Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

State News

June 25, 2014

Family hopes dome house helps move them off grid

Monolithic dome supposed to withstand strongest of tornadoes

FREEDOM, Ind. (AP) — Brandy Simon hopes her family will live almost completely off the grid in the next 10 years.

She plans to take a xeriscaping approach to gardening and landscaping on her 37-acre property off U.S. 231. Her family will tailor the existing environmental design of the grounds to grow fruit trees and vegetable gardens that require little to no watering. They will retain the old plant growth and will cut down only trees that are diseased or that pose a danger.

There’s plenty of room to keep their menagerie occupied, fed and happy —dogs, horses, goats, pheasants, llamas and even the emu the Simons rescued from being put down by the Parke County sheriff after the bird got loose and almost caused a car crash.

At the center of it all, behind an electric fence and a 1,000-foot walk up a steep hill, the Simon family is building their eco-friendly and storm-resistant new home.

It’s a 2,980-square-foot monolithic dome.

When it’s done, the dome home will have many of the features a traditional house might. A master bedroom and bath. A spiral staircase to the two bedrooms, a bathroom and loft area for Corbin, 9, and Evan, 7. The dining room will have south-facing windows. There’s space for a pantry and laundry room, a storage room and a half-bath.

But the dome is designed to be longer-lasting, more energy efficient and capable of withstanding the strongest of tornadoes and other disasters, The Herald-Times reported.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program that offers some financial assistance for concrete dome-shaped safe rooms for communities and schools.

Simon cites security and sustainability as key factors in the motivation to build a dome house.

The immediate exterior of the dome is an Airform moisture barrier that took 20 minutes to inflate into shape. Last October, the Simons hosted an “inflation party” and invited their Amish builders, handy friends and Owen County Building Inspector Bob Bandy to the gathering.

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