did the foaming, shotcrete, rebar and Sheetrock. “Then we did our concrete floors. Both upstairs and downstairs, we poured the concrete, stained and stamped it,” Dale said.
All that took just four years! Ida and Dale moved into their new, dream, dome home on December 21, 2007.
Goal reached – almost!
The Pembers’ two-story Orion has a diameter of 57 feet and a vertical wall of 12 feet, topped by a 14-foot high dome. The main floor includes a spacious living/dining area, kitchen, pantry, Dale’s office, master bedroom and bath, and a sunroom that extends out of the dome.
On the upper level, they have two bedrooms, a bathroom, library, storage room and two walk-in closets. Sometime soon, Dale and Ida want to install a skylight into the top of the dome that will “shine all the way down to the first floor.”
Comfy, cozy concrete?!
Yes, indeed! There is no carpeting in the Pembers’ dome – just beautifully stained and stamped concrete floors – with a radiant, hot water, heating system under them.
“This is our third winter in the dome and we’re amazed by the consistency of the temperature inside,” Dale said. “It never changes more than a degree. The radiant heating system keeps the dome comfortable and the floors warm.”
Ida and Dale embellished their dome’s exterior with a faux stone look. They sprayed the Orion walls with a mixture of white portland cement, gray portland cement and silica sand that created the color and look they wanted. Then at each juncture of two wall panels, they inserted faux stone columns.
They also enhanced the arch curving over the entrance to their sunroom with a sunburst design.
March 2, 2010