Dome construction is very efficient in terms of thermal envelope performance and efficiency of construction materials.
Buyers and or do-it-yourselfers do need to keep a few critical issues in mind. The first is structural integrity - be sure to engage a competant structural engineer to design the wall section profile. The appropriate reinforcing steel size and pattern is as important as the thickness and strength of the concrete.
Next the foundation. The same issues apply. Geotechical analysis should be done to determine the bearing capacity as well as the expansive capacity of the soil. A reputable foundation engineer should then be consulted to design the foundation.
Insulation and water proofing are next in importance. Poorly insulated and domes are difficult to heat and cool and can become unbearable in any season. A curved roof surface limits the available affordable roofing systems. Typically, they are liquid applied or foamed on. Single ply rubber membranes are also difficult to fit and seal on these surfaces.
A common concern with domes is natural daylighting. Often many of those that I have visited are dark or the windows introduce a lot of glare. Be sure to orient most of your glass to the south with little or none on the west and a resonable amount distributed on the north and east. The south facing glass needs to be shaded with awnings or decidous trees or the interior space will overheat in the summer.
Domes are not typically neigbor friendly. Personally, I like the aesthetic, but the majority of home owners do not, and, find them offensive. Dome houses and mobile homes are prohibited in virtually all single family neighborhoods I'm aware of.
Domes are also extremely difficult to finance. Most lenders shy away from them for the reasons stated above.
I have also witnessed difficult resale prospects. Many owners I've talked too soon discover the acoustical qualities and the dynamics of the dome interior to be disconcerting.
I've seen some wonderful, very well designed, beautifully lit and just pleasant organic dome type homes that are highly energy efficient. They are not everyone's cup of tea, but beauty is in the eye of the Owner
If this type of home appeals to you and you are fully aware of the challenges build it and enjoy.
Gary Gene Olp, AIA