Within the gated community of Lakewood in Cherokee County, Fla.,
homes are being built, ones so unique realtors can count how many they have
seen on one hand.
Mark Kirkwood, CEO of Biotechture Training, moved to Texas from Seattle and is building dome homes out of recycled material.
"It is the most energy efficient building on the planet," he said. "We can build a structure that stays at 70 degrees all year long even when it is 110 degrees outside, without a air conditioning or heating system. These buildings create their own electricity through solar and wind."
On a land that is projected to become a community of its own, one outline of the dome home stands.
"This project is a survival pod," Kirkwood said. "It is going to be a tool shed and a place for us to work so we can build on the structures."
Kirkwood said he has four buildings scheduled for this summer.
"We are a nonprofit organization," he said. "Our goal is to put people into houses in a sustainable way. Plus we can build this structure for $20,000."
The construction of the building comes from recycled materials. The foundation comes from used tires and the exterior is made from the mixture of styrofoam and concrete.
"This is not like normal construction in any way, this is far superior to normal," Kirkwood said. "You can park a semi-truck on one of our houses. You can hit our house with a sledge hammer and the hammer will bounce off. If you hit a normal house with a sledge hammer, it would go right through the wall."
Precinct 3 County Commissioner Katherine Pinotti said the building of the structure has even helped save the county "time and money."
"Normally I would have to pay $1.25 to haul off the tires, but instead I'm donating them to (Kirkwood) and he putting them to use in a resourceful way," she said.
Clay is also used in the building of the structure and Pinotti said she is giving them free access to it. She said she has sent proper paperwork to TCEQ for a septic system permit.
"I am excited to be a part of this project," Pinotti said. "New technology has revolutionized the housing industry with energy efficient and self sustainable homes at a fraction of a traditional home cost."
Kirkwood said he is interested in building a sustainable community within Lakewood.
"The community is by participation," he said. "You can buy a lot, become a part of the Lakewood community and you can co-op with us as we move forward."
Kirkwood said the first full-size structure is slated for completion in September. The buildings are small survival pods. They are 1,250 square feet, two bedrooms and one bath and never hooked up to utilities, because it is powered through solar and wind energy.
Born a survivalist, Kirkwood said he became interested in monolithic dome homes thinking about the extreme.
"As a survivalist, I think about coming economic collapse," he said. "(People) think about running into the woods, taking our families and protecting our own. That's an immature view of survivalism. A mature view thinks about sustainability.
"What happens is you need a community to move forward. If don't have a community, you can't survive and that's been proven time and time and time again. Isolation is not the way to go. Community is the way to go," Kirkwood said.
Kirkwood said the homes are bullet, tornado, fire, earthquake and hurricane proof. He said he has heard many stories of how these homes have helped through catastrophic events.
"People haven't recognized that technology has advanced to this point," he said. "These houses look different than a normal house. People have a style, an idea, of what a house should look like. If you have an understanding of what sustainability does for you, style becomes irrelevant."
Kirkwood moved to Cherokee County in November said within five months, nine people interested in the project.
Brenda Stahelin, broker for Home and Properties, Inc., said she has sold at least two dome homes in the 15 years she's worked in the industry.
"They're not totally new for Cherokee County, there have been very few on the market and in the area," she said.
He said the weather and nonexistent building codes brought his company to Texas.
"We did a large search across the United States for the appropriate place to build and this is the perfect place to build these structures," Kirkwood said."
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