THE AMERICAN INGENUITY CONCRETE DOME HOUSE
Our dome lends itself very well to earth berming because of the strength of the dome shape and the totally concrete exterior wall, with no materials to rot. Our domes have been bermed with as much as eight feet of backfill. However, if you earth berm your dome, we recommend a drain system (French Drain) to draw water away from the foundation. Plans for this drain system are included with our basement plans.
Can your concrete house be bermed higher than eight feet? The American Ingenuity Geodesic Dome could be bermed higher or even buried, but we do not recommend it because the additional expense of labor and extra concrete would probably not be worth the gain. A dome or a structure that is not buried would never have to withstand loads greater than 100 lbs. per sq.ft. If a structure is buried the earth could put loads in excess of 500 lbs. per sq.ft. and we do not design our standard dome to for those extreme conditions that would normally never occur.
Four to eight feet is the range and maximum height of back fill that can go back against the dome. Back fill higher than this would cause more expense and complications than is likely to be worth while. Consider landscaping with plants to enhance the appearance that you want. Some of our domes have been bermed a little over 8' but we have never had any buried.
I would like to completely bury the dome. Is this possible? What do you want to accomplish by covering the dome with earth? There may be a better way than covering with dirt. Before we can estimate burying cost, we need to know what state you will be building in and will your building department require the building plans to have an engineer seal. What is your motivation to want to bury the dome? Is it for energy efficiency or something else? Could you accomplish your objectives if less than the entire dome was covered?
What would the earth coverage be on the very top of the dome? The weight of the earth is the deciding factor therefore smaller domes could be more easily withstand that earth loading.
A dome like an arch, increases its effectiveness as it is compressed so it will support partial earth berming or any snow load. We have fortified our reinforced concrete with space-age fibers and special admixtures, as well as galvanized steel. As the panels of the dome are assembled, the beveled seams between them are concreted, creating a network of interlocking arches of structural beams.
When the dome is bermed, a French Drain is installed around the base of the dome. The steps are:
Cover any part of the basement wall that will be in touch with soil with a tar emulsion (designed for this purpose). This waterproof coat should extend down to (and if possible, under) the polyethylene vapor barrier.
If you wish, you may add additional waterproofing. Apply roofing felt over the tar emulsion, overlapping the edges 6" and sealing the felt with more tar. Place the roofing paper over the outside of the vapor barrier to shed water. Then, give the whole wall one more coat of tar. This extra investment will provide a superior measure of protection against moisture. Please, don't cut corners.
Place a perforated drainpipe (at least 3” in diameter. - 4” diameter. For long lengths), holes down, into the gravel bed. The pipe should be below the floor level and drop 1” for every 8’ of length. This discharges water into an area lower than the dome itself and allows quick drainage away from the building. Lay pipe in the gravel bed and cover gravel with two layers of roofing felt to prevent dirt from penetrating into the gravel.
Backfill the entire area.