Building a geodesic dome

So are you thinking about building a geodesic dome? Or are you just interested in this topic?
I will try to briefly outline the process of building a geodesic dome.

For the construction of a geodesic dome, first of all you need patience, enthusiasm, confidence in yourself and your friends (who will help or try not to interfere). During the construction process you will need all of that no less than a hammer and nails. Oh, yes, and money.

Let me show you a stages of building a geodesic dome.

Design development of your house

This stage includes architecture, appearance, georeferencing, main dimensions, plans and facades, foundation, utility lines (electricity, gas, heating, water and sewer). For each of these items you will need high quality project documentation, and this is not even a complete list.
Sellers of geodesic dome kits, typically don’t mention it (their goal is to sell you a kit) or provide you with minimum documents. So be prepared to refer to a professional architect’s bureau with any kind of starter document set for further development of your geodesic dome.

Foundation and roofing

Having a piece of land and project documentation on hands, the next thing to do is to layout and install the communication lines, and to build one of the most important parts of your geodesic dome – the foundation. Pay extra attention to the foundation, because everything that you will build on top of it can be rebuilt or changed, but adjusting a finished basement is a very difficult and very expensive task. Engineers have this unwritten rule: never skimp on foundation and roofing!

Basement for geodesic home

Although when building a geodesic dome, this rule can be slightly disregarded because a geodesic dome does not have a separate roof as such, so in some way you can save on it a little.

Assembling your geodesic dome kit

First you need to check the completeness of your geodesic dome kit, whether the instructions are there, visually inspect the quality of the elements, and preferably ask the manufacturer in advance whether they processed structural elements with protective treatments and paint, and if not – you will to do it, otherwise you run the risk of feeding termites and other bugs with your dome.

We begin the assembly from the bottom (bottom row of connectors and rods). Everything should be carefully marked up and verified against the existing instructions.  From your diligence and attention depend what the end result will be like and whether you will need to disassemble your construction…

Make sure to connect the rods slightly loosely and leave small gaps. After you make sure that the structure is assembled correctly – and everything is in its place – then you can go ahead and tighten all connections tight and hard and removing all gaps.

Connectors for geodesic dome

Usually, at this stage you will experience small missteps, discrepancies in connections, loss of connecting elements, abrupt changes in weather and your friends who always seem to want to go for beer and hot dogs, instead of tightening the screws, and of course the phone that rings constantly…

Well, don’t worry – in a day or two, or in a week, with proper perseverance, persistence and attention to detail on top of your foundation you will see a net-like geodesic frame of Fuller’s house.

Waterproofing of the frame and openings

This is probably the most interesting and the most challenging stage. We do not take into account the case when it is enough for you to cover your geodesic dome with a canvas cover, insert mosquito nets instead of glass windows and hang a hammock inside. We will assume that your geo-frame needs to be insulated and waterproofed (lay roofing covering over the cells of your dome), and you need to install and waterproof windows and doors.
Let me guess – most likely you have traditional for geodesic dome triangular windows,  which automatically adds more work for you.

Remember – the useful life of your geodesic dome depends directly on the quality of execution of these tasks (waterproofing of the roof and openings).

You should constantly refer to your project documentation and verify everything you are doing. Do not be afraid to irritate you contractor, if you have one. It is your house.

Inside bridging and dividing walls

The next stage will be installing floor decks (if you want to have more than one floor) and dividing walls that will form separate rooms, as well as laying out and installing communication lines.
And, typically, after a successful completion of this stage you can move in…

All of the stages described above can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, depending on how professional the team you put together is.

Experienced people after reading this might say that, basically, the stages of building a geodesic dome are not different from the stages of building a classic house – and they will be correct.

That is why you should not be afraid of a geodesic dome home as a residential house, and simply buy it and enjoy all of its advantages.

You can download article Building a geodesic dome in PDF

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Bob F
Bob F