Email: Mr Geiger, I very much want to build a dome home similar to Steve Areen’s dome. I live in San Miguel de Allende Mexico. I would like to accomplish a nice dome home. I am 61 years of age. I will have at least 3 workers with me. Can you make a recommendation? Thank you, Cathy
Since you’re 61, maybe you’d prefer the easy method of lightweight bricks. They’re locally made and low cost. There are 2 kinds of locally made clay bricks in Mexico (not counting conventional bricks that are more expensive):
1. terra cotta bricks like these would work well on lower walls.
2. lightweight porous brick for the top of the dome. Ask bricklayers where to buy them. These bricks are VERY light and easy to work with (and fun). It’s much easier to hire bricklayers than doing aircrete, forms and other complicated methods.
One option is to use gravel bags for the first 24″ for the foundation and lower wall. Then use the terra cotta bricks up to top of windows. Then pour a concrete bond beam. Then use the lightweight porous brick. Now you have a photo and a video to show bricklayers to make sure you get the right materials.
Consider building one small dome at a time instead of one big complicated house. This will greatly reduce the stress, and allow you to move into one dome quickly as you plan and build the next one. You can connect the domes later with breezeways, etc.
There are typically no codes in Mexico so you could get by with very simple hand drawn sketches of what you want (if you keep the design small and simple). A good builder will know what to do. Be careful to hire honest workers of course. Study online plans sites for ideas.
Rainscreens are an easy solution to the heat and occasional rain. Make a thin ferrocement (mesh and cement shell) rainscreen on top of the dome with about ½” air gap between. Done correctly the rainscreen blends in perfectly and is unnoticeable.
Add eyebrow windows for better protection.
Note how all of the topics mentioned above are on our blog. Now with nearly 3,000 blog posts there’s info on almost every natural building method. Search the site with the built in search engine or from a major search engine with “Natural Building Blog” (or address) in the search query. Obviously these same topics are elsewhere on the Internet but we make it convenient by gathering the best info on one site.