A cozy location
Brigham City, located in Box Elder County, Utah, population 18,000, is home to Lori Hunsaker, editor of the Box Elder News Journal and owner of a beautiful 32′ × 18′ elliptical Monolithic Dome home.
Lori lives in a rural, quiet, tucked-away neighborhood with a horse pasture just south of her and deer in her backyard, yet she is close to Ogden and Logan, two larger Utah cities.
She contacted the city building department in Brigham to inquire about restrictions in town. One city employee referred her to Randy South at South Industries. Lori visited South Industries in Menan, Idaho and looked at several Monolithic Domes. After learning about them she decided this was the way to go.
South Industries worked on Lori’s Monolithic Dome shell from March 2004 to July 2004. Lori moved into her dome in late July 2004 and started the interior construction herself. She subcontracted the flat work, plumbing and electrical, and she and her children finished the home.
It has a living area of 804 square feet, with two-thirds of that as the kitchen and living room, decorated in a classic Mediterranean style. She also has one bedroom and one bathroom.
Walls are rough sheetrock mud with a water-base stain that Lori wiped off to give it the look she wanted. She and her children placed a lot of tile. They used tile around the windows rather than wood. The kitchen and bathroom have matching tile counters. Lori said that she became very good at laying tile.
Because Lori likes a lot of light she has installed ten windows. She put six of the windows on the south side to get passive solar heat.
The house is equipped with an electric in-floor radiant heat system. There is no air conditioner. One thing she looks forward to is walking into her house in the heat of the summer and feeling how cool it is inside. At night Lori opens all the windows and a skylight to let cool air in and warm air out.
A significant exterior
The most significant feature of this home is its rock exterior. Lori did most of the work herself with sweat equity due to lack of funds. She started by applying a primer to the exterior Airform. She painted the sticky primer on a section at a time.
Lori used Dymonic adhesive on the rock before placing it on the dome. The stone tended to slide a bit when placing it on the curved vertical wall, so she used small stones from the ground as spacers between the larger stones. Starting at bottom, she worked her way up.
Once the stones were placed, Lori made her own grout with sand and cement and then painted the grout with a concrete stain. She worked on the rock exterior a little at a time in the evenings and on Saturdays. It took about three months to complete the project.
A climbing wall
Lori anchored a climbing wall by the back door with rebar and stepping stones. Now she can climb to the top and watch the sunset and storms. Before she built the climbing wall, she used a ladder.
Once when she was on top storm watching, the ladder blew over. She had to slide down to one of the windows and lower herself to the ground. She didn’t want to get caught in that situation again, so she came up with the idea of her climbing wall.
Going to the top of the dome is sort of a family tradition and a right of passage for the grandchildren, when they get old enough to climb by themselves. They have had as many as 15 family members on the top; at Easter time, they might throw boiled eggs at each other!
Visitors and advice
Although her Monolithic Dome is tucked away on a dead-end street, random people knock on her door to compliment her home. A young thirty-something couple stopped to talk to her about her unique home, and she said that they felt like best friends after only a few minutes.
When Lori started down this road of building her own home she was scared. Her brother, who had built his own home, gave her this advice: “You don’t have to know how to build a house…just a piece at a time.” Lori said that was the best advice she received. She said that along the way she Googled a lot and watched HGTV. She said that her Monolithic Dome home was a fun project.