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Dome homes spark more interest

Consumer response to ads in home magazines for geodesic-dome homes is surging. That's because, according to manufacturers of those easy-to-erect, energy-efficient dwellings, more home-seekers today feel these could be a new and important part of affordable housing.

The domed structures, perfected a good deal since their introduction in the 1930s, can be bought in knocked-down kit form for less than $10,000. True, the buyer has to erect the house. This can be done on a do-it-yourself basis for about $30 a square foot, manufacturers say. If a contractor does the work, the costs can go to about $45. That means a hardworking buyer could erect a 45 -foot-diameter, 1,800-square-foot, two-level dome for around $65,000 - not including land or site improvements.

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Geodesic domes come in standardized kits, all precut and color-marked. For the total price, the buyer gets a procedure manual, an engineering report, and blueprints - along with all foundation, plumbing, framing, and heating details. Interior framing and finishing materials are not usually included. Manufacturers claim no special tools are required. Because of the special design, geodesic domes are said to save up to 50 percent over energy costs in conventional homes.

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