Written by Jessica Saggio, FLORIDA TODAY and Published Aug. 2, 2017. Also this video and article can be viewed on FaceBook. Below is the actual article and because the print is small, below the article we have copied the words in a larger font.
There’s no place like dome.
That’s the sentiment Terry and Ramona Schoonover echoed when talking about their unique geodesic dome house in Canaveral Groves.
It’s an unexpected sight among sprawling acres of wooded land in the semi-rural neighborhood just outside Cocoa. Three white bubbles peek through the trees, revealing what looks like something you’d read about in a Sci-Fi novel.
It’s a home they built themselves in 1992 from a kit. Yes, a kit, with pieces and instructions from Rockledge-based dome manufacturer American Ingenuity.
Terry flipped page by page through a photo album showing the building process, something he accomplished over a 9-month span with just the help of a friend, a few contractors and a lot of geometry. He beamed, telling stories of positioning panels to create his home, a structure that looks like three miniature versions of the Epcot ball.
And perhaps that’s what makes it difficult to leave behind. The couple listed the house for sale last week.
“At first I hated it,” said Ramona of the house, recalling that initially she was skeptical she’d be living in some kind of conservatory. “But I’ll miss this house. I got to love it.”
The couple is reaching retirement and has plans to move out west to New Mexico, said Ramona, whose love of the desert is apparent in her southwestern decor.
What they have to offer is truly unique, said Joel Rhodes, a real estate agent with the Jason Shinpaugh Team. The home is listed for $219,900 and features three bedrooms and two bathrooms, spread over 1,765 square feet. The largest dome is the main living quarters, which connects to another dome, a two-car garage. A third dome sits adjacent to the structure and serves as a workshop.
There’s already been a lot of interest in the home in just the few days it’s been listed, said Rhodes.
Skylights and tall ceilings greet guests when they enter the home, which is light and airy inside despite its hard concrete exterior. Furniture conforms with the circular design, something the Schoonovers admitted might be a bit of a challenge, depending on taste.
“People might think you’re a little limited, but you can do a few things,” said Ramona.
The downstairs features two bedrooms, a great room, a dining area and a kitchen, which connects to a laundry room and the garage. The upstairs includes a master bedroom, a walk-in closet and a master bath. A custom-made boat ladder-style staircase leads to the second floor.
Sounds echo throughout the house, as the round shape also makes for unique acoustics. You can whisper downstairs and still hear what’s said in the loft master bedroom, the couple explained, but “it’s a really good energy,” said Ramona.
But perhaps one the best selling points, the couple added, is the home’s safety features. Terry explained that the geodesic home is built to endure up to 225 mph winds, and is energy efficient. The couple said they have not paid more than an $80 electric bill since living in the home.
“We’ve never had to evacuate (during a hurricane),” said Terry. “And we’ve never had any hurricane damage.”
It’s one of 50 dome houses in Brevard County, said Glenda Busick, owner of American Ingenuity. The company keeps a log of all the kits it sells. American Ingenuity, also known as Ai Domes, debuted with its design and kits in 1976, and made the cover of Popular Science in March 1987. Terry said it was this magazine cover that inspired him to build the house.
Domes come in multiple sizes and floor plans, and diameter sizes range from 15 feet to 48 feet.
The company calls its domes “the building design of the future available today.” American Ingenuity touts that the houses can withstand F4 tornadoes and the design reduces the impact of falling trees. During Hurricane Andrew, the domes were put to the test.
“On Key Largo, just 20 miles south of the eye of the storm, an Ai 40′ dome faced the brunt of the storm,” the company’s website states. “Built on pilings near the Atlantic Ocean, it was exposed to relentless high winds and driving rain. Unlike houses and commercial buildings in the surrounding area, it sustained absolutely no damage.”
The company is headquartered on Holiday Springs Road in Rockledge.
As for the Schoonovers, this will likely be their last dome house. The two already inquired about building a dome on their new property in New Mexico, but were denied.
“It’s going to be weird going to a regular house,” said Ramona