Hi, my name is Don. I am an electrical engineer living in Mesa, Arizona. I work out of my home, which I built in 1992 as an owner builder (general contractor). It is a 3000 s.f. 2x6 wood and stucco home which I designed. Back when we were looking to build, I considered adobe, SIP, and various insulated block. For adobe to work well in Phoenix, it would have to be 3' thick. SIP was interesting but only cost-effective if building multiple identical structures. Insulated block, at the time, consisted of masonry blocks with fewer webs and foam sprayed inside. Still more expensive and not all that thermally efficient. Being a first time builder, I decided to play it safe and build traditionally. It has been a great home for our family of four. Our kids were born and raised in it.
But I kept looking at energy-efficient building technology - this time, planning our retirement home. I went through the straw bale phase, thinking I could build a lot of it myself. But straw bale requires thicker footers and, unless load bearing, it requires posts and beams. Costs end up maybe 15% more than stick. I dabbled with the idea of earthships, but came to the conclusion that I would never put that much physical labor into building our home. Then I ran into http://tribes.tribe.net/quonsethome
a couple who built their home in Canada out of a steel quonset (barrel vault) building. They used 2+ inches of poly urethane insulation on the inside of the quonset and covered it with masonite on the inside (does not meet code). A quonset hut is probably the least expensive shell that one can build, but it has issues with creating a livable interior. It was while looking for solutions to the interior issues that I ran into Monolithic domes. Doing a Google search, I ran into this BBS. My wife never bought into the idea of living in a metal barn, uh, quonset.
Now, our goal is to sell our home when our kids graduate from high school (4 more years) and build a MD here in Mesa with cash. We'll downsize to 1500 or 1600 s.f. and hopefully reduce our energy costs to 1/4 our current. I've been drawing our floor plan in AutoCAD and think I'm close to something workable. It has 3 intersecting domes - 28'-32'-28' - based on one of Monolithic's stock plans for the shell. My wife is on board and wouldn't mind living in a totally unique home that's nearly indestructable and highly energy efficient.