The story behind Caledon’s massive new UFO-shaped house
Anyone who’s recently driven past the intersection of Base Line and Creditview near Caledon may have noticed an odd domed structure by the side of the road. It looks like a UFO, but the bizarre glass-and-metal building is in fact the future home of Sam Perri, a 65-year-old retired welder-fitter (and amateur ornithologist) who’s building the house for himself—and, he hopes, a bunch of birds. We spoke with Perri to get a bit more detail about the 3,200-square-foot mothership that he plans to inhabit before the end of the year.
Perri, who was born in Southern Italy, currently lives in a regular house in Caledon. He retired in 2006 to build his domed dream house, which he designed on his own (after plenty of research at the library).The physical construction began around 2010, but planning started in early 2008, when Perri drew up blueprints for the home. He’s done about 80 per cent of the work himself. “It’s not a standard type of construction, so there’s lots of trial and error—I spend 90 per cent of my time planning,” he says. Perri lives about 10 minutes away from the site. Once in a while, he sleeps over inside the work-in-progress.
The round home is, according to Perri, a twisted take on the Pantheon in Rome. It stands around 10 metres high at its peak with a diameter of about 24 metres. Inside, it’s an open-concept layout built around a central, enclosed greenhouse and aviary with an indoor patio. Ninety per cent of the walls are made of glass, allowing those inside the home to view the central greenhouse from just about anywhere. Its oculus—a round opening in the centre of the domed roof—will be stained glass, under which Perri hopes to house birds, butterflies and tropical plants. Exterior walls are sloped inwards at the bottom to deflect sunlight and prevent the house from overheating.
The building is located on the Cheltenham Badlands just outside of Caledon, meaning the property is on a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Perri bought the land in 1996, with the plan of someday building his retirement property on it.
So far, Perri has sunk around $300,000 into the project, and estimates that the end cost, all told, will be between $500,000 and $600,000.
Perri says his reason for building the bizarre structure is simple: he loves nature and hates winter, so he’s bringing the outdoors inside.
At this point, Perri needs to order windows, install heating and put a few finishing touches on the interior, but the rest of the construction is complete. The home should be finished and ready for a move-in by the end of this summer.