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Home Sweet Dome: How You Can Build Your Own House For A Fraction Of The Normal Cost

HESPERIA (  —  At first it looks like a movie set or an adobe community in Santa Fe.

But it is neither of those things.

Just about 100 miles outside of LA, on the edge of the Mojave Desert, sits a series of structures that will last a lifetime. Actually, more than a lifetime, reports CBS2's Serene Branson.

"This structure will last hundreds and hundreds of years," says Dastan Khalili, the president of Cal-Earth.

"The structures are shelter igloos for homeless people and the displaced," says Khalili.

The buildings are on the cutting edge of home design. Not only are they durable, they are all but indestructible.

"They're fire-proof, hurricane-proof, tornado-proof, earthquake resistant and also the individual can be involved in building them. So it empowers the homeowner in the process of building the home," Khalili says.

The largest prototype is called "Earth One." It's built with super adobe walls.

"It's 2,000 square feet," says Khalili.

Earth One homes costs $150,000 to build. It uses literal earth and dirt for construction materials.

But don't let the rudimentary look fool you.

Earth One houses have all the modern amenities -- plumbing, electricity, energy efficient heating and cooling.

San Bernardino County just approved two of the company's designs as stock plans.

"You can literally buy the plans, go anywhere in the county, have it stamped and start building. Usually for about one-third the cost of a normal house and it will last hundreds and hundreds of years and for generations and generations," says Khalili.

He explains that the homes harden in the sun and they are rain-proof in a storm.

"You take an arch, you turn it on it's axis and it becomes a dome, you take an arch and repeat it and have a vault. When gravity pulls on it it becomes stronger with time," Khalili says.

Cal-Earth is a non-profit educational institute that teaches people how to build. They come from all over the world. The students spend from two days to several weeks learning what goes into building their own homes using natural materials.

The company started here in 1991 by Dastan's father, the late Nader Khalili -- a prominent architect who wanted to find a real world solution for how to house the world's exploding population using sustainable materials.

Thousands of dome structures and shelters have been built around the world.

In Haiti, following that country's devastating quake in 2010, some dome housing was made of sandbags and barbed wire. And they could be made within several hours at virtually no cost.

"And the people living in those domes, they know when the next earthquake comes, or the next hurricane comes or when the next flood comes, they're going to be safe," Khalili says.

Despite their success, the company still thinks of their firm as grass roots.

Branson says Cal-Earth welcomes any and all interested parties -- people who can think outside the box and inside the dome.

For more information about Cal-Earth, click here.

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