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Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Dome sweet dome! Woman who dreamed of buying a farm buys a $3,200 geodesic tent and set up home on 18 acres of land with her ten dogs, 14 chickens and a cat

  • Sarah K Brown, 32, built a geodesic dome to live in on her $32,000 plot of land
  • She struggled to save enough money to buy a house with enough outside space
  • Her family and friends spent three months helping her construct her new home
  • She paid $3,200 for the dome and between $2,000 and $4,000 to get it ready
A 32-year-old retail worker has been living in a $3,200 geodesic dome for nine months - after she struggled to save enough money to leave her parents' home.
Sarah K Brown shares her structured tent in Fryeburg, South West Maine, with three Scottish Collies, seven collie puppies, nine Icelandic chickens, five chicks, six goats and a five-month-old kitten.
She paid $32,000 for almost 18 acres of land in February 2018, after a property boom meant she couldn't afford to buy a house with outside space for all her animals within her $100,000 budget. 
'It had been my dream for a very long time to move out of my parents' house,' she said. 'I love my family but was at the stage in my life where I wanted a bit more space and independence.
'But I couldn't afford both my own home and the land to go with it - the housing market is booming in this area, and finding something in my price range with land too was so difficult.
Sarah K Brown shares her structured tent (pictured) in Fryeburg, South West Maine, with three Scottish Collies, seven collie puppies, nine Icelandic chickens, five chicks, six goats and a five-month-old kitten
Sarah K Brown shares her structured tent (pictured) in Fryeburg, South West Maine, with three Scottish Collies, seven collie puppies, nine Icelandic chickens, five chicks, six goats and a five-month-old kitten
Miss Brown moved into the dome last August after saving up for years to try to buy a house with land. In February 2018 she bought nearly 18 acres of land
Miss Brown moved into the dome last August after saving up for years to try to buy a house with land. In February 2018 she bought nearly 18 acres of land
She had wanted a house with land ever since she bought a puppy in 2016. She now lives with a host of animals and wants to become self-sufficient by making a living selling chickens
She had wanted a house with land ever since she bought a puppy in 2016. She now lives with a host of animals and wants to become self-sufficient by making a living selling chickens
'When I bought my land and realized I wouldn't be able to afford to build my own house on it, I started looking at alternative options.'
By December she found a 314sq-ft geodesic dome for sale on Facebook. After assembling her family and church friends in May 2019, the group spent three months building decking for the dome to sit on.
It took just a single day to build the structure and cover it in its skin.
'It was a group family effort to get the dome all ready,' she added. 'Now, a lot of people walk in and comment on how much bigger it looks than they thought it would, and how nice the light is.
'Really, I want to give credit to God for giving me the ability to think outside the box.
The dome is yet to be fitted with electricity but Miss Brown uses her parents house, a 20-minute drive away, to charge battery packs so she can use her phone. She does all her cooking on a camping cookstove and uses a propane fridge to store food
The dome is yet to be fitted with electricity but Miss Brown uses her parents house, a 20-minute drive away, to charge battery packs so she can use her phone. She does all her cooking on a camping cookstove and uses a propane fridge to store food
Since she moved into the 20ft across by 12ft high space last August, Miss Brown has enjoyed having her own space but struggled with staying warm enough during the snowy Maine winter, as the dome did not retain heat well
Since she moved into the 20ft across by 12ft high space last August, Miss Brown has enjoyed having her own space but struggled with staying warm enough during the snowy Maine winter, as the dome did not retain heat well
Miss Brown  initially discovered the unique dome after spending hours trawling online ads for a yurt, tiny house or shed which could be converted into a home after researching alternative ways of living on Pinterest
Miss Brown  initially discovered the unique dome after spending hours trawling online ads for a yurt, tiny house or shed which could be converted into a home after researching alternative ways of living on Pinterest
Miss Brown outside her dome. She estimates in total she spent an extra $2,000 to $4,000 USD (£1,600 - £3,300) on top of the cost of the structure getting it ready to live in and now spends less than $200 USD (£160) a month on her mortgage
Miss Brown outside her dome. She estimates in total she spent an extra $2,000 to $4,000 USD (£1,600 - £3,300) on top of the cost of the structure getting it ready to live in and now spends less than $200 USD (£160) a month on her mortgage
In December 2018 she found the 314sq-ft geodesic dome for sale on Facebook. After assembling her family and church friends in May 2019, the group spent three months building decking for the dome to sit on
In December 2018 she found the 314sq-ft geodesic dome for sale on Facebook. After assembling her family and church friends in May 2019, the group spent three months building decking for the dome to sit on
Miss Brown's bedroom, kitchen and living room are all contained within the one circular space.  She uses camping solar shower bags for warm showers and a sink running into a gray water system
Miss Brown's bedroom, kitchen and living room are all contained within the one circular space.  She uses camping solar shower bags for warm showers and a sink running into a gray water system
'My family also helped me build the dome, move things and even make chicken pens - if I ever need an extra hand, I can always call on them. My community and church family helped so much too.
'Despite being off living on my own, I'm not a hermit - I really see the value in community and in not losing bonds with other people.'  
Geodesic domes are extremely strong and rigid because their hemisphere is based on polyhedrons, three-dimensional shapes with flat triangular faces, meaning they can withstand very heavy loads for their size.
She said: 'Until I saw the ad for my dome on Facebook, I didn't even know domes that you could live in existed.
Geodesic domes are extremely strong and rigid because their hemisphere is based on polyhedrons, three-dimensional shapes with flat triangular faces, meaning they can withstand very heavy loads for their size
Geodesic domes are extremely strong and rigid because their hemisphere is based on polyhedrons, three-dimensional shapes with flat triangular faces, meaning they can withstand very heavy loads for their size
Next, she plans to install a solar panel system to bring electricity to the dome, before eventually building a cottage on the land with the long-term goal of becoming completely self-sufficient, growing what she eats and earning an income by raising rare breed chickens
Next, she plans to install a solar panel system to bring electricity to the dome, before eventually building a cottage on the land with the long-term goal of becoming completely self-sufficient, growing what she eats and earning an income by raising rare breed chickens
As the sun sets Miss Brown uses lamps to light up her living space. It had been her dream for years to save up enough money for her own home with land
As the sun sets Miss Brown uses lamps to light up her living space. It had been her dream for years to save up enough money for her own home with land
The well is 14ft deep and provides Miss Brown with her water
She uses the water to cook in her small kitchen and take showers
Miss Brown's water comes from a 14ft-deep well, pictured left. She uses the water to cook in her small kitchen (right) and take showers
The dome is pictured during construction, before Miss Brown put in the floor. Large open areas within the walls allow light to flood into the living space
The dome is pictured during construction, before Miss Brown put in the floor. Large open areas within the walls allow light to flood into the living space
Her family helped her construct chicken pens. Two of Miss Brown's Scottish Collies are pictured in front of the dome
Her family helped her construct chicken pens. Two of Miss Brown's Scottish Collies are pictured in front of the dome 
The dome features a large white wooden door with glass screens and a chimney to allow smoke from the wooden stove to escape
The dome features a large white wooden door with glass screens and a chimney to allow smoke from the wooden stove to escape
'When I walked inside I was like "woah, this is neat" - because the ceiling is 12ft high it felt roomy, and was bright and airy.
'I knew I could picture myself living in it and it was definitely a bargain.'
Miss Brown estimates in total she spent an extra $2,000 to $4,000 USD (£1,600 - £3,300) on top of the cost of the structure getting it ready to live in and now spends less than $200 USD (£160) a month on her mortgage, with her only extra costs groceries, petrol and her phone bill. 
'I liked the idea of reducing expenses and I was able to pay cash for the dome, so my primary monthly expense now is just my mortgage,' she added.
'When I was first looking to buy my own home, living in a dome would never have crossed my mind.
Although Miss Brown currently works in retail she is hoping to eventually build a cottage and become self-sufficient. Far from being a hermit, she says her community is important to her
Although Miss Brown currently works in retail she is hoping to eventually build a cottage and become self-sufficient. Far from being a hermit, she says her community is important to her
Plenty of daylight floods in
Pictures after the floor was constructed
The walls of the dome feature small circles to allow daylight in and avoid the space becoming too dark to comfortably live in 
On one side of Miss Brown's single bed is a bookcase, with a comfortable chair on the other, to allow her to relax without the distraction of technology
On one side of Miss Brown's single bed is a bookcase, with a comfortable chair on the other, to allow her to relax without the distraction of technology
'But for me it was a matter of necessity, I wanted to get onto the land inexpensively and was willing to set aside some comforts in order to do that.
'It's amazing to have a space I can say is mine and to be able to show would-be house buyers there are more creative ways to own their first home.
'And it's definitely fun telling people about my "dome, sweet dome".'
She initially discovered the unique dome after spending hours trawling online ads for a yurt, tiny house or shed which could be converted into a home after researching alternative ways of living on Pinterest. 
Since she moved into the 20ft across by 12ft high space last August, Miss Brown has enjoyed having her own space but struggled with staying warm enough during the snowy Maine winter, as the dome did not retain heat well, and with being too hot in the summer.
When Miss Brown first walked into her home she said she thought 'woah, this is neat'
The ceiling is 12ft-high and the space felt bright and airy, Miss Brown said
When Miss Brown first walked into her home she thought 'woah, this is neat' because the ceiling is 12ft-high and the space felt bright and airy
It took just a day to get the structure up and its waterproof outer layers on. She was able to move in three months after buying the dome
It took just a day to get the structure up and its waterproof outer layers on. She was able to move in three months after buying the dome
Now Miss Browns pets have plenty of space to run around and explore, and she hopes to eventually be able to move into her own home she will have built on the land (pictured)
Now Miss Browns pets have plenty of space to run around and explore, and she hopes to eventually be able to move into her own home she will have built on the land (pictured)
She said: 'I don't have a TV, but I definitely like not having the noise of electronics in the background - you can hear the birds chirping.
'It's so nice to be free from a lot of clutter, you have to prioritize what you can bring into such a small space.
'I like hearing the rain on the dome and looking out of the windows and seeing God's creation - it's freeing, a step away from modern society.
'I always loved the idea of farming, and my Scottish Collies love to herd.' 
She does all her cooking on a camping cookstove and has a wood stove to warm the space, a propane fridge to store food, a composting toilet hidden behind a privacy screen, a 14ft well providing fresh water, camping solar shower bags to have a warm shower and a sink running into a gray water system.
Her parents live a 20-minute drive away, so she uses their home to shower and charge backup battery packs.
Next, she plans to install a solar panel system to bring electricity to the dome, before eventually building a cottage on the land with the long-term goal of becoming completely self-sufficient, growing what she eats and earning an income by raising rare breed chickens. 
She said: 'In future I would love to have a smallholding on the land, growing and raising most of what I eat and providing an income from home.
'While I currently work in retail, I would love to be working with my hands.
'I'm no one special - there are tonnes of people homesteading doing a much better job than I am - but the whole "off-grid" thing definitely encourages creativity.

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