Walter Rowntree and Laura Reynolds hope to soon be living in a house that looks like it might fit closer into a scene from the mythical “Lord of Rings” than Hungry Horse, Montana.
The couple have been working on four monolithic concrete dome houses. The homes have a host of advantages over a traditional stick house. For one, they’re very energy efficient, even on a hot summer evening, they’re cool inside.
Secondly, they’re incredibly durable and virtually storm proof. In some states, they’re used as tornado shelters..
“If the dam breaks, they might float down and find a new spot for themselves,” Rowntree quipped.
The domes aren’t just concrete — they’re also covered in a foam outer shell with insulation properties as well.
All told, they’re three inches of concrete and three inches of foam.
Inside, however, they’re not very big. Each dome is just about 400 square feet in size. While the initial building costs is about 10 percent higher than a traditional home, the domes over time should make that up in energy savings, Rowntree notes.
They should also last a very long time — some estimates put them at a lifespan of 500 years.
The couple built four of the domes on a lot in Hungry Horse. They plan on renting out two and living in the other two.
They look like something out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” where the hobbits lived in dome homes called the Shire.
“We’re real interested in small inexpensive cottages for affordable housing,” Reynolds said. They got the idea from the website monolithic.org.
Since they’re concrete, they’re fireproof as well — the shells won’t burn.
“It’s like living in a cooler chest,” Reynolds said.
The couple hope to have the homes done by this winter.