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 aidomes.com.