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Framing Of The American Ingenuity Dome

How are interior walls attached to the dome shell? Where ever an interior wall butts up to the dome shell, a metal stud is glued against the shell with spray foam.  This way there is a 2×4 cavity to screw the tops of the metal studs into and gives an edge on the metal stud to screw the wall board to.  Then an elastomeric caulk or resin paint fills in the area where the shell meets the wall board.   Or install a trim board.

How are second floor joists supported?

  • Most often the second floor joists are set on top of the first floor load bearing walls, the same as in conventional framing.  In areas where additional support is needed, or where there are no first floor walls, microlam beams can be installed and or parts of the second floor may be hung from the dome shell in specific locations by anchoring a 5/8” threaded rod vertically into the concrete of a seam.
  • Some of the weight is suspended by threaded steel rods which anchor into the concrete seams and extend vertically down into the dome.  Over 3,000 lbs. can be supported by a 5/8” threaded rod suspended in one of the concrete seams.   The location of the suspension rods is determined by your floor plan selection.  The Building Plans will show the suspension rod’s positioning.
  • The suspension rod with nut sets on a 3”x6” steel plate, which is embedded in the concrete seam. The seam is reinforced with #4 rebar & two layers of galvanized steel mesh. These suspension rods and plates can be purchased from American Ingenuity.
  • After the first floor is framed in and the drywall is attached to the interior framing, the first floor walls make the second floor very rigid.
  • For areas that require bracing plywood is installed in the framed entryway walls and on the first floor and second floor interior walls.

What is needed to frame first floor walls?

Materials And Tools:

  • Door, folding closet door, bath tub and shower module dimensions
  • 2”x4”x 8’ pressure treated lumber
  • 2”x4”x8’ standard lumber (kiln dried Southern Yellow Pine or White Wood for all studs including load bearing walls. For economy you can use 92 5/8″ long stud lumber for load bearing walls, they cost less than standard 96″)
  • 16d common nails
  • carpenter’s pencil
  • 2 saw horses
  • electrical circular saw
  • chalk stick
  • Great Stuff Minimal Expansion Foam Sealant
  • nailing apron
  • 2 ½” fluted masonry nails (or a rented handheld, hammer triggered concrete nailing gun)
  • Shells and concrete nails for safest, cleanest, fastest attachment of bottom plates.
  • Doors should be ordered from the supplier. Plan ahead as there may be delivery time involved. Doors on hand provide you with the exact measurements for rough openings in framing.
  • Select bath tubs, shower modules and such now, and obtain framing dimensions.
  • If you plan to install an oversized item such as a Jacuzzi, which is wider than a standard door opening, put it inside the area to be framed right now. Keep it in its shipping carton for protection during wall framing.

Build The Internal Walls – See your Building Plans for exact specs.

  • The exact location of the rough plumbing stub outs determines the actual location of the internal walls. If the stub outs were moved a bit during concrete pouring, the wall location has to be adjusted accordingly and may differ slightly from the plan.
  • Measure wall dimensions, cut plates and studs. Wall height from concrete foundation to top of top plate to be 8′-1″.
  • Bottom plates to be pressure treated. Bearing walls to have double top plates. Top plate members must overlap 24″ at breaks.
  • Rough door openings to be door width W+2″ and door height H+2″ (door rough height is generally 80″, unless a nonstandard door will be installed.
  • Assemble the wall component lumber by laying it out on the flat concrete floor foundation and toe-nailing it perfectly square.
  • Double check dimensions and squareness and, if satisfactorily, righten the wall to the vertical position.
  • Move the wall into its position to where it touches the wallboard of the dome shell.
  • Mark the location of a wall stud on the wallboard
  • Carve out a 3” deep cavity into wallboard and foam and extend a 18” long 2×4 cut off upwards from the wall stud into the cavity. Attach the stud extension to the stud with deck screws and fill the cavity around the 2×4 in wallboard and EPS with expanding foam. This makes for extra stability of the wall at the dome shell junction.
  • Finally, inject Great Stuff Minimal Expansion Foam Sealant into all open spaces between wall lumber and wallboard at the dome shell.


  • Gather the necessary materials and tools.
  • Simpson LS 70, Simpson LUS 28 (can be purchased from Ai.)
  • Steel U-channels 3”x 1 ½” x 6” and suspension rods (purchase from Ai.)
  • 5/8” nuts and washers for suspension rods (purchase from Ai.)
  • Joist lumber (2”x 8” or 2” x 10”, per plan)
  • Edge beam lumber
  • 16d x 3” and 16d x 1 ½” nails
  • Framing square
  • 25’ measuring tape
  • Hammer
  • Level ( or rotary laser level tool)
  • Carpenter’s pencil, black felt pen
  • 2 saw horses
  • 8’ and 10’ ladder
  • Circular saw
  • 1 ea. open and box wrench for 5/8” nuts
  • Tie wire
  • Carpenter clamps
  • 1” wide wood chisel
  • Utilize cleaned up form boards of the same size as joist sizes in Plan S-5.
  • Bend support rods into plumb position as good as possible.
  • Measure distance between suspension rods horizontally at the dome shell not at their lower end.
  • Suspension rods tend to point uncontrolled into off plumb directions before they are connected to the second floor edge beams.

Build The 2nd Floor Edge Beam – Refer to your Building Plans as they take Precedence.

Measure and cut edge beams according to plan, using the measurements obtained from between the rods.

Outside of the beams are slightly longer than inside Length. (see detail plan S-5) All perimeter edge beam ends are cut at an angle to achieve maximum support surface from the supporting U-channels.

Edge beam bottom corners are notched out 1 ¾” high from bottom of edge and 3 ½” from beam ends, where they will rest on the U-channel. Secure temporary, but effectively for safety purposes, the edge beam to both the U-channel AND to the rod with tie wire.

Mark all suspension rods all around with black felt pen at 8’- 2 ¾” up from the concrete floor.

Slide U- channel from bottom end up the rod (channel legs pointing downward) until its top surface is at the level of the mark. Slide and turn a washer and a two nuts up the suspension rod thread to support the u-channel in its position. Later secure nuts with locktite. Repeat this with all suspension rods.

Nail two boards of lumber together to form the first edge beam. Lift the beam onto the U-channels, half of the U-channel supporting the Edge beam as shown at SUSPENSION ROD DETAIL 2 on plan S-6.

Continue around perimeter by placing and temporary securing the next edge beam.

Nail a Simpson LS70 connector to the outside joint of the two beams, after hammering the angle of the LS70 more open to fit the angle of the joint.

Continue to complete the edge beam perimeter.

At this construction stage, some components are loose and flexible and prone to slip and fall at the slightest disturbance. Be extra careful. Declare the area under the beams off limits and have everyone wear a hardhat.

The following contains info about Ai Building Kit Summary

Top five Cupola Panels installed after concrete beam and concrete legs poured. (top of cupola consists of the five top dome panels lifted up to set on concrete legs.)

Fourth row of Prefab Panels being assembled on 34′ dome.  45′ dome in back ground.

To view a photo gallery of photos showing the Dome Kit Assembly Process, view Dome Kit Assembly. The dome kit can be assembled by owner builders or hire a contractor. Either the home owner or the contractor can hire the independent kit assembly consultant to supervise the kit assembly.

The view sale pricing on American Ingenuity dome kits and building plans, view Sale.

Housing technology has changed very little since framing replaced the log cabin. Modifications that were made to improve a concrete home or future home also increased its cost. We applied some American Ingenuity to the geodesic dome home, designed an all new component building system utilizing advanced kit home construction technology and developed a home plan without increasing the kit home’s prices.

American Ingenuity’s concrete dome kit includes all the triangular and riser panels needed for the dome shell and one entryway. The first floor of the 30′ thru 48′ dome homes can have up to five entryways. The second floor of the 36′ thru 48′ can have up to five single window or door dormers. As a result each floor plan varies as to the number and location of entryways and dormers. Underneath the entryway or dormer “eye brow” you or your contractor builds a conventional 2×4 framed wall and installs your locally purchased windows and doors.

Because we do not know which stock floor plan you will select, Ai does not know the type or quantity of entryways or dormers that you will need. View  Building Options to learn more about entryways, dormers, link, cupola, etc. Once you determine the floor plan, Ai can provide the Building Kit with Option Pricing.

You can view and print out Ai’s stock plans for each of the ten dome kit sizes, by clicking on Stock Plans

Houses and garages are built from the Dome Building Kits. The dome homes are available in ten sizes from one bedroom/one bath to four or five bedroom/four baths. The garage domes are typically one car or two car. In the back of the Stock Floor Plan Booklet are garage dome plans. The dome homes are built on conventional concrete slabs or raised wood floors. If needed, the dome can be built on a basement or pilings and a platform. American Ingenuity does not manufacture a basement wall kit, but does design the basement plans.  To learn about possible foundations, view Foundations.

The regular pricing for the Dome Shell Kit which includes one entryway ranges from $21,300 to $55,915 depending on your square footage needs. View Pricing for a complete listing of kit sizes and regular pricing.

Wherever an “opening” is left for doors and windows, Ai does not ship triangles or riser panels. The entryway and dormer panels “eye brows” are therefore structural and are required to maintain the dome’s integrity. The 2×4 or 2×6 wall that is build under the entryways or dormers is built to frame in your locally purchased doors and windows..

The component panel for the 15′ thru 48′ domes includes seven inch thick R-28 insulation. On the exterior of the insulation is ¾” thick fiber concrete reinforced with galvanized steel mesh and on the interior of the insulation is 1/2″ Georgia-Pacific wall board. Onsite the kit is assembled one row at a time, by concreting the entryways, dormers, cupola, link and seams between the panels. Do not concrete over the entire dome. The concrete on the panels does not need to be thick because the seam concrete averages two inches.

Once all the panel seams and entryways, dormers, etc. are concreted, the temporary wooden rib system is removed. The dome shell is self supporting. No interior walls are needed to support the shell. However, normally there is a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor. So those interior walls are used to support part of the second floor. The exact locations of the suspension rods is noted on the shell geometry sheet in the Building Plans. The suspension rods and top and bottom plates can be purchased from American Ingenuity.  We use the AutoCAD program to design and calculate the load on the second floor. So just let us know if you will have an Aquarian, water bed, library, exercise room, etc. on the second floor and Ai can calculate the load accordingly. The average load calculated is 55 lbs. per square foot.

The component panels do not come with any paint on them. Ai does not add any color to the concrete. The concrete shell is painted after the entire kit is assembled. The paint should include a concrete primer and two coats of good quality exterior concrete paint. The dome can be painted any color, tan, green, blue, etc. preferably a light to medium color to reflect the sunlight. The dome exterior is repainted every four to six years depending upon your area’s pollution and UV light. If you rub your hand over the paint and get any “chalk” on your hand, that is when the dome should be repainted. As needed remove algae with a mixture of chlorine and water or pressure washing.

Ai’s dome building kit does not include doors and windows. There is such a variety and varying price points,Ai  leaves the selection of the doors and windows up to each client to purchase locally. The floor plan you select will determine how many entryways or dormers you will have. Within the entryways and dormers {eye brows}, your framing subcontractor installs a 2×4 or 2×6 wall to frame in what ever standard doors or windows that were purchased locally.

No interior items are included in the building kit other than the shell wall drywall. Ai believes you should not pay shipping on items you can purchase locally such as plumbing, electrical, framing, flooring, kitchen cabinets, bathroom fixtures, lighting fixtures, etc. To learn about the panel composition, view Component Panel.

Dome Finished Costs: The finished costs on the domes depends so much on where you live, what the labor costs are in your area and what price points you select for your windows, doors, cabinetry, flooring, lighting fixtures, etc. You can ask at your local hardware store or ask a local contractor what the finished price per square foot is running for a conventional house in the neighborhood you plan to build in. That is approximately what it will cost to finish the domes (if you do no labor yourselves), because everything in the interior is standard whether it is a conventional house or dome home….plumbing, electrical, lighting fixtures, bathroom fixtures, flooring, kitchen cabinets, windows and doors, etc. are all the same. Basically you end up with a super-energy efficient, super-strong home for about the same price as a conventional house. To learn more, view Finished Cost.

Items in the Dome Shell Kit include: Triangular Panels, 4′ Riser Wall Panels, panels for one Entryway, Galvanized Steel Mesh, Concrete Fibers, Two Concrete Admixtures, Reinforcing galvanized cable, Concrete Bonding Agent, Connecting C-Rings, C-Ring Pliers and Assembly Manual. To learn more, view Kit Contents.  To learn what is not in the Dome Kit, view Items not included in the Kit

Depending upon your floor plan selection there will be various building options. The Options include: Additional Entryway Panels (standard, high profile, garage), Window Dormer Panels, Door Dormer Panels, Cupola Panels and Link Panels. view Building Options to learn more.