How Much Does a Dome House Cost to Build?
$100 - $250
$100 - $250
Cost data is based on research by HomeAdvisor.
Updated October 24, 2022Written by HomeAdvisor.
Dome houses cost between $100,000 and $250,000 for 1,000 square feet. This price includes finishing, too, but does not include the purchase of or preparation of land. While they're often fairly small, it's not uncommon for dome houses to be 5,000 square feet or more. These homes have a unique aesthetic, can withstand weather extremes, and are often built with sustainable, Earth-friendly materials.
|Average Cost||High Cost||Low Cost|
The costs for both monolithic and geodesic dome homes are similar. They both require around 25% fewer materials than conventional homes of the same size, and they both offer the same substantial savings—up to $500 per year—in optimal energy efficiency. Both options cost much less than the price of building a standard house.
Monolithic dome homes consist of a single piece of concrete that forms the shell, with spaces for doors and windows. While a small, monolithic dome suitable as an emergency shelter can cost an experienced DIYer as little as $10,000, a comfortably sized home of around 1,000 square feet suitable for long-term living starts at around $100,000, or $100 per square foot, even if you build it yourself. Larger and more elaborate custom-designed, contractor-built homes cost up to $250 per square foot, so a substantial 5,000-square-foot property could cost as much as $1,250,000.
Geodesic dome homes consist of multiple triangular panels that slot together to form a geodesic dome. Typically, geodesic dome homes cost from $100 per square foot for a DIY build, but require more precision and planning than a monolithic dome home because of the importance of getting the triangles connected and sealed perfectly.
At the upper end of the budget, it's not uncommon to pay a contractor $250 per square foot for a high-end dome house built to your specifications and finished to a high standard. This type of home is strong, but not quite as strong as the monolithic variety. And, because of all the interconnecting panels, there's more chance for water damage if a seam loses its water tightness.
The size of your dome house determines its price, but you'll pay somewhere between $85 and $250 per square foot, with the average square foot price being $175. The bigger the house, the more materials and labor required to build it, and the more challenging the build. While smaller dome homes are the most common type, particularly for owner-builders, it's increasingly common to see much larger, grander contractor-built dome houses.
Take a look at some of the more common dome home sizes and their typical build costs.
|Dome House Size||Cost Range (All-in)||Average Coat (All-in)|
|1,000 sq. ft.||$100,000 – $250,000||$175,000|
|1,500 sq. ft.||$150,000 – $375,000||$262,500|
|2,000 sq. ft.||$200,000 – $500,000||$350,000|
|2,500 sq. ft.||$250,000 – $625,000||$437,500|
|5,000 sq. ft.||$500,000 – $1,250,000||$875,000|
Dome houses are available with prefabricated shells, or “dome home kits.” Alternatively, DIYers can purchase or make custom plans, then purchase the necessary materials and raise their dome home from scratch. The other option is to hire a local architect to design and build a custom dome home.
Modular dome home shell kits cost from $10,000 to $150,000. This huge price discrepancy occurs based on the size of the dome, the type of home, and the number of openings required for doors and extensions. Some people choose to add a second dome connected to the first by a covered walkway or extension to create a more unique floorplan.
You can have a dome home company create a bespoke plan for you, which costs between $400 and $900. If you're an experienced DIYer planning to do all of the framing and shell building yourself, you can create your own plan or find one online and tweak it for free.
Your other option is to hire an architect to create a plan for you. Architect services cost $125 to $250 per hour, or between 5% and 20% of the final project fee. Once you have the architect's plan, you can, if you have the right skill set, build it yourself. Otherwise, you'll need to hire a local general contractor and have them oversee the whole build. Hiring a general contractor costs 10 to 20% of the project total.
How much you'll pay to build your dome house depends on the type of build you choose. The most expensive, but likely best result, comes from using a licensed contractor to tackle the build. The most affordable option is a DIY build, but that requires a lot of different skills and, because of building codes, you'll likely still need to hire plumbers, electricians, and other skilled pros for certain aspects.
|Type of Build||Cost Range (All-in)||Average Cost (All-in)|
|Owner-built||$100 – $180 per sq. ft.||$140 per sq. ft.|
|Owner finished||$110 – $200 per sq. ft.||$155 per sq. ft.|
|Owner contractor||$120 – $220 per sq. ft.||$170 per sq. ft.|
|Licensed contractor||$130 – $250 per sq. ft.||$180 per sq. ft.|
Hiring a construction manager costs about $32,000. However, your price may be much lower or higher, depending on your location and project complexity. Letting a licensed contractor handle the whole project will most likely give you the best results and the least amount of stress, but it'll cost the most. In this instance, the homeowner makes key decisions with the contractor before construction begins but then plays no further role until the build is complete. This is like a turn-key purchase.
A cooperative build between a homeowner and licensed contractor costs around $120 to $220 per square foot. An owner-and-contractor build is a solid option that can save as much as 20% of the project price. While the contractor still handles most of the project, including working with subcontractors and the build itself; the homeowner does their own planning, budget management, materials purchasing, scheduling, and so on.
It's usual for the homeowner to also handle the permits, fees, and codes tasks, too. This requires a high degree of knowledge, time, and planning on the homeowner's part. However, if they have the right skill set and enough time, this option is a good way of saving a considerable amount of money.
An owner-finished dome home costs $110 to $220 per square foot. In this scenario, a homeowner can expect to save as much as 30% of the project price.
Once the bulk of the actual construction is complete (including the shell and frame), the homeowner gets involved with the project, tackling as much of the finishing work as they can themselves. This could include hanging drywall, installing kitchen cabinetry, finishing walls and ceilings, laying flooring, and more. It's important to note, however, that this option requires solid DIY skills and lots of free time.
Homeowner dome home builds cost $100 to $180 per square foot. While you can save up to 50% of the project cost if you have all the skills, time, tools, and resources you need, it's incredibly hard, time-consuming work. This option is only suitable for significantly experienced home builders. And even then, you'll need to hire specialist tradespeople, such as plumbers, HVAC techs, and electricians to complete certain aspects of the build.
Aside from raising the shell and cladding the walls, many other elements go into finishing a dome home.
|Dome House Cost Breakdown||Cost Range (All-in)||Average Cost (All-in)|
|Kitchen||$5,000 – $125,000||$65,000|
|Bathroom||$20,000 – $90,000||$55,000|
|Basement finishing||$10,000 – $30,000||$20,000|
|Finishing attic space||$500 – $3,600||$2,050|
|Windows||$250 – $2,000 per window||$1,125 per window|
|Insulation||$0.55 – $2.50 per board foot||$1.50 per board foot|
|Roofing||$3.50 – $5 per sq. ft.||$4.25 per sq. ft.|
|Foundation||$4 – $25 per sq. ft.||$14.50 per sq. ft.|
The cost of materials for a dome house makes up 70% to 80% of the total build cost. This works out at $70 to $200 per square foot.
Remember, this isn't per square foot of materials but per square foot of final house size. Therefore, if you're building a 1,000-square-foot dome house, materials will cost you $70,000 to $200,000.
Labor makes up the remaining 20 to 30% of the cost to build a dome house. This works out as $30 to $50 per square foot. As with the cost of materials, the cost of labor is based on the square footage of the finished property.
Aside from the raising, building, and finishing of the dome house itself, several other elements can impact how much you'll pay for the entire project.
Pro-construction costs are one of the biggest price factors you need to account for when planning your budget. Here are some of the most common:
House plans: $0–$900
Acquiring land: $3,000–$150,000+
Preparing the land: $1,500–$5,000
Acquiring permits: $1,200–$2,000
Upgrades and extras include additions to the home aside from the basic building itself. Here are some of the most common additions to dome houses:
Attic cupola: $1,000–$4,000
Framing arches: $200–$600
There are plenty of advantages to dome homes, but there are a few drawbacks to be aware of, too. Make sure you're aware of the pros and cons to make an informed decision.
While it’s possible to build a dome home yourself, if you know what you're doing and have the right skills and ample time, hiring a local contractor is still usually the better option. Remember, even if you take the DIY route, you'll still need to bring in licensed pros to tackle the plumbing and electrics.
Hiring a construction manager from the get-go:
Saves you a lot of headaches.
Ensures the project goes smoothly.
Ensures that you have all the right permits and permissions.
Confirms that your property meets local building codes.
If you do want to save money, it makes more sense to do the finishing touches, like the interior decorating and outfitting yourself, and leave the actual build to the pros.
Remember, it's still less expensive to use a contractor to build a dome house than the cost to build a conventional house yourself.
In theory, dome homes are more affordable to build than traditional houses. However, it very much depends on the materials you choose, the construction method, and the size of your home. Dome homes have an average price of $175,000, while building a conventional home costs an average of $280,000.
Dome homes can last 500 years or more, depending on what they're made from, the quality of the foundation, and the quality of the build. The home’s climate and maintenance also impact its lifespan. Geodesign homes may need some of the individual panels replaced over time, and the seals and joins need close attention. For monolithic homes, keep an eye out for cracks in the concrete, as these need patching asap to prevent lasting damage.
Because they're unconventional, dome homes can be more challenging to sell than standard homes. They often stay on the market longer because they're uncommon and require the right sort of buyer. However, when the right type of buyer does come along, they tend to snatch up dome homes quickly.
It takes anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks to build a dome home. They're fast because of their structure. Plus, they're almost always in kit form, so there's little assembly required. However, once the shell and floor is in place, finishing the home may take more time, depending on if you're using contractors or doing the decorating and outfitting yourself.
Yes, dome homes are energy efficient. In fact, they're up to four times more energy efficient than regular dwellings. The shape of a dome home ensures efficient air circulation and even temperatures across the whole space. Plus, their shape makes them easy to insulate efficiently and allows maximum solar gain, which is where natural light refracts and stays within the dome, reducing reliance on artificial lighting.