Jean (Sutton) Everline: The Dome Home

Written by David Green.

By JEFF PICKELL

In addition to the comfortable living conditions, low heating and cooling costs, and a roof that never needs to be re-shingled, the five years Sam and Jean Everline devoted to their “dome home” is paying off in the form of a self-proclaimed five minutes of fame.

domehome Look for Jean, whom some might know as former Morenci resident Jean Sutton, and Sam on an episode of Home and Garden Television’s “Offbeat America,” airing Sunday at 6 p.m.
The video crew arrived to shoot the segment in November. Jean said they weren’t the first to receive a guided walkthrough of the Quincy, Mich. residence.

“We give nickel tours constantly,” she said, and not only to friends and family. Curious strangers have stopped in off the street with questions for the Everlines. One of these strangers must have been a representative from the Quincy Chamber of Commerce, because when HGTV called her looking for unusual homes, the Everlines came to mind.

It’s not hard to see why. Their house is one of southeastern Michigan’s only homes completely submerged in turf. Of these rare earth-sheltered homes,  as they are termed, it’s the only one Sam knows of that’s also dome-shaped. Most are shaped like boxes.

“They cost an arm and a leg and require a lot of support beams,” said Sam of the box-shaped designs.
Domed houses, on the other hand, support themselves.

“It’s egg shaped,” said Jean. “You know how an egg is. You can’t crush it.”

Jean said their house didn’t cost any more to build than a regular middle-income home. It did, however, take a little longer. That’s because Sam and Jean preferred to do the vast majority of the work themselves. Construction began in 1999. They moved in in 2004.

Sam works the second shift at Metaldyne in Litchfield. Every morning before work, he logged time at the house. He also devoted most of his weekends to it. 

“I hired some help for the heavy steel and cement, but I never hired a general contractor,” said Sam.

Throughout the entire project, the Everlines stayed cost conscious. Sam used styrofoam to help form the dome, then reused it as insulation. The dome shape also allowed for the use of much less concrete than a box would have, said Sam.

Now that the home is completed, the Everlines are saving money in heating and cooling costs. It’s hard for heat to penetrate, or escape from, their natural soil  insulator, said Jean. 

In the winter, a 60,000 BTU boiler keeps the 2,300 square foot structure warm. Compare this with the 150,000 to 175,000 BTU furnaces that heat most houses of similar size, Sam said.

In the summer months, the temperature in the house rarely gets above 77 degrees, said Jean. The Everlines rely only on ceiling fans to keep cool.

But wouldn’t it get dark in an underground house?

Sam engineered the house so the 21 windows on its front receive the maximum amount of sunlight in the cold months leading up to the winter solstice. They receive less direct sunlight as it heats up and gets closer to the summer solstice. The home gets more than enough sunlight to support the various houseplants the Everlines grow, said Sam.

Jean says that, in their entire residence, which consists of a sun room, living room, dining room, bedroom, bathroom and loft, the only room that doesn’t get direct sunlight is the bathroom.
And since the house is constructed almost exclusively of brick and concrete, outdoor maintenance is minimal.

In the warm months, Sam waters and trims the roof, but that’s about all the work the structure requires.

This is fortunate, because in the weeks leading up to the arrival of the camera crew, the home’s interior required a lot of finishing touches. Thankfully, they had Morenci residents Jeff and Cathy Sallows, Dave and Connie Ford, and Keith and Yvonne Smith to lend a helping hand. They assisted the Everlines in various staining, cleaning and trim projects.

“We wouldn’t look half as good on TV without these folks,” said Jean.

    - March 22, 2006
  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
  • Front.bridge.17
    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
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  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Front.batter

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