Dome home rises amid standard houses in Marathon neighborhood

There is a smattering of geodesic homes in the Keys.
There is a smattering of geodesic homes in the Keys.

Neighbors and residents driving past 1571 Yellowtail Drive in Marathon might mistake the under-construction home for a planetarium rather than a residential dwelling.

That's because it's a geodesic dome, a circular home that looks distinctly different from its boxy counterparts.

Lighthouse Point residents Sylvia and Thomas Knight decided to build the geodesic dome in Marathon after touring a family member's geodesic home in New Jersey.

"The round shape itself was appealing because it's different," said Knight, who works as a Realtor. "My husband did some research and found that the structure was so much stronger than a box-shaped home."

Construction began in December. Knight expects the home to be completed within a year. The 2,200-square-foot house is made primarily of concrete and elevated 17.8 feet above the ground.

Knight describes ascending the 21 steps to the dome as going "on my way up to the clouds."

"Everything comes in prefabricated panels with concrete, foam installation and dry wall already put together," said Andy St. Laurent, a Lighthouse Point builder constructing the home.

The Yellowtail Drive house is the first geodesic dome St. Laurent has put together. He said while the construction is fairly straightforward, he said balancing the weight while elevating it has been the biggest difficult.

St. Laurent and Sylvia Knight said the home is designed to withstand winds of 200 mph. For context, a Category 5 hurricane has sustained winds of 156 or more mph.

Based on visits and conversations with family members who live in the geodesic home in New Jersey, Knight said the new home should be energy efficient.

"The whole place gets warm quickly and uses less energy," Sylvia Knight said. "We're putting in sky lighting so there will be more natural lights inside the home."

According to blueprints of the house, two bedrooms are on the first floor and two more are on the second. There are two and a half baths, a 126-square-foot kitchen and a 338-square-foot living room. The biggest bedroom is 181 square feet and the smallest is 149 square feet.

Brian Shea, a senior planner with the city of Marathon, said the home has met all city code requirements. He doesn't believe the city has received complaints about aesthetics from neighbors. He also notes there are a few geodesic homes in Marathon.

Knight said the hardest part about getting the house started was securing a loan through a bank. She said numerous lenders were reluctant to give her a loan, claiming there weren't many other homes similar to compare it to for value.