SuperAdobe Spotlight: Building in Joshua Tree

After working on his SuperAdobe building for years, Mark passed final inspection and is excited to call his dome, home. Learn about his journey and how he turned his dream into a reality!

Tell us about your experience with CalEarth. What workshop did you attend? I attended a one week workshop in April of 2008 that covered most of what you needed to know about building an EcoDome.

What inspired you to build your own SuperAdobe structure? Attending the workshop and talking to the staff and other students and living in the structures on campus for a week convinced me that this is what I wanted to do.

Did you hire builders to help with the construction of your home or work with friends who volunteered their time? Ian (Site Director at CalEarth) agreed to be the foreman and assembled a team of 5 full-time builders that built the structure and applied some initial plaster. This took about 10 weeks to complete. After that initial phase, we would have friends and volunteers, people who were interested in gaining experience with the SuperAdobe process come out for a day or more and continue with the plastering and whatever else needed to be done.

What amenities are included in your domes? I have a fully functioning bathroom and kitchen, all the plumbing and electrical that are normally found in a house and for heat I installed a hydronic radiant floor heating system.

How long did your home take to build? It took 11 years to build because of two things, time and money.

Tell us about the inspection process. What were your most difficult hurdles and what steps did you take to pass inspection? The inspection process was pretty easy; the difficult part was showing the inspector that I was making progress every 6 months because of the time and money problem. The inspectors were very understanding of the situation and would work with me to keep the project moving. The biggest problem inspection-wise was after most of the windows had been installed, the inspector asked where the egress window was. We had to remove 2 casement windows, enlarge the opening and install larger windows to comply with the code.

What is the weather like where you live? Why did you choose to build using the SuperAdobe method? I live in the high desert near Joshua Tree National Park so we have real seasons, cold winters with lows in the 20s to 30s and summer highs that can reach 105 to 110. I chose SuperAdobe because it seemed like the building would stand up to the weather and it didn’t require a lot of expertise to build.

What is your favorite room of the house? Why? I don’t know that I have a favorite room, but I really enjoy looking at the walls and seeing the different surfaces and trowel marks left behind by the many people who had a hand in building it. The appearance also changes with the lighting which is really cool.

Would you like to build more SuperAdobe structures on your property in the future? I want to build a garage soon; hopefully we can use the SuperAdobe method.

If you could describe the SuperAdobe technique in one word, what would it be? Handmade.