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Non-traditional housing shapes
Old 09-30-2007, 03:59 PM   #1
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Non-traditional housing shapes

Has anyone on the boards actually lived in a non-traditional house for a couple of years or more?

I'm thinking of the yurt, dome, or more exotic shapes such as the ciurcular or spiral shapes.

Over my life (64 years to date), I've come to know that what looks oh-so-radical and 'cool' on paper doesn't actually work when the real wind blows, the snow falls, or it rains for 6 days straight.

What is it like, living within curved walls?

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Old 09-30-2007, 05:50 PM   #2
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We've been very intrigued by yurts and domes as well. I think the two biggest issues with domes is:

1. you lose out on wall space if you have a dome all the way down. You can mitigate that by having vertical walls on the first floor.

2. If you ever need / want to sell, you have a much smaller base of interested buyers.

On the other hand, a dome looks amazingly easy to build yourself (as does the yurt) and domes are fairly energy efficient.

Josh Bernstein, past host of Digging for the Truth on the History Channel lives about half of the year in a yurt in Utah and loves it. I think that's probably the key... there are lots of areas where I wouldn't venture a winter in even an insulated yurt.
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Old 09-30-2007, 06:00 PM   #3
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A note from my BIL who bid on roofs for a few years...

"You can make some money re-roofing a dome"....
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Old 09-30-2007, 06:07 PM   #4
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As a former realtor, I would re-emphasize Webzter's No. 2 item listed above when considering a "non-conforming" property. Interesting, but I'd be concerned about trying to sell it.
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Old 09-30-2007, 08:16 PM   #5
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A mason i know builds weird stuff that tweaks his interest. Built a hemispherical home in Ajo Arizona out of foam blocks that he cut using a hot-wire knife - interesting math for him because of the changes in angles on the blocks as the courses of block went up. He built the hemisphere and then cut off a side segment and tipped it up to become a carport roof. The whole was plastered in and out (lightweight plaster had some sort of fiber he added that made it very strong). About 1/2 the inside had a loft. We saw it before the segment had been cut - really remember how loud it was inside - the proverbial pin-drop at the center of the floor was perfectly audible out at the edges. While interesting the place didn't have anything about it that said "home".
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Old 09-30-2007, 08:46 PM   #6
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We've thought about living in a yurt in our future. Still haven't ruled it out, but FYI I found out they are very difficult to get insured.
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Old 09-30-2007, 10:45 PM   #7
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Domes: There are two construction methods:
Geodesic: Lots of joints to be caulked, lots of places for them to leak, they cost a lot to re-cover with shingles, and the enclosed shape is hard to use.
Geodesic: Made by inflating a membrane, coating it with cement and with shot-on insulating foam. Rebar is inside the cement. These are very strong, but the concrete can spall if it's not mixed exactly right (it already has to be soupy to be shot onto the forms). Concrete isn't waterproof, so the dome has to be coated with something (some techniques just leave the forming membrane in place), which will eventually need replacing. It also seems tough to effectively utilize the enclosed volume

Plain old house: Works pretty well, it is easy to get folks to work on it, and it is easy to sell. Psychologically, it "feels" like home to most people.
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Old 09-30-2007, 11:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by calmloki View Post
About 1/2 the inside had a loft. We saw it before the segment had been cut - really remember how loud it was inside - the proverbial pin-drop at the center of the floor was perfectly audible out at the edges.
I never lived in one, but in my hippie days I spent some quality time in domes, various tents, etc.

I think all domes leak. But the most interesting problem is what Calmloki mentioned- they have fantastic acoustics. If you would like everyone in the house to hear your woman moan, then a dome is for you.

Otherwise, it could be best to stick with a 3 bedroom, 2 bath tract house.

Ha
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Old 10-01-2007, 02:37 AM   #9
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Not sure a Yurt is much more than a tent. One of those Domes can easily be converted to a storage shed.

The problem will be if you ever need to resell the house and property.

Not to mention the potential issues getting permits to build it.
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Old 10-01-2007, 03:27 AM   #10
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Has anybody thought of any of these non-conforming homes as a way to live in retirement without having to pay high property taxes? Obviously your home value wouldn't appreciate like a normal home, but it would just be a place to live, not an asset in the traditional sense.

We are thinking we might need to move to NY state to be near aging parents. NY school and property taxes are very high, so this was an idea I had to keep tax costs down.

Does anybody have any thoughts on this strategy? Anybody know anyone who has such a home with knowledge of their tax situation?
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Old 10-01-2007, 06:06 AM   #11
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DH and I were once playing around with the idea of living in a yurt. (The "moan factor" is a feature but you can accomplish the same thing by keeping the doors and windows open in a conventional house . ) We liked the ones made by this company. (see link below) However after careful consideration we are staying put. While we like the quirk factor of a odd looking home we really do not want to move from our current digs. We have roots in this community and don't want to leave. I agree with those who view a home as shelter and so we are remodeling to suit ourselves. Some brave soul will eventually buy the place and we know that there will be a lot of " What were they thinking?" when the place is shown but who cares. Since we are leaving here "feet first" and have enough other assets we do not need to leverage this place to buy another.

Oregon Yurtworks - State-of-the-art modular round homes
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Old 10-01-2007, 06:49 AM   #12
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Ha's comment on his hippie days and the moaning woman reminded me of this....REMOVED........

But on topic, I have an old friend from my hippie days, and we called him Moon Juice. Something only a mushroomer might remember. He loved this book.
Bible

He is slowly building his dream home using old train cars from the famous railroads, Acheson, Topeka and Santa Fe, the Union Pacific, the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range. I forget the fouth. Cars keep their original paint.

And NO, not arranged in a square but like a splayed U. The ends of two cars protrude about 15-20 ft over a cliff face. He eventually is going to build a plexiglass bottomed patio hanging between the protruding cars.
----------------------------------------

My dream home is to buy an abandoned train trestle in the mountains of Wyoming or Montana and enclose the sides and top with glass using old recycled glass patio doors. Then have a talented lady friend design lead glass panels to add bright colors.
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Old 10-01-2007, 07:07 AM   #13
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Yurt, schmurt. The US Navy has been into the non-traditional housing shape thing for years: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/n...,1317964.story
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Old 10-01-2007, 08:11 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by igsoy View Post
Has anybody thought of any of these non-conforming homes as a way to live in retirement without having to pay high property taxes? Obviously your home value wouldn't appreciate like a normal home, but it would just be a place to live, not an asset in the traditional sense.

We are thinking we might need to move to NY state to be near aging parents. NY school and property taxes are very high, so this was an idea I had to keep tax costs down.

Does anybody have any thoughts on this strategy? Anybody know anyone who has such a home with knowledge of their tax situation?
I dunno if it would save you very much on property taxes, though. At least, where I live, they mainly base the value of the building on age and square footage. However, with cape cod houses, or anything else that's classified as a "1 1/2 story", they only count half of your square footage. They also don't count enclosed porches or basements. Then there are other aspects, such as value of the land, and value of any exterior buildings.

For property tax purposes, and squeezing out the most square footage for the least dollar, you're probably best off with a Cape Cod that has huge dormers, some big enclosed porches, and a full basement that extends under the porches. I've also heard that if you have a garage that's attached to the house, it's cheaper on your property taxes than a garage that's a completely separate building. Dunno if that's true or not, though.
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Old 10-01-2007, 08:20 AM   #15
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If you just want inexpensive housing, a pole barn structure might work. I had a 24x40 garage built by these guys: Pole Buildings by Durabilt

This company does garages, houses, barns, storage buildings, etc.
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Old 10-01-2007, 10:13 AM   #16
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I've been intrigued by the new Katrina Cottage plans that Lowe's has put out in their circulars of late. We'd like an outbuilding or two on our place and a guest cottage would be nice.
But, when we go to Mongolia in July, I'm hoping to find someone who can ship us a small Ger (the Mongolian yurt) to reassemble in our back yard. I don't think I'd want to live in one, but it would make a cool guest house.
We stayed in a Fuller Dome at a hippie hostel in Georgia once, it was pretty cool. I have a friend with a Deltec dome house and it is very loud. Theirs is considered a modular home (read trailer) for taxes and such. Not good on the resale value.
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Old 10-01-2007, 12:25 PM   #17
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A neighbor built a cylindrical home on one floor, with attached garage and a bedroom wing on one floor in concentric circles. Everything was custom to make and fit the curved walls. When asked why he did it, he said he had build 100s of homes and wanted to see if he could do it.

When he sold it, he got a comparable price to other conventional custom-built homes. No premium for all the extra work.
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Old 10-01-2007, 12:28 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by igsoy View Post
Has anybody thought of any of these non-conforming homes as a way to live in retirement without having to pay high property taxes? Obviously your home value wouldn't appreciate like a normal home, but it would just be a place to live, not an asset in the traditional sense.

We are thinking we might need to move to NY state to be near aging parents. NY school and property taxes are very high, so this was an idea I had to keep tax costs down.

Does anybody have any thoughts on this strategy? Anybody know anyone who has such a home with knowledge of their tax situation?
These posts are getting weirder and weirder. But I am comfortable with that, so I can comment on your endeavor. I would avoid the domes, for reasons already cited. But I spent some time in Doukabor country in central BC, and I can relate that they have ingenious schemes for keeping down property taxes. First their favorite siding, at least at that time, was tarpaper. If that wasnt enough, they got together and hiked through town naked, trying to lower property values throughout the community. The final step, only undertaken if one and two didn't give enough relief, was to burn down a neighbor’s barn. The resulting smoldering stinking mess reduced real estate assessments for some time anyway.

Ha
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Old 10-01-2007, 12:54 PM   #19
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I've looked at circular homes which withstand tornado's better than our normal square/rectangular ones. So, here is some info I cut out from the Wall Street Journal a few months ago.
Deltec sent me information, but would take more time than I wanted to allot to put all the parts together pricewise for a home. Maybe you can do it faster and let us all know the approximate price of a home that is circular?
Personally, I would love circular walls. Worked in a building like that and got used to it quickly. No problems.

Circular Home Builders websites listed:
deltechomes.com
eaglesnesthomes.com
helikondesign.com
octastructure.com
topsiderhomes.com
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Old 10-01-2007, 01:06 PM   #20
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I dunno if it would save you very much on property taxes, though. At least, where I live, they mainly base the value of the building on age and square footage.
I didn't think of that. Around here, your tax assessment is definitely based on actual sale price. Lacking that, then it goes to recent sale price of comparable houses. Or lacking any recent sales or any comparable properties, then projected appreciation from its actual previous sale price.

I'm just figuring you could find a strange house-- dome, earth berm, steel building, whatever nobody else wants. You get it cheap because nobody else wants it, so the assessed value is recorded as low. You could fix up the inside to be just as nice as a normal home, but still nobody would want to pay real house prices for it because it looks so weird on the outside, and would have a very limited market if you ever tried to sell it. You don't care about the selling it part because you are going to use it as a tool to live in cheaply, and aren't worried about appreciation. Kind of like the mobile home thing, but with the advantage of much sturdier construction, so it wouldn't deteriorate and actually become practically worthless like those do over time.

Is it so weird to not care what the outside of your house looks like? I do care that the inside is well finished, comfortable, and climate controlled somewhat, but I really don't care what view I see before I walk in the front door.

BTW, Ha, thanks for the ideas, I'd have to draw the line at stinking messes, though
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