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The News-Press

A Dome Home

A Lehigh Acres woman had a vision of the perfect home. So instead of buying one, she decided to build her own. She spent three years constructing a geodesic dome that she shares with her cat.

Published by news-press.com on December 19, 2004

Judy Daige is living proof that not all visionaries are wild-haired, starry-eyed ravers. Yet this twinkly 60-year-old Lehigh Acres housecleaner did what many dream of, but few dare — she built her own home from the ground up. A geodesic dome, no less.

"All I know is when I was little I wanted a cute little house," said Judy Daige, 60, who was the contractor and builder of her dome-shaped house in Lehigh Acres. The 2,200-square-foot home took three years to build. CLINT KRAUSE/news-press.com

"I thought they were so neat and always wanted to live in one" says the Michigan native. But her truck-driver husband was a traditionalist, and put the kibosh on her idea.

After a vacation with some friends in San Carlos Park, the Daiges moved to Florida in 1985.

The kids were grown, and the couple was sick of the cold. Their marriage was in trouble, though, and before long Daige was looking for a new life.

"My husband had always said, 'If you don't like it, hit the road.' One day, I realized I could." She started searching for houses and was considering a fixer-upper on stilts.

"But then I thought, 'Shoot, if I've got to tear it apart, I might as well start from scratch.' "

After leafing through a collection of home plans, she decided it was finally time for a dome. Daige designed it, and a company drew up the plans.

She spent the next three years building her dream. With the help of one of her daughters, her by-then ex-husband (the two are still cordial) and friends, she did everything from building walls to installing cabinets.

The drywall was a particular challenge. "I was hesitant the first time I got a look at the scaffolding. I'm chubby, you know, and I was doing it alone and at night," she says. "But it's like anything — the more you do it, the more you're able to do it — even on scaffolding three stories up."

As the building was unfolding, Daige would talk about it to her housecleaning clients.

"They listened to me for three years. When they'd see me, they'd day, 'So, what are you doing now?' Sometimes I think they wondered if there even was a house. When I had an open house when it was all built, they were amazed."

Daige had her doubts, too.

"There were times I wondered why I even began it. I got so tired of it."

But now, four years later, Daige is delighted with her home, which was recently the site of her daughter's 55-guest wedding. The dome also weathered the summer storms capably, losing just three shingles.

The home, which she shares with her ginger cat, Max, is divided into two stories; huge skylight windows open to the sky, making the interior a lofty, airy space, full of sunshine and creamy colors.

"I'm glad I did it," Daige says. "It's home." Then she laughs. "But I see the people I work for — older people— down-sizing and I say to myself, 'Gosh, this is three times the space a little old lady needs.'

"But I do love my little home."




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