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Archive for Sunday, February 28, 2010

East Lawrence awaits dome-home project

Michael Morley and his Lawrence-based company SIPSmart Building Systems are teaming up with LawrenceÕs Tenants to Homeowners to build a new dome-home structure on the northwest corner of 13th and New Jersey streets. An illustration of the house is on a billboard at the lot in East Lawrence.

Michael Morley and his Lawrence-based company SIPSmart Building Systems are teaming up with LawrenceÕs Tenants to Homeowners to build a new dome-home structure on the northwest corner of 13th and New Jersey streets. An illustration of the house is on a billboard at the lot in East Lawrence.

February 28, 2010

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"Dome Home" showcases energy efficiency

A company is planning to build a "dome home" in east Lawrence to try to emphasize energy efficiency. Enlarge video

Michael Morley loves domes.

No, not the kind that fair weather sports teams play games in. He loves the kind that you live in.

“It is the sacred geometry of being in a space that has such an open feeling,” Morley said. “I don’t know how to explain it, but you just feel good being in there. Your mind works a little bit different.”

East Lawrence soon will get the chance to see for itself.

Morley and his Lawrence-based company SIPSmart Building Systems are teaming up with Lawrence’s Tenants to Homeowners to build a new dome-home structure on the northwest corner of 13th and New Jersey streets.

“I promise you the idea isn’t to be weird,” Morley said.

Energy efficiency

Instead, it is to be green. Morley is confident the 1,400-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath home will have heating, cooling and light bills totaling less than $50 per month.

Huh, maybe there is something to this dome thing.

Actually, the dome isn’t the magic when it comes to the energy efficiency. That honor goes to specially constructed insulated panels that are built off-site and then are fitted together on-site. The result is a kit-like home that fits together so tight that the home has to be equipped with a special device to suck in air from the outside to keep everything fresh.

The dome is used to cut down on costs. Morley — who built a similar but larger house that received national attention in Greensburg — said the dome reduces material costs by about 25 percent. A big reason is that the dome is self-supporting and doesn’t need any rafters that account for bundles and bundles of wood in a traditional home. The money saved on materials is put back into high-efficiency windows, heat pumps and appliances.

Morley is estimating the house can be built for about $75 per square foot, similar to what traditional homes cost. That’s what got Rebecca Buford’s attention at Tenants to Homeowners.

“Everybody hears about all the latest, new green things, and then families look at them and realize there is no way that they can afford to do it,” said Buford, executive director of Tenants to Homeowners. “This could be different.”

Buford said her organization hopes the new house will provide solid data on just how energy efficient a home can be.

‘Long-term affordability’

“We’re trying to find that spot where we can build green but still get the biggest bang for our buck,” Buford said. “The goal for our organization is long-term affordability. It is not just what you can sell a house to a buyer for, but really how affordable will it be for them to live in over time. That really means we have to consider how we build.”

Morley is confident energy-efficiency fans will be impressed. He said the Greensburg home — about 3,000 square feet — has a monthly utility bill of about $30.

Now Morley is eager to see whether neighbors of the new home become fans of its unique look. Both he and Tenants to Homeowners have met with the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association about the project and received few complaints.

Some neighbors who were out and about on the block last week said they thought the project likely would fit in, even if some neighbors found its look to be odd.

“I feel like Lawrence and really this neighborhood lets you do your own thing,” said Kimberly Simonetti, who lives in the 1200 block of New Jersey. “If it is environmentally friendly, it probably is going to be more than welcome.”

Plans call for construction on the house to begin in mid-March and for the project to be completed by June. Buford hopes to sell the home for about $150,000 to people who qualify for the Tenants to Homeowners affordable housing program.

Comments

LogicMan 4 years, 5 months ago

U-G-L-Y-! I feel sorry for the neighbors, whose property values will take a slight hit.

From the drawing it seems that there are too few windows for easy fire escape from all areas, assuming the dome portions are multistory and divided into rooms. But maybe they are just tall, single floor rooms?

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Keith 4 years, 5 months ago

East Lawrence will survive this innovation, but I'd like to hear the screams if someone tried to build one in West Beigeville.

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 5 months ago

The floor plans offer plenty of space with this project.

It is an awesome project. $50.00 per month for all utilities = not too bad.

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cowboy 4 years, 5 months ago

You folks need to get out in the world a bit , Domes can be beautiful , and I would bet this will be the best looking house on New Jersey for sure.

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infidel 4 years, 5 months ago

How is a $150,000 house a affordable housing program? Is there some incentive to buy it? There are new homes currently being built for not much more than that in Lawrence . True they are not a dome home, but they also don't come with any restrictions on who can buy.

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cowboy 4 years, 5 months ago

Infidel , 150 is a lower end house these days , I know a couple years ago during peak sales time , April-May , there were 600 listings in Lawrence and only 6 were 130,000 or less. Also keep in mind that if you put a buyer into a dump they will not have the dollars to fix it up.

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Zachary Stoltenberg 4 years, 5 months ago

I live a half a block down New Jersey and am glad to see this going up. This is the second new house on our block in less than a year. Looks like we have more development than Oread. ;). I like the way it looks and other "modern" homes can be found less than two blocks away. The lot has been sitting empty for years and with the setbacks would have made it tough for any traditional home to go in there. I applaud the developer for this investment in the diverse and culturally rich East Lawrence Neighborhood and can't wait to meet the new neighbors!

As a side note, if the plans didn't meet building and fire code a building permit wouldn't have been issued.

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Liberty275 4 years, 5 months ago

I don't know about the dome, but one thing I'll say I like about lawrence the really cool houses littered about the generic boxes. I know of about 5 of them. Some of the Victorian stuff in OWL is pretty cool too.

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Zachary Stoltenberg 4 years, 5 months ago

LogicMan (anonymous) says...

U-G-L-Y-! I feel sorry for the neighbors, whose property values will take a slight hit.

LogicMan your Logic is flawed. When NEW houses go up in a neighborhood and there are NEW sales and values go UP. The value of a home as appraised is based upon recent comparable sales and condition of the property. What's next door or down the street may attract or repel certain buyers but it doesn't necessarily decrease property values. Not significantly enough to compete with some of the things owners do to their own properties that decrease the value anyway.

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BruceWayne 4 years, 5 months ago

ahhh...I knew it! I knew the arkeytect would have a comment here. bong hits for shouting peace

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Zachary Stoltenberg 4 years, 5 months ago

BruceWayne (anonymous) says...

ahhh...I knew it! I knew the arkeytect would have a comment here. bong hits for shouting peace

In this case I'm not the architect, I'm a neighbor. Jump to your conclusions elsewhere.

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lounger 4 years, 5 months ago

Very cool - but will it withstand the Kansas winds?140 mph is a guesstimate im sure. East Lawrence kicks A*s!

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svenway_park 4 years, 5 months ago

ahhh...I knew it! I knew the arkeytect would have a comment here. bong hits for shouting peace


I thought you had to have a degree to be an arkeytect. Paulette2 doesn't have no stinken degree. Or clients either.

bong hits for energy-inefficient concrete houses.

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Dateable_Shelter_Dude 4 years, 5 months ago

z, relax with a cool and fruity popsicle treat while you realize not all comments are about z. Bong hits for peacesicles :)

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Joseph Jarvis 4 years, 5 months ago

@LogicMan

I live two doors down and look forward to the house's completion. East Lawrence is valuable--both dollar- and community-wise--because of its values and uniqueness, not because of popular construction or conformity.

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tenants 4 years, 5 months ago

We told the reporter that we expect this house to be appraised at around 150k but with the housing trust program subsidy, eligible buyers will be able to purchase it for under 125k. To find out more about our program check our website www.tenants-2-homeowners.org. Rebecca Buford Executive Director PS. We appreciate all the positive feedback we are seeing from the neighborhood. Thanks.

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headdoctor 4 years, 5 months ago

Good for you people, zstoltenberg and joejarvis. I am glad someone from East Lawrence showed up on this thread with good comments.

Oh, and BruceWayne wasn't responding to you. The comment was toward another poster who has a new screen name that has been banned from LJW a number of times. Hopefully he will be gone again soon.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 5 months ago

"Is Lawrence even on the planet?"

Not yours.

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redmorgan 4 years, 5 months ago

sigh, I dont even know what to say anymore...stupid hippies, I guess

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rbwaa 4 years, 5 months ago

@lounger - because of its shape, a dome home will withstand tornados better than box houses...

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windjammer 4 years, 5 months ago

Let see appraised for around 150k sell for under 125k. Is this what you would call not for profit home construction? One word comes to mind BULL--LONEY.

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headdoctor 4 years, 5 months ago

windjammer (anonymous) says... Let see appraised for around 150k sell for under 125k. Is this what you would call not for profit home construction? One word comes to mind BULL--LONEY.


Before you cry fowl you might want to pay attention to the following 4 words that you left out from tenant's post. "Housing trust program subsidy". The builder company gets their money they wanted for the house. The price to the buyer is reduced because of the subsidy.

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svenway_park 4 years, 5 months ago

Yes Paulette2, that indeed is Astro Turf. It is a durable material with low maintenance. Very ecological. A real Serious Material. You mean you don't have any on your roof? It's popular in the neighborhood I hear. But you dog isn't supposed to poop on it.

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windjammer 4 years, 5 months ago

Ok my mistake "housing trust program subsidy" BULL--LONEY

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LadyWolf 4 years, 5 months ago

I, too, live in the East Lawrence Neighborhood. I am excited to see the plan for this house. We will be happy to have the new, energy-conscious owners in our great neighborhood! By the way, Tenants-to-Homeowners rocks!! Thanks Rebecca and Jeremy and all the board for all you do for our community!

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educatedintheusa 4 years, 5 months ago

The taxpayer financed and government sponsored Tenants to Homeowners is pleased that some members of the neighborhood and community are supporting the design, maybe more will be available on other properties such as at Rhode Island and 11th. Low to Moderate Income nieghborhoods can be used for many experimental home designs.

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vega 4 years, 5 months ago

I am all for energy efficiency but a combination of these half-igloo sides and a traditional piece in the middle indeed does not look attractive. Either build one or another. Also, getting fresh air by sucking it from outside..hmmm.
Why not go all the way and build an underground house with all that air-sucking, it would be even more energy efficient + no need for tornado shelter. At least it wouldn't be an eyesore.

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moveforward 4 years, 5 months ago

domes can be great and beautiful - this design, not so much.

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Newell_Post 4 years, 5 months ago

Somebody call former architecture dean Charlie Kahn for an opinion. These bastardized semi-dome things that destroyed all of the structural purity of a true dome (geodesic or otherwise) drove him berserk.

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Jeremy DeBoard 4 years, 5 months ago

"The result is a kit-like home that fits together so tight that the home has to be equipped with a special device to suck in air from the outside to keep everything fresh."

I would like to see more along the lines of this model house withstanding a tornado. It may withstand high winds better than a "box" house, but the problem I see would be the pressure differential. Will this dome model "pop" from a tornado passing close to it?

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Jay_Bird 4 years, 5 months ago

Don't believe the "SIPdumb" hype of $50 energy efficiency. This stuff is a joke in it's design and implementation. And I would recommend anyone to thoroughly check it out before they waste their money. A much more energy efficient, and structurally sound option is insulated stay in place concrete forms.

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Jay_Bird 4 years, 5 months ago

I would like to see proof that the 3,000sf Greensburg home has a $30 monthly utility bill, and at what thermosat settings for heating and cooling.

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Newell_Post 4 years, 5 months ago

"Michael Morley loves domes."

Well, then he should build domes, and not the crap shown above, which is not a dome either structurally or architecturally.

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pace 4 years, 5 months ago

As a neighbor, I find this exciting and welcome it. We need to build smart, My friends new home with green features is warm this winter and costs about $70. a month to run, but it is a lot larger. I would love to build an orthopedic version.
It great to see investment in East Lawrence.

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bearded_gnome 4 years, 5 months ago

$70. a month to run, but it is a lot larger. I would love to build an orthopedic version.

---an "orthopedic version?"

house built with a builtup heal?


why is paulette2 still posting, still a valid username on here? its his 14-th-15th!

if you wanna see another "experimental" house, just hang a right at 12th and nj, go one block to penn and its right there. for years peole would drive into the neighborhood and ask "what is that?!?"

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headdoctor 4 years, 5 months ago

It seems like everyone is a critic when it comes to house design preference. It seems to me that all house designs have their good points and bad ones. I figure if it is something new or different going on in East Lawrence. Bring it. It is better than some of the run down shambles. I wouldn't even mind seeing some modified A frames or modernized airplane bungalows or colonials built. They all can be made to look good and be more efficient especially if they can work in a little passive solar into the design. It is pretty hard to make a house as truly green as some would like but anything is an improvement.

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Jeremi Lewis 4 years, 5 months ago

thanks again to all the great neighbors in the area that support our project. Please feel free to stop by and ask questions and we will probably have an open house when it's all done. We look forward to the months of progress ahead. We will also be having a volunteer day this next weekend if the weather is good and if anyone wants to participate please give our offices a call. 842-5494.

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Kontum1972 4 years, 5 months ago

domes will withstand a tornado and hurricane winds i met R Buckminster Fuller when i was in art school he gave a lecture the guy was no dummy.

http://wilderdom.com/wilderdom/fuller.htm

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Kontum1972 4 years, 5 months ago

The name most readily associated with the Geodesic Dome is that of the late R. Buckminster (Bucky) Fuller. This American inventor discovered that when a sphere’s surface is divided into interlocking pentagons and hexagons, the structure produced has a phenomenal strength-to-weight ratio. He discovered that the triangle, the most rigid structural building element in all of nature, when used to form spherical shapes, became the strongest, lightest and most efficient building design and means of enclosing space known.

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 5 months ago

Another thing that makes this home "affordable" is the substantial savings that come with energy efficient/conservation concepts and materials. All new homes at this price range are not not necessarily comparable.

The monster savings come built in.

Tenants to Homeowners takes the position that if any homeowner needs energy efficiency it is a lower income homeowner.

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localgirl9 4 years, 5 months ago

If any of the affordability naysayers had bothered to research Tenants to Homeowners they would understand how it is a house appraised at $150,000 can be purchased for less than $125,000. TTH is a wonderful program that used to use government money to give a very few people grants to help them buy a house. Now TTH uses their government funds (and I am sure private donations as well) to buy lots, build houses (sometimes they buy an older house and fix it up) and sell the houses at just over cost. TTH holds the rights to the lot itself, so that if the homeowner decides to sell they must sell the house through TTH. The homeowner is guaranteed to make their money back and even a profit (proportional to their investment), TTH has a house that is still sellable at just over cost and another person (or family) gets a shot at home-ownership. It is a great program with a wider range of accessability than many housing subsidy programs.

As for the attractiveness and safety and functionality of a dome house? I love them. I think they are totally adorable. I think most of us really ought to have an air circulation system in our house to ensure the free flow of fresh air (you have heard how toxic most homes are, right? with the off-gassing and such?) I think a dome has a better chance of surviving rotating winds (not to mention that no amount of structural engineering can give one complete safety in a tornado...how many times have you seen the pictures with one house completely decimated and the one next door untouched? If the tornado touches down on your house you are s.o.l.) TTH tries to put in basements when they can afford to and they always have "safe rooms" for the places without basements.

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madameX 4 years, 5 months ago

I hope they have an open house when it's finished. I'd be interested to see how the space is arranged on the inside.

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Zachary Stoltenberg 4 years, 4 months ago

I bet you could park it on top of Oread. Throw some cell towers on the wings and provide no parking whatsoever. The planning department will probably just rubber stamp the plans or we can sneak it in as a revision.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 4 months ago

"The planning department will probably just rubber stamp the plans or we can sneak it in as a revision."

Isn't that the goal of the new Oread Landlords' Association?

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mblankers 4 years, 4 months ago

I live half a block down the street from this house, too, and I think it's pretty cool.

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Flap Doodle 4 years, 4 months ago

I hope they don't ruin the looks of the place by parking a broke-down Volvo out front.

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SIPsmart 4 years, 4 months ago

Tenants to Homeowners is providing the best homes in Lawrence for the money. Maybe the best homes in Lawrence, period. Their client base are working families who need strong ,energy efficient, healthy homes. I am happy they have chosen to do several projects with us.

There are some good reasons for the shape of this building. Mainly we had to fit within the city's setback requirements and we have inches to spare in any direction. We needed to have legal egress windows on the second level and the vertical walls allow this plus we can use conventional windows. When people talk about "pure" domes they aren't talking about what really gets built. If you look at most of the built dome homes the forced extensions really are ugly for the most part. We are working with pure geometry here to mix circles and squares and not all combinations are going to appeal to everyone. We have a beautiful 36' dome with dormers that allow egress that maybe you will like better. Our flexible design can make a round dome or separate it into quadrants and put it together in unlimited ways. I would love to give our Sketchup model to architects to see what they come up with. How about you Paulette?

We have current engineering for 110 MPH and can get a rating for 150 MPH cat 4 hurricane with only closer fastener patterns and additional holddowns.. My engineer tells me tornadoes are different and have crazy forces operating as all Kansans know. Still, this is a very safe home.

We are going to install a separate meter for the HVAC system to monitor costs and if anyone wants to bet that costs will be more than $50/mo I still need to pay off my kids' college tuition so bring it on. The article referred to a "special device to suck in air from the outside". I generally refer to these as a FAN. We are using a Panasonic bath fan that has a variable speed, ultra quiet DC motor and is programmable and operates with a motion sensor. We will set it to draw a constant amount or air in through a filtered opening to meet the ASHRAE minimum requirements for fresh air ventilation. When someone comes in the bathroom it automatically kicks up to the max rate of 80 CFM and stays on for a programmed length of time. The fan uses 4 watts to operate.

Great comments from a lively neighborhood. Keep them coming!

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 4 months ago

How much volunteer labor will be required to keep this project on budget?

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NevynTheNomad 4 years, 4 months ago

 Next time I leave south Florida to visit my Gramma, I'm going to walk a few blocks down the street and throw eggs at this dome.  All of you who stand behind it must not live there; must not be very old.  I love my Gramma's neighborhood.  I love the old houses, the cellars made of split rocks instead of modern concrete, the horse hitching posts that are still in front yards all over New York street and the quaint architecture along any countless number of other streets.  If you stand behind this monstrosity, you and those like you are wrong.
 I very rarely push my opinions on others, I keep them to myself most times since people are so stupid they just can't accept advice, but I have to share and push my opinion this time.

~ DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN!! ~ It's wrong.

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