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
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.
The 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
It 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.
It 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.
The floor joists
were 2x12s. Everything conformed to the plans exactly as
The 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.
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.
The dome frame was raised
in 5 hours that Sunday.
Fifty-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.
The cupola frame went
together in no time in the next weekend.
The riser walls for the
extensions went in next. The lower level master bedroom
had earlier been framed in and now a house was beginning
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
Dave 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.
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
There 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.
The 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!
We 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.
Milgard 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 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.
The fireplace is in a wall directly
below a dome B-wall, which sets it out into the room.
The 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.
These 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.
We 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.
On 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.
kept busy with construction even during the
We 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.
We 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
The 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.
The 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.
We have never really
known until now what our dream home would look like when
it was finished outside.
We 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
Going from plywood and
concrete blocks, to paper and wire, to final color coat
was the most incredibly rewarding transition.
After 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.
PRODUCT INFORMATION | BUILD A DOME | PLANS | FAQS | ABOUT US | SCRAPBOOK
© Copyright 2006. Timberline Manufacturing
Inc. All rights reserved.
Timberline Geodesics and the Timberline Logo are Registered Trademarks
of Timberline Manufacturing Inc.