Archive for Saturday, June 26, 2010

Presenting the Dome Home

Pompie Rinke stands outside his new home as he talks with the general contractor hours before having an open house on Friday. The home, at 1245 N.J., was designed for energy efficiency.

Pompie Rinke stands outside his new home as he talks with the general contractor hours before having an open house on Friday. The home, at 1245 N.J., was designed for energy efficiency.

June 26, 2010


A Tour of the Domed Home

Rebecca Buford of Tenants to Howeowners gives a tour of the domed home at 1245 New Jersey. Enlarge video

Dome house on New Jersey Street boasts energy efficiency

The house is constructed in a way that seals the house well, and will cost significantly less than a normal house to heat. Enlarge video

The "Dome Home" in east Lawrence was designed to be energy efficient, and uses florescent light bulbs throughout for added savings.

The "Dome Home" in east Lawrence was designed to be energy efficient, and uses florescent light bulbs throughout for added savings.

The upper level of the home has cork flooring, chosen for its sustainability.

The upper level of the home has cork flooring, chosen for its sustainability.

The home is equipped with a heat pump water heater, which uses the surrounding hot air to heat the water.

The home is equipped with a heat pump water heater, which uses the surrounding hot air to heat the water.

The unique shape of Lawrence’s “Dome Home” has been drawing stares from motorists near 13th and New Jersey for weeks now.

But the home’s new owners — Jamie and Pompie Rinke — believe they’ve found an aspect of the home even more interesting to look at — the utility bill.

A recently completed home energy rating estimated it will cost $64 per year to cool the home, $175 per year to heat the home, and $156 per year to operate the hot water heater.

“I think it is not hard to say that this is really one of the greenest affordable homes in Kansas,” said Rebecca Buford, executive director of Tenants to Homeowners, which built the home.

Puzzle pieces

The dome is a key part of the equation. The dome design allowed the home to be built with structural insulated panels that fit together like locking puzzle pieces. The home — equipped with high-efficiency windows — is so airtight that a special fan is used in the upstairs bathroom to suck in outside air to keep the house from getting stale.

“It is like being in an insulated cooler,” Buford said. “The air doesn’t leak out.”

High-tech gadgets

Some of the home’s efficiencies come from simple means. Florescent bulbs throughout the house cut down on lighting expenses. Cork floors add an element of sustainability. But designers did turn to some cutting-edge devices. The home’s hot water supply comes from a heat pump water heater. The device operates on the principle that during most parts of the year the air in a home is already being heated. So, the special water heater takes the warm air around the device and uses it to heat the water. A standard electric hot water heater element picks up the slack.


With land costs, the 1,400-square-foot, two-bedroom, two bath home was built for $150,000. Because it is part of the Tenants to Homeowners affordable housing program, it was sold for $115,000 and was placed in the Community Housing Trust program that places restrictions on how much it can be sold for in the future.


Owner Jamie Rinke already can see the advantages of living in the unique home.

“Delivery,” she said. “If you ever have food delivered, you’ll just say it is the dome. You can’t miss it. It’s the dome.”


Zachary Stoltenberg 7 years, 7 months ago

Too bad they didn't paint it like the picture showed. That green is U.G.L.Y!

Richard Heckler 7 years, 7 months ago

Energy costs at about $1.08 per day is not a bad deal. The designer/builder was thinking it could come in at less.

CreatureComforts 7 years, 7 months ago

It takes a lot of money to cool all of that hair on his head and face

nut_case 7 years, 7 months ago

I think there is some shady accounting going on somewhere. You couldn't keep a Styrofoam cooler cold through a Kansas summer for $64.

For instance, I see there is a 'heat pump' water heater. That is great in the summer because you get cold air out and hot water in the tank. The cold air would presumably be used to cool the house. So do you count that cost under cold air or hot water?

Then in the winter, you're still getting cold air out when you heat the water. So do you now try to vent that very cold air outside? Or does it still circulate around the house and then be made up under the heating bill?

accandela 7 years, 7 months ago

The accounting is a building science energy audit called a HERS rating. This home got a 45. Predicted annual heating and cooling and hot water costs add up to $345. Counting all 365 days in a year that comes out to less than $1.00 a day. I think it will be less than that.

number3of5 7 years, 7 months ago

This is not a dome home. It is a half dome home. In rural Jefferson county, about 35 years ago there was a complete dome home. While it only had a loft bedroom, it was spacious and very nice.

accandela 7 years, 7 months ago

Bad math, dude, 2 halfs equal a whole. I'll bet that dome in Jeff cnty did not have legal egress windows on the second floor

50YearResident 7 years, 7 months ago

That is the ugliest house I have ever seen. I bet the neighbor hood is proud.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

I'll give credit for trying to do something different, better, more efficient, etc, but I have to agree that this house is really ugly.

accandela 7 years, 7 months ago

You need to get out more - like to Alvamar

BigPrune 7 years, 7 months ago

How did they get this through the hysterical society? Nice hair dude. Did you deliver me a Pizza Shuttle the other day?

Ward 7 years, 7 months ago

How does the energy consumption of this house compare to the energy consumption of the other energy efficient Tenants to Homeowners houses?

tomatogrower 7 years, 7 months ago

Read the article. It was built by Tenants to Homeowners, which is a lot like Habitat for Humanity. They work to bring affordable housing to the working poor. You know, the waitresses and waiters who you probably don't tip well. The pizza guy. The woman who checks out your groceries at Dillons. You know those "little people" you like to look down on. I guess you prefer they live at the shelter or in an overcrowded apartment. Actually who can afford apartments in this town? College students supported by mom and dad.

Bursting 7 years, 7 months ago

who likes to look down on little people? also out of curiosity where does the Tenants to Homeowners budget come from?

pfunk81 7 years, 7 months ago

I'm currently looking for a 1 bedroom apt. and it is INSANE how expensive it is. The only people living in this town that can afford these rates are KU students mommy and one working downtown outside of Free St. Brewery could afford what a lot of people are asking.

accandela 7 years, 7 months ago

This is the new American economy - buy high sell low and live on the difference!

Bursting 7 years, 7 months ago

Lawrence seems to be famous for ugly green houses

TheEleventhStephanie 7 years, 7 months ago

This neighbor doesn't care what the guy looks like as long as he and his family are decent people.

headdoctor 7 years, 7 months ago

It was built on a slab. The dirt hasn't had time to settle yet. What you are describing is more of a crawl space design which would take away some of the energy efficiency without a lot of added expense to correct for that. Slabs don't do well with settling but concrete blocks are worse.

I find it amusing that some of the same people who are whining for things to be more green and sustainable are the sames ones whining about appearance and color. While conventional houses can be made more efficient, it is better to start from the ground up for the most efficiency in energy and cost savings. Personally I could care less what it looks like. Seems better than the cookie cutter and junk hole vintage designs that are around there now.

dogsandcats 7 years, 7 months ago

Wow, how ugly. It's not just the dome or the color, but the entrance with just a concrete slab for a "porch"? Looks like a cheapo storefront.

pace 7 years, 7 months ago

I have enjoyed watching this go up. I am glad to see an affordable green homes going up in our neighborhood. My husband likes the color a lot, I think it is a lot more attractive than the dung colored subdivisions that have foisted themselves on this town. Some subdivisions must of used a used baby diaper as a color palate. I don' t consider the house ugly but people have a right to their opinion. I consider some of those monster cookie cutter homes built on the north west edge of town ugly. Million dollar homes, cookie cutter stamped and utilities bill that reflect the misguided optimism of the contractor. Lowering energy use helps the family, but it helps this country. Cheap oil has a great price. I hope our new neighbors do well, I wish them welcome.

verity 7 years, 7 months ago

Was the open house yesterday? If so, why is this on the front page today? I would have liked to have gone to the open house.

I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I'm not crazy about the color, but I'd rather see this than the unsustainable, cheaply built, badly designed, cookie cutter McMansions going up in subdivisions here and everywhere else.

novelyn 7 years, 7 months ago

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lounger 7 years, 7 months ago

Hey Pompie just Ignore these negative posts. This is going to be great for you and yours! Its a very cool house and the colour is far out! It is far advanced compaired to most of the new box houses they build (mainly out west of town). When your bills come you can just smile!!

Tom McCune 7 years, 7 months ago

So LJW, you really need to hire an occasional architecture critic to review things like this. Paul Goldberger is already busy, but you could get someone from KU to write occasional (but professional) reviews of these things. That should reveal just how nonsensical this building is on every level.

Tom McCune 7 years, 7 months ago

"...breads..." ?

Rockhill isn't even licensed to practice the profession of architecture, so I wouldn't go to him. But there are others that are OK.

headdoctor 7 years, 7 months ago

Fine. Build your own conventional house and make it as green, energy efficient and sustainable as possible. To avoid the waste of full or half diameter logs, might I suggest a double masonry house. Preferably stone and masonry. It will be interesting to see the look on some of your faces when you realize that you will get half or less the size of house you wanted to build for over twice the price. Of course many of you wouldn't have any way to know this unless you been out getting bids for a new house.

tomatogrower 7 years, 7 months ago

Most people like ticky tac houses, but that's ok. I think it rocks; although it really should have at least been on a slab. Basements in Kansas, leaky or not, are desirable, even if it does cost more.

John_Tesh 7 years, 7 months ago

The hairdo rocks. As for azalum, the math courses you attended were very much different than mine. I have a 1500 sq. ft house, and according to Pompie's savings in my situation, the house would pay itself off in 14 years. Given my AC/Furnace is very dated, but I do have an energy star gas WH and DW. Although I purchased all new insulated windows and doors last year, my energy costs can still range from $130 to $270 month. Soon I hope to update my mechanical system, and add more insulation in my attic. Pompie's investment would give me saving of over $170,000 over the course of 80 years at the current energy rates.

George_Braziller 7 years, 7 months ago

I watched the house being built because it's in my neighborhood. I was excited about it until it was painted that horrific green. That is awful. It now looks like a Sinclaire gas station minus the gas pumps and the green dinosaur.

puddleglum 7 years, 7 months ago

did anybody watch the video? Holy smokes! I got the munchies just listening to the audio!

Mike Cater 7 years, 7 months ago

I think the savings sound terrific, but I don't agree. You would have to shut yourself in and never open the door again to maintain that perfect sealed air. The heat pump air conditioning system isn't so great in kansas either unless you have underground piping. Heat pumps in this area arn't so great verses conventional heating. The heat pump water heater is a bust. Expensive but no valuable heat exchange year around. You have a regular box house (well Sealed) with a partial dome attached for effect using foam blocks. Could have used pleasing design with the same effect. Or a real dome house! Caters capers, Lawrence

bisky1 7 years, 7 months ago

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Liberty275 7 years, 7 months ago

Domes are fairly ubiquitous. I'm not sure this one is worth a story. There are a few truly aesthetic dwellings around Lawrence that are much more interesting. I suggest the writer do a story based on a compilation of these homes.

OTOH, the hair is newsworthy if for no reason other than warning the general public which beautician to avoid. Also, Mr Lawhorn, can we get a guesstimate on when the mullet will regain its prominence? I'm holding off the purchase of a thirdgen Z28 until the matching hairstyle returns to vogue.

newmoonluna 7 years, 7 months ago

To those who are concerned about the color, the style, the slab, the code, the math, the resident, the whatever negative "Concern" you may have, ponder this.....give it a chance! Let this hardworking couple enjoy their new life in their new home, with new experiences. I worked with Jamie and Pompie for many years in the past and KNOW they derserve this newly effiecent home more than anyone. I thought Lawrence was an open and progressive city? Lastly, I have to ad that Pompie is the most talented artist I know in his ability to draw the human form. Don't like the color? Push it and he could paint a very large nude on that green that would rock that house! :0)~

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