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In American Ingenuity’s opinion, the first and foremost decision to make to save our planet’s natural resources is to build a super-energy efficient home. If you build a home that has super-thick, uninterrupted insulation like the American Ingenuity dome then it may not be cost effective to install energy saving devices like photovoltaics, wind turbines, etc.   The one item that would compliment the Ai dome is a solar hot water panel.

Being earth-friendly doesn’t require going solar or growing all your own food. There are plenty of easy ways to make a big difference.

By Ann Archer

When it comes to the environment, being a good global citizen starts at your doorstep. From recycling to using alternative cleaning materials, minor changes at home can add up to real benefits for the planet, not to mention your own health and happiness.

It may be a cliché, but the best way to be Earth-friendly is to cut down on what you consume and recycle whenever you can. The U.S. generates about 208 million tons of municipal solid waste a year, according to the National Institutes of Health. That’s more than 4 pounds per person per day. Every little bit helps; recycling just one glass bottle saves enough electricity to light a 100-watt bulb for four hours.

Here are 10 more easy ways to green your home:

1. Green up your appliances. Getting rid of that old refrigerator in the garage could save you as much as $150 a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Appliance use comprises about 18% of a typical home’s total energy bill, with the fridge being one of the biggest energy hogs. If any of your appliances is more than 10 years old, the EPA suggests replacing them with energy-efficient models that bear their “Energy Star” logo. Energy Star-qualified appliances use 10%-50% less energy and water than standard models. According to the Energy Star site, if just one in 10 homes used energy-efficient appliances, it would be equivalent to planting 1.7 million new acres of trees.

Also, consider what you put in that energy-efficient refrigerator. Pesticides, transportation and packaging are all things to consider when stocking up. Buying local cuts down on the fossil fuels burned to get the food to you while organic foods are produced without potentially harmful pesticides and fertilizers.

2. Watch the temp. Almost half a home’s energy consumption is due to heating and cooling. (Just to clarify, an American Ingenuity Dome will cut your heating and cooling costs 50% or more over a conventional structure.)

  • Turn down the thermostat in cold weather and keep it higher in warm weather. Each degree below 68°F (20°C) during colder weather saves 3%-5% more heating energy, while keeping your thermostat at 78°F in warmer weather will save you energy and money. A programmable thermostat will make these temperature changes for you automatically.
  • Clean your furnace’s air filter monthly during heavy usage.
  • Consider a new furnace. Today’s furnaces are about 25% more efficient than they were in the 1980s. (And don’t forget to check out furnaces carrying the Energy Star label.)
  • To keep your cool in warmer weather, shade your east and west windows and delay heat-generating activities such as dishwashing until evening.

Use ceiling fans instead of air conditioners. Light clothing in summer is typically comfortable between 72°F and 78°F. But moving air feels cooler, so a slow-moving fan easily can extend the comfort range to 82°F, according to “Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings” by Alex Wilson.

3. Save water. The Web site “Water – Use it Wisely” created by a group of Arizona cities, lists 100 simple ways to save water. We’ll share just a few here:

  • Put an aerator on all household faucets and cut your annual water consumption by 50%.
  • Install a low-flow toilet. They use only 1.6 gallons per flush, compared to 3.5 gallons per flush for pre-1994 models. If you have an older model, adjust your float valve to admit less water into the toilet’s tank.

Of course, you don’t need products to save water — behavioral changes also add up quickly: using a broom instead of the garden hose to clean your driveway can save 80 gallons of water and turning the water off when you brush your teeth will save 4.5 gallons each time.

4. Clean green. Stop buying household cleaners that are potentially toxic to both you and the environment. In his book, “The Safe Shopper’s Bible,” David Steinman suggests reading labels for specific, eco-friendly ingredients that also perform effectively. These include grain alcohol instead of toxic butyl cellosolve, commonly found in carpet cleaner and some window cleaners as a solvent; coconut or other plant oils rather than petroleum in detergents; and plant-oil disinfectants such as eucalyptus, rosemary or sage rather than triclosan, an antifungal agent found in soaps and deodorant. Or, skip buying altogether and make your own cleaning products. Use simple ingredients such as plain soap, water, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), vinegar, washing soda (sodium carbonate), lemon juice and borax and save money at the same time. Check out these books by Annie Bertold-Bond for cleaning recipes: “Clean and Green” and “Better Basics for the Home.”

5. Let there be energy-efficient light. Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) use 66% less energy than a standard incandescent bulb and last up to 10 times longer. Replacing a 100-watt incandescent bulb with a 32-watt CFL can save $30 in energy costs over the life of the bulb.

6. Save a tree, use less paper. You can buy “tree-free” 100% post-consumer recycled paper for everything from greeting cards to toilet paper. Paper with a high post-consumer waste content uses less virgin pulp and keeps more waste paper out of landfills.

Other tips:

  • Remove yourself from junk mail lists. Each person will receive almost 560 pieces of junk mail this year, which adds up nationally to 4.5 million tons. About 44% of all junk mail is thrown in the trash, unopened and unread, and ends up in a landfill. To stem the flow into your own home, contact the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service at P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512.  Opt out of credit card or insurance offers at OptOutPrescreen.com or by calling 888-567-8688, a single automated phone line maintained by the major credit bureaus.
  • Buy unbleached paper. Many paper products, including some made from recycled fibers, are bleached with chlorine. The bleaching process can create harmful byproducts, including dioxins, which accumulate in our air, water and soil over time.

Finally, here’s a third answer to the old “paper or plastic” question: No thanks. Carry your own cloth bags to the store to avoid using store bags.

7. Want hardwood floors? Opt for bamboo. Bamboo is considered an environmentally friendly flooring material due to its high yield and the relatively fast rate at which it replenishes itself. It takes just four to six years for bamboo to mature, compared to 50-100 years for typical hardwoods. Just be sure to look for sources that use formaldehyde-free glues.

8. Reduce plastics, reduce global warming. Each year, Americans throw away some 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags — from grocery and trash bags to those ultra-convenient sandwich bags. Unfortunately, plastics are made from petroleum — the processing and burning of which is considered one of the main contributors to global warming, according to the EPA. In addition, sending plastics to the landfill also increases greenhouse gases. Reduce, re-use and recycle your plastics for one of the best ways to combat global warming.

9. Use healthier paint. Conventional paints contain solvents, toxic metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause smog, ozone pollution and indoor air quality problems with negative health effects, according to the EPA. These unhealthy ingredients are released into the air while you’re painting, while the paint dries and even after the paints are completely dry. Opt instead for zero- or low-VOC paint, made by most major paint manufacturers today.

10. Garden green. First, use compost instead of synthetic fertilizers. Compost provides a full complement of soil organisms and the balance of nutrients needed to maintain the soil’s well-being without the chemicals of synthetic fertilizers. And healthy soil minimizes weeds and is key to producing healthy plants, which in turn can prevent many pest problems from developing to begin with.

  • Use native plants as much as possible. Native plants have adapted over time to the local environment and support native animals. They also use less water and require less of your attention.
  • Focus on perennials. Gardening with plants that live for more than one year means you don’t have to pay for new plants every year; it also saves the resources used commercially to grow annuals.
  • Stop using chemical pesticides. American households use 80 million pounds of pesticides each year, according to the EPA. These toxic chemicals escape gardens and concentrate in the environment, posing threats to animals and people, especially children. A better alternative is to try a variety of organic and physical pest control methods, such as using diatomaceous earth to kill insects, pouring boiling water on weeds or using beer to bait slugs. You can find more non-chemical pest control tips at the National Audubon Society’s site.

 


  Answers to Our Most Frequently  
Asked Financing Questions

Q: Do you know of anyone interested in financing an American Ingenuity Dome?

A:  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
Email: guaranteedlendingservices@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) Depending on your circumstances, cash down payment can be none or 10% to 20% based on finished price of the project.
  • No credit score.

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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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Q: What is the resale value of American Ingenuity domes?
A:
Ai knows of only a few of our dome owners who have sold their dome; which is a compliment in itself. Therefore, we have no resale statistics on our dome, but we have heard of other domes being sold at a profit well above their initial building cost. We can offer some insight that would apply.

  1. Geodesic domes being unusual, they will not appeal to everyone and it will likely take longer to find a buyer.
  2. Energy costs are certainly increasing and therefore a very energy efficient home will increase in value as energy costs increase.
  3. A conventional home will show its age as styles change while a new coat of paint on our dome will still look ahead of its time.
  4. Our sales of dome kits has constantly increased through the years and a quality dome that is completed would have the distinct sales advantage of showing the finished product.
  5. The resale value of a dome or any other home, is improved when it:  a) matches the neighborhood in size and value; b) exhibits quality construction; c) is landscaped well; d) offers advantages over other homes.

Also, with the increasing popularity of domes and rising energy costs, the market for an exceptionally energy efficient, super strong, low maintenance home should be excellent. A large percentage of the home buyers cannot visualize a dome & do not want to be involved in the floor plan design & construction of their home. As a result a finished dome that can be touched and felt is a big plus to them. If you are thinking of resale, build at least a 40’ in diameter dome, have it built with quality workmanship & keep your utility bills.

Q: Will it be difficult to get a loan to build my dome?
A:
Yes, conventional mortgage lenders tend to be ultra conservative when considering a dome. Mortgage brokers or indirect sources for financing may be more flexible and quicker for you. Refinancing other property or acquiring loans from other sources may be easier while avoiding the restrictions and requirements of conventional construction loans. Another popular option is the pay-as-you-go method. Combined with partial financing, this can get you into your new dome. For a helpful, in depth look at financing, click on this page Financing Your Dome.

Why do lenders not like domes? Lenders determine how much they will loan based on what houses in that neighborhood sell for. The lender can usually get within three to four per cent of the value of a conventional house. But because we do not have resale statistics on domes they do not know what the resale price is. The lender has to be concerned with the worst case scenario.  Typically they want 20% to 30% down based on the finished price of the dome.  However Sovann Kang can issue permanent financing with 10% or less cash down payment for those who qualify.

 Click on Lenders to find a list of lenders that will consider loaning on the Ai dome.

The following information was written by Michael Darling.  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.
Four 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

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. I can help find an experienced appraiser that will be able to complete the kind of appraisal required.

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.