When we bought Caveland, we had vague ideas to build both our office and our home on the property. Between the acreage and the cave, we saw a lot of potential, but the plans went through many transformations before construction and a few more changes during construction.
Our first idea was to build a geodesic dome in front of the cave, treating the cave as a sheltered backyard, or a giant basement. We even considered two or three domes with a courtyard in between, to keep our offices and our home separate. After some thorough research, cost prohibited this plan, at least as a first step.
Next we visited an idea of building both office and home behind the existing wall, in the back 10,000 square-feet of the cave. The cost of bringing in fresh air and meeting egress requirements were the biggest challenges, although the plan might have been feasible.
With budget and speed in mind, we looked into putting a mobile home behind the wall of the cave. Although the plan only met our short-term needs, it would have allowed us to take our time with what we wanted for our long-term offices and home. Ultimately the city turned down this plan, and applying for a variance would have taken at least six months to a year.
Building in the front 5,000 square feet, in front of the existing wall, met our needs and the city’s approval. With a few challenges, a lot of “sweat equity,” and some creative materials choices, it also fit reasonably well within our budget.