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  Decorative Columns

As of April 10, 2013 American Ingenuity has no technical information available on decorative columns.


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American Ingenuity suggests that dome owners try to locate their fireplace toward the middle of the dome, rather than along the outside edge which would cause the flue to be very tall on the outside. This puts more of the flue pipe inside the house where it can radiate the heat.  However if needed the fireplace can be installed on an exterior wall.

Ai can custom design the location of a wood stove or fireplace in the dome, after given general desired location, flue pipe or fire place manufacturer and model number and flue pipe outside diameter.  During plans design the use of AutoCad’s three D layering allows for the location of the flue pipe to exit the dome minimum eight inches from the center of a seam.

How is the fireplace flue installed in the Ai dome? Contact Ai for a document that explains how to cut a hole in the panel, affix bolts to the dome, etc.

In the Ai Domes can I use a fireplace to heat them? Yes. Ai’s smaller sized domes (15′, 18′ and 22’) have such small heating and air-conditioning demands; it is practical to utilize a window air-conditioner and a space heater. 

Bear in mind in some states, including Florida, a permanent heat source has to be shown in your building plans and installed within your dome. This means a space heater would not be acceptable. You would need at least a baseboard heater installed to comply with the permanent heat source requirement.  Ask your building department if they have a permanent heat source requirement.

Can even your 45’ dome be heated with a fireplace? Yes if the heat from your fireplace is blown through your duct system to heat each of your rooms.  The following Home Power magazine article discusses how the Collar’s heat their dome with a fireplace.

What do you need when you are going to live in a high desert (7,500 ft. elev.) 40 miles from the nearest town with the winters reaching down 20 degrees below zero? That is where Jim and Mary Collar planned to build their solar retirement home. To extend electric power to their home site would cost $22,000.00 so the Collars decided to produce their power using photovoltaic solar cells with a back up generator. Their primary source of heat would be their fireplace.

In 1995 after researching many alternative-building methods, they found their home, an American Ingenuity 45’’Dome House and 30’’garage. The American Ingenuity dome kit was selected for its strength, energy efficiency and its affordability. They selected sub contractors for the construction of their two domes with Mary being the general contractor. Jim was commuting 40 miles to his job but on evenings and weekends they could work together. They were asked by the state of Utah to participate in “Utahs’1998 Tour of Innovative Homes” which is in conjunction with the American Solar Energy Society’s National Tour of solar Homes.

To view the complete article, click Utah Dome at 7,500′ elevation.


This page gives info about foundation excavation, types of foundations American Ingenuity design team can design and foundation resource.
For information on foundations used for the American Ingenuity Domes click on Foundation Summary, Concrete SlabPilings, Basements  and  Raised Wood Floor.  American Ingenuity Domes can be built utilizing the same foundation choices as conventional housing.
The foundation types that Ai designs are a) a monolithic concrete slab; b) poured footing with a stem wall and then a poured slab on fill;  c) poured footing with a stem wall and then a raised wood floor; d) basement and; e) pilings and a platform. The type of foundation that is built for your new home will depend on which is more advantageous for your area and what you soil’s report requires.
For American Ingenuity to design any foundation other than our standard monolithic concrete slab, we must hire a local engineer.  The engineer wants to view your soil report.  In the soil report a soil’s engineer will analyze your soil tests and recommend the type foundation that should be built.  The engineer uses this data to provide Ai information & details to be included in your foundation design.
About soil compaction:  Generally the soil under the foundation is compacted to 98% density for a minimum of 2000 pounds per square foot of bearing pressure.  Clean, compacted fill with no subsurface vegetation or voids.  If your soil cannot compact to 2,000 psf, then the footer will be designer larger and the slab might be 6′ thick instead of 4″ thick if acceptable by your building department.
Misc. Foundation Info

The following information came from the book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Building Your Own Home, second edition by Dan Ramsey. Any sentences that are in italics were added by American Ingenuity.

Excavating for the Foundation:

Houses require foundations. Why? Foundations support and stabilize the walls and roof. That’s a pretty important job! Excavation is the removal of soil to make room for the building’s foundation. So before excavating, let’s learn about foundations.

The foundation itself needs a foundation. Most houses are so heavy that the foundation must be widened at the base to keep it from sinking into the ground. (An American Ingenuity Dome shell weights less than a conventional house shell due to the thin concrete on its panels.) The wide part of a foundation is called the footing. Its size depends on the kind of soil under it. Most footings are designed to carry 1,000 pounds per square foot. A two-story house will have a wider foundation footing than a single-story house. Typically, the footing is twice as wide as the wall. That is, the footing for an 8-inch foundation walls is usually 16 inches wide. However, don’t go by this; go by your house’s foundation plan.

The foundation wall can be just 1 foot tall or it can be, with support, 10 feet tall or more. Or it can be shorter on one side and taller on another. It just needs to be level on top where the floor will be installed, which I’ll tell you about in the next chapter.

How tall and wide is the foundation for your home? Refer to the foundation plans approved by your building department. It will include the foundation’s layout, dimensions, size, elevation and height.

A slab foundation is a solid floor set directly on the soil. Most modern garage floors are concrete slabs with a continuous wall foundation around the perimeter.

A pier foundation is a series of concrete piers and footings that support the structure. If made of pressure-treated wood, it’s called a pole or post foundation.

It’s important to know the type and size of the foundation now because it tells you what soil needs to be removed or excavated for the foundation. It’s best not to remove any more compacted soil than necessary when excavating for a foundation. The more the earth has been disturbed, the more difficult it is to ensure that the foundation won’t move in the future.

Valuable resources as you excavate for and install your home’s foundation include the following:

  • Local building department
  • Building material suppliers
  • Excavation contractors
  • Transit-mix concrete suppliers
  • Foundation contractors
  • Backhoe and loader operators
  • Construction engineers
  • Concrete block manufacturers and suppliers
  • Construction tool rental yards
  • Alternative foundation sources (treated lumber, stone)
  • The many websites, books, videos, and magazines listed in Appendix B

If you want to know even more about foundations, check bookstores or for a copy of my book Builder’s Guide to Foundations and Floor Framing (see Appendix B). It includes lots of illustrations, tables, and in-depth information on all types of residential and light commercial foundations.