Advantages – Low Exterior Maintenance | AiDomes

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

The following info covers the low exterior maintenance on the American Ingenuity (Ai) Dome.  The Ai dome is designed to be as safe and fireproof as possible, the dome exterior is entirely noncombustible concrete.

40' dome home on left linked to 30' garage dome.

40′ dome home on left linked to 30′ garage dome.

Back in 1976 the inventor of the American Ingenuity component panel, Michael Busick, knew he wanted to use timeless building materials (concrete, galvanized steel and expanded polystyrene insulation) instead of materials that deteriorate over time like wood 2×4’s, 2×6’s, plywood, shingles and fiberglass insulation.  Michael knew he did not want to use wood in the dome shell because of termites and did not want to use shingles due to high winds or hurricanes. In today’s time this is called “Green Building.”

Since the founding of American Ingenuity, Ai has spent well over one million dollars perfecting its dome building plans, component panel design and manufacturing techniques.  You now have the benefit of all those years of manufacturing experience and plans design by purchasing the dome building plans and the dome building kit to build a super-energy efficient, super-strong home.

Please note that one of Aidomes in the British Virgin Islands went through 2017 Hurricane Irma’s 200 mph winds and had no damage.

In a conventional house made out of wood it is difficult enough to get all the wood pieces to fit. It is especially difficult to get all the wood pieces to fit for a geodesic dome due to the angles and dimension changes. That is why the founder of American Ingenuity knew there had to be a better way to build a geodesic dome. He took the time to invent a component panel and receive a patent on it. Each panel is cut at a computer-generated angle so that it fits flush with the adjacent panel. The edges are beveled at the seams where steel and concrete unite to complete the structure.

Because of our choice of dome building materials, Ai has found its kit to be very forgiving. The E.P.S insulation can be cut with a knife so some of the insulation can be removed easily if need be. If some of the insulation is broken on site, it can be glued back on with expanding foam or pieces of scrap foam can be used to fill the gap or expanding foam can be sprayed to fill the area.

It is far more practical to build a dome with concrete than wood. Once the component panels are assembled, the American Ingenuity component panel provides the structure, the exterior finish, the insulation and the interior shell drywall finish.

The American Ingenuity dome is designed to be as safe and fireproof as possible, the dome exterior is entirely noncombustible concrete. Fire resistant concrete exterior: to view info about American Ingenuity’s concrete dome versus the Monolithic Concrete Dome and to view a YouTube Video of fire going over Monolithic concrete dome, please click on Fire Resistant Concrete Exterior.

 

2.51 seam area lifting panel Kaufman picture assembly 209

Prefabricated Component Panel Being Installed.  The wooden rib system is temporary. Once the seam areas between the panels are concreted, building options concreted and entryways and dormers framed in, the temporary wooden rib system is disassembled. There is no wood in or on the dome shell to rot, deteriorate or to be eaten by termites.  No wood or shingles to burn in a forest fire.

What does the Ai component panel consist of?

Concrete: The panel concrete is a special formulation containing synthetic fibers and liquid admixtures. The following is why Ai ships synthetic fibers with its Building Kit. Fibers in concrete work to reduce the formation of shrinkage and cracks in concrete’s plastic state while helping to improve shatter resistance and reduce water migration. The result: tougher concrete. These ingredients improve the concrete’s characteristics, create super toughness, extend durability, make concrete impervious to water, give higher tensile and compressive strength, provide elasticity for expansion, and improve freeze protection. The concrete in your dome out performs other exteriors because of its specially developed formula. Because of its exceptional composition, it actually gains strength over the years. The exterior concrete adheres directly to the steel mesh and E.P.S without the need of a bonding agent. The panel concrete is ¾” thick. The seam areas between the panels average two inch thick fiber concrete.

Steel: galvanized steel wire mesh is encased in the ¾” concrete of each component panel. As your dome is assembled the mesh of each panel overlaps adjacent panel mesh 2″ and is locked with C rings  – resulting in your home being completely encircled by galvanized steel mesh.

E.P.S. Insulation: Seven inches of sturdy, rigid R-28 expanded polystyrene (E.P.S.) insulation forms the core of each component panel. The insulation is permanent, chemically and thermally stable, resistant to mildew, provides no nutritive value to animals, plants, microorganisms, non-irritating to skin, Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and formaldehyde free. Ai’s insulation will not rot, shrink, absorb moisture, compact, or deteriorate due to age or weather. It also acts as a vapor barrier for your home, providing stable performance year after year.  To read our most frequently asked Energy Questions and their Answers, click on Energy FAQ.

Interior Finish: consists of Georgia Pacific 1/2″ DensArmor Plus gypsum adhered to the E.P.S. with wallboard adhesive. It employs fiberglass mat facing instead of paper on both sides of the board. The core is treated gypsum providing excellent moisture resistance, fire resistance and adhesion properties. It doesn’t provide fuel for an accidental fire. It isn’t even damaged by multiple immersions in water. It won’t harbor spores that create sick homes. DensArmor is nonstructural glass mat-faced, noncombustible, water-resistant, treated gypsum core panel.

The concrete, expanded polystyrene insulation, galvanized steel and DensArmor drywall contain no food sources for mold growth.

Painting - blacony P5080004

Dome Owner painting 40′ dome. Not pictured is rope tied to harness. On top of each dome stainless steel eyebolt(s) are installed during assembly.  When working on top of dome, a rope is tied thru eyebolt with rope tied to harness of person working on dome.  Current technology allows for paint to be dispensed to roller from paint sprayer that sits on the ground.

stroupe safety on dome

Painter’s harness attached to rope for safety.

Klaus leo washing 090

Above picture is of a painted 34′ dome being pressure washed.  Prior to pressure washing remove algae with bleach/water or oxygen bleach/water.  Worker has harness tied to eye bolt. The dome is repainted when the paint begins to chalk.  …usually every 4-5-6 years.  The Ai dome has no roof to replace. No wood in or on the dome exterior to rot or to burn or for termites to eat.  No roof to blow off in high winds.  Lower rows of panels can be pressure washed with person standing on ladder or in cherry picker, etc.

What is the routine exterior maintenance on an Ai Dome?

Painting is the only routine exterior maintenance….there is no wood in or on the shell to rot, to be eaten by termites or to burn. After the final coat of seam concrete and allowing the dome to be washed by rains for three weeks to one month to remove efflorescence, Ai recommends a coat of a good quality concrete primer followed by two coats of good quality paint. Ai dome owners recommend the use of Ames Research Laboratories primer, tape and paint.  This paint can be purchased at Ace & True Value Hardware stores for similar price that paint can be purchased at Home Depot & Lowes.  Ai’s Assembly Manual includes complete info on weather proofing the dome.

Your dome can be painted in any color. It is preferable to use a light to medium color to assist in sunlight reflection. Dark colors absorb more heat and create more thermal expansion when the sun is shining.

The component panels do not come with any paint on them. Ai does not add any color to the concrete. On site the seams between the panels are concreted so if Ai painted the panels or added color to the concrete it would not match your painted dome concrete. The concrete shell is painted after the entire kit is assembled.

For an existing dome please call our  office for the most current painting info for previously painted domes or water proofing info for unpainted domes.  Phone 321-639-8777 Mon – Fri 9-5 eastern.

How often should the Dome be repainted?

Typically the dome is repainted every 4-5-6 years, depending on your personal preference. If you rub your hand on the paint and remove any “chalk” then it is time to pressure wash, remove algae with bleach/water solution or oxygen bleach/water, pressure wash the dome and paint when dry.  Best to roll the paint on to achieve correct thickness per the paint manufacturer. Yes the domes can be walked on if the person’s harness is tied to a rope secured around a cupola or through an eye bolt. If you do not have a cupola, during assembly install eye bolts in the top of the dome to tie a rope through. Your building plans specify the installation of a top vent with five eye bolts installed around the vent.

kolb pressure washing

This dome pic is of a 40′ dome that had been previously painted. 
Prior to repainting the dome, kill algae with combination of bleach water or oxygen bleach & water, then pressure wash the dome. The dome is repainted when the paint begins to chalk.
…usually every 4-5-6 years.  No roof to replace. 
No wood in or on the dome exterior to rot or to burn or for termites to eat.
No roof to blow off in high winds.

What if I get a leak in the dome?

With each building kit synthetic fibers and two liquid admixtures are shipped. A concrete mix recipe is included in the Assembly Manual which is shipped with each kit.  Certain steps must be followed during the assembly of your dome kit to prevent leaking: First, follow the recipe in the Manual which describes the adding of the synthetic fibers and liquid admixtures as your onsite concrete is mixed in a mortar mixer NOT a cement mixer.  Second water down cured or prefab concrete around where new concrete will be applied. When applying second layer of concrete in the seams and on entryways and dormers, apply the bonding agent (supplied with your kit) to cured watered down concrete and allow to rest 30 minutes before the second coat is added to achieve a proper bond between the two coats of concrete. Keep concrete misted as it cures.  Watering down techniques are described in the Manual.

A coat of something rigid like pea gravel, rock, etc. should not be applied to the exterior of the dome. The rigid substance will not be flexible to take the expansion and contraction that the dome experiences with temperature changes. The component panel concrete and the concrete mixture mixed on site for the seams is a special mix per the Assembly Manual which allows the concrete to expand and contract.  Ai ships with your kit polypropylene fibers and two liquid admixtures (one is an air entrainment and the other is a water reducer) with the dome owner purchasing extra fibers and admixtures.  On site the fibers and admixtures are mixed in your bags of Portland Cement, masonry sand and water in a mortar mixer per the concrete mix recipe in the Manual.

Usually it is easier to repair a leak in Ai’s concrete dome than it is to make a repair in a shingled roof. Generally applying elastomeric patching compound or caulk & elastomeric paint is all it takes to seal an area but stopping a leak in shingles usually requires removing and replacing shingles.  Worst case eternabond tape can be applied over an area, if the concrete does not sound hollow or move or vibrate when tapped with a hammer. If any of these three items occur then the concrete in that area is chipped out and new fiber concrete applied with bonding agent used between layers and all areas watered down prior to applying new concrete.

Ai does not depend on the concrete to make the dome watertight. The dome gets additional sealing with a concrete primer and two layers of paint.

How much paint is required for each coat?

Based on 150 sq.ft. per gallon of coverage for each coat applied:

Dome Size
22′
25′
27′
30′
34′
40′
45′
48′
Exterior Surface
1,036
1,189
1,484
1,611
1,994
2,645
3,255
3,652
Gallons of Paint
7
8
10
11
14
18
22
25

Take the Exterior Surface Area and divide by 150 to determine an approximate number of gallons for each coat of paint for each size dome. Yes, the exterior surface is just the cement surface itself, and does not include the dormers. For each entryway add 220 sq.ft. for each window dormer add 30 sq. ft. for each door dormer add 50 sq.ft.

The following info came from the web site http://www.masonryforlife.com/GreenBuildConsum.php

Today, studies show that people are more concerned about the environment than most issues that face us.  A number of environmental trends in the building industry have evolved in the last several years, including the “green build” concept. This concept employs building methods and materials that are ecologically responsible.

Masonry products play a significant role in “green build” concepts because they are natural products that do not deplete limited precious resources like timber. Other than helping to save our forests, masonry also contributes to a healthier home for its inhabitants. Masonry helps to make homes allergy resistant by creating near air-tight homes. Homes built with masonry are also quieter and help reduce or eliminate the build up of mold and fungus between interior and exterior walls.

The philosophy behind “green building” or earth-friendly building is that today’s decisions should not be at the expense of future generations, while utilizing local resources with a minimum environmental impact.

Building with masonry is a timeless art form that goes back to the great Egyptian pyramids, Greek temples and Roman cities. Many of those structures are still standing today! Masonry has always been the choice for enduring, natural beauty. In modern times, masonry has been the choice for residences because of the strength and durability of masonry.

Part of the reason is value offered to the home buyer. Another reason is that many builders are turning to environmentally responsible (earth-friendly) building methods, and masonry products play a large role in “green build” or earth-friendly concepts.

Building with masonry offers a number of benefits for the homeowner including protection, low maintenance living, savings and value.

Fire Resistant – Non-combustible materials

Weather Resistant – Exterior Walls that will hold up to heavy storms, U.V. degradation, blistering heat, and sub-zero temperatures.”

Termite Resistant – Exterior walls made of masonry means there’s no wood to eat.

Protection from Rotting, Mold and Fungus – With no exterior wood on the walls, there is nothing to rot and masonry plays a large role in significantly reducing or eliminating the build-up of fungus and mildew between interior and exterior walls.

Superior Sound Proofing – Masonry blocks out noise better than traditional building materials, resulting in a quieter home environment.

Virtually Maintenance Free – When used in its natural form, masonry provides lasting beauty that requires considerably less maintenance than other building materials.

Lower Insurance Premiums – Because masonry provides higher levels of security, fire and termite protection, and does a better job of weathering the storm, many insurance companies offer up to 15% discounts on homeowner’s policies.

Environmentally-Friendly “Green” Products – Masonry products play a large role in ecologically responsible building methods and is recognized by government programs as a contributor to green building status. In many cases, building within “green built” guidelines results in impact fee, tax breaks and permit fee savings for the homebuilder. Masonry products are earth-friendly because they do not deplete precious natural and limited resources like timber.

Increased Resale Appeal – There’s a widely-held opinion, supported by studies, that masonry homes offer a greater resale value than other forms of construction. Key reasons are the fact that masonry homes are high quality, low maintenance homes.