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Florida 34′ Dome Home High Profile Entryway faces south

The above 34′ American Ingenuity dome located in Central Florida has no furnace.  January has average minimum temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit with winter temperatures reaching 32 degrees. The south facing entryway produces all the heat needed to warm the dome during the winter months.

Any of American Ingenuity’s domes can be designed to have solar gain through its windows if during the site plan phase of design, you orient the dome and its entryways to face the sun in the winter months.  The site plan determines the location of your dome on your property and which directions your doors and windows face.  Under the entryways (eye brows) your framer builds a wall and installs large pieces of glass or large windows that you purchase locally.  These large windows and or glass let the sunlight into the dome to heat the dome in the winter. 

Bear in mind if the sun comes in during the winter through this glass; then it can come in during the summer and heat up your dome when you are needing to air condition; thus causing your AC costs to rise.   Because the American Ingenuity dome has such a thickly insulated wall it costs so little to heat or cool the dome, we do not recommend large glass areas be installed within the entryways for passive solar gain…simply install enough glass and or windows to allow for the proper amount of sunlight that you want into your dome. 

Just to clarify on the first floor of our 30’ and larger domes there can be five entryways.  Within each entryway there is enough space to install from two to four French doors or huge pieces of glass.  When we have had clients select floor plans that included five entryways their window and door budget sometimes exceeds the cost of the building kit. Windows and large pieces of glass can be quite expensive!   If a window or glass area is double paned its R-Value is around four…the wall of our dome is an R-28.  So besides our clients spending an exorbitant amount for large windows or glass areas, this decreases the R-Value of the walls and will raise their heating and air conditioning costs.  Usually three entryways and a few solar tubes (items you purchase and install in the prefab panels) can supply plenty of light within the dome.

The owners of American Ingenuity built their second home at 3,400 feet elevation in the mountains of North Carolina.  To receive the winter sun, they oriented one of the high profile entryways to the south and installed two four foot wide glass sliding doors with an 18” by 6’ long piece of glass above the doors. During the winter enough sun comes through the glass to heat the first floor of the 34’ dome.  During the summer, blinds are closed to keep the sunlight out.

As far as solar panels:  Anchors or bolts can be installed in the concrete seams or the tops of the entryways. The dome is very strong and can easily bear the weight of solar panels. During the assembly of the dome shell, bolts can be buried in the concrete to later anchor the panels. Tops of entryways, passageways are ideal, although solar panels can be placed on the triangular panels as well. Grooves are cut in the EPS insulation to lay the pipes in and the water pipe(s) are inserted through the entryway EPS before the entryway is concreted.

Solar Hot Water panels can be designed to set on top of the entryways or link. Anchors are buried into the entryway concrete on site. Grooves are cut in the EPS insulation to lay the pipes in and the water pipe(s) are inserted through the entryway EPS before the entryway is concreted.  I have a solar hot water panel mounted on my dome link.  It sits on the link and lies against the side of the dome.  To hide the ends of the solar panel, we filled in the ends with foam and stuccoed over the foam so it matches the dome.

Each dome owner decides what utility hook ups they want for their home……solar or electric or natural gas or propane, etc.  All of these are personal preferences.  If you can install the service in a conventional house then you can install it in the dome.  For example my personal 34′ in diameter dome home has a solar hot water panel setting on the top of one standard entryway with the top edge propped onto the dome.  Water pipes for the solar panel, come through the seams or a hole is drilled in the thin concrete of the panel to run the pipes through.    The rest of the house is powered with electricity. When we design your building plans, Michael, the plans supervisor will let you know which items need to be shown on the plans.

The following five elements constitute a complete passive solar home design. Each performs a separate function, but all five must work together for the design to be successful.  Any of these elements can be incorporated into American Ingenuity’s geodesic dome.

The following information came from the U.S. Department of Energy’s web site:

Aperture (Collector)

The large glass (window) area through which sunlight enters the building. Typically, the aperture(s) should face within 30 degrees of true south and should not be shaded by other buildings or trees from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day during the heating season.

Absorber

The hard, darkened surface of the storage element. This surface—which could be that of a masonry wall, floor, or partition (phase change material), or that of a water container—sits in the direct path of sunlight. Sunlight hits the surface and is absorbed as heat.

Thermal mass

The materials that retain or store the heat produced by sunlight. The difference between the absorber and thermal mass, although they often form the same wall or floor, is that the absorber is an exposed surface whereas thermal mass is the material below or behind that surface.

Distribution

The method by which solar heat circulates from the collection and storage points to different areas of the house. A strictly passive design will use the three natural heat transfer modes—conduction, convection, and radiation—exclusively. In some applications, however, fans, ducts, and blowers may help with the distribution of heat through the house.

Control

Roof Overhangs can be used to shade the aperture area during summer months. Other elements that control under- and/or overheating include electronic sensing devices, such as a differential thermostat that signals a fan to turn on; operable vents and dampers that allow or restrict heat flow; low-emissivity blinds and awnings.

A Consumer’s Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

from the U.S. Department of Energy’s web site:

How a Passive Solar Home Design Works

To understand how a passive solar home design works, you need to understand how heat moves and how it can be stored.

As a fundamental law, heat moves from warmer materials to cooler ones until there is no longer a temperature difference between the two. To distribute heat throughout the living space, a passive solar home design makes use of this law through the following heat-movement and heat-storage mechanisms:

Conduction

Conduction is the way heat moves through materials, traveling from molecule to molecule. Heat causes molecules close to the heat source to vibrate vigorously, and these vibrations spread to neighboring molecules, thus transferring heat energy. For example, a spoon placed into a hot cup of coffee conducts heat through its handle and into the hand that grasps it.

Convection

Convection is the way heat circulates through liquids and gases. Lighter, warmer fluid rises, and cooler, denser fluid sinks. For instance, warm air rises because it is lighter than cold air, which sinks. This is why warmer air accumulates on the second floor of a house, while the basement stays cool. Some passive solar homes use air convection to carry solar heat from a south wall into the building’s interior.

Radiation

Radiant heat moves through the air from warmer objects to cooler ones. There are two types of radiation important to passive solar design: solar radiation and infrared radiation. When radiation strikes an object, it is absorbed, reflected, or transmitted, depending on certain properties of that object.

Opaque objects absorb 40%–95% of incoming solar radiation from the sun, depending on their color—darker colors typically absorb a greater percentage than lighter colors. This is why solar-absorber surfaces tend to be dark colored. Bright-white materials or objects reflect 80%–98% of incoming solar energy.

Inside a home, infrared radiation occurs when warmed surfaces radiate heat towards cooler surfaces. For example, your body can radiate infrared heat to a cold surface, possibly causing you discomfort. These surfaces can include walls, windows, or ceilings in the home.

Clear glass transmits 80%–90% of solar radiation, absorbing or reflecting only 10%–20%. After solar radiation is transmitted through the glass and absorbed by the home, it is radiated again from the interior surfaces as infrared radiation. Although glass allows solar radiation to pass through, it absorbs the infrared radiation. The glass then radiates part of that heat back to the home’s interior. In this way, glass traps solar heat entering the home.

Thermal capacitance

Thermal capacitance refers to the ability of materials to store heat. Thermal mass refers to the materials that store heat. Thermal mass stores heat by changing its temperature, which can be done by storing heat from a warm room or by converting direct solar radiation into heat. The more thermal mass, the more heat can be stored for each degree rise in temperature. Masonry materials, like concrete, stones, brick, and tile, are commonly used as thermal mass in passive solar homes. Water also has been successfully used.

Reading List

    • Crosbie, M.J., ed. (1997). The Passive Solar Design and Construction Handbook. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Passive Solar Design  (December 2000). DOE/GO102000-0790. Work Performed by the NAHB Research Center, Southface Energy Institute, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Kachadorian, J. (1997). The Passive Solar House. White River Jct., VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Co.
  • Van Dresser, P. (1996). Passive Solar House Basics. Santa Fe, NM: Ancient City Press.

 

One of American Ingenuity’s Pennsylvania Dome Owners Roger & Jeanne Charles installed radiant floor heating with Geothermal Water Furnace Synergy 3D heating and cooling system in their basement and dome first floor.   To view pictures of their dome & learn more about the system,  please click on Charles Dome

This a quote from them and below are two pictures.

“We live in the mountains of PA. The winters up here can be brutal. Our Ai Dome is a 40ft with Link on a 9” livable basement. {Den, Office/Computer room, Kitchenette} The entire interior, to include the mechanical room, is heated and cooled by a GeoThermal, Water furnace, Radiant floor system.

Our zone controllers are set on 74 degrees winter and summer. Our sole power source, at present, is the grid. Our costs per month range from $99 to a high of $120. We were amazed that our cost now are less than when we lived in a 14 by 73 ft mobile home while building the Dome.

Our decision to build an American Ingenuity Dome home was the best decision we have ever made.”

Charles exterior

 

 

Charles living pic1

Colorado Geothermal Company.   American Ingenuity has learned of a respected Geothermal Company in Colorado named Major Heating.  Their main office is in Wheat Ridge 303-424-1622  and outlet in Steamboat 970-870-0983.

U.S. Dept of Energy,  Renewable Energy

The following came directly from the U.S. Dept of Energy web site:

Types of Radiant Floor Heating

    • There are three types of radiant floor heat: radiant air floors (air is the heat carrying medium); electric radiant floors; and hot water (hydronic) radiant floors. All three types can be further subdivided by the type of installation: those that make use of the large thermal mass of a concrete slab floor or lightweight concrete over a wooden subfloor (these are called “wet” installations); and those in which the installer “sandwiches” the radiant floor tubing between two layers of plywood or attaches the tubing under the finished or subfloor (dry installations).
  • Because air cannot hold large amounts of heat, radiant air floors are not cost-effective in residential applications, and are seldom installed.
  • Electric radiant floors are usually only cost-effective if your electric utility company offers time-of-use rates. Time-of-use rates allow you to “charge” the concrete floor with heat during off-peak hours (approximately 9 p.m. to 6 am). If the floor’s thermal mass is large enough, the heat stored in it will keep the house comfortable for eight to ten hours, without any further electrical input. This saves a considerable number of energy dollars compared to heating at peak electric rates during the day.
  • Hydronic (liquid) systems are the most popular and cost-effective systems for heating-dominated climates. They have been in extensive use in Europe for decades. Hydronic radiant floor systems pump heated water from a boiler through tubing laid in a pattern underneath the floor. The temperature in each room is controlled by regulating the flow of hot water through each tubing loop. This is done by a system of zoning valves or pumps and thermostats.

Concrete Network.com

http://www.concretenetwork.com/concrete/radiantfloorheating/

Provides an extensive listing of questions and answers relating to radiant floor heating.

Wirsbo

www.wirsbo.com

The following came directly from their web site:

    • At Uponor Wirsbo we are committed to providing exceptional Life, Safety and Comfort Systems. Our quality Radiant Systems can deliver comfort and efficiency beyond compare.  Aquasafe is a clean, quiet and healthy plumbing system for your home and Aquasafe combines our plumbing system with fire sprinklers giving you fire protection and peace of mind.
  • Free Advice on Radiant Floor Heating Free advice on buying and repairing radiant floor heating from leading authority and Home and Garden TV personality, Don Vandervort.

 

 

 

Dome on basement with ramp.

Dome on basement with wheel chair ramp. Three standard entryways one screened in.

Yes, most of our building plans can be made handicap accessible with either 32″ or 36″ doorways, correct wheelchair turn radius, ramps, rail chairs or interior lifts, etc. For Ai to quote a price to design the floor plan handicap accessible, give us the size dome and floor plan name you are considering. To email info, please click on Contact Us. Or fax your plan needs to us at 321-639-8778.  If you fax or email your plan changes, please call our office at 321-639-8777 and assure that we received all your email or faxed pages and that they were legible.

To clarify, if you fax or email American Ingenuity and you have not heard from us in two to three business days, please call our office at 321-639-8777 and confirm that we received your fax or email.

We handle all the floor plan designs via telephone, fax and or email.

Because of the shape of the dome, a second floor is a natural. It is most cost effective to utilize the second floor for a guest room or storage.  However, any of our domes can be built without a second floor.

 

In a conventional house there is an attic which rarely gets used. To us it is just a space that holds hot or cold air which is waiting to leak into your house. In a dome the second floor space is useable versus being an unused attic space.

 

On the second floor of our domes even though you cannot stand all the way to the perimeter, there is ample useable square footage. To visualize the second floor useable space use the to-scale ruler in the back of the Stock Floor Plan Booklet (which is in the Planning Kit). Each mark is one foot. Cut out this ruler and use it to measure the second floor square footage that is six foot or higher from the dome shell. Note on the floor plans we have drawn in five foot, six foot and seven foot height lines around the second floor perimeter.


For example if you want to see how many feet on the second floor has six foot or higher ceilings, put the end of the ruler at the six foot height line on one side of the second floor and measure across the second floor to the other six foot height line and you will see how many useable feet is between the two six foot height lines.

 

If you choose a floor plan which maxs out the second floor and only leaves one fifth of the first floor open to the dome shell, you can have the following second floor useable square footages: 27′-225 sq.ft.; 30′ – 424 sq.ft.; 34′ – 614 sq.ft.; 40′ – 886 sq.ft.; 45′ – 1,127 sq.ft.; 48′ – 1,278 sq.ft. Generally most of our clients want only one half of the second floor installed. Therefore there are high vaulted ceilings over one half of the first floor, generally over the living room and dining room.

 

If you do not want to access the second floor by walking up the stairs, you could install a rail chair or a lift instead of an elevator. Your contractor would install an electric winch powered lift versus an elevator.


This way you can easily access the second floor rooms.

 

For information on rail chairs click on http://www.4-stair-lifts.com/?source=adwords

 

For information on lifts click on www.jazzy-electric-wheelchairs.com/vertical-platform-lifts.htm

 

The following information came from Jazzy Electric’s web site.

This vertical platform Lift is an interior or exterior lift that can be used for lifting persons with physical disabilities from the ground up-to the main floor of their home or outside lifting up to the porch or the steps. Lift can also be used in commercial applications such as restaurants or office buildings. The lift is designed to meet U.S. and Canadian safety standards and can easily be adapted to various situations.

 

Versatility is a key to this lift. Can be used to stop at 3 different heights. Can lift from 14″ up to 144″. Designed for easy installation. Smaller units 52″ and down can be installed in 30 minutes.

 

The lift described sells for around $3,500.

 

This Lift is smooth and provides quiet performance. Dependable and Versatile Unit is Perfect for Residential or Commercial Application. All lifts can be configured to meet the AME A 17.1 or A 18.1 depending on the options selected. This lift also meets ADA requirements in most states.

 

Listed below are some of the features of this versatile lift:

    • Weight capacity of 550 pounds
  • Unit uses standard 110v/15a wall outlet.
  • Straight though platform is 54″ long x 34″ wide
  • Keyed call send stations available
  • Keyed Emergency stop to control use of lift
  • Soft Touch Control Pads designed for easy operation.
  • Direct Drive Worm-Gear
  • Maintenance Free Operation
  • Standard Metal Platform has a diamond grill that allows for full visibility under the platform

 

If you do not want to access the dome second floor by walking up the stairs, install a rail chair or a lift or an elevator.  This way the second floor is easily accessed and your construction budget is less because one dome can be built to house your rooms on two floors instead of building a larger dome with only the first floor constructed.  However if you prefer to have only the first floor in the dome, Ai can design your building plans with one floor only.

American Ingenuity has incorporated elevators and lifts into several domes.  Each device has its own specs.  Of course the main concern is the height the unit requires above the second floor. Therefore  the unit is usually placed near the center of the dome.

Bottom line, please select a unit and provide American Ingenuity with its specs and we will analyze its incorporation into your floor plan design.  Stairs within the Ai dome normally have two steps & a landing before the straight stairs begin. To install a rail chair on this type stair then a 90 degree rail chair is installed to make the turn.   If you want to install a straight chair lift then Ai will analyze the plan you selected to see if the stairs can be customized so that a 3’x3′ area is at the bottom of the stairs with no landing – this way there is no right turn for the lift to take.

Per the web site for Nationwide Lifts  www.home-elevator.net  Stair Lifts are the most economical means for assistance between floors. Curved and straight tracks are available. 

The following information came from Nationwide Lifts web site:

If handling stairs in your home is difficult or unsafe, let us save you the trouble of struggling up and down. With smooth rack and pinion drive and battery power, our Stair Lifts will effortlessly take you up and down the stairway, even during a power outage. The neutral colors and modern appearance can coordinate with practically any décor, and its slim rail and carriage save room on the steps to allow others access past the lift.

Nationwide Lifts offers a curved Stair Lift that is custom fit to any staircase. Spiral staircases, fold-back stairs, 90/180 degree turns, and flat landings are no problem for our Stair Lifts. The innovative design of the makes it the ideal companion for anyone with mobility needs.

Standard Features:

  • 300 lb (136 kg) capacity
  • Rack and pinion drive
  • Electronic controller with soft start
  • Dynamic motor braking and self locking gearbox
  • 2” (51mm) rigid double square tube construction
  • Inside and outside radius curve capabilities
  • Spiral and flat landing configurations
  • Support posts anchored to stair treads (no wall required)
  • Almond beige seat and rail
  • Continuous pressure buttons
  • Wireless call-send controls at both landings
  • Foldable footrest, seat and padded armrests
  • Seat that swivels and locks in 60°and 90° positions both directions
  • 115 VAC – plugged in at top or bottom landing

Straight Stair Lift.  Our Stair Lifts for straight stairs are easily installed in 2 hours. There are so easy in-fact that we sell these as a do-it-yourself kit. This is a very economical way to acquire assistance between floors.

Standard Features:

  • 300 lb (136 kg) capacity
  • Rack and pinion drive
  • Electronic controller with soft start
  • Support posts anchored to stair treads (no wall required)
  • Almond beige seat and rail
  • Continuous pressure buttons
  • Wireless call-send controls at both landings
  • Foldable footrest, seat and padded armrests
  • Seat that swivels and locks in 45°and 90° positions both directions
  • 115 VAC – plugged in at top or bottom landing

For a quotation, call 1-888-323-8755

For information on stair lifts/rail chairs you can also click on http://www.4-stair-lifts.com/?source=adwords
For information on lifts click on http://www.jazzy-electric-wheelchairs.com/vertical-platform-lifts.htm

The following information came from Jazzy Electric’s web site:

This vertical platform Lift is an interior or exterior lift that can be used for lifting persons with physical disabilities from the ground up-to the main floor of their home or outside lifting up to the porch or the steps. Lift can also be used in commercial applications such as restaurants or office buildings. The lift is designed to meet U.S. and Canadian safety standards and can easily be adapted to various situations.

Versatility is a key to this lift. Can be used to stop at 3 different heights. Can lift from 14″ up to 144″. Designed for easy installation. Smaller units 52″ and down can be installed in 30 minutes.

The lift described sells for around $3,500.

This Lift is smooth and provides quiet performance. Dependable and Versatile Unit is Perfect for Residential or Commercial Application. All lifts can be configured to meet the AME A 17.1 or A 18.1 depending on the options selected. This lift also meets ADA requirements in most states.

Listed below are some of the features of this outstanding versatile lift:

  • Weight capacity of 550 pounds
  • Unit uses standard 110v/15a wall outlet.
  • Straight though platform is 54″ long x 34″ wide
  • Keyed call send stations available
  • Keyed Emergency stop to control use of lift
  • Soft Touch Control Pads designed for easy operation.
  • Direct Drive Worm-Gear
  • Maintenance Free Operation
  • Standard Metal Platform has a diamond grill that allows for full visibility under the platform

For information on elevators click on http://home-elevator.net

The following information came from home elevator’s web site:
We sell and install residential home elevators in every state nationwide We are here to help. Whether you are looking for a stair lift, home elevator, wheelchair lift, porch lift, or dumbwaiter… our knowledgeable staff will give you sound advice.

With over 35 years in the home elevator business, Nationwide Lifts has the experience and knowledge to assist you with your needs. We truly enjoy what we do, helping people with special needs at a fair price is gratifying work. With residential home elevators up to six levels, we can handle the most demanding custom home needs. Call us today and experience the highest level customer service in the industry, 24 hours, 7 days a week.  888-323-8755

Our elevators maximizes a person’s independence by enabling him/her to move from one floor to another within a home or a public building. It is very useful to wheelchair users as it is unnecessary to transfer out of the chair.

Elevators also add value and prestige to homes. Elevators can be designed into new home construction or added to existing homes. They require minimal space and can be installed in nearly any home configuration. Our elevators are designed to match home furnishings.

 

Windows can add a lot to a home’s character. But if they’re old and worn, they can also add to your heating and cooling bills.

From Better Homes and Gardens.

In older houses, faulty windows can account for a third of the total heat loss in winter and as much as 75 percent of interior heat gain in summer. Look for the following telltale signs that a window has lost its effectiveness:

  • Stand inside your house on a windy day with a lit candle near the window’s operative edge. If the flame flickers or goes out, your weather stripping might be damaged.
  • During the winter, if a window develops ice buildup or a frosty glaze on the interior of the pane, the ventilation in your home may not be adequate. Another possibility is that your window may not be providing enough insulation value, a situation that can make your heating bills soar.
  • If you need to prop open your window with a book or a stick, the window may have lost its functionality.
  • Sit near your window. If you feel cold air coming in during the winter or warm air during the summer, your windows have little insulation value. This means you’re paying more to heat and cool your house to compensate for the exterior air entering your home.
  • Do your windows get fogged with condensation? If so, you may have a seal failure and need to replace the glazing or the entire window.

In some cases, replacing broken panes and tending to loose or missing weather stripping may buy some time. If your windows are old and ill-fitting, however, you need more than stopgaps.

Replacement window options:

Wood is the choice of most homeowners. Wood is strong, insulates well, and has natural appeal and a warm look. It needs exterior maintenance, and interior surfaces can be painted, stained, or finished any number of ways.

Vinyl windows do not need to be painted or stainedóa plus on the exterior. They offer good insulation value and strength, making them a viable alternative to wood.

Aluminum windows have a stronger frame but poorer insulation than wood or vinyl. They’re fine in areas with a mild climate, and are also used for commercial applications.

Fiberglass combines the higher strength and stability of aluminum with the insulating properties of wood and vinyl. Fewer options are available at this time, as fiberglass is just beginning to show up in the window market.

Combination windows are available with wood on the interior and vinyl or aluminum on the exterior, combining the look of wood with a low-maintenance exterior material. This is known as “cladding” (as in vinyl-clad or aluminum-clad).

Features to consider:

Energy efficiency. Almost any good-quality window available today incorporates two pieces of glass with a sealed airspace between then as a buffer between indoors and out. Some windows are even triple-paned. You may have the option of argon gas instead of air between the glass to further the window’s insulating abilities. Most window manufacturers also offer such options as low-E glass, which reflects heat and screens out the sun’s rays.

Design. Windows are available in shapes ranging from quarter rounds to ovals. Consider an arrangement of smaller windows instead of one large one, or vice versa.

Ease of installation. The easiest type of replacement window is a frame-within-a-frame design that can be installed in an existing frame without disturbing walls or trim work. Some are sold in kit form, complete with hardware, for standard sizes. If your original windows have divided lights or panes, look for multipane replacements or snap-in grilles that match glass dividers on the old units as closely as possible. If your windowsills are rotting or damaged, however, you’ll need to replace the old frame as well.

Ease of maintenance. Weather-resistant materials will reduce your regular maintenance; vinyl or aluminum-clad exteriors need no painting. For ease of cleaning, choose windows that tilt in or open from the side. Many double-hung windows now come with tilting sashes so both interior and exterior glass surfaces can be cleaned from inside the house.

Function. Tempered glass is required by code for certain applications, such as glass doors and some window installations with low sill height. For more extreme conditions, such as coastal environments, consider laminated impact-resistant glass designed to withstand hurricane-force winds and the impact of airborne debris.

Hardware. Some manufacturers offer improved hardware for crank-out windows such as casements and awnings — specifically, collapsible or low-profile handles that don’t interfere with blinds or other window coverings. Others offer a variety of style options for latches and locks. To be safe, ask about these and any other convenience features before the units end up in your walls. Also, try the hardware in the showroom. Does the window lock, unlock, and open easily? This test gives you a feel for the window’s usability and its overall quality as well.

Cost guidelines:
Broadly, vinyl and wood are the least expensive, fiberglass costs more, and clad windows are even more. That said, a general price range for an average size (30-inch by 48-inch) window is $100 to $200, which will be higher in urban areas.

More featuresólike tilting versions and higher E-ratingsóincrease the cost, although sometimes as the price and quality increase, more options are included. Differences in the up-front purchase price of a window may eventually be offset by other factors. Energy efficiency and a no-maintenance exterior will offset the up-front cost difference over time. Second, installation and labor costs could actually be higher for an “economy-grade” all-wood window, if you factor in charges for painting, and how much sooner you may have to replace it than a window made from more durable material.

One way to keep your window costs from rising is to avoid special orders. Try to work with standard sizes from a manufacturer, and select from the standard styles and features that your local retailer stocks.

Update your older windows

Windows can add a lot to a home’s character. But if they’re old and worn, they can also add to your heating and cooling bills.

From Better Homes and Gardens.

In older houses, faulty windows can account for a third of the total heat loss in winter and as much as 75 percent of interior heat gain in summer. Look for the following telltale signs that a window has lost its effectiveness:

  • Stand inside your house on a windy day with a lit candle near the window’s operative edge. If the flame flickers or goes out, your weather stripping might be damaged.
  • During the winter, if a window develops ice buildup or a frosty glaze on the interior of the pane, the ventilation in your home may not be adequate. Another possibility is that your window may not be providing enough insulation value, a situation that can make your heating bills soar.
  • If you need to prop open your window with a book or a stick, the window may have lost its functionality.
  • Sit near your window. If you feel cold air coming in during the winter or warm air during the summer, your windows have little insulation value. This means you’re paying more to heat and cool your house to compensate for the exterior air entering your home.
  • Do your windows get fogged with condensation? If so, you may have a seal failure and need to replace the glazing or the entire window.

In some cases, replacing broken panes and tending to loose or missing weather stripping may buy some time. If your windows are old and ill-fitting, however, you need more than stopgaps.

Replacement window options:

Wood is the choice of most homeowners. Wood is strong, insulates well, and has natural appeal and a warm look. It needs exterior maintenance, and interior surfaces can be painted, stained, or finished any number of ways.

Vinyl windows do not need to be painted or stained?a plus on the exterior. They offer good insulation value and strength, making them a viable alternative to wood.

Aluminum windows have a stronger frame but poorer insulation than wood or vinyl. They’re fine in areas with a mild climate, and are also used for commercial applications.

Fiberglass combines the higher strength and stability of aluminum with the insulating properties of wood and vinyl. Fewer options are available at this time, as fiberglass is just beginning to show up in the window market.

Combination windows are available with wood on the interior and vinyl or aluminum on the exterior, combining the look of wood with a low-maintenance exterior material. This is known as “cladding” (as in vinyl-clad or aluminum-clad).

Features to consider:

Energy efficiency. Almost any good-quality window available today incorporates two pieces of glass with a sealed airspace between then as a buffer between indoors and out. Some windows are even triple-paned. You may have the option of argon gas instead of air between the glass to further the window’s insulating abilities. Most window manufacturers also offer such options as low-E glass, which reflects heat and screens out the sun’s rays.

Design. Windows are available in shapes ranging from quarter rounds to ovals. Consider an arrangement of smaller windows instead of one large one, or vice versa.

Ease of installation. The easiest type of replacement window is a frame-within-a-frame design that can be installed in an existing frame without disturbing walls or trim work. Some are sold in kit form, complete with hardware, for standard sizes. If your original windows have divided lights or panes, look for multipane replacements or snap-in grilles that match glass dividers on the old units as closely as possible. If your windowsills are rotting or damaged, however, you’ll need to replace the old frame as well.

Ease of maintenance. Weather-resistant materials will reduce your regular maintenance; vinyl or aluminum-clad exteriors need no painting. For ease of cleaning, choose windows that tilt in or open from the side. Many double-hung windows now come with tilting sashes so both interior and exterior glass surfaces can be cleaned from inside the house.

Function. Tempered glass is required by code for certain applications, such as glass doors and some window installations with low sill height. For more extreme conditions, such as coastal environments, consider laminated impact-resistant glass designed to withstand hurricane-force winds and the impact of airborne debris.

Hardware. Some manufacturers offer improved hardware for crank-out windows such as casements and awnings — specifically, collapsible or low-profile handles that don’t interfere with blinds or other window coverings. Others offer a variety of style options for latches and locks. To be safe, ask about these and any other convenience features before the units end up in your walls. Also, try the hardware in the showroom. Does the window lock, unlock, and open easily? This test gives you a feel for the window’s usability and its overall quality as well.

Cost guidelines:
Broadly, vinyl and wood are the least expensive, fiberglass costs more, and clad windows are even more. That said, a general price range for an average size (30-inch by 48-inch) window is $100 to $200, which will be higher in urban areas.

More features?like tilting versions and higher E-ratings?increase the cost, although sometimes as the price and quality increase, more options are included. Differences in the up-front purchase price of a window may eventually be offset by other factors. Energy efficiency and a no-maintenance exterior will offset the up-front cost difference over time. Second, installation and labor costs could actually be higher for an “economy-grade” all-wood window, if you factor in charges for painting, and how much sooner you may have to replace it than a window made from more durable material.

One way to keep your window costs from rising is to avoid special orders. Try to work with standard sizes from a manufacturer, and select from the standard styles and features that your local retailer stocks.

For Mortgage Financing contact:

Private Lender who states they will loan on American Ingenuity (Ai) Concrete domes:

James Monroe Capital Lending Services – James Monroe Capital Corp
Attn: James Keyes, Loan Director
Main Office:  4470 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles , CA 90027
Branch: 707 Skokie Blvd Suite 600 Northbrook,  IL 60062
Emailguaranteedlendingservices@gmail.com

Office Hours in California: 9 am to 6 pm Pacific Time  (there is no answer machine please call during their business hours)
Phone Number773-887-2117

Web site: 

To fill out loan application, click on   http://www.guaranteedloanmoney.com/  and then click on Loan Application and complete the form listing that you are inquiring about loan to build an Aidome. The cash down payment varies from no cash down payment required to 10% to 20% down depending on your circumstances.

Info:

  • 6% interest rate
  • 80% to 100% LTV – (Loan to value)
  • No credit score required.
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Per Jennie Lyn Steeg with Regions Mortgage is able to loan on the Aidomes through its Smart Solutions portfolio.  Jennie wrote Ai:  “We are able to provide end-loan financing to your client through our niche portfolio – Smart Solutions.   I am happy to assist any of your clients.”

Regions Mortgage has offices in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.  Below is Ms. Steeg’s info.

Jennie Lyn Steeg
Regions Mortgage – NMLS #0676223
Mortgage Loan Originator.  10245 Centurion Parkway N. Suite #300
Jacksonville Fl 32258
Phone:  904-564-3303; Cell  904-228-4004  Email: jennielyn.steeg@regions.com

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Construction Loan is given to the Builder.  Builder owns the lot, builds the dome and then sells the finished dome and the lot to the home owner.

Michael Maxwell, Head of Originations
Builder Finance
55 E 58th St. Sixth Floor
NY, NY 10022
Phone:  212-466-3753.  Mobile 646-620-4665.    Email: mmaxwell@builderfinance.com

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Oscar Sanchez 
Academy MGT Corporation
Phone: 305-603-9181.   305-325-5400    Email: Oscar.Sanchez@academymortgage.com

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David Buffington, Mortgage Loan Officer  
BB&T
605 North Orlando Avenue
Orlando Fl 32789
Office 407-691-2150. Mobile 407-256-0015    Email: dbuffington@babandt.com

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Jay Zerquera VP 
FBC Mortgage
189 South Orange Ave, Suite 970, Orlando Fl 32801
Apply online:  www.teamjandj.com
Cell: 407-509-1846.  Phone: 407-377-0286  Email: JZerquera@fbchomeloans.com

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Your local Wells Fargo Bank and explain that their Tukwila, WA  branch and their branch in  their Sioux Falls, SD have issued financing for Aidome building kits and see if they are interested in reviewing your info for a loan.

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A Construction Loan was issued by AG South Farm Credit, ACA in Laurens, SC  for Ai dome home to be built in the area because the dome buyer had rural ag land. Their number is 864-984-3379.

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Construction/Renovation/Purchase/Refinance Options are available through:
Sovann Kang, Branch Manager  – nmls #275454
Umpqua Bank Home Lending
Mobile: 253-376-0991
Web site: umpquabank.com/skang
Email: sovannkang@umpquabank.com

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In Lake Placid Florida – Highlands County – Wauchula State Bank at (863) 773-4151 approved a construction loan and permanent financing for an Aidome customer.

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Ai has learned about LightStream’s Anything Loan, a division of SunTrust Bank.  Not sure if they can assist you or not.   LightStream’s Anything Loan is a virtually paperless loan that will let you finance or refinance almost anything.  These loans are very customer friendly with these included features:

Fixed-interest rates range from 1.99% to 9.99%* APR with AutoPay
Loan amounts range from $5,000 to $100,000
No fees, down payment requirements or prepayment penalties
Apply online and receive a response within minutes during business hours
Unsecured, with no liens or collateral requirements for AnythingLoan. (Applicants that do not qualify for the AnythingLoan may qualify for our Secured Loan products).

Financing Alternatives: 

  1. take out an equity line on property you own
  2. obtain a personal loan from family or friends (offering them a higher interest rate than banks, etc. are offering on money markets certificates, etc.)

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The following information was written by Michael Darling.

Dear dome home owners, buyers and builders:

Because I have seen designs for dome homes that are superior to other construction and design styles, and I’m always willing to go above and beyond when there is a reason. I have been researching the mortgage lending sources for dome homes. There is good news; there are more lenders who will lend on domes than on other “unique properties. There is bad news – it is still more difficult to get a loan for a dome home than for traditional construction. And there is good reason for hope for improvement in the near future.

I contacted every lender I could find, though I do not claim to have spoken with every lender in the USA. And while I would not claim to have done an exhaustive study, I am confident that I have as complete a picture as anyone of which lenders will finance domes and under what circumstances. I will continue to research the subject and will send updates from time to time. If you provide me with your specific mortgage objective, I will notify you when I find a loan that matches.

Three Scenarios for Financing a Dome Home

Leaving aside for the moment the differences between construction, purchase and refinance there are three scenarios to focus on when it comes to financing a dome home. All three are based on an appraisal from a licensed appraiser (it can be really helpful to have a more experienced appraiser – more on appraisals below).

  • There are three or more comparable properties (comps) of similar design and construction style (dome) with recent sales history in the neighborhood.
  • There is at least one comparable property of similar design and construction style with recent sales history in the area and others in the area but without recent sales history.
  • There are zero comparable properties of similar design and construction style in the neighborhood.

1. Three or More Comps

I have never failed to find a loan for a dome with three or more comps. Many residential mortgage lenders will be able to do this loan much the same as a traditional loan on a traditional home design. There are lenders who flat out reject domes no matter what, but for the lenders who will consider domes, a property with multiple comparisons should be “lendable”. Even with multiple comps, some lenders who will accept domes may only offer a loan with constraints on the size of loan, the loan to value ratio or other underwriting restrictions. (Full doc only, owner occupied only, one unit only, etc.)

2. At Least One Comp and Other Domes in the Market Area

There are a few residential mortgage lenders who will evaluate this situation and may make a loan. Here is where it can really help to have an experienced appraiser who knows the market because the ability of the appraiser to establish a market value and address the uniqueness of the subject property will be vital to an underwriter. Most lenders who will accept domes in this situation will only offer a loan with constraints on the size of loan, the loan to value ratio or other underwriting requirements. (Full doc only, owner occupied only, one unit only, etc.)

3. No Comps and No Domes in the Market Area

I have found traditional residential mortgage lenders in a few states who will evaluate a dome home with no dome comps on a case by case basis. A lender that would accept a dome in this case will almost certainly include constraints on the size of loan, the loan to value ratio and other underwriting requirements. (Full doc only, owner occupied only, one unit only, etc.)

There are local commercial banks who may offer a residential mortgage loan on a dome home with no dome comps. And there are “hard money” lenders who will evaluate any investment opportunity and who may make loans on dome homes- but compared to a traditional mortgage the fees and rates will likely be higher, the terms shorter and the conditions less advantageous.

If the property has an established or demonstrable commercial use it is possible to do a commercial loan with terms and conditions similar to a residential mortgage. The commercial lenders I work with have no restrictions on domes specifically nor will they be concerned about comps with similar construction styles. They will be looking for an appraisal that demonstrates the commercial value of the property. Bed & Breakfast Inn, multi-family rental, retail business, and other exclusive or mixed commercial uses would all be possibilities. (A home office or a business run from home would not generally be enough to demonstrate commercial value.)

There is a fourth scenario that bears mentioning- the dome home that is appraised as a traditional frame construction home using traditional frame construction comps. Though I am certain that loans have been done this way, there are numerous problems with this scenario. First and worst is that intentionally misrepresenting information in a mortgage application is illegal. Also, many applications have gotten far along in the underwriting process before an underwriter reviews the appraisal and sees a photo of the subject property and rejects the file because that lender does not accept domes. This creates wasted expense and frustration for all parties. It is a way to attempt to get a mortgage on a dome home- it’s just not a good one.

Appraisal

If your lender would like to utilize an appraiser who has appraised an Ai dome for a loan and who has visited an American Ingenuity 15 year old finished dome, please call Ai for appraiser’s info. Lenders should be thought of as investors who invest in a loan. And each has their own investment criteria. Most investors want to know they can sell their investment at some point in time- and in the mortgage lending world this means that most lenders underwrite with similar standards and criteria so that a loan can be sold. While the general challenge for financing domes is the shortage of lenders or loan programs, I have access to several loan programs that will accept unique properties if the appraisal includes sufficient market analysis to establish a market valuation for the property. So the specific challenge is typically the appraisal.

In addition to the usual appraisal analysis, the dome appraisal must:

  • Establish a market value independent of construction type;
  • Demonstrate that the home’s uniqueness is accepted in the market, and;
  • Address the uniqueness of the dome in the context of local area housing types and marketability.

This means that the underwriter must be able to predict, using the appraisal, what the marketability of a house would be in the event the lender ends up having to possess and sell the property. The difficulty with most dome houses is the lack of comparable sales – “comps” – in order to demonstrate the market value. Comps need to be similar enough to the subject property that using them to establish a market valuation is reasonable. Even very similar comps will be adjusted for minor differences, but the hard part with domes is that they are typically very different in appearance and therefore the predicted marketability can vary considerably from traditional construction. In other words, it’s hard to say “a traditional frame house with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms sold for $X in x days and so a 4/2 dome would sell for $Y in y days.”

The best comparable properties will be other domes. If there are no domes for comps, it may be possible to use other unique styles to establish the marketability of unique homes. And if there are other domes and unique houses in the immediate area even if they have not recently sold, adding information about them in the appraisal (quantity, distance from subject, specific architectural style that makes it unique, as well as basic information about the house) will help support that unique styles are acceptable in the area.

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To view other alternatives than using a lender;

like family financing, equity loans on property, etc. read our financing booklet.

To view it on line, please click on Financing Booklet.

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To view information about the Ai Dome and Handicap Accessibility, please click on ADA.