Geodesic domes are a very cost-effective and lucrative way to make money in the short-term rental market. They’re much less labor-intensive than building a real house, and you probably have the skills and tools necessary to assemble one in your yard right now. So what’s stopping you?
Oh, the cost? Well, you’re in luck! I’ve done the research so you don’t have to. I’m going to break down the cost comparison of three major geodesic dome manufacturers to help you make an informed decision for your next investment!
How Much Does It Cost to Fully Build Out a Geodesic Home Kit?
The cost varies by the size of the dome and finishings you choose, but you can expect to pay anywhere in the neighborhood of $5000-10,000 for a completed dome with basic finishes. This usually includes delivery but not assembly of the dome, however, most domes can be assembled easily with a few simple tools within a day or two. If you’re especially handy, you can get a dome frame for under $2000 and finish it out yourself!
If you want to look at including the base for your dome, here are some additional numbers for a slab or a wood deck:
A concrete slab will run approx. $4-$8 per square foot. So for example, a 16′-0″ diameter dome is about 200 square feet in area. So on the high side, you’d be looking at about $1,600 for a basic 4″ thick concrete slab.
If you are looking to set your 16′-0″ dome on a wood deck, here are some thoughts on price. Depending on your area of the country, decks range from $15-$30 a square foot. If you want a deck that is approx. 25′-0″ x 25′-0″, the worst-case scenario would be approx. $19,000.
Ekodome Geodesic Kits- Our Top Choice
Ekodome is the most economical option on my list (technically)… and my overall favorite. This is because their kits include just the frame (and pieces required for assembly), and one door. As of this writing, they do not offer coverings/ panels for their domes.
Their Luna series dome price for a diameter of around 16 feet is $2149, making it less than half of their competitors.
In spite of not offering triangular coverings, it might actually be financially beneficial for the builder. You can likely source materials to cover the dome for far less than what a company would sell them to you for (remember, they mark everything up!).
According to Ekodome’s CAD files and PDF panel templates, you can either cut yourself or have them precut from a local provider. In addition, Ekodome promotes a partnering company’s services on their website, primarily plastic-based transparent triangles such as polycarbonate, acrylic, etc. (They ship only to the US).
Check out this video showing how easy it is to put the panels and windows together.
Soon, Ekodome will include wood-based panel manufacturers’ services in their shop as well. You may also proceed to order the cover panels after you receive your dome frame.
Depending on the purpose of the build, one can choose any solid material for the cladding and/or laminate multiple panels to create the best fit. Other options would be plastering non-water resistant panels with waterproof ones such as Aircrete, adobe, or even biodegradable rubber-like chemicals. Plywood, wood composite, aluminum composite, polycarbonate, sandwich panels, acrylic, fiberglass, glass are among the options but not limited to.
So from a customizable perspective, this approach provides an endless supply of options to have a truly one-of-a-kind dome.
When I checked with Ekodome, they said that their third-party panel vendor would charge approximately $8,000-$12,000 dollars for the panels, depending on what kind of panels you choose.
Pacific Domes- The Runner-Up
Pacific Domes is my runner-up choice for geodesic rental domes because of their degree of customization, well-researched specs, and the variety they offer. Their 16-foot diameter model (a popular size for dome rentals) starts at about $5500. It does take a few weeks to months to ship, so plan in advance!
This price includes the frame, cover (white vinyl with a “bay window” of clear vinyl), 1 zipper door, 4 removable windows, anchors, and an instruction and care manual. It does not include assembly or labor, but the average person should easily be able to assemble most domes around this size with a friend or two and some very basic tools. According to their website, it can be done in as little as 2 hours!
It’s also important to note that this price does NOT include a foundation or flooring of any kind, although most domes don’t technically need one. This one can be anchored into the ground like a tent, and most larger sizes can too (up to a certain size). Some people choose to place a deck under the dome or use indoor/outdoor carpeting, and the costs of these will vary based on your area and local material costs. Pacific Domes offers a few pre-determined flooring options, you can check their current pricing and models HERE.
Want to see the breakdown of all the specs, features, pros, and cons of each company’s dome kits? Look no further, I’ve got you covered! Check out our top geodesic dome companies here.
Rental Recon Tip: While a lot of people might be deterred by a higher startup cost, consider what you’re paying for and why. Will this higher investment make you significantly more money in the long run, and how can you ensure that you do? Work the market, don’t let the market work you!
Check Out These Other Articles On Rental Recon:
- Where to Buy Geodesic Domes
- The Best Geodesic Dome Kit Companies for Glamping
- The 5 Best Geodesic Dome Kits, Glamping Domes, & Dome Tents…Period!
F Domes is the priciest option I found, but they do cater to a more luxury crowd. Their basic 16-foot dome starts at $8042 but does include a fully enclosed, insulated, waterproof, heated, and ventilated dome that works in any climate. This is the most comprehensive package I found, although Pacific Domes was close. F Domes also offers far too many customizations to get into, but you could easily end up spending double or triple the base price depending on what you add on.
What is the ROI on a Geodesic Dome Short-Term Rental?
Of course this number will vary greatly on your location, the amount you invest in the dome, and so on, but generally property owners who rent out geodesic domes see a significantly higher ROI (especially up front) than owners of traditional properties.
The difference between a dome owner and a homeowner is that the dome owner is not building any equity while the homeowner is. As such, the term ROI might not be an appropriate one, but it’s the easiest way to describe how much money you’ll make based on how much you put in!
A larger, more expensive dome does not necessarily equate to a higher ROI. This is because each individual stay will cost a lot more, cutting out some guests with lower budgets. In this case, most hosts would lose a lot of volume, so they would have to make up for it by booking a lot more luxury clientele.
On the other hand, while a small dome in a backyard might not ever be rented out by a wedding party, it is certainly attractive to a couple looking for a night alone or someone visiting a new city for a few nights! It can be easier to find guests when you cast a wider net, so pricing affordably might actually pay off in the long run.
Looking for some more details? Click HERE for my full profit breakdown!
How Should I Market My Geodesic Dome on Airbnb?
I would highly recommend marketing your geodesic dome both on and off Airbnb and other rental sites. Marketing can be tricky, but once you know what you’re going for it’s pretty simple! Creating a few free social media accounts and having a consistent look and feel for your posts is most important.
Domes are trendy and their appeal largely lies in their aesthetic, so taking great pictures is an absolute must. Better yet, offer your guests the chance to win prizes like discounts on their stays or free nights if they take pictures and post them while tagging your account or using a certain hashtag. This is free for you both, and most guests will do this anyways!
Show off both the inside and outside of the domes. The most common customer for these types of rentals is the glamper, so make sure you’re showcasing the natural setting (or whatever the setting is, even if it’s your backyard!) around the dome. An outside space complete with a small sitting area and some fairy lights, some nice lanterns, and even a firepit are all winners.
As far as the inside, make sure guests know what to expect. Is there plumbing? Electricity? Where can they go to the bathroom, cook, and clean up? While these aren’t necessarily the most glamorous aspects of a rental, they sure are important!
Last but certainly not least, show off the sleeping arrangements. In a dome, this is usually a large bed (or two smaller ones) front and center. Ideally, this will have some kind of a view, but if you aren’t lucky enough to be in a super scenic location make the best of what you have. Some nice plants outside the window with a privacy fence or screen beyond them is all anyone needs for a nice special retreat.