First off, Jamie thank you for taking the time to sit down and answer all of these questions. Can you please introduce your lovely family to readers here?
We are a party of four my husband Howard and I our two boys Tanner and Dakota. We also have three dogs and a very old cat. My husband and I both grew up in the High Desert but spent a lot of our younger years in the city LA Hollywood and a lot of time spent by the ocean. We hated it here everything about the desert was lame and we wanted to get out of here ASAP. But now when we look back I’m so glad we never moved to the bigger city area’s there’s just not enough space for us. We need room to move and to explore. And to just be free to do whatever we want with no residential association telling us right or wrong.
Tell us a little bit about the history of this endeavor, your introduction to Cal Earth and how the notion of these dome houses began.
Actually we were introduced to calearth through a homeschooling friend she had taken the kids on a field trip there and when she learned of how the domes were built she thought of us knowing we had plenty of space and tons of earth to work with.
What was it that you found most appealing in learning about this way of life?
I grew up with construction all around me both my dads are in construction building square structures with triangle roof is all we’ve ever known and that’s all I’ve ever seen. So when we were introduce to calearth I asked my dad to come with us knowing that he would understand it more then I ever would. And knowing that he would tell us if it was even possible for us to do something like this. As soon as we got there he fell in love with the building concepts, introduced himself to the staff ended up being a instructor there ever since.
Where did your family live beforehand?
Before we decided to move out here we lived in a very busy and very noise neighborhood where you felt like you had no privacy and your neighbors could hear and see everything.
What prompted the final decision to build your own dome?
ln 2008 when the economy crashed we lost our home of 8yrs Which was the worst feeling. Everything we worked so hard for was gone. We didn’t know what to do but we knew we never wanted to be in that situation again. So we made the decision to work with what we have , turn away from the roller coaster economy that we felt is untrustworthy after our past experience and current research….That’s when we found Calearth.
Can you tell us about the land you acquired before ever deciding to live on it?
At first it seemed so scary nothing but desert and Joshua Trees what could we possibly do with all this. We would drive up and park watch the sunset and visuals what could be.
What about the first year living on site in the trailer. You mentioned how much easier it was with one kid. How did things change with two and what would you say helps keep in the peace living in such tight quarters? As of now, would you say has been the hardest part about living on a construction site?
When we moved out here we hadn’t given thought to having another baby so ya it was simpler with just the three of us we had more room. We had pretty much gotten rid of everything that wasn’t necessary we learned to down size with everything. But then when we decided to a have a baby everything changed including the dome we knew we were gonna need more space. We love living in our trailer we love living tiny and we have learned to live within ours means. We spend most of our time outside I have a different schedules for our seasons in the summer we literally live outside sleeping cooking eating is all out doors but winter is a little different. To us this isn’t a construction site this is our home this is where we feel safe and relaxed and we have everything that a normal house has it may not be as convenient but we have it. Well expect TV we refuse to have that!!
As far as construction is concerned – how many hours a week would you estimate is spent building?
The weather has definitely played a huge part in the building of our dome but we try to work on it every Sunday and if we can put in a few hours during the week.
How long do you figure it will take before you are all living full time in the house?
We always have a goal but the lesson has been “patience” and eventually it will be finished.. the weather and or getting helpers sometimes just doesn’t work out ,but we are hoping by summer we will be living in it.
As far as sustainable living is concerend, can you explain the benefits of how this kind of home is built and operates as opposed to more typical style housing we’re accostomed to?
Our walls are 18 inches thick so we do not have to use heating or cooling units. However we decided to install a wood burning stove because I love them and sometimes the winters are pretty tough to bare. And for cooling we put all of our windows in the direction of our air flow in our area which includes north south east and west positions. We also have the option of installing a ac unit if necessary
The design of the home is gorgeous. Did you come up with that yourselves or did you have help drawing up blueprints?
You can get plans through calearth that have already been approved by county.
From start to finish, what would you estimate is the overall cost of building a home this way?
We are about 75% done and so far we have probably spent about $4000.00 dollars but now we are starting the next part of the build flooring, clay walls, solar, lighting, Windows and skylights basically all the guts of a house inside and out so I’m not sure what the final cost will be but I know I will not be in debt when’s it done.
What about this house would you say is your favorite detail?
Wow that’s a hard question everything about these domes are so amazing I love my windows round and square. I love that when im downstairs and look outside everything is ground level you can literally see the ants crawling by. And my ceilings the way they coil in is beautiful I can’t wait wait to wake up and it be the first thing I see.
I know you talked about the weather extremities being one of the toughest elements of desert living to “get use to” – can you tell us more about what that’s like living alongside such intense and extreme weather conditions?
Every year we experience something new wether its getting snowed in on our first night out here or flooding or extremely high winds or blazing desert heat but I think so far I would say the heat as been the hardest one to get used to we literally never get out of the pool and we don’t cook or sleep in doors it’s just too hot.
What is your favorite time of year out there?
l would have to say spring when everything is in bloom the Joshua trees start to grow their fruit the yuccas bloom this giant asparagus looking flower and the garden and trees are sprouting the food we will get to eat.
When I visited you on site my boys were in heaven with so much open land, dirt, toys and freedom to run rampart around. Having two boys yourself, how do you hope growing up in this environment helps shapes them?
We want to teach them that there isn’t just one way to do things. And we want them to learn that they can do any of this you don’t have to have lots of money you don’t have to go in debt to have things.
You mentioned wanting to extend building, as far as the future of your acreage what would you say is your end all vision for it?
We are planning on building a village where every dome is its own space. Where our boys can build their own domes for their own family if they choose, that way they can experience more of life and nature instead of being a slave to possessions
And lastly, when that bedroom loft is complete, do you promise to let me come back with a bottle of wine and watch the sun set from that incredible skylight?
Yes I promise. I bet you’ll never wanna leave. The energy in these domes the feeling you get just standing in them l can’t even explain.
Oh, is there anywhere we can go to learn more about this?
Yes http://calearth.org/ can help with any questions. Anyone can take their coarse and learn to build with super adobe.
Do you have a small or unique home space you’d like to share here? If so, feel free to email me at email@example.com