Louis Burns, a writer and former real estate agent, toured a newly completed Eco-dome in Austin and wrote an eye-opening assessment. Here are a few quotes from the article.
“The plans from Cal-Earth that they’re working from are designed for the desert climate. There, you have a significant temperature drop in the evenings which allow the day’s heat gain to be dissipated out. Here in Texas, it only drops 10-20 degrees in the evenings during the summer so once the house gets hot, it will stay hot. So those plans weren’t designed to be used in Texas.
Cal-Earth didn’t mention that fact nor that the plans they bought would have to be stamped again by a licensed architect/engineer in Texas. Turns out that not only were they not supposed to use those plans but those plans were for educational purposes, not actual building.
I don’t see how the bubble alcoves are going to work for bedrooms though. Maybe that’s why they’re labeled bedroom-niche on the eco-dome floor plan. To walk inside one, you feel there is a lot more space above your head than around you. I’m not sure even a twin bed would fit in one. They’ll definitely fit a half bath though.
I took a picture of one of the bubble alcoves but I couldn’t really get a good angle on it. It’s kind of like walking into an elevator with enough room to move to the side and then turn around and wait to get out.
Another planning issue was the doorways. To meet code here in Austin, they need 6’8″ rectangular passageways. The arches weren’t tall enough so he went back, knocked the top of them out and set concrete in them. He couldn’t build arches that tall because then you get into doors that don’t fit the slope.”