Sphere Cottage - Stage 4

After living in the sphere for six years, I decided to make a better roof. The metal cone was good at keeping snow off the top, but sometimes chunks of ice would fall off and chip paint off the plywood. The metal cone was so large that it trapped hot air in the
summer, and it was made of galvanized steel, which would rust.Worst of all, despite my efforts to correct it, the metal boomed in high winds. The casement windows on the second floor would have to be closed during rain because there was only a stingy overhang.
Home Depot had started offering trimcoil, painted aluminum flashing in 24"x50 ft. rolls. This motivated me to finalize a design that had been developing in my mind for many years. I bought several rolls and cut them into diamonds, and screwed them into place on a Starplate icosahedron shed.The roof worked perfectly.

After a wet summer I decided to use the aluminum roof on our house. I was eager to get started. At 51, I thought it wise to do this task while I still could. It was necessary to install a permanent roof because the dome is sheathed with 1/4" plywood. A standard roof design that would require periodic replacement would soon destroy the dome.
First I framed awnings to protect the windows.(awnings1.jpg) Plywood was expensive at the time, August 2004, and I was fortunate to find 1200 bf of tongue and groove cedar at a good price. The cedar is a pleasant change from the plywood. Then I removed the metal cone along with several wasp nests. The wasps weren't bad, but a cloud of hornets made me jump off an awning onto the adjoining lower plydome. It was like a six foot drop onto a trampoline. Plydomes are bouncy.

Using ropes and ladders I carried 5 sheets of 3/8" plywood to the top of the sphere and made the new ventilator-a smaller one with a rotorlike design I call the fat helicopter. I covered it with brown aluminum. Then I put down some ice and water shield around the top of the sphere, and began screwing the diamond shaped shingles, starting at the top. This aspect of the roof design was helpful, because aluminum is soft and easily damaged. I didn't have to climb or kneel on the aluminum.

Around the high part of the sphere I worked on a 4 ft. stepladder suspended by a pair of ropes, tied to the steel tubes that supported the ventilator.

I felt uneasy at times, particularly on the south side where the land drops off. But the ropes held, and I was able to carefully fit the metal pieces to the somewhat irregular plydome surface. A standard geodesic with flat triangles and more distinct edges would have been easier.
My wife Cynthia was upset by the ugliness of the roof when I tore the cone off, and did not hang around to take pictures, so the photos are largely uninhabited on this project.


The roof has worked very well. During snowfalls, snow continually slides off the steep, slippery surface. As a young man roofing houses during the seventies I noticed how well aluminum held up in this region, and always thought aluminum shingles would work. I can drive by roofs I worked on then and see the aluminum looking almost new after 30 years. So I am planning on the roofs I have installed on the sphere, the dome and the Starplate to last as long as the buildings.

And in high winds our home is quiet.

Sphere CottageHome Triacon Small Dome 24' Plydome Triacon 42' Plydome Chrysalis Big Top Geodesic Tent Research Dome 18 Research Dome 18 Sphere Cottage Foil Dome Home Small Dome 24' Plydome Small Dome 42' Plydome Chrysalis Small Dome Geodesic Tent Research Dome 18 Research Dome 18 Foil Dome Sphere Cottage Home

Created: February 2, 2001
Last Revised: March 6, 2006
Steve Miller, 2001