Most of us have experienced it at least once — that wonderful feeling when something we’ve planned for a long time finally comes true. In March 2008, Sharon and Terry Smith enjoyed such a euphoria when they moved into Palo Pinto, their new Monolithic Dome home.
Located on an unincorporated, two-acre site, outside of historic Mineral Wells, Texas, Palo Pinto Dome has a diameter of 50 feet and a height of 20 feet, including a two-foot-high stem wall.
It has 2400 square feet of living space. The main floor embraces a master bedroom and bath, a guest bedroom and bath, an open design living/dining/kitchen area, and a laundry room. The very open loft, that Terry and Sharon use mostly for their hobbies, includes a bathroom, a storage closet, and a closet for their 3-ton heating/air conditioning unit.
In addition to a bank of six windows in the living area and windows in other rooms, Palo Pinto Dome has two skylights. VELUX manufactures these skylights that it calls roof windows since they actually open to provide both fresh air and light.
Long time coming
Terry said, “Our dome was an 11-year project. We first started working on it in 1996 after spotting a Monolithic ad in Popular Science Magazine. We began gathering information, and on one weekend we drove down to Italy, Texas (Monolithic headquarters) to look at actual domes. I thought Sharon would be a hard sell on the idea, but once she toured the completed domes and learned about their energy efficiency and the other positive points, she was sold.”
The Smiths visited Monolithic’s Dome Park Place in Italy many times and attended several Monolithic Dome Building Conferences. In 2006, Terry participated in one of Monolithic’s 5-day, hands-on Workshops. Although he had no intention of personally building their dome, he wanted to actually see the technology in action.
In 2007, the Smiths began designing and planning with the help of Linda Ware, one of Monolithic’s in-house designers. Later that year, a Monolithic Constructors’ crew actually began the dome construction.
It’s a wonderful home!
So said Sharon. She admitted that at this point they have not lived in their dome-home all that long, but it’s already proved its energy efficiency.
“While we were under construction,” Sharon said, “we lived on-site in a 900-square-foot apartment that we put in our barn. The ceiling and exterior walls of that apartment were well insulated. We used window units for air conditioning and small oil heaters for heat — which we didn’t use that often. That tiny apartment cost us more to cool and heat than our dome does. The dome’s utility bills are about two-thirds of what we had to pay for the apartment.”
The Smiths also enjoy the serene environment their dome provides. Sharon said, “It’s been super windy here lately but you would never know it inside the dome. It’s super quiet — makes you feel peaceful and safe.”
January 9, 2009