Advantages | AiDomes

Dome sweet dome: Would you live in a dome home?

Maria Sonnenberg, For FLORIDA TODAY Published 1:12 p.m. ET Aug. 22, 2017 

Rockledge builder American Ingenuity makes kits for dome homes, a quirky alternative to a traditional square- or rectangle-shaped house.

Pay attention to Buckminster Fuller and forget the square or rectangle when building a house, and instead go for a geodesic dome.  To view article, click on Florida Today 8.22.17 Story about Aidomes

The forward-thinking Fuller, responsible for giving the name geodesic to the polyhedral dome, championed the dome as the perfect structure for its strength and efficiency. This ideal building form is being created daily in — drum roll, please — Rockledge, home to American Ingenuity, aka Aidomes, builder of dome home kits that are shipped around the world.

Ai founder Michael Busick launched his company in Brevard in 1976. Instead of wood and shingles, which can rot and tear off, concrete, galvanized and expanded polysterene were Busick’s materials of choice for his domes. He was granted a patent for prefab panels that make construction easier than stick-built and can be easily organized into kits that can be assembled by proficient do-it-yourselfers.

You need not sacrifice space with domes. Interior footage with Aidomes ranges from 172-square-feet mini-domes to 2,992-square-foot residences that share the dome’s inherent durability. The Rockledge company’s domes have been erected in 47 states and 15 foreign countries.

“As an architectural form, the dome is one of the strongest built by man,” said Glenda Carlin-Busick, vice president and plans coordinator for American Ingenuity. “The partial sphere (that is a dome) is an aerodynamic shape that is very stable in high winds and can withstand heavy snow loads. Domes greatly exceed the structural requirements of the major building codes in the United States.”

Th Ai domes carry a 225 mph and F4 tornado guarantee and are super energy-efficient.

“Our domes have 30 percent less exterior surface than box-shaped houses and have R28 insulation on the prefab panels with no wood to interrupt the insulation,” Busick.

She noted the electric bill for the company’s 3,700-square foot office of two attached domes averages $72 when the place is kept at 74 degrees during the peak of summer.

The houses are solid as a rock, perfect for whatever Florida weather can throw at it. The concrete construction, reinforced with galvanized mesh and fibers, has no rooftop to blow off in high winds.

One of Ai’s domes went through Hurricane Andrew and a tornado at the same time with no structural damage when the rest of the neighborhood was destroyed,” Busick said.

Builder Ray Vince hopes to tap onto the dome’s excellent efficiency in the community of homes he has planned for Titusville.

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

“I had originally thought of going with conventional prefab homes until I discovered that Ai was in Rockledge,” Vince said.

Vince hopes to start his project, aimed to further energize Titusville’s housing market, with a two bedroom/one bath 27-foot dome home that is linked to a 12-foot dome hosting solar panel battery storage.

Throwback:  Unusual homes in Brevard: Dome home

“It will be a super dome home,” said Vince, who is searching for a large parcel of land to build a community of dome homes in North Brevard.

With a price tag of around $160,000, Vince’s dome home is affordable, secure and efficient housing that won’t cost much to maintain.

“He wants to build the dome to be as close to off the grid as possible,” Busick said.

Although structurally very different than traditional houses, domes nevertheless are very cozy inside and are naturals for the open floor plan favored by today’s homeowners.

“Geodesic dome construction translates into a highly comfortable and livable building that has a maximum of floor area enclosed by a minimum of materials,” Busick said. “The building concept of a dome expands the range of simple and economic building options.”

Malcolm and Eva Jewell live in an Aidome on Pineapple Ave. in the Eau Gallie Arts District. The Jewells were not looking for a dome particularly, but the house’s location and its river views sealed the deal. The energy efficiency and strength were just nice bonuses.

More:  This dome home’s for sale. Interested?

“I had known about dome houses and I knew they were very good with hurricanes and wind,” Malcolm Jewell said.

The house is a 34-foot diameter two bedroom/two bath Aidome with 1,171 square feet on two levels. It connected to a 22-foot diameter dome that serves as a one-car garage dome with attic storage.

Settling into dome living for Jewell was a cinch.

“It was surprisingly easy,” she said. “The furniture fits very well.”

About the only drawback in dome living for Jewell is hanging pictures on the outside walls, since their concrete construction makes driving nails something of a bear.

With substantial increases in the cost of construction and energy, dome kits provide significant cost-savings, so expect more to pop up along the Space Coast.

“In the past decade, many people have discovered that the dome design offers a viable solution,” Busick said.

It looks cool, too.

For more on domes, visit



40′ Assembled Aidome in Trinidad: when finished w’ local materials is three bedroom/two bath.

Ai has had inquires asking if we can make our dome kits using hempcrete. Although hempcrete is a lightweight material (that many people confuse with concrete), it is not a structural component, it is an insulating component. It cannot hold the weight needed to support even a traditional building on its own. As opposed to our panels which provide structural support, prefinished concrete exterior, insulation, and interior ½” drywall finish for the shell of the home.

The following is a statement from American Lime Technology:

It is not used as a structural element, only as insulating infill between the frame members though it does tend to reduce racking (The movement of structural elements out of level or plumb by forces such as stress, wind, or material shrinkage or expansion.). All loads are carried by internal framing.”  

 Once all the panels of the kit are assembled, the Ai dome is self-supporting.  There is no wood to interrupt our insulation. And no internal framing is needed to support our dome.   

 Users of Hemp Crete need to apply to the hempcrete wall an exterior coating -plus a finish to the coating, interior ½” drywall and an insulated roof.  The material is finished on the outside with a hard render coating about 20mm (1”) thick to protect it with a final colored topcoat finish added.”  (needs to be a lime-based coating, which is expensive and hard to find).  To achieve an R-Value of 23 (Ai’s insulation is R-28) you would need 12″ thick walls. So, a home built with hempcrete would have 13″ walls (after coating and prior to drywall), have a frame (wood or steel) structure that would interrupt your insulation.  And you still need to install a roof and insulate the roofline of the home.

Ai’s dome kits come with 80% of your exterior (3/4” prefinished concrete reinforced with galvanized steel mesh and fibers), 95% of your insulation (entryways and window/doors openings only, will need to be insulated), as well as ½” special Georgia Pacific DensArmor drywall that meets international building code. Once erected, you need only prime the concrete and then paint the exterior concrete with elastomeric house paint.

Although hempcrete is durable, and can withstand high winds (174 mph), you would still have a roof that could blow off and needs replacement.  Our domes have no roofline to blow off or needs replacement, and can withstand 225 mph winds!

Hempcrete needs to be imported, it is not produced in the United States (due to federal regulations). In addition, the estimate to build a home (not a commercial structure) with hempcrete was over $225 per square foot (in 2012) not including finishing the interior (i.e. cabinetry, plumbing, electric, appliances etc.). That is over $350,000 even before you start working on the inside of your home. A 1,532-sq. ft. hempcrete home erected in 2014 cost $65,000 for the hempcrete alone, this did not include the cost of framing, interior drywall, or exterior coating.

In comparison, a 40’ Aidome building kit that is comparable in size has an estimated cost of $44,879 and includes insulation, drywall (for shell) and our durable galvanized steel mesh concrete exterior (which you paint with standard elastomeric house paint). The cost to build one of our structures is comparable to a traditional home. As an example the estimate construct a dome with the same square footage in Central Florida would be $200,000.  


22′ Aidome Kit Being Assembled – when finished with local materials

is a Tiny Home of 370 sq.ft. – one bedroom/one bath.  Ai has ten size kits from 172 sq.ft. to 3,000 sq.ft.

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.

PDF for Downloading & Printing

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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

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.”


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.






The following article compares the American Ingenuity (Ai)
Concrete Dome Building Kit to Canvas and Wood Yurt Kits

So many factors go into building a home, and cost is a major consideration.  However, strength, durability, fire resistance and energy efficiency of your new home should weigh above cost in the long run.   

Ai likes to understand our competitors’ products, methods, costs and construction so we can provide our potential clients an overall viewpoint on why we consider our product superior.  This is especially true of a yurt.  We recently did some investigation into yurts, the following contains info from several articles, one blog and Ai contacted one company which sells solid wall yurt kits, to compare costs. When all is said and done, an AiDome is far more secure, storm resistant, and energy efficient, even factoring in cost to build.

Below you will find a chart comparing a concrete American Ingenuity (Ai) dome kit to a solid wood yurt kit.  The cost to purchase, pay shipping on the kit and build one of Ai’s  dome kits is about the same price as a solid wall yurt but you receive more from the Aidome.  The Aidome exterior is steel reinforced concrete versus the yurt’s wood exterior. The Ai dome is more wind resistant – solid wood Yurt has 100 mph wind warranty when Ai dome has 225 mph wind & F4 tornado warranty.  Plus because the Aidome has no wood in or on the dome prefab panels and no wood interrupting its insulation, the exterior is resistant to fire and insect infestation, and the Ai dome overall will be more energy efficient.  To view photos and utility bills of an Ai dome home, click on 34′ dome.

Although most yurts are tent like structures, there are some that have solid wood walls, in order to compare them to Ai’s dome building kits, Ai searched and found a company that sells sold wall (wood) yurt kits.  Below is a comparison of wood yurt kit to an Ai dome kit, including cost to build. Ai called a solid wall yurt kit company in Washington States.  Yurt is made from wood with a  wood foundation.   Kits range in size equal to American Ingenuity’s 22 ft to 34 ft dome kit sizes in sq. ft.  No insulation or Sheetrock is included in their kit vs the Ai dome kit comes with prefab panels containing seven inches of rigid, nontoxic R28 Expanded Polystyrene Insulation, ½” Georgia Pacific drywall w’ steel reinforced concrete exterior.  The wood yurt kit  has a warranty to 100 m.p.h. wind with 3 second gusts and class D seismic rating versus Ai dome kit is warrantied to  225 mph wind and F4 tornado and class D seismic rating.

Per their website “The best I can suggest as a general rule of thumb to figure the final cost per square foot  (not knowing the complete picture of how you will go about the project and not including  infrastructure) would be to take the price of the yurt kit you would like and figure somewhere between twice and three times that cost. The infrastructure (foundation/floor, well, power and septic) would be an additional cost and can easily cost you the price of the yurt kit. All this considered your yurt home will cost you twice to 4 times the cost of the yurt kit depending on all the factors above.”

The following example includes the cost to purchase and build a 30’ solid wall yurt to a comparable size American Ingenuity 27’ dome at 737 sq. ft.  The Yurt installs insulation in 2x 10 wood framing versus the Ai dome’s insulation is already installed in the prefab panel with no wood interrupting its R28 insulation.

 27′ American Ingenuity (Ai) Dome Kit estimated cost (including parts): $22,660

Plans 3 sets w/seal $1,551 (stock plans) energy report available if needed

Finished or Build cost approx. $104,000

Approx. shipping from Rockledge Fl to Kansas City Mo. 1,270 mi @ $2.70 a mile or $3,483

Concrete Ai Dome approx. total including sealed plans, kit w/build and shipping  – $109,034


Soild Wood Yurt kit from Washington State price: $29,239

Plans 3 sets w/seal $1500-$2500 no energy report available

Finished or Build cost approx.:  $103,000 (per website)

Approx. shipping from Seattle, WA to KC MO. 1,836 miles @ $2.70 mi or $4957

Wood Yurt approx. total including sealed plans, kit w/build and shipping –  $109,457

The cost to purchase, pay shipping and build one of Ai’s  dome kits is about the same price as a solid wall yurt but you receive more from the Aidome.  The Aidome exterior is steel reinforced concrete versus the yurt’s wood exterior. The Ai dome is more wind resistant – solid wood Yurt has 100 mph wind warranty when Ai dome has 225 mph wind & F4 tornado warranty.  Plus because the Aidome has no wood in or on the dome prefab panels and no wood interrupting its insulation, the exterior is resistant to fire and insect infestation, and the Ai dome overall will be more energy efficient.

The following is from a blog Yurt Drawbacks and Advantages on traditional “canvas” yurts:

“So you have looked at modern yurts, and are convinced that you would love to live in such a structure.  The salesman tells you all of the great things about the yurt (there are many), and you are more enthused than ever.  The price tag is presented, and you learn that yurts cost anywhere from one tenth to one fifth of a similarly sized bungalow. You are told that a yurt can be assembled within a couple of days.  So, knowing that you will be mortgage-free the instant that the home is erected, and you will be living in this space-age creation (that was first constructed several thousand years ago in the Slavic and Mongolian regions), you jump at the chance to go minimal with this unique idea.  But, there’s a lot more to be considered before you buy!

While yurts do hold great appeal, and while yurt living has a lot of advantages, there are myriad drawbacks, impediments and disadvantages to consider, as well as significant design and sizing options, depending on your region and geography.

Before we look at design considerations, reflect on a few of the more obscure issues that become very significant once you have moved in.  In our locale, for instance, we commune with nature in a very intimate way, with black bear, deer, raccoons & skunks, wolves & coyotes, weasel, mice, squirrels, an army of insects, garter snakes, birds and so on.  This interaction with nature is, for the most part, enjoyable.

When the skunks, weasels and squirrels take up residence under the building, there goes the neighborhood.  Consequently, an effective mesh screen and lattice barrier is vital to keep the predators and vermin away.  Sure, the weasel will eradicate the mice, but that leaves the problem of a noxious weasel!  Skunks are fairly easily relocated, since they do not care to be in close proximity to us.  It is reciprocal.  Squirrels offer greater resistance and, like raccoons, can wreak havoc on the tarpaulins.  Our yurt integrates so well into its surroundings that a raccoon family has torn holes in the roof tarpaulin, merely by climbing onto it.  Squirrels leave only pin-sized holes, but more of them.

The basic yurt design lends itself to several drawbacks.  Flexible wall yurts, for instance, have walls that are less than two inches thick.  Even with the space-age bubble and foil insulation employed, you will experience more rapid heating and cooling variations inside this building.  However, a solid wall yurt can be constructed of conventional studding, and insulated to higher levels using fiberglass mat insulation as well as bubble & foil or Styrofoam foil combinations.  On the other hand, a yurt, because of its circular design and open concept, heats and cools much more effectively than a similarly sized bungalow.  For example, our 600 square-foot yurt can be heated during minus 25 temperatures with a small radiant propane heater (4-6,000 BTUs), and a 20 pound tank will last nearly a week.  A 600 square foot house would require triple that amount of fuel and still have cold and hot zones.

It is impossible to use standard glass windows in a flexible wall yurt.  Consequently, the norm is to install single-sheet heavy plastic windows, which transmit a great deal of the heat or cooling between interior and exterior.  A solid wall yurt, on the other hand, can accommodate standard window units (smaller sizes).  Doors pose similar issues, and, more so, because most yurt vertical walls are 6’6” to 7’ – less than standard door frame height.

Other infrastructure poses challenges, too. All wiring must be routed through conduit, as it is installed on the outside of the walls framing, rather than through it.  An option is to use low voltage wiring and inverters throughout the building.  Plumbing, too, is installed in plain view.  Of course, this method of installation is much easier and quicker.

Due to the open design of these homes, privacy is impacted, and closet space is at a premium.  Creative layouts can offset these concerns.

Other considerations include safe heating systems.  Open flame is very risky in fabric yurts.  With solid wall designs, flame retarding materials and fire-rated wall boards can be installed.  Yurts may be purchased with mounting for chimney egress, but pay close attention to sparks that may burn through the roof tarpaulin!

Other problems that may arise include condensation issues in cold weather, when warm, moist air rises and contacts the thinly insulated ceiling materials, condensing and falling inside the building.  If tarpaulins (particularly roof tarpaulins) are not skin-tight, wind causes the tarp to billow which, in turn, packs down any matt insulation used and reduces that R-value. While the wind effect against a yurt is minimized because of the round design, this means that there are no leeward sides or areas next to the yurt, where you can huddle against the cool breeze.  That also allows smoke and loose sparks to migrate around the building during the winter.

Yurts, almost always, do not meet zoning demands of any urban jurisdiction, and, therefore, do not qualify for permits.  If you are building in remote locations, this will not be an issue, and some solid-wall designs, indeed, can obtain engineer certification.  Proper design and construction practices should be employed regardless of whether the building meets code. The yurt offers a wonderful escape and alternative to conventional housing, but be prepared for the drawbacks, as well as the advantages.” (end of quote from Yurt Drawbacks and Advantages)

We hope you will compare apples to apples when researching the contents and advantages of solid wood Yurt Kits and Canvas Yurt Kits to the contents & advantages of American Ingenuity’s dome building kits.  To view information on the composition of American Ingenuity’s prefabricated panel, click on Prefab Panel.    To view stock plans for each of Ai’s ten dome kit sizes, click on Stock Plans.  If you do not find a stock plan to fit your life style, Ai can modify or customize a plan to fit your desires.  Ai dome plans are flexible to meet your criteria.  On our Stock Plans post there are blank floor planners, elevation views and to scale furniture which can be used to design custom plans.   We look forward to hearing from you and hope you are having an enjoyable life.



Ai Concrete Dome Kit Home vs Shipping Container Home

After reviewing several sites regarding converting a shipping container into a home and what the American Ingenuity (Ai) Dome Building Kit offers, we have the following comparison to share.  When comparing companies housing products, please compare apples to apples, not just the container cost.  

  1. Do the other companies back up their product against Hurricanes and Tornadoes?  American Ingenuity offers a warranty up to a 225 mile an hour winds and or F4 tornado. Click on, Aidomes & Acts of Nature to learn more.
  2. To reach the 780 sq. ft. of living space (average 27′ dome)  will require two to three 40 ft. containers, at an average price for used containers (in good shape, another issue posted) of $2,000. New containers run between $4,500 and $6,000 that is $13,500 (for 3) minimum before shipping. The closest shipping (for this Florida example) for a container would be Miami.  Current shipping costs are about $800 per truck within Florida ($2,400).  So your investment before your retrofit would be over $15,900!   Adding the retrofit, insulation and drywall will add another $10,000 or more. (not including custom windows, doors, electric, plumbing etc.) For an estimated total of $25,900 (before sales tax). Remember material costs to finish a home is over 50% of construction costs. Prior to Florida Sales Tax, the American Ingenuity dome kit w’ shipping cost to a Florida site based on the 27’ Kappa 11 plan is $26,152, a difference of only $252 and you receive a home with greater strength – 225 mph wind & F4 tornado warranty on the dome exterior walls.   Please see Ai Pricing Chart below.
  3. When looking at  container conversion, how is the interior of the home finished?  Do you have to cut and solder the units for windows, entryways and multiple units?  Do you need to tear the flooring out due to possible contamination (another potential problem)?  Attach the insulation and wallboard? Ai’s kit’s triangle and riser panels come with the R28 insulation and ½” thick DensArmor gypsum wallboard (by Georgia Pacific) already adhered with wallboard adhesive. After the kit panels are assembled, the drywall seams are taped with adhesive mesh tap and joint compound.  To blend the drywall seams and the drywall surface, skip trowel joint compound over the dome shell drywall.
  4. Does the product or kit contain insulation? What type, and what is the overall R-Value for energy efficiency? Our kits have standard 7″ thick rigid, nontoxic EPS giving the structure an overall R-Value of 28. From what we have read container homes have major insulation problems with both keeping the home warm in winter and cool in summer, which may present a problem in your area.
  5. Does the companies product have a finished exterior? If using a container then will you need to seal the container with nontoxic paint adding siding or stucco (many containers have lead based paint that needs to be properly sealed so not to contaminate you). The American Ingenuity (Ai) dome’s exterior is 3/4″ concrete reinforced with galvanized steel mesh & fibers with the seams between the panels & the entryways & dormers concreted on site. You do not concrete over the entire shell. After kit erection the concrete gets primed and painted.
  6. Like a container conversion, Ai’s dome panels contain no wood in them.  They are steel reinforced concrete, as opposed to solid metal which will/ can rust.
  7. Will the companies that do the retrofitting call your building department and verify the structure can be built on your site?  At no cost to our Buyers, we call their building department, email a generic set of building plans and talk to the Plans Examiner to assure the dome kit can be built.
  8. Do companies that specialize in shipping container retrofits, provide you with building plans (Ai’s current sale price for 27 Kappa 11 building plans is $851), engineer seal for your state (Seal for one dome on a slab is $600) and energy report  (Ai price to complete the report for one dome on a slab is $190)?  If so what do they charge? If they don’t provide these services, please be aware you will need to hire an architect, and an engineer to seal your building plans.  Just last week, a Florida Resident visited our dome offices and said that engineer sealed building plans for a four container home built in Florida would cost $8,000.

Please keep in mind that the cost to build a finished moderately priced home varies from state to state. As an example in Central Florida (based upon figures from the average cost to build is about $138.00 per square foot for a home that is 750 sq. ft.  This is not including the cost of land, land preparations, permitting/impact fees, and utilities. It would include all your interior finishing including kitchen,  HVAC systems and appliances and monolithic foundation (slab). So a home that is 750 sq. ft. would run about $103,000 to build (this would include the cost of our dome kit). The cost to build one of our kits runs about the same to build as a traditional home but our kit home has insulation comparable to  11” of fiberglass and has super-strength.  A traditional house would require 2×10 framing (see Finished Cost) to come close to our dome….but it would have wood interrupting the insulation while the Ai dome has no wood in or on the shell to interrupt the insulation, or to burn or to rot or for termites to eat.

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27′ Kappa 11 plan
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27′ Kappa 11 plan