timberline geodesic domes timberline geodesic domes
timberline geodesic domes
timberline geodesic domes timberline geodesic domes timberline geodesic domes timberline geodesic domes timberline geodesic domes
timberline geodesic domes
timberline geodesic domes timberline geodesic domes


This dome is the home of Dave & Lynette. It is being built in Julian, in San Diego County in Southern California, approximately 55 miles from the city of San Diego. The dome is being constructed near the summit on a northwest peak which overlooks huge vistas, including the Pacific Ocean for about 180 degrees. The view at night includes the city lights from San Diego following breathtaking sunsets. The elevation is 5000 feet, so the winters bring snowstorms about 2-3 times per year which are usually between 1-3 feet and melt in about 3-7 days. There are four distinct seasons in this location.

The owners are building the entire home almost all by themselves on the weekends. Both work full time jobs in San Diego. They have, so far, contracted out only the grading, septic installation, hollow concrete brick-laying of the lower level wall, and the tile roof. The house (see plans) includes three levels, a lower level day-light basement, the main 35 foot diameter (dome) level, and the loft inside the dome as well. They also opted for the cupola to provide light and ventilation. The dome is built into the slope of the mountain so that one side does not have an extension. The other four possible extensions were built, to include a 6 foot entrance, a 4 foot living room extension, a 10 foot dining room extension and a 4 foot guest bedroom extension. The lower level comprises the master bedroom and adjoining sitting/television room. This room has a fireplace with a pellet-burning insert as the main heating source in the home. Also on the lower level are the master bathroom, laundry/utility room, the workshop and two storage rooms (one under the stairs to the main level). The main level is comprised of the entrance, living room, walk-in pantry, kitchen, formal dining room, guest bedroom, and large bathroom. The total square footage of the three levels, including the open-rail loft above the living room and open to the cupola, is 2760 square feet.

The footings were dug with a pick and shovel because the ground is decomposed granite and a backhoe could not easily dig trenches for the footings. It took one year of weekends to get to the point where the concrete could be poured for the footings. Part of the reason for this was the 77 inches of rain that came that winter; each time it rained the foundation was totally filled with water and mud and had to be dug out again and again. The footings were poured in August 1995.

foundationThe forms were finally completed at the end of July 1995, in 80 - 95 degree temperatures. The grading did not turn out to be quite what was expected. The slope of the hill dropped off sooner than anticipated, making it necessary to do a lot more backfilling. It was later decided to re-plan the design and construction of the main entrance (more on that later). After all the septic underground plumbing was completed, the footings were poured August 4, 1995. A total of 25 yards of concrete! It was about the happiest day of our lives and definitely the largest hurdle to get over of the entire construction. We really celebrated that day!

cement foundationIt took another three weekends to pull the forms, haul in more dirt to level the slab, lay down sand, lay and tie the rebar and get ready for that slab. It took 16 yards of concrete to pour that slab.

framingIt took another month of weekends to get the walls constructed. The masons were experts and the walls were perfectly straight. We spent October 1995 working on the framing for the lower level. All the framing was done in 2x6s, including the interior walls throughout the house. The purpose of this was to create thicker walls which would lend themselves to more creative decorating inside in the Santa Fe style.

floor joists

The floor joists were 2x12s. Everything conformed to the plans exactly as specified.

subfloorThe subfloor was constructed of 3/4 inch tongue and groove plywood and took about five days to do. A ramp was used because the stairs between the two levels were not yet completed.

dome raisingThe dome-raising occurred on Dec 1O, 1995. It was 80 degrees & a beautiful day! We agonized over whether we would cover the subfloor for the winter and raise the dome in the spring. There had been 77 inches of rain the past winter & we did not know how the weather would be this winter. It was a great call! The weather was mild all winter with minimal rain & only 2 snowstorms.

domeThe dome frame was raised in 5 hours that Sunday.

domeFifty-five invited guests handed up the color-coded wood and Dave & his friend assembled the connectors & struts. It was a fabulous day and lots of fun. Everyone was fascinated when the last strut went together perfectly at the top without so much as a hint of being off.

cupolaThe cupola frame went together in no time in the next weekend.

riser wallsThe riser walls for the extensions went in next. The lower level master bedroom had earlier been framed in and now a house was beginning to form.

t-blocking It took several weekends to assemble the t-blocking and studs, but this was the most fun of the project. All the pieces fit like a glove and despite the awkward climbing around on top, we had great satisfaction from the results we could see every day.

framingDave did the higher levels and Lynette helped up to the second layer. All the pentagons and hexagons made great pictures as the dome took shape and became more solid.


Finally, the plywood started to go on. Dave worked from the top down to give him solid footing for nailing. When the plywood was finished, we took out the support structure inside each of the extensions and could finally see our dome home. It was great! We had a 2 day snowstorm that dumped three feet of the wet stuff in April 1996. It melted in a few days but made for some great pictures. We had gotten the plywood completed at least.

extension framework The 4 extensions framework and plywood went up next. Neighbors helped with the heavy lifting of the post and beams but we were essentially able to do all the work ourselves. David added his own cupola extension to keep off the rain by replacing the 4 inch bolts with 8 inch bolts and securing the extension frame right to the existing cupola frame. We also added our own beam end trim to give it a slight Southwestern flare.

dormer windowsThere are three dormer windows in the house, two on the side without the extension and one inside the extension for the dining room. This was fitted with a garden window. The roof has two underlayments. The first is a heavy gravel paper that takes 1 1/2 hours to burn, so it adds Class A fire protection. We made the decision to add the tile roof, rather than put on a fiberglass roof ourselves, due to the high fire hazard area the dome is constructed in. It was much more expensive but very worth the added fire insurance it affords.

roofThe roof is made of a fibrous-cement product called Hardie-Shake, and is manufactured under the same name. Jerome Lampro (Jerome Lampro Roofing, Encinitas, CA.) was hired to do the roofing as he came highly recommended as having previously roofed over 60 domes. We visited several of these domes and his customers were highly satisfied. There have been no leaks and the Hardie-shake is guaranteed for 50 years. That was enough for us!

roof and trimWe had wanted to roof it in Terra Cotta red, however, Hardie-Shake does not come in that color. So the dark gray was our next favorite choice! Jerome layered the tiles, overlapping them at least an inch, to give it depth, shading and protection from the rain when it rolls down the roof. Newport Blue trim was chosen and the eaves and trim were all constructed, painted on the ground and installed before the roof went on.

windowsMilgard Windows were selected for all the windows and entry doors because we wanted windows that would need no maintenance and would last and provide good weatherproofing. These are double-paned, low E, tinted and have argon gas inside. No window coverings are needed. These windows had to have a slider in the middle due to egress requirements by the County code. David's father made a custom stained glass window for the dome, back in 1989, when our dome-building was only a dream. The dining room extension is on the right and the living room is on the left.

living room extensionThe front living room extension picture window and transom went up next. David devised a clever scaffolding by attaching 3/4" plywood to the posts and framing in a plank platform. Each of the extensions had one of these to assist with building eaves and painting trim, as well as lift in windows. Finally, the slider door, garden window and other lower level windows were installed throughout the next few weekends.

fireplace wallThe fireplace is in a wall directly below a dome B-wall, which sets it out into the room.

fireplaceThe fireplace insert is a pellet stove, extremely efficient. It sets on a rock hearth we constructed from slate sheets we purchased from a rock yard. Each piece was cut out by hand with a hammer and chisel by David and myself. The entire wall directly behind the insert will be covered with the rock, which is created with three subtly different colors - buff, buckskin and off-white.

doorsThese are the completed custom doors on the lower level. These doors are below the B-wall and enter into the workshop. The long term plan calls for a large deck which separates the two levels and wraps all around from the extension on the right to the other side of the house on the left. The stained-glass window is seen above the doors.

porchWe have recently begun construction of a small porch with steps for the main entrance to the house. Part of the area underneath the porch will be backfilled and landscaped. We have also completed installation of the remaining doors (French Glass doors) and front windows.

locksOn October 6, 1996 we were finally able to install locksets on our front entry doors and we now have an enclosed house. These doors are woodclad on the inside and fiberglass on the outside. We painted the doors to match the vinyl windows.

We kept busy with construction even during the holidays.
Profile of house   Interior windows   interior Interior Framing
Framing interior walls   Interior wall frames   Attic sub-floor

plumbingWe have been working on the inside of the house during the winter of 1997, installing the drain and vent plumbing, copper water plumbing, gas pipes and electrical wiring.

insulationWe also have worked on installing the insulation throughout the house. We used 4" rigid insulation in all the exterior walls and wherever we wanted soundproofing including under the loft. We used batting type R-19 in the interior walls and ceilings.

insulationThe temperature in the house has remained very consistent and cool even with the warmer outside temperatures. The insulation was very easy to install. Once you had accurate measurements for the pentagons and the hexagons, all the shapes were the same size. I could cut out as many as needed all at one time. We were able to reach every area, even in the highest place in the dome with just a ladder (and the assistance of the loft), except for two sets of hexagons. We used a scaffolding very briefly.

exteriorThe stucco on the outside of the house was completed these past few months as well. We went with dove gray to accent the roof and blue trim.


exteriorWe have never really known until now what our dream home would look like when it was finished outside.


exteriorWe drew pictures of what we wanted, had the Timberline architect draw our custom plans exactly to our specifications, and we built the house to look like the plans. But you can only see the end product in your mind's eye until you have the finished house.

exteriorGoing from plywood and concrete blocks, to paper and wire, to final color coat was the most incredibly rewarding transition.


exteriorAfter three years of our love and labor, we now have a house, a home; built exactly how we imagined it would look. At one time we had thought that once you've seen a geodesic dome home, you've seen them all! But we were wrong! No two geodesic domes are alike. We have never seen a dome home exactly like ours and never will. It is unique. We are greatly satisfied and happy with our home. It is worth all the time and effort.


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