Florida Today Newspaper Story | AiDomes

Written by Jessica Saggio, FLORIDA TODAY and Published Aug. 2, 2017. Also this video and article can be viewed on FaceBook.  Below is the actual article and because the print is small, below the article we have copied the words in a larger font.


The Schoonovers built their geodesic home in Canaveral Groves in 1992. Watch the progress of its construction. The house is now for sale as the couple reaches retirement and looks to move out west. Video by Jessica Saggio and Tim Shortt Wochit

 

There’s no place like dome.

That’s the sentiment Terry and Ramona Schoonover echoed when talking about their unique geodesic dome house in Canaveral Groves.

It’s an unexpected sight among sprawling acres of wooded land in the semi-rural neighborhood just outside Cocoa. Three white bubbles peek through the trees, revealing what looks like something you’d read about in a Sci-Fi novel.

It’s a home they built themselves in 1992 from a kit. Yes, a kit, with pieces and instructions from Rockledge-based dome manufacturer American Ingenuity.

Terry flipped page by page through a photo album showing the building process, something he accomplished over a 9-month span with just the help of a friend, a few contractors and a lot of geometry. He beamed, telling stories of positioning panels to create his home, a structure that looks like three miniature versions of the Epcot ball.

And perhaps that’s what makes it difficult to leave behind. The couple listed the house for sale last week.

“At first I hated it,” said Ramona of the house, recalling that initially she was skeptical she’d be living in some kind of conservatory. “But I’ll miss this house. I got to love it.”

The couple is reaching retirement and has plans to move out west to New Mexico, said Ramona, whose love of the desert is apparent in her southwestern decor.

What they have to offer is truly unique, said Joel Rhodes, a real estate agent with the Jason Shinpaugh Team. The home is listed for $219,900 and features three bedrooms and two bathrooms, spread over 1,765 square feet. The largest dome is the main living quarters, which connects to another dome, a two-car garage. A third dome sits adjacent to the structure and serves as a workshop.

There’s already been a lot of interest in the home in just the few days it’s been listed, said Rhodes.

Skylights and tall ceilings greet guests when they enter the home, which is light and airy inside despite its hard concrete exterior. Furniture conforms with the circular design, something the Schoonovers admitted might be a bit of a challenge, depending on taste.

“People might think you’re a little limited, but you can do a few things,” said Ramona.

The downstairs features two bedrooms, a great room, a dining area and a kitchen, which connects to a laundry room and the garage. The upstairs includes a master bedroom, a walk-in closet and a master bath. A custom-made boat ladder-style staircase leads to the second floor.

Sounds echo throughout the house, as the round shape also makes for unique acoustics. You can whisper downstairs and still hear what’s said in the loft master bedroom, the couple explained, but “it’s a really good energy,” said Ramona.

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But perhaps one the best selling points, the couple added, is the home’s safety features. Terry explained that the geodesic home is built to endure up to 225 mph winds, and is energy efficient. The couple said they have not paid more than an $80 electric bill since living in the home.

“We’ve never had to evacuate (during a hurricane),” said Terry. “And we’ve never had any hurricane damage.”

It’s one of 50 dome houses in Brevard County, said Glenda Busick, owner of American Ingenuity. The company keeps a log of all the kits it sells. American Ingenuity, also known as Ai Domes, debuted with its design and kits in 1976, and made the cover of Popular Science in March 1987. Terry said it was this magazine cover that inspired him to build the house.

Domes come in multiple sizes and floor plans, and diameter sizes range from 15 feet to 48 feet.

The company calls its domes “the building design of the future available today.” American Ingenuity touts that the houses can withstand F4 tornadoes and the design reduces the impact of falling trees. During Hurricane Andrew, the domes were put to the test.

“On Key Largo, just 20 miles south of the eye of the storm, an Ai 40′ dome faced the brunt of the storm,” the company’s website states. “Built on pilings near the Atlantic Ocean, it was exposed to relentless high winds and driving rain. Unlike houses and commercial buildings in the surrounding area, it sustained absolutely no damage.”

The company is headquartered on Holiday Springs Road in Rockledge.

As for the Schoonovers, this will likely be their last dome house. The two already inquired about building a dome on their new property in New Mexico, but were denied.

“It’s going to be weird going to a regular house,” said Ramona

Florida 48ft & 40ft Aidomes

The home dome is a 48 foot in diameter dome,  Its first floor was designed to have two bedrooms, two baths, living room, family room, dining room and kitchen linked to a 40′ garage dome.  The 48′ dome’s first floor is 1905 sq.ft. and second floor of 830 for total of 2,735 sq.ft.   The Home Dome has a second floor which includes master bedroom, master bath with two walk in closets and a study.

Ai has stock floor plan layouts for each of the ten size building kits we manufacture.  To view the stock plans click on Plans.  If you do not see a plan to fit your lifestyle, Ai can modify a stock plan or design a custom plan from your sketches and descriptions.  We are happy to explain the floor plan design process with you.  Besides designing the plans which are utilized to obtain a building permit, Ai manufactures the kits from prefab panels which when assembled result in the exterior walls and roof of the concrete dome.

The kit can be owner built or a contractor can be hired to assemble the panels.  The independent kit assembly consultant can be hired to supervise your workers or your contractors workers.

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Jamaica 45ft & 34ft Aidomes in Runaway Bay.

Robert Stephens purchased the two Aidomes after the building kits were assembled.  He and his crew beautifully finished the exterior and interior.  The domes will be presented for short term vacation rental and small functions such as intimate weddings with max 80 guests.

The floor plan layouts below were the original design; however the plans have been modified.   A 45′ dome can be designed with three to four bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths.  A 34′ dome can be a garage dome or a two bedroom two bath home.

The Dome building kits are shipped in containers from American Ingenuity’s factory in Rockledge Florida.  One 34′ dome can fit in one 40′ high cube container. One 45′ kit can fit in one 45′ high cube container and one 20′ container.  To obtain shipping quotes, email the receiving port name and Ai will contact a freight forwarder and obtain a shipping quote.  Email address is GlendaB.aidomes@gmail.com

At no cost to you, if you give your property address and building department name,  Ai will call the building department, email them a sample set of plans and find out what is required for them to issue a building permit on the dome.

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Colorado 40′ w’ 34′ Aidomes will withstand Colorado’s 90 lb psf snow load and 110 mph winds.

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This dome home was owner built. The exterior is finished with interior finishing occurring as we post this article. As we receive interior finishing pictures we will update this gallery.

The home is three bedroom 2 baths with half bath in the link. The 40′ dome has 1,140 sq.ft. on the first floor and 567 on the second floor for a total of 1,707 sq.ft. The link has 151 sq.ft. The 34′ garage dome is 827 sq.ft. on the first floor with a possible future second floor of 428 for a total sq.ft. of 1,255. The master bedroom and master bath are on the first floor with two bedrooms and bath on the second floor.

Due to the three foot frost line, a three foot stem wall was built from Fox Block to get the footer below the frost line.

Florida Keys elevated 45’Aidome built on concrete platform, concrete columns, concrete decks and exterior concrete stairs with above ground basement. Due to increased labor costs & material costs in the Keys and the all concrete foundation with auguered footings, this foundation cost around $150,000 to install.   For a less costly foundation, Ai can design wood pilings, pressure treated wood platform, wood decks and exterior wood stairs.

The 45′ dome has two floors. The first floor of 1,461 sq.ft.contains two bedrooms and two baths. The master bedroom and bath and fourth bedroom with its private bath are on the second floor of 702 sq.ft. resulting in the dome having 2,363 sq.ft. The above ground basement is 984 sq.ft and contains spiral stairs to dome, parking and storage area.

Because of the coquina rock, the footers had to be auguered. Due to water surge the dome is elevated.

Louisiana 40′ dome elevated on wood pilings due to water surge from Gulf Of Mexico

This Ai dome was built in 1987. The property is adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico water. As a result due to hurricanes the water surge can be ten feet tall or more so the dome was elevated. The property owner chose to build with wood pilings in the ground and pressure treated wood platform and deck. This dome went through Hurricane Katrina with no damage; however the water surge pushed debris under the wood platform causing damage to one joist – which was later repaired.

The dome owner chose to move after 28 years because of required evacuations each time a tropical storm or hurricane occurred in the Gulf. A direct quote from the dome owner, Ms. Core: “I love my dome and miss it each day.”

AiDomes invites you to come see us at the South East Building Conference (SEBC)

AiDomes will be hosting an exhibit about our dome building kits at Booth 1025.  Come meet Glenda and Cheryl to learn more about our dome home kits.  See a cross section of our innovative panel, set of building plans and learn more about construction of a kit.   To receive a free pass, each person must register on the SEBC website.  See below on how to register.

Ask the questions and receive the answers that apply to you!

Speak one on one with us about why an Ai Geodesic Dome Kit is not only the smart move, but the only move, for your new home; a home that will be super storm resistant, and highly energy efficient.

While you are here, check out the other exhibitors, so you can also fill your wish book with all that will be needed for your new home. 

Stop by our booth, and mention you have been following us to receive

a FREE DVD and a Special Offer from Ai

You may be lucky when you register to win a FREE GIFT from Ai

 

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To register to receive a free pass to the event:  Click on SEBC    Then click on their words Click Here to Register.  No worries it will not cost you $25 because you will be entering the promo code of  INVITESEBC17.  Enter the promo code after the box that says Promo Code, Then click on Register with Code and follow the prompts.  Choose only Expo Pass Only at $0.00 and it will prompt you to answer other questions and set up a password.   Please complete one registration at a time and exit the web site and come back in to register a second person or it will charge you $25 for your guest registration.    Any questions, please call and we will assist you.

 

GAYLORD PALMS RESORT & CONVENTION CENTER
6000 WEST OSCEOLA PARKWAY
KISSIMMEE, FL 34746
HALL D-F | 407.586.0000

 

SEBC Press Release:

Numbers on the Rise for the Region’s Premier Building Conference

For Immediate Release:

Twenty percent more residential and commercial construction exhibitors. Sixty percent more building
industry educational offerings. And, a 100 percent new location. This year’s Southeast Building
Conference (SEBC), held on July 28-29, 2016 in Kissimmee, Florida, was reflective of the region’s
current homebuilding market – it’s on the rise.

“We set the bar high, when it came to planning and executing the 2016 SEBC,” says Bill Smock, SEBC
Committee Chairman and Owner of Gator Plumbing in Bradenton, Florida. “With the industry’s
pendulum swinging back in a positive direction, we wanted SEBC to be indicative of that shift.”
During the two-day expo, builders and members of the industry experienced a sold-out trade show, that
showcased regional and international distributors such as TOTO, Viking Distributing, and Master Brand.
Attendees were given access to not only a higher quantity of exhibitors, but quality interaction as well.

“Builders and exhibitors alike value their time,” says Kimberly Scott, SEBC Director. “We wanted SEBC
to offer multiple engagement opportunities for the establishment of new business relationships and
exposure to new products, without either group getting lost in the crowd. And, we are confident we
delivered.”

In addition to a sold out expo hall, attendees had access to over 60 hours of education provided by
industry leaders. Students learned the latest in design trends, innovative building technology, and
marketing developments. Keynote speakers hailed from Consumer Reports, the Wall Street Journal, and
Houzz.

This year’s SEBC experience was amplified by its move from their longstanding venue, the Orange
County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, to the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in
Kissimmee, Florida. This intimate venue offers close proximity for all SEBC offers; networking
opportunities with exhibitors and colleagues, top-notch education, expo show, and inclusive events that
welcome all attendees.

The 2017 SEBC will be held on July 27-28, returning to the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention
Center in Kissimmee. For more information on SEBC go to www.sebcshow.com

Established in 1977, the southeast Building Conference (SEBC) is the premier regional building industry
trade show in the Southeast providing the latest in residential and commercial construction products and
services. The Southeast region covers: Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana,
Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.


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Building Green with Aidomes, kit homes.  The American Ingenuity (Ai) dome was green before green became a name to signify a home that was energy efficient , included solar hot water panel and utilized less building materials.

Most people today understand the serious environmental issues we now face and are actively involved in doing their part to help protect the environment in any way they can. Over the past few decades, this has caused a virtual sea-change in the way people look at new home and building construction, which has changed the construction industry forever. Building “Green” is not just an option anymore, it has become the new standard for quality builders and contractors.

In 1976 American Ingenuity realized it wanted to manufacture a housing kit that would utilize environmentally friendly materials and energy saving design features.  This desire lead to the development and patenting of a prefabricated component panel in 1983 and the development of our panelized building system.    The panel consists of center core of 7″ Expanded Polystyrene R-28 Insulation (not Styrofoam!), exterior is ¾” thick concrete reinforced with fibers & galvanized steel mesh with interior of 1/2″ Georgia-Pacific DensArmor Plus High-Performance gypsum drywall board (which is moisture resistant, mold resistant gypsum and noncombustible).  None of the materials in the panel contain a food source for mold growth. All the panel materials are noncombustible.  To read about the history of American Ingenuity concrete dome building kits, click on History.

Due to the strength of the triangle and aerodynamic shape of the dome, it withstands 225 mph winds and F4 tornado resulting in no need to replace the roof or exterior walls; thus conserving materials.

Over time, demand for green building materials and systems have increased dramatically, so the cost of materials has now come down. Major technological advances in the materials themselves, along with advances in manufacturing them, have now made them extremely cost effective to use and in most cases they will now actually save you money over time. That, combined with the strong desire by most consumers to have environmentally or eco-friendly homes, has spurred the shift to make using these materials relatively commonplace. Today, building “Green” has pretty much become the conventional standard among quality builders.

For decades now, American Ingenuity has been one of those leaders in not just Florida but throughout the USA and internationally by bringing the latest in Green design, building methods and materials for home construction.  Ai  has been a firm advocate of building greener, more energy efficient homes. When you want your new dream home to be as green and eco-friendly as possible, we can thoroughly discuss the Ai panelized kit system.  Either assembly the kit yourself by being an owner builder or hire a local contractor. Either way consider hiring the independent kit assembly consultant to supervise the workers during kit assembly.

So exactly what is green building? Green building is defined as using environmentally responsible and energy efficient materials and methods to create a home that will continue to be energy efficient throughout its lifetime. Building in this way minimizes the environmental impact of the building process and ensures that the home owner will have minimal utility bills through continued energy savings. The home will also be a healthy environment, as the use of potentially toxic chemicals and processes is minimized. This is particularly significant if your family includes children, the elderly or anyone with a respiratory condition or weak immune system.

Green Home Insulation Methods

Other advances in building greener homes are in insulating them and come in the form of improved expanding block foam insulation in the walls.  Ai utilizes seven inch blocks of expanded polystyrene insulation to cut specific panel dimensions and angles to produce the center core of the prefabricated panel.  To view energy bills showing that a 34′ dome 1,100 sq.ft. can be cooled for less than $30 in the hot Florida summer months, click on 34′ dome home.  To view info on an Aidome which won an Energy Star award, click on SC domes.

Green Home Window Installations

The windows you install are another important aspect of building Green. According to the Department of Energy, your windows can be the largest source of heat loss within your home and installing the proper windows can reduce heat loss by approx. 30% to 40%. Installing Low-E storm windows can save you even more energy. We always recommend using insulated Low-E windows at a minimum and impact glass if required in your area.

Energy-Efficient Appliances

When it comes time to choose the appliances for your dream home, this is another area in which there are many options to “build green”. Of course, choosing only energy-efficient, Energy Star® appliances, from your fridge to your air conditioning system, is the optimal way to build green while using much less energy and saving money too.

Green Landscaping

Construction of your home’s landscaping and driveway provides another great opportunity to build in a way that is environmentally friendly. Regular concrete is a hard, impermeable surface that interferes with the natural circulation of water and replenishment of ground water. Because water cannot penetrate concrete, run-off problems are created. The water picks up pollutants such as gasoline and trash as it flows over the concrete and erosion can occur where it finally reaches groundwater. Use of more environmentally sound materials, such as brick pavers and crushed gravel, allows water to quickly penetrate and return to the water table. Paver bricks come in a wide assortment of colors and styles and have come down in price quite a bit recently. We strongly recommend that all of our home customers use brick pavers for the driveway and walkways.

These are just a few of the ways in which green building techniques can benefit both you and the environment.  American Ingenuity’s team of experienced staff will be delighted to assist you.

If you’re renovating or remodeling your home, the government offers significant tax credits for installing features such as Energy Star appliances and energy-efficient furnaces and windows. If you need to purchase these items anyway, it makes sense to choose energy-efficient options that can save you money both on your taxes and your future energy bills. Modern energy-efficient appliances are just as stylish as other high-end models, so there’s sure to be one that will match your home’s style and decor. If you wish to save further on your energy bills, there are also tax credits available for installing solar panels, geothermal heat pumps and windmills.

 

Due to the number of calls we are receiving wanting us to compare American Ingenuity’s (Ai’s) dome building kit to the Air Crete process; here is an apple to apples comparison of Air Crete to Ai’s prefab panel & panelized building system.   We feel that American Ingenuity geodesic dome kits provide our clients a home that when completed is safe, secure, energy efficient, and environmentally friendly.

This 34′ dome linked to 22′ Aidome suffered no damage when Hurricane Jeanne ripped the roof off a neighbor’s house.  In the dumpster is neighbor’s shingles.  Entire house had to be gutted and remodeled due to water damage.

American Ingenuity has been in business for 40 years, we are a leading designer and manufacturer of concrete geodesic dome building kits.  Our kits have been shipped to 47 U.S. States, and 14 foreign countries. Ai’s dome kits (when erected), have withstood winds rated to 212 mph  windstorms and F4 Tornado, and carried heavy snow loads.  Ai has a limited windstorm warranty on our panels, an unheard of practice within the housing industry.

Domegaia- domes built using Air Crete

Domegaia is a company very new to the dome industry, having built some domes using his system in Thailand, and has a project going in Hawaii (within the last year).  One of Ai staff spoke with the owner of the business who designed the machine used to make these small-scale dome homes.  His design method uses blocks not panels (geodesic) or bladder (i.e. monolithic), he does not manufacture the blocks or build the forms. The client would need to build forms for the blocks. He does not have a design service to design plans, and at the time of the call had one plan in stock. Nor does he have architects or engineers on board, you need to find your own.  Air Crete is a fairly new building material that is fire resistant and insect resistant.

 Ai’s Panels vs. AirCrete block using Domegaia system

Air Crete is a mixture of concrete and foam, used to create walls that are insulated. The method the above company uses to build a dome is as follows. Air Crete blocks are stacked upon each other to create a dome shape, like building a wall using cinder blocks.  Concrete is used between the blocks to hold them together.  The insulating R-Value of Air Crete blocks that are 8” thick is 18. A 10” thick block has an R-Value of 25 (please be aware that the overall R-Value of the structure will be diminished due to the concrete mortar, lowering your energy efficiency.) It is finished with an outer coating of stucco, and interior dome walls need to be plastered.

  • American Ingenuity has sold over 800 kits into 47 states and fourteen foreign areas. Our kits are fire resistant, mold resistant, and insect resistant. Ai’s panels are a total of 8 ¼” thick consisting of a three/quarter inch thick concrete reinforced with galvanized steel mesh/fibers/admixtures, with center core of 7” thick EPS insulation (expanded polystyrene not Styrofoam), and interior ½” thick DensArmor drywall (DensArmor Plus® Fiberglass Mat Interior Panels for first-rate noncombustible, moisture and mold resistant drywall). The R-value of our dome kits (when erected) is R-28 (R-36 with 9” EPS available option). When the kit is fully erected the EPS butts alongside each panel, there is no mortar or wood between the EPS to cause loss of energy efficiency.  The exterior concrete is primed and painted (not stuccoed over); the interior DensArmor seams are finished with fiberglass tape and joint compound. To blend the seam area to the drywall, joint compound is skip troweled over the shell drywall surfaces.  You are not cutting, forming, and layering the exterior of the dome. You are not plastering the interior.  You or your builder is installing prefabricated panels.  This is labor saving, as well as economical, and provides a more finished looking product. Ai’s kits when completed are more energy efficient than an Air Crete Block.  This Ai panelized building system results in a super-strong house.
  • The concrete on Ai’s prefab panel is manufactured from bags of Portland Cement type 1 or 111, masonry sand, synthetic fibers and two liquid admixtures. The same ingredients are shipped with the Aidome kit, so that the concrete mixed on site to apply into the panel seams and on the entryways and dormers has the same crack resistant, dense, rich properties that the prefinished concrete on the panel has.  The recipe is in the Building Plans and in the Assembly Manual.  The concrete is 3,000 psi concrete which is code required.

At the time or our call, functioning Floor plans are non-existent for the Air Crete block as a dome. You would need to find an architect to design your homes (each plan would be separate), and an engineer to a seal (if required by location).  This is then a custom project, one plan can run several thousand dollars.  Engineers familiar with dome structures, will also need to be familiar with the Air Crete product to issue their seal, this seal is often quite expensive. Many states now also require an energy report, to assure that the home will be energy efficient, the cost of this report is in addition to the architect and engineering fee. These items are needed to obtain a building permit. (The above-mentioned company does not have a plan design service or access to an engineer; their projects so far have been in areas that do not require either).

  • Ai, has 129 stock floor plans for building kits ranging in size from 179 sq. ft. of living space to 2,900 sq. ft. of living space.  We have numerous fully functional floor plans for each size dome and offer our clients the option to customize their home plan (either through a modification of an existing plan or a custom design). Our CAD designer has worked on hundreds of plans over the years.   In addition, Ai works with several engineers who are familiar with our product and will seal the plans at a reasonable fee.  All states except Florida, the seal fee for one dome on a slab is $600.  In Florida the seal for one dome on a slab is either $450 or $500 – price depends on dome size.  And Ai can complete an Energy Report for one dome on a slab for $190 if needed. Ai’s standard foundation is a concrete slab; however Ai can design other foundations: basement, stem wall, pilings, etc.

Construction – although dome structures have been around for eons, most construction workers (and supervisors) are not familiar with building domes.  This often results in builders charging higher fees to construct, as well as additional labor fees waiting while the process is figured out.

  • Ai offers our clients not only 40 years of experience but also the availability of Kit Assembly Specialists (please note that Specialists are not employees of AiDomes, and are not general contractors, please read the information on our website for more details). This provides reassurance to your contractors, easing their mind that the home will be built correctly and within a timely manner. If you will be building more than one dome, once the Kit Assembly Consultant trains a supervisor (on one or two domes) – then the consultant does need not be hired for the rest of the assemblies.  In addition, Ai building plans (consisting of 15-20 blueprints) have complete details on how to install the foundation, secure the dome to the foundation, frame in entryways, window dormers and door dormers, etc.  Ai provides its owners with a detailed Assembly manual that covers every step of kit construction from start to finish. Plus our office can provide additional assistance should the need arise.

Finishing the home: Due to the uniqueness of the block, Ai is unsure on how windows and doors are added to this type dome, or how the interior would need to be finished. Without a manual and plans specifically designed to show how windows and exterior doors are installed, it would be need to be figured out as the building progresses.   Photos on the above companies’ website also show custom shaped windows (highly expensive).

  • Ai dome kit’s interior is finished the same as a standard frame type home.  Our kits use standard finishes, and use standard windows and doors NOT special orders. There is no need for special size and special shaped windows, or cabinetry.

I hope that this side by side comparison has proved helpful to you when moving forward with your project. We look forward to answering any questions you may have. Our Managers name is Glenda Busick.  She has worked with Ai over 20 years and is not on commission.  To view electric bills for our dome offices (45’ dome linked to a 34’ dome), click on Ai Office Dome Utility Bills.  She can be reached at our office number.

American Ingenuity
8777 Holiday Springs Road
Rockledge Fl 32955
321-639-8777 – Mon-Fri 9-5 eastern time.
Email: glendab.aidomes@gmail.com