Family Eschews Million-Dollar Debt for Small Dome Kit Home

The Rigoni-Escobar family put their million-dollar home behind them to move into smaller quarters. They paid for a dome kit home with cash and have constructed it together as a family.

  • Jacki Rigoni, the author, and her family formerly lived in this large home on the San Francisco Peninsula.
    Photo by Jacki Rigoni
  • Wanting to model self-sufficiency for their children, Jacki Rigoni and Mauricio Escobar bought land and a kit home. Their kids have helped them put it together.
    Photo by Jacki Rigoni
  • The Rigoni-Escobar family climbs the walls of their soon-to-be home.
    Photo courtesy Jacki Rigoni
  • Mauricio Escobar and his son work on the kit home’s construction.
    Photo by Jacki Rigoni
  • Though the dome is only 400 square feet, it sits on 9 acres of land, which the family considers part of their home.
    Photo by Jacki Rigoni

About six months ago, our family sold our million-dollar home on the San Francisco Peninsula and used the small profit to buy 9 acres of land outside of San Jose. We plopped an RV on it, bought a geodesic dome kit with cash, and put it up together with our children, who are 6, 8 and 10 years old. We have been blogging about the experience at Post-Consumer Life.

It has been a major leap of faith and quite a transition, but the relief from the stress of debt has been totally liberating.

The hardest part about the whole thing was actually deciding that the whole mortgage-for-30-years track wasn't for us. Funny, but it's not so obvious when everyone around you takes for granted that being strapped to a mortgage is just what grown-ups do. After we made the decision to put our beautiful home on the market, the rest was not as hard. We committed to never being in debt, and to a pay-as-we-go process, whereby if we don't have the money to build, then we halt until we do. Things have gone slower than we thought, and we still haven't moved from our RV into our dome (we're working on insulating it and building out the inside). But in the meantime, we're surrounded by the beauty of nature and by default simply have to slow down. Not so bad.

Our geodesic dome was a kit. We built the platform ourselves with lumber we bought. The dome itself cost about $11,000. The platform was probably about $4,000. We may have $3,000 to $5,000 more to go in order to build out the dome and the outdoor “shouthouse” (the shower/outhouse we are building). We have also invested in improvements to the land, such as grading a road and putting in drainage pipes for a pond, which will probably come to $5,000. We bought a used RV with a $30,000 loan for temporary housing while we build, but will sell it in the next six months after we move into the dome.

The dome is about 400 square feet for a family of five. But we also consider the 9 acres part of our home, and that's a lot of square footage!

We have done all the building ourselves. My husband is very handy as an electrician, and I, well, let's just say I'm willing and a fast learner. We did pay a neighbor to grade the land for the dome platform and our shouthouse, which was about two days of work. Otherwise, we built it all ourselves. We're both working and home schooling our kids, so we’ve done most of the work on weekends, holidays and occasional days off. We had plenty of offers for help from friends and family, but we really savored the opportunity to work together as a family and to model self-sufficiency for our kids.



Fall 2021!

Put your DIY skills to the test throughout November. We’re mixing full meal recipes in jars, crafting with flowers, backyard composting, cultivating mushrooms, and more!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters