Unusual but not complicated
“Confusion isn’t necessarily bad,” said Bill Click, referring to the confusion of tax appraisers and insurance agents.
Two years ago, Click and his wife moved into their Monolithic Dome home in Bandera, Texas, located about fifty miles west of San Antonio.
“We have five acres of land,” Click said. “We’re on a hill and we have a great view. It’s an unusual house, but not complicated. Yet the (tax) appraisers didn’t know where to start. They had never done a round house. So the (tax) appraisal came in low — which is very good.”
Although the cost of building the house, including the land, the well, and the septic system totaled $65,000, the tax appraisal on the house came to only $55,000.
The Clicks had a similar experience when they began shopping for homeowners insurance. “Most insurance agents wanted to sell us a whole package,” Click said. "But I would begin picking apart the package.
“We didn’t need roof coverage because the dome doesn’t have a roof that can be damaged by hail or winds,” he continued. “We didn’t need structural fire insurance because the dome cannot burn. So insurance agents didn’t know what to write. Finally, I just had to tell them. All we needed was insurance for the contents and against liability.”
The Click’s dome measures 47’ by 17’ and provides a living area of 1734 square feet. Its floor plan includes two bedrooms, two bathrooms, an office, a kitchen, and a living-dining area that stretches a third of the way around the dome.
The house is all electric and kept at about 73 degrees in the winter and 75 degrees in the summer. “Electricity costs us about $100 a month,” Click said. “It’s about the same, summer or winter, though we do get humid days that reach a 100 degrees.”
Ceiling fans in all the rooms run continuously on low, circulating air upwards in the winter and downwards in the summer. During hot weather, a compressor provides additional cooling. Click said, “It only goes on three to five times a day — depending on the amount of in-and-out activity — and runs briefly. It never goes on at night.”
For heating, the dome uses a central electric heating system of 10,000 watts. According to Click, most conventional homes of this size require a central electric heating system of 50,000 to 100,000 watts. He said, “In cold weather, the heat may switch on two or three times and run for fifteen to twenty minutes, mostly at night and in the early morning hours.”
Decorating in the round
The Clicks love living in their dome. The only problem they encountered, which, for the most part, they find fun and challenging, is learning to manage furniture in a round house and decorating above eight feet.
“I guess we first realized that everything ready-made is designed for traditional, square houses when it came to hanging our ceiling fans,” Click said. Because the ceiling in their dome is sixteen feet high, the Clicks had to make the pipes from which to hang the ceiling fans. Usually, ready-made hanging pipes are designed for eight-foot ceilings.
“We love our kitchen,” Click said. “It’s in the center or heart of the house. All the other areas radiate from it. But we couldn’t just go out and buy our cabinets because they’re all made for houses with corners.” Click solved the problem by designing and building the cabinets himself.
Because they wanted live plants atop the cabinets, the Clicks installed a sun pipe with a fourteen inch diameter in the ceiling. A sun pipe is similar to a skylight but uses reflected light and does not generate heat.
For all of the inside, the Clicks are using a Southwestern motif which complements their environment. Walls are an antique white and the tile floors have a sandy, marbleized look.
“We’re taking our time with the decorating,” Click said “trying things out and having fun doing it.”
Note: This article is a reprint from the Spring 1998 Roundup. Dollar amounts quoted are 1995/6 prices.