Two 15’ ecoshells built by Cascade Domes as part of a stage for a local music festival.

Two 15’ ecoshells built by Cascade Domes as part of a stage for a local music festival. (Steven White)

A letter from Cascade Domes

We love to hear from dome builders around the world! It can be hard to build a new business, but the dome building business is definitely worth the time and effort. Recently, we heard from a relatively new dome building company in western Canada—Cascade Domes. Cascade Domes’ owner, Steven White, shares some of his thoughts and advice to new builders in this letter on his facebook page:

Howdy everyone,

It has been a fun journey starting up a dome company in Western Canada, figured it’s about time to share a bit of a story. We were lucky last year and actually able to build two 15’ eco shells as part of a stage for a local music festival (picture attached). I say lucky because it has been a hard sell for the domes since, lots of curiosity but no one willing to commit financially to a dome of their own.

Assuming I needed a proper demo model to overcome this, I ordered a 10’ air form (to avoid bylaw infractions and having to hire an engineer – they want $5000 here to sign off on a dome) and had just poured the foundation when I stumbled across the “bread and butter” of the company – Fencing.

The dome is now on hold until spring (we want ideal curing temperatures) and the spray in place concrete fencing has taken off. Using the Basalt rope and rebar as reinforcement I have created a few unique looking fence designs that just might make this dome thing a viable business. I have a lot of interest in the domes, but after making the many the investments required to become operational I strongly suggest taking David’s advice and don’t run out there trying to make a go of a dome only construction company.

The flexibility of basalt reinforcement and the ease of QUICKSHOT shotcrete application offer a unique product that appeals to a diversity of projects and budgets. I’m paying the bills because I can show up alone or with a helper and do small mixes (literally half sacks of portland in a grout mixer) and apply 2 – 4 yards per day with a small compressor, wheel barrows, my truck and a quickshot.

It’s not glamorous, it’s not the easiest…but the results vs overhead are making this business model work. I have the full shotcrete set up; but I don’t use it. I’m sure that I will, but as I am very much in the beginning stages of the game I find I only use the quickshot. This tactic is allowing me to prove the product without breaking the bank.

As soon as the first wall went up, 4 people asked for one, so if you are looking to get a company going but are receiving the same sort of interest and no $$$ I have been – look at getting yourself set up as a “one man shotcrete machine”. You can check out my blog here and stay up to date with our projects on the site. If you have any questions feel free to message me.

—Steven White