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Richmond Dome Home

Engineer builds a unique home with a loft, fire pole, spiral staircase and laboratory.

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Industrial engineer Ryland Fleet bought a piece of property outside Richmond, Va. He's been working on his house for eight years and still isn't done. He started building a small, 18-foot diameter dome for practice but has yet to finish. After building it to its present state, he lifted it into position with a crane.

He then built two 30-foot diameter domes connected by a breezeway. The domes are constructed of 2x2 square tubing framing and 22-gauge galvanized skins. It's all held together with 16,000 screws. The panels are not only screwed together but they are overlapped and glued with windshield glue to prevent leaks. Fleet hasn't decided if he'll install windows.

The front door is a sliding door similar to those on vans. Fleet's laboratory takes up most of the space in one of the domes. He keeps his metal working tools and some of his creations here, such as a robot he built in the 1970s for a space-themed restaurant. Above the workshop is a loft area that's a combination office and bedroom. The room is accessed by stairs, though Fleet does have the option of using a fire pole on the way down.

The lower level contains the front entrance, living room, dining area, kitchen, bath and a spiral staircase. The next level up is the master bedroom. There's a hatch in the living room that opens to a spiral staircase leading to the basement. Fleet used a sprayed coating for the interior walls that gives them a rough texture similar to the walls of a cave. After getting married, Fleet made plans to build a log cabin in the woods behind the domes for him and his wife to live in.

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