building a geodesic dome home | AiDomes

Building a Concrete Home – Panel Composition.  Because of fires, super storms, hurricanes and tornadoes, home owners are researching concrete home construction and finding the American Ingenuity concrete dome kit. Building an Ai dome from prefabricated concrete panels makes home construction easier and results in the dome exterior having a 225 mph wind and F4 tornado guarantee. The process of stacking the panels, overlapping/locking the steel mesh of adjacent panels and filling the seams with special fiber concrete, produces the structural components of the home, the finished concrete surface, installs the insulation and all the dome shell 1/2″ drywall.    To learn about Building Kit Assembly click on Assembly.  An Expanded Assembly Manual is now available with each dome kit order.

How long does it take to assemble the dome kit if I use the Kit Assembly Specialist? Depending on the size dome, and if your building kit has two entryways and four dormers with dome built on concrete slab, the shell assembly with one layer of concrete in the panel seams and on the entryways and dormers can take about 9 to 16 days. Assembly time depends on the number of workers in your team, your foundation type, weather and the type of hoisting mechanism. Click on Kit Assembly Specialist to learn more.

Side of view of panel being installed. The panel exterior is 3/4″ concrete reinforced with galvanized steel mesh. After the mesh is overlapped and locked between panels, on site special fiber concrete is mixed and hand trowelled in the seam areas in two applications — bonding agent is applied between the two layers. The seam areas are about 3″ deep by 5″ wide with average of 2″ thick concrete.

Side of view of panel being installed. The panel exterior is 3/4″ concrete reinforced with galvanized steel mesh. After the mesh is overlapped and locked between panels, on site special fiber concrete is mixed and hand trowelled in the seam areas in two applications — bonding agent is applied between the two layers. The seam areas are about 3″ deep by 5″ wide with average of 2″ thick concrete.

 

Concrete Home
Exterior Dome Panels Have No Wood To Burn or To Rot or For Termites To Eat
No Shingles or Roof to blow off in high winds

To support the panels during dome kit assembly, a temporary wooden rib system is installed. Once all the seams are concreted and the entryways and dormers are concreted, the dome is self supporting and the wooden rib system is removed. Most of the wood can be recycled as interior framing.

In this view of dome kit being assembled a side view of a component panel can be seen. The panel exterior is 3/4″ concrete reinforced with fibers & galvanized steel mesh. After the mesh is overlapped and locked between panels, special fiber concrete mixed on site is hand troweled in the seam areas in two applications — bonding agent is applied between the two layers. The seam areas average of 2″ thick concrete.

What are the American Ingenuity triangular and rectangular shaped panels made from? Center core of 7″ Expanded Polystyrene R-28 Insulation (not Styrofoam!), exterior is ¾” thick concrete reinforced with fibers & galvanized steel mesh with interior of 1/2″ Georgia-Pacific DensArmor Plus High-Performance gypsum drywall board (which is moisture resistant, mold resistant gypsum and noncombustible).  None of the materials in the panel are combustible or contain a food source for mold growth.

Superior Insulating Technology The core of each panel consists of a seven inch block of R-28 rigid modified expanded polystyrene (E.P.S.) insulation. The E.P.S. Insulation that Ai utilizes contains NO HBCD, NO TCPP, NO CFCs and NO formaldehyde and is not Styrofoam.   The EPS that Ai utilizes has a flame retardant added to it, therefore the EPS is noncombustible and is protected by the 1/2″ DensArmor wallboard which is non-combustible and provides the Code required 15 minute thermal barrier.   The EPS that Ai utilizes does not out gas poisonous chemicals.

Your American Ingenuity concrete home kit is affordable and strong because it is engineered as a system of prefinished component panels. Each panel is cut at a computer-generated angle so that it fits flush with the adjacent panel. The edges are precisely beveled at the seams where steel mesh and concrete will unite to complete the structure.

Q: Do you have an engineering statement about your dome panels that can be reviewed?

A:  Yes, to view the statement click on Engineering.

After the foundation is installed, the dome shell assembly consists of:

  • Erecting a temporary wooden rib system with supports under each hub.
  • Using some type of hoisting mechanism place the component panels one row at a time upon the rib system.
  • Overlapping the steel mesh from adjacent panels. Locking the steel mesh with “C” rings and pliers. Depressing the mesh into the seams.
  • Installing rebar, cables, hardware, (headers, king studs for doors and windows)  and suspension rods in appropriate seams per the building plans.
  • Watering down prefab concrete in the areas where new concrete will be applied. Applying one layer of fiber concrete in the seams and on the entryway/dormer panels one row at a time. Depending upon the dome size, there are four to five rows of panels.
  • Once the last row is installed then the second layer of concrete is applied in the seams between the panels and on the entryways and dormers. Bonding agent is applied between the two layers.  Cured concrete in the seams and around the area where new concrete is being applied is watered down prior to bonding agent and new concrete being installed.  The new concrete is misted per the Assembly Manual.
  • Only the seam areas between the panels and the entryways/dormers/cupola/link are concreted. Do not concrete over the finished prefab concrete on each panel.
  • Finishing exterior framed walls and Installing your locally purchased doors and windows.
  • Removing the temporary wooden rib system. Most of the wood can be recycled into interior framing and second floor perimeter knee wall framing.
  • Watering down the concrete exterior 3-4 weeks to remove efflorescence prior to priming and painting the concrete exterior.
  • Hiring conventional subcontractors: framer, electrician, plumber, drywall finisher, cabinet installer, HVAC, etc. to finish the interior of the dome.
  • Priming and painting the exterior of the dome.
  • Finishing the seams between the interior shell wall board with joint compound, fiberglass tape and applying joint compound in a skip trowel method over all the shell drywall.  Ask Ai for latest interior shell finishing document.
  • Priming and painting the shell wallboard.

To learn more about Hoisting Mechanisms click on Hoisting.  To learn more about entryways, dormers, etc. click on Building Options.

For special discounts, click on Sale.   For Building Option Pricing click on Basic Kit Prices and then scroll down the page for the building options chart.  

American Ingenuity’s Component Panel’s steel mesh, concrete, EPS insulation and DensArmor wallboard contain no food source for mold growth and are therefore mold resistant.  The Georgia Pacific wallboard is not conventional sheet rock. Conventional sheet rock consists of  conventional gypsum and paper backing.  Sheet rock when it gets wet crumbles and molds with the paper matting as a food source for mold growth.  The DensArmor gypsum when it gets wet does not crumble.  It has fiberglass backing on both sides is no food source for mold growth. 

Tell us more about American Ingenuity’s panel materials.

Concrete: The panel concrete is a special formulation containing synthetic fibers and liquid admixtures. Locally purchase bags of Portland cement and masonry sand.  After the mesh is overlapped and locked between panels, special fiber concrete mixed on site is hand troweled in the seam areas in two applications — bonding agent is applied between the two layers. The seam areas are about 3″ deep by 5″ wide with average of 2″ thick concrete.  Prior to applying new concrete, water down all concrete around areas where work will be done. 

Mix the ingredients with a Mortar Mixer NOT a cement mixer!  Ai ships with your building kit the same fibers and admixtures that are used in the panel concrete so the seam concrete which is mixed on site will have the same properties as the panel concrete. These ingredients improve the concrete’s characteristics, create super toughness, extend durability, give higher tensile and compressive strength, provide elasticity for expansion and improve freeze protection.  The first layer of seam concrete contains two liquid admixtures and synthetic fibers.  The second layer does not require fibers; however now due to advances in fiber technology there are small 1/4″ fibers which can now be added to the second layer.  These smaller fibers for the second layer can be purchased from Ai.

The concrete in your concrete home out performs other exteriors because of its specially developed formula. Because of its exceptional composition, it actually gains strength over the years.

The exterior panel concrete, which is 3/4 inch thick, adheres directly to the steel mesh and E.P.S. insulation without the need of a bonding agent.  The panel concrete is hand applied, hand troweled, and hand sponged at American Ingenuity’s Rockledge Florida factory.  During the on site process of concreting the seams, entryways, dormers, etc., a bonding agent is applied on the first layer of concrete before the second layer is applied.  Bonding Agent is supplied with the kit with additional bonding agent being purchased from Ai. This bonding agent is not diluted onsite.  It is used full strength and must rest 30 minutes before new concrete can be applied over it.  Prior to applying bonding agent, water down cured concrete.  Before applying second layer of concrete, water down all cured concrete in the seams and around where the new concrete will be applied.  The final layer of concrete is sponge float finished on site.

Steel: Galvanized steel wire mesh is encased in the concrete of each component panel and extends out over the insulation’s beveled edges. As your dome panels are assembled, the mesh of each panel overlaps minimum 2″ and is hooked to that of the adjacent panels with C-rings (commonly called “hog rings”). The dome then becomes encircled by steel mesh.

E.P.S. Insulation that Ai utilizes contains NO HBCD, NO TCPP, NO CFCs, NO formaldehyde.  The EPS thickness is 7″ (R28).  The seven inches of sturdy, rigid, nontoxic R-28 expanded polystyrene (E.P.S.) insulation forms the core of each component panel. This is NOT Styrofoam!  The E.P.S. Ai uses is a closed cell with a 1 lb. per cubic foot density. The insulation is permanent, chemically and thermally stable; resistant to mildew; provides no nutritive value to animals, plants, microorganisms; non-irritating to skin.  The insulation will not rot, shrink, absorb moisture, compact, or deteriorate due to age or the weather. It also acts as a vapor barrier for your home, providing stable performance year after year. To learn more about E.P.S. as a Vapor Barrier click on Vapor Barrier.

ANALYSIS OF EXPANDED BEAD POLYSTYRENE

The Expanded Polystyrene (E.P.S.) Insulation that American Ingenuity utilizes is seven inches of sturdy, rigid R-28 modified E.P.S. insulation, which forms the core of each component panel. The E.P.S is one pound per cubic foot density (pcf).  EPS is NOT Styrofoam.

The E.P.S. insulation will not rot, shrink, absorb moisture, compact, or deteriorate due to age or weather. It also acts as a vapor barrier for your home, providing stable performance year after year.  The E.P.S. that American Ingenuity utilizes in its prefabricated panels:

  • is permanent
  • is chemically and thermally stable
  • is resistant to mildew
  • provides no nutritive value to animals, plants, microorganisms
  • is non-irritating to skin
  • contains NO Chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs) and is formaldehyde free
  •       Contains NO HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane) and NO TCPP (1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate

What kind of vapor barrier will American Ingenuity dome have?  Approximately one quarter of the energy consumed by an air conditioner is used to extract water vapor from inside the house. Water vapor easily passes through most building materials and is readily swept into homes through joints, seams and through the attic. The E.P.S. insulation that Ai uses provides a good vapor barrier.   And the Ai building system provides for an air tight house.

During the US Dept of Energy Study on energy efficiency in  housing designs, the blower door test showed the American Ingenuity dome to be 56% tighter than the conventional test structure and 29% tighter than the Dow house.  To see if air was passing through walls of the dome, tests using infrared were performed. Thermal irregularities in the dome were shown to be insignificant.

Per the manufacturer of the E.P.S. which American Ingenuity uses, “the E.P.S. is closed cell and will not absorb more than 2.5% of water based on volume”.  E.P.S. is often used as flotation for docks because it will not absorb water. 

Per E.P.S. manufacturer’s data sheets the following description was given to explain how the E.P.S. is affected by Moisture:  “To retain their original insulation value, all insulation materials must remain dry.  Water is a good conductor of heat so a high moisture content in the insulation results in a significant loss of performance.  This is particularly so with fibrous materials which must be positively protected by an efficient vapor barrier.  Two ways in which moisture can affect insulation materials are; water absorption from contact with damp surfaces or rain penetration or from interstitial condensation of water vapor.  E.P.S. is a closed cell material and has minimal water absorption and low water vapor transmission.  Both of these properties are to a large extent, density related, but also to the degree of fusion of the material.  Tables 4 and 5 show typical performance figures for good quality E.P.S. boards manufactured to Arco Polymers recommendations.”           

Table 4  Water Absorption

Density (pcf)                                  1.0 lb                            1.5 lb                             2.0 lb
(pounds per cubic foot)

Water absorption (% vol)        less than 2.5                  less than 2.0                  less than 2.0

Table 5 Water Vapor Transmission (WVT)

Density (pcf)                                                     Grains (hr/sqft) In/Hg (Perm inch)

1.0                                                                                            1.2-2.2

2.0                                                                                            0.6-0.8

2.5                                                                                            0.5-0.7

3.0                                                                                            0.5-0.7

The amount that a material will breathe is measured in perms or sometimes perm inches.

 “Note: FHA requirements for perimeter insulation are that the original K value of the material must not increase by more than 15% after repeated wetting and drying cycles.  Tests have been carried out on nominal 1.0 pcf density E.P.S. with an original K value (at 75 degrees F) of 0.26.  After submersion the K value was found to be 0.28–an increase of only 7.7%.”

 Climatic Changes:  E.P.S. board has been used as an insulation material in various types of building structures for over 35 years in climatic conditions ranging from Arctic cold to desert heat and has performed satisfactorily.  E.P.S. does not become brittle at sub-zero temperatures (in fact its K value improves) and suffers no loss of impact resistance at -100 degrees F compared with 73 degrees F.  The maximum recommended continuous operating temperature is 175 degrees F.  Roof surface temperatures in Southern States may reach this temperature for short periods, but with suitably designed roof systems E.P.S. can be used under these conditions.”

In Ai’s building system the water is stopped on the outside surface because the concrete is rich and dense enough to inhibit significant absorption and it is coated with a primer and two coats of good quality exterior concrete paint which further insures against leaks.  If a leak occurs the remedy is to check the area for hair line crack that gets repaired with elastomeric patching compound and another coat of paint.  If and when any water gets past the concrete very little will be absorbed by the E.P.S.

Now this brings up breathability of the E.P.S.  The amount that a material will breathe is measured in perms or sometimes perm inches.  E.P.S. will breathe enough to allow it to dry out inside our walls.  At the same time it is tight enough to also serve as a good vapor barrier. Ai’s insulating concrete panel (ICF) is made from expanded polystyrene (E.P.S.) molded into lightweight foam blocks. The foam itself provides excellent insulation with an R value of R-28. The R-value of E.P.S. remains constant. (R-values of traditional fiberglass insulation decreases when the material is wet or damaged.)  Ai chose to manufacture its dome component panels with Modified Expanded Polystyrene (E.P.S.) foam because of its fire performance, structural performance, and environmental advantages. Modified E.P.S. contains no formaldehydes, no CFCs, no HBCD, no TCPP or toxic chemicals, and uses fewer resources to manufacture than other insulation products.  E.P.S. provides you with superior thermal performance to better insulate your buildings, and no harmful CFC’s have ever been used to manufacture it.

You can now recycle your jobsite scrap through a network of manufacturers, re-processors, and retailers across the country. E.P.S. is a valuable resource than can be remanufactured into foam packaging or made into an amazing array of polystyrene products from office supplies to video cassette cartridges.  To locate your nearest E.P.S. collection site, call the RECYCLING HOTLINE at 1-800-944-8448.  Please recycle jobsite scrap.

Expanded Polystyrene (E.P.S.) Facts

The E.P.S. that American Ingenuity utilizes is manufactured from expandable polystyrene beads containing a hydrocarbon blowing agent and a flame-retardant additive that contains NO HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane) and NO TCPP (1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate. Ai’s insulation is made from Nova Chemicals M-77 E.P.S. product.

The EPS Ai utilizes is a closed cell, lightweight, resilient, foamed plastic composed of hydrogen and carbon atoms. There are two common types of polystyrene foam, Extruded Polystyrene or X.E.P.S. (Popularly known by its Dow trademark, Styrofoam) and Expanded Polystyrene (E.P.S.). American Ingenuity utilizes only Expanded Bead Polystyrene that contains NO HBCD, NO TCPP, NO CFC’s and NO formaldehyde. Ai does not use Styrofoam.

During the processing of E.P.S., steam heat softens the beads and causes the blowing agent to expand to produce moisture-resistant multi-cellular particles, which increase in size up to 40 times their original volume.  Following a period of stabilization, during which time the beads lose their moisture, the blowing agent condenses out and air diffuses into their cellular structure, the pre-expanded beads are molded into blocks of insulation.

The benefits of E.P.S. thermal insulation products are its lightweight, has stable long-term thermal resistance, no R-value loss over time (Source: 1985 Study conducted by Structural Research, Inc. for NRCA, MRCA, and SPI), and cost effectiveness when compared to other rigid board insulations on the basis of R-value.

Is E.P.S. a water, vapor or air barrier?

E.P.S. is considered water resistant and vapor permeable and at the density and thickness that American Ingenuity utilizes, the material acts as both a vapor retarder and an air barrier. This characteristic essentially moves the dew point to the exterior side of the concrete wall, minimizing interior humidity in the summer, and at the same time eliminates air infiltration in all seasons which is recognized as a major cause of R-value loss in fiberglass insulation. Air exchangers or heat recovery ventilation systems are highly recommended!

Is E.P.S. foam toxic?

E.P.S. is an inert, non-biodegradable organic plastic foam which will not rot and is highly resistant to mildew. According to National Bureau of Standards Combustion Tests, data collected from seven labs concluded that under the worst case fire scenario, fumes from E.P.S. are no more toxic than those from wood (Douglas Fir).  

Is E.P.S. Flammable?

Due to the flame retardant added to the EPS during expansion, the EPS is not combustible but will melt and draw back from a heat source.  Tests have shown that the smoke and soot produced from the melting EPS is less than is produced by burning Douglas Fir wood.  Of course no one wants to breathe smoke or soot…that is why there are smoke detectors to alert occupants to fire.  The requirements of all the major code organizations for foam plastics is that they have a flame spread of not more than 75 and a smoke development rating of not more than 450. The foam used in Ai’s component panels has a flame spread rating of 15 and a smoke development rating of 125 based on ASTME84-87 tests, well below the code requirements.

If you are in an extremely cold climate (Vermont, South Dakota, Canada) you may want to purchase 9″ EPS R36 insulation.  Just remember if you purchase the thicker insulation, this will increase the size of the panels, which will cause a 45′ r 48′ kit to require two trucks for delivery. To learn more about the properties of the E.P.S. click on E.P.S. data and then scroll down the page to Analysis of Expanded Bead Polystyrene.

1/2″ Georgia Pacific DensArmor Plus Gypsum Wall Board

Drywall/WallBoard: Consists of Georgia Pacific 1/2″ DensArmor Plus High Performance Gypsum Panels adhered to the E.P.S. insulation with a wallboard adhesive  with moisture treated core.  DensArmor Plus High-Performance Interior Panels are noncombustible (as defined and tested in accordance with ASTM E136 or CAN/ULC S114) interior panels that consist of a moisture-resistant gypsum core with coated fiberglass mats. The fiberglass mats provide superior protection from incidental moisture.  The treated core and the coated facings made with fiberglass offer greater moisture resistance and improved dimensional stability than regular gypsum board. The product resists warping, rippling and buckling.

The DensArmor has zero flame spread and zero smoke development and complies with the 15 minute thermal barrier test as described in 2010 Florida State IRC Section R316.4.

Georgia Pacific’s Dens-Deck roof board is a patented nonstructural glass mat-faced, noncombustible, water-resistant, gypsum core panel.  Georgia Pacific does not add any flame retardant to its gypsum products.  The DensArmor contains no HBCD and no TCPP.

Q: Does the interior shell wall board that American Ingenuity uses support the growth of mold?
A:
. DensArmor Plus Panels are highly resistant to the growth of mold, and have scored a 10, the highest level of performance for mold resistance under ASTM D3273 test method. DensArmor Plus Interior Panels are the first drywall panels to be GREENGUARD indoor Air Quality Certified and GREENGUARD Children & Schools Certified for low emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by a leading third-party organization, GREENGUARD Environmental Institute.  In addition, DensArmor Plus interior Panels are the first drywall panels listed as GREENGUARD microbial resistant.  This listing means Dens-Armor Plus Panels, which feature fiberglass mats instead of paper facings used on the surface of traditional gypsum board products, resist mold growth.  The microbial resistant test is based on ASTM D6329, a testing standard set by ASTM International, which develops testing guidelines and procedures for building materials, products, systems, and services.

Green, brown or black algae can appear on the wallboard. Algae just needs water and sunlight to grow.  Algae can be removed with a combination of chlorine and water or oxygenated bleach and water.

The wallboard is adhered to the EPS with a wallboard adhesive.  The glass mats embedded into the core on both faces, results in dimensional stability and prevents warping. The glass mat is encapsulated with a coating which reduces skin irritation from exposed glass fibers. Please use a mask when cutting the DensArmor.

Fire Protection: Per Georgia Pacific:

  • 1/2″ Dens Armor Plus High Performance Gypsum Panels are gypsum panel products, designed for interior use, are manufactured to meet the temperature rise criteria of a thermal barrier as described in Section R316.4 of the 2010 Florida Residential Building Code.
  • In addition to having a non-combustible core per ASTM E 136, Dens Armor Plus has been evaluated by Underwriters Laboratories LLC per UL 723 Standard for Test for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials. DensArmor Plus has a Flame spread/Smoke Development of 0/0.
  • The Finish Rating Thermocouple Temperatures obtained during the evaluation (WFCI Project No. 06047A) was conducted at Western Fire Center (WFCi) in Kelso, WA. WFCI is a recognized testing facility per the Gypsum Association (GA-600).
  • The Finish or Membrane Protection Rating was determined to be 0.15:40 for 1/2″ DAP. Please note the average ambient temperture was 21.0 degrees C for the 5 Finish Rating Thermocouples.
  • Properties of Dens-Armor: Noncombustible, Water Resistance, Dimensional Stability, Decay Resistance, Resistant to Warping, Rodent and Fungus Resistance, Torch Safe, High Compressive Strength.

The wallboard seams can be finished similar to drywall by applying joint compound and adhesive backed mesh tape on the seams. To blend the taped seams to the drywall finish, apply joint compound in a skip trowel fashion over the dome shell drywall.  Please call Ai for latest drywall finishing document.  Prime and paint the drywall.

 If I am not ready to assemble my dome immediately, can it be stored outside? Yes, but not in freezing weather. If you expect to have your kit outside for more than two to three months, when you order your kit request that the E.P.S. edges be painted.   Call us for details at 321-639-8777.

What do the component panels weight?

Dome Diameters 22′ 27′ 30′ 34′ 40′ 45′ 48′
Triangular (lbs)

155-180

245-295

120-150

160-200

230-275

275-355

315-400

Riser (lbs)

255

315

230

260

315

350

380

How are the panels supported during assembly?  Ai recommends using the temporary “wooden rib system.” The rib system consists of your own 2×4’s (cut to length and holes drilled to our specs) and steel hubs on loan from American Ingenuity to erect a free standing geodesic framework. The 2×4’s can be purchased from Ai (precut, holes drilled with ends painted) and shipped on the truck with your kit. The deposit on the hubs is $1,600 for a 5 month rental time…$20 a month rental thereafter, with the client paying to ship the hubs back to Ai to receive their deposit back less any additional months rental and any cost for any missing or damaged hubs. The bolts/nuts/washers are purchased for $128 and are not returned to Ai.  An Expanded Assembly Manual is now available with each new dome order.

The “Rib System” dictates the exact panel placement. Once all the seams/options have been concreted and entryways/dormers framed in the “Rib System” is removed and recycled into the interior framing and the hubs returned to us.  Click on Rib to learn more.

How are the panels hoisted into place? And what equipment is attached to the panels to make lifting easier?

  • The typical method for lifting the panels is by man lift, crane or transverse fork lift.
  • Monthly rentals on transverse lifts also called Boom Lifts, Horizontal Boom Fork Lifts, Roofing Lifts, Shooters are available from National Rental Chains.
  • Four Panel Lifting Spikes are purchased from Ai for $120 and attached to your locally purchased chain and couplers.  To learn more about the spikes click on Lifting Spikes.  Please scroll down the page to find the spikes info.

 

Building an American Ingenuity dome building kit can be a Do It Yourself project or a Kit Assembly Consultant can be hired to supervise your workers or your builder’s workers.  Please scroll down this page to learn 1) about this specialist; 2) materials/tools/equipment needed for kit assembly; 3) charts showing approximate assembly time and approx. costs by dome diameter size when hiring the consultant.

 

Third row panel being lifted into place.

Third row panel being lifted into place.

The dome kit can be assembled by owner builders or the home owner or the home owner’s builder can hire the independent Consultant to supervise their workers to assemble the dome kit to the stage of having all the panels placed with one layer of concrete in the seams and on all the entryways and dormers.  The consultants travel through out the USA and internationally.   When hiring a local builder, best to pay him cost plus versus an overall bid. 

Great news as of May 2017,  Ai knows of a licensed Florida Builder, Randy Dixon, who will travel to some USA areas with 2-3 men to assemble the kit on your prepared foundation. Then yourself or your local builder’s subcontractors can install the doors and windows, prime/paint the exterior and finish the interior with locally purchased materials.  If his crew does not travel to your area, he will travel as independent consultant.  If you are considering hiring Randy and his crew, it is best to pay them by the hour rather than have him bid the project where he will need to include in the bid a cushion. 

Ai knows of three other independent kit assembly Consultants, Kevin Killian (Florida), Steve Cooke (California) and Bob Bailey (South Dakota) who will travel to your site to supervise Aidome kit assembly as well.  

In Brevard County Florida, Builder Ray Vince with Pistolatun Inc. will bid the dome kit assembly and the finishing of the dome and complete the financing for those who qualify.   He also has land to sell in Palm Bay Florida plus knows of our property for sell in the County.  His info is 76 E. Merritt Island Cswy. #205, Merritt Island Fl 32952.  His phone number is 321-284-8116

In Texas, builder Don Simons with NewTech Builders, Inc. states he will bid the dome kit assembly and the finishing of the dome for Texas and surrounding states.  He has a superintendent who will travel to your site, interview subs and hire subs for the site clearing, driveway installation, foundation installation, dome kit assembly, electrical, framing, plumbing and finishing of the interior and exterior of the Aidome.  His number is 979-212-6000.

Within the building plans is a nomenclature sheet where each panel is identified with numbers or letters showing where each panel is installed.

If you have a deadline for your kit assembly or are assembling the large 45′ or 48′ dome, consider hiring the consultant to save  up to  2-3 weeks of labor costs.  Please scroll down to view charts listing estimated kit assembly times.  Click on Kit Assembly and Construction Overview to view other assembly photos.  Our finished cost per sq.ft. page discusses geodesic dome cost.  To view stock dome floor plans, click on Plans.

The Consultant will travel to your construction site and supervise your workers or subs or your contractor’s workers for the dome kit assembly with the first layer of concrete in the seams and a “scratch coat” on the entryways and dormers….and then he goes home.  FYI, he does not apply concrete….that is done by your concrete workers.  He supervises that the fiber concrete is mixed properly and installed properly.  The dome owner or their builder hires a finish stucco person, to apply and finish the second layer of concrete in the panels seams and on the entryways and dormers. Usually second layer of finished concrete can be applied in around one hour per seam for a flat seam or up to 1 1/2 hrs for a custom rounded seam.  Approximate number of seams in a three frequency dome (30′ – 48′) is 126 – number varies depending on number of entryways and dormers. A two frequency dome (15′-27′) has around 62 seams.   Prior to second layer of concrete, a bonding agent supplied by Ai is applied to the first layer of concrete that needs to set 30 minutes prior to the second layer of seam concrete being applied. The interior finishing is completed by you or by your contractor hiring local conventional subs (plumbers, electricians, drywall finishers, framers, etc.) to complete the interior finishing and the installation of your locally purchased doors and windows per your dome plans.

Prior to the availability of a Kit Assembly Consultant to supervise the dome kit assembly,  some of Ai’s dome owners had to hire a contractor who generally had never assembled a dome before.  As a result the contractor would tend to over charge because he did not know how long it would take or what problems would arise.  The Kit Assembly Consultant can provide you with references from previous American Ingenuity Domes he has assembled so you can assure yourself that your building kit will be assembled correctly and in a timely fashion. This Consultant works directly for you or your general contractor as an Independent Sub-Contractor.  The standard daily rate for the independent Kit Assembly Consultant/Specialist is $300.  If the Specialist is not paid mileage to drive to your site, he is reimbursed for a round trip airfare, round trip shuttle transport cost between his home & the airport & car rental cost for the time at the job site.  The dome owner arranges and pay for lodging with Wi-fi availabilty in vicinity of grocery store & restaurants.

The use of a consultant for one week can save up to two to three weeks on your shell assembly time and assures the kit is assembled accurately per the building plans.

The cost of materials to complete the assembly of the kit are not included in the labor estimates.  Many times rental costs are less for one month than daily or weekly rental costs.  As a result sometimes monthly rental is shown because it is cheaper. Equipment rental costs are from United Rentals.  

Estimates below are based on 2015-2016 construction data.  In 2017 there is a shortage of concrete workers which drives their pay up.  We will review the estimates in this post and update as data is collected.

The assembly time estimated below is based on a dome kit having one entryway, two dormers and no cupola built on a slab foundation.  

  • For each additional standard entryway: add one day for the consultant and 24 hours for the workers.
  • For a garage entryway two frequency: add 1 day for the consultant and 24 hours for the workers.
  • For each additional window dormer: add 2 hrs for the consultant and 12 hours for the workers.
  • For each additional door dormer: add 3 hrs for the consultant and 18 hours for the workers.
  • Cupola: takes three partial days because the concrete has to have time to cure during each process.  First partial day of 5 hrs: concrete beam around top opening is formed and poured.  Second partial day of 5 hrs: concrete corner columns are framed and poured.  Third partial day of 5 hrs: set top five panels, attach overhang panels & apply first coat of concrete in the seams.  During the rest of the partial days, workers can complete window dormers or door dormer installations.If the rib system has not been cut and prepared: add one day for the consultant and 8 hours for the workers.
  • If you want to speed up the kit assembly, consider renting a scissor lift for inside personnel movement (instead of using ladders and scaffolding) and renting a Straight boom lift – man lift or cherry picker- for outside personnel work (instead of ladders, planks and scaffolding).   A 19-foot electric scissor lift approx. rental is $350 to $500 per week, and $900 to $1,200 per month.  A 40′ straight boom lift approx rental is weekly $956 or monthly $1,915.
Labor & Equipment Estimates for AiDome Shell Assembly
Utilizing an Independent Kit Assembly Consultant

 Estimate For  22′ Dome Shell Assembly
With First Layer of Concrete in Seams & on entryways & Dormers

Consultant Days 14 $300/day $4,200
Worker Hours & Cost if $18/hr 328 $18/hr* $5,904
Worker Hours & Cost if $25/hr

Rental, Fork Lift (days)

328

1

$25/hr*

$405/day

if $25 hr -$8,200

$405

Rental Variable Reach Lull  two weeks  $1,169/wk $2,338
Rental, Scaffolding (days)$15- $50  14 $15/day $210
Rental, Mortar Mixer (days) 8 cu.ft. 14 $50/day $700

Approx Sub Total  For One Layer of Concrete in Seams & on 1 entryway & 2 dormers:  $13,757 – $16,053

*Worker Hourly Costs vary depending on your construction location. Plus travel costs or airline ticket for the Consultant. The Consultant is reimbursed for a round trip airfare, round trip shuttle transport cost between his home & the airport & car rental cost for the time at the job site.  The dome owner arranges and pay for lodging with Wi-fi availability in vicinity of grocery store & restaurants.

The dome owner or their builder hires finish stucco person(s), to apply and finish the second layer of concrete in the panels seams and on the entryways and dormers. Usually second layer of  seam concrete can be applied in 50 minutes per seam for a flat seam or up to 1 1/2 hrs for a custom seam.  Approximate number of seams in a three frequency dome (30′ – 48′) is 126 – number varies depending on number of entryways and dormers. A two frequency dome (15′ – 27′)  has around 62 seams.

 

 Estimate For 27’/30′ Dome Shell Assembly
With First Layer of Concrete in Seams & on Entryways & Dormers

Consultant Days 16 $300/day $4,800
Worker Hours & Cost if $18/hr 384 $18/hr* $6,912
Worker Hours & Cost if $25/hr

Rental, Fork Lift (days)

384

1

$25/hr*

$405/day

if $25 hr – $9,600

$405

Rental Variable Reach Lull two weeks  $1,169/wk $2,338
Rental, Scaffolding (days) $15-$50 15 $15/day $225
Rental, Mortar Mixer (days) 8 cu.ft. 15 $50/day $750

Approx Sub Total  For One Layer of Concrete in Seams & on 1 entryway & 2 dormers:  $15,430 – $18,118

Worker Hourly Costs vary depending on your construction location.  Plus travel costs or airline ticket for the Consultant, The consultant is reimbursed for a round trip airfare, round trip shuttle transport cost between his home & the airport & car rental cost for the time at the job site.  The dome owner arranges and pay for lodging with Wi-fi availability in vicinity of grocery store & restaurants.

The dome owner or their builder hires finish stucco person(s), to apply and finish the second layer of concrete in the panels seams and on the entryways and dormers. Usually second layer of  seam concrete can be applied in 50 minutes per seam for a flat seam or up to 1 1/2 hrs for a custom seam.  Approximate number of seams in a three frequency dome (30′ – 48′) is 126 – number varies depending on number of entryways and dormers. A two frequency dome (15′ – 27′)  has around 62 seams.

 

  Estimate For 34’/36′ Dome Shell Assembly
With First Layer of Concrete in Seams & on Entryways & Dormers

Consultant Days 17 $300/day $5,100
Worker Hours & Cost if $8/hr 408 $18/hr* $7,344
Worker Hours & Cost if $25/hr

Rental, Fork Lift (days)

408

1

$25/hr*

$405/day

if $25 hr – $10,200

$305

Rental Variable Reach Lull two weeks  $1,169/wk $2,338
Rental, Scaffolding (days) 17 $15/day $255
Rental, Mortar Mixer 8 cu.ft. month $620 $620

Approx Sub Total  For One Layer of Concrete in Seams & on 1 entryway & 2 dormers: $15,962 – $18,818

*Worker Hourly Costs vary depending on your construction location.  Plus travel costs or airline ticket for the Consultant. The Consultant/Specialist  is reimbursed for a round trip airfare, round trip shuttle transport cost between his home & the airport & car rental cost for the time at the job site.  The dome owner arranges and pay for lodging with Wi-fi availability in vicinity of grocery store & restaurants.

The dome owner or their builder hires finish stucco person(s), to apply and finish the second layer of concrete in the panels seams and on the entryways and dormers. Usually second layer of  seam concrete can be applied in 50 minutes per seam for a flat seam or up to 1 1/2 hrs for a custom seam.  Approximate number of seams in a three frequency dome (30′ – 48′) is 126 – number varies depending on number of entryways and dormers. A two frequency dome (15′ – 27′)  has around 62 seams.

 

Estimate For 40′ Dome Shell Assembly
With First Layer of Concrete in Seams & on Entryway & Dormers

Consultant Days 20 $300/day $6,000
Worker Hours & Cost if $18/hr 640 $18/hr* $11,520
Worker Hours & Cost if $25/hr

Rental, Fork Lift (days)

640

1

$25/hr*

$405/day

if $25 hr -$16,000

$405

Rental Variable Reach Lull month $2,346 $2,346
Rental, Scaffolding (days) 20 $15/day $300
Rental, Mortar Mixer  8 cu.ft. month $620 $620

Approx Sub Total  For One Layer of Concrete in Seams & on 1 entryway & 2 dormers: $21,191 – $25,671

*Worker Hourly Costs vary depending on your construction location
Plus travel costs or airline ticket for the Consultant
The Consultant/Specialist is reimbursed for a round trip airfare, round trip shuttle transport cost between his home & the airport & car rental cost for the time at the job site.  The dome owner arranges and pay for lodging with Wi-fi availability in vicinity of grocery store & restaurants.

The dome owner or their builder hires finish stucco person(s), to apply and finish the second layer of concrete in the panels seams and on the entryways and dormers. Usually second layer of  seam concrete can be applied in 50 minutes per seam for a flat seam or up to 1 1/2 hrs for a custom seam.  Approximate number of seams in a three frequency dome (30′ – 48′) is 126 – number varies depending on number of entryways and dormers. A two frequency dome (15′ – 27′)  has around 62 seams.

 

 Estimate For  45′ Dome Shell Assembly
With First Layer of Concrete in Seams & on Entryways & Dormers

Consultant Days 23 $300/day $6,900
Worker Hours & Cost if $8/hr 736 $18/hr* $6,720
Worker Hours & Cost if $25/hr

Rental, Fork Lift (days)

736

1

$25/hr*

$405/day

if $25 hr – $18,400

$405

Rental Variable Reach Lull month  $2,346 $2,346
Rental, Scaffolding (days) 23 $15/day $345
Rental, Mortar Mixer 8 cu.ft. month $620 $620

Approx Sub Total  For One Layer of Concrete in Seams & on 1 entryway & 2 dormers: $17,336 – $29,016

*Worker Hourly Costs vary depending on your construction location
Plus travel costs or airline ticket for the Consultant
The Consultant/Specialist is reimbursed for a round trip airfare, round trip shuttle transport cost between his home & the airport & car rental cost for the time at the job site.  The dome owner arranges and pay for lodging with Wi-fi availability in vicinity of grocery store & restaurants.

The dome owner or their builder hires finish stucco person(s), to apply and finish the second layer of concrete in the panels seams and on the entryways and dormers. Usually second layer of seam concrete can be applied in 50 minutes per seam for a flat seam or up to 1 1/2 hrs for a custom seam. Approximate number of seams in a three frequency dome (30′ – 48′) is 126 – number varies depending on number of entryways and dormers. A two frequency dome (15′ – 27′) has around 62 seams.

 

 Estimate For  48′ Dome Shell Assembly
With First Layer of Concrete in Seams & on Entryways & Dormers 

Consultant Days 26 $300/day $7,800
Worker Hours & Cost if $18/hr 832 $18/hr* $14,976
Worker Hours & Cost if $25/hr

Rental, Fork Lift (days)

832

1

$25/hr*

$405/day

if $25 hr- $20,800

$405

Rental Variable Reach Lull month  $2,346 $2,346
Rental, Scaffolding (days) 26 $15/day $390
Rental, Mortar Mixer 8 cu.ft. month $620 $620

Approx Sub Total  For One Layer of Concrete in Seams & on 1 entryway & 2 dormers: $26,537 – $32,361

*Worker Hourly Costs vary depending on your construction location
Plus travel costs or airline ticket for the Consultant
 The Consultant/Specialist is reimbursed for a round trip airfare, round trip shuttle transport cost between his home & the airport & car rental cost for the time at the job site.  The dome owner arranges and pay for lodging with Wi-fi availability in vicinity of grocery store & restaurants.

The dome owner or their builder hires finish stucco person(s), to apply and finish the second layer of concrete in the panels seams and on the entryways and dormers. Usually second layer of  seam concrete can be applied in 50 minutes per seam for a flat seam or up to 1 1/2 hrs for a custom seam.  Approximate number of seams in a three frequency dome (30′ – 48′) is 126 – number varies depending on number of entryways and dormers. A two frequency dome (15′ – 27′)  has around 62 seams.

 

To view info about the DVD that shows dome assembly, click on View.  To view the video free, click on DVD.

To unload the dome kit from the semi-truck, rent a fork lift and have 2-3 workers available.  Ai provides a document that describes the unloading process.

The dome owner provides three to five good concrete workers (depends on dome size).  Materials used in the shell construction are to be provided by the dome owner on site before the Kit Assembly process begins.  The bags of cement don’t have to all be delivered in advance but as soon as first needed during the assembly.

To view what items are included in the Dome Building Kit, click on Kit Contents.  To view what items are not included in the kit, click on Items Not Included.

Due to possible injury on a job site, have some form of insurance.

The following are items required at your job site:

Cement
  • Portland Cement in 94 pound bags (prefer Type III) (first number is the diameter of the dome/second number is bags of cement):  22′ – 30, 27′ – 40 (two frequency dome panels are larger so require less cement), 30′ – 70, 34′ – 79, 36′ – 83, 40′ – 90, 45′ – 100, 48′ – 106.  These bag numbers are based on the dome having two entryways, four window dormers, one door dormer and no cupola.
  • For each additional entryway add: 22′ – 3,  27′ – 3.5, 30′ – 4.0, 34′ – 4.5, 36′  – 4.5, 40′ – 5.0, 45′ – 5.0, 48′ – 5.5
  • For a cupola add: 30′ – 4, 34′ – 4.5, 36′ – 4.5, 40′ – 5.0, 45′ – 5.5, 48′ – 6.0.
  • For an additional door dormer on any size dome add 2.5 bags of cement.
Masonry or Stucco Sand
  • Sand in cubic yards; 27′ – 5, 30′ – 8, 34′ – 9, 36′ – 9, 40′- 10, 45′ – 11, 48′ – 12.  These computations are based on the dome having two entryways, four window dormers, one door dormer and no cupola.
  • For each additional entryway add cubic yards of sand: 22′ – 0.3, 27′ – 0.4, 30′ – 0.4, 34′ – 0.4, 36′ – 0.5, 40′ – 0.5, 45′ – 0.5, 48′ – 0.6.
  • For a cupola add cubic yards of sand: 30′ – 0.4, 34′ – 0.5, 36′ – 0.5, 40′ – 0.5, 45′ – 0.6, 48′ – 0.6.
  • For an additional door dormer on any size dome, add 0.3 cubic yards of sand.
Misc Items:
  • 2×4’s cut to length, holes drilled & ends painted for the temporary wooden rib system…can be purchased from Ai.
  • Water Source and water hoses
  • #3, #4 and #5 rebar (per the Building Plans)
  • Concrete Blocks; 8″x16″
  • Electric Power or Generator
  • Extension Ladder; 26′
  • Mortar Mixer – Do not use a cement mixer because it does not have spinning paddles.  Spinning Paddles are required to obtain a thorough mixing of the cement, sand, fibers and admixtures.
  • Lumber for Bracing the steel hubs, entryways and dormers
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Step Ladders
  • Two Saw Horses
  • Tarps to cover Cement and Sand
  • Ropes and chains
  • 5 gallon Buckets
  • Toilet facilities
  • Brushes to apply bonding agent
  • Soft Steel Tie Wire
  • Wire Cutters
  • Sponges to sponge finish final layer of concrete
  • Place to store boxed items out of the weather….C rings, pliers, cans of expanding foam, 1″ EPS Sheets, etc.

Additional Items Required:

  • Steel Hubs for Rib System (borrowed from Ai with a deposit placed)
  • Purchase bolts, nuts, washers to use with the hubs (purchased from Ai). During dome assembly most of these items are damaged; therefore they are not returned to Ai.
  • 2×4′ ribs for temporary wooden rib system – cut to length, holes drilled and ends painted. Can be purchased from Ai.
  • 9/16″ socket & ratchet and one 9/16″ wrench (use for bolts with HUBS)
  • Lifting Spikes set of 4 (purchased from Ai for $100). During panel lifting the spikes get damaged. If you have two domes, please order two sets of lifting spikes.
  • Panel Lifting Harness – custom make the harness from Ai sketch using four strands of 1/4″ chain 7 foot long & Quick Links.
  • Zinc or Galvanized Quick Links – To make the harness purchase Quick Links: 1 – 3/8″, 2 – 5/16″, 8 – 1/4″   2 – 3/8″, 4 – 5/16″.  During panel lifing the Quick Links are disconnected quite often so the threads become damaged.  Purchase additional Quick Links to have on hand for replacements….8 – 1/4″, 2 – 5/16″
  • Hoisting Mechanism; preferably rent 45′ Man Lift for dome on a slab or rent a 60′ Man Lift for dome built on basement.
How Long Will Shell Assembly Take with a Consultant?

Using three to five good concrete workers and depending upon the size dome, soil condition around the dome to allow movement and placement of the panels, type of hoisting mechanism and prevailing weather, shell assembly can take from 9-16 days if your dome kit includes two entryways, four dormers and no cupola and if dome on a slab. Once you know how many entryways and dormers are needed for your floor plan, Ai’s office can give you a more specific estimate on shell assembly time.  Click on Hoisting Mechanisms to learn more.

Typically it is cost effective to only have the Consultant stay for the assembly of the temporary wooden rib system, all panel placement including building options (entryways, dormers, link, cupola, etc.)  are assembled which includes the first coat of concrete in the seams and a “scratch coat” on the entryways and dormers.  Then your workers can:

  • apply the bonding agent and finish coat of concrete in the seams and on the building kit options. Remember to always water down all “old concrete” in the area you are working and all around the area working before applying bonding agent.
  • Follow Waterproofing document in the manual. The type of primer, tape and paint that is used, determines whether primer is applied before any areas are taped or patching compound applied prior or after priming.  Two coats of paint are applied. The following paints have been used by Ai dome owners:Behr’s top of the line exterior latex paint is Marque. Seabrook Texas dome owner loves this paint. He uses semi-gloss.  Marque has the most titanium.  – Home DepotBehr’s Premium Elastomeric Masonry, Stucco & Brick Paint –Home DepotAmes Research Labs: Maximum – Stretch, at participating ACE & True Value Stores (if using Ames see separate Ames doc because specific type sealants and primer need to be used with Ames Paint….TT3 sealant cannot be used)Sherwin Williams: Loxon XP Paint, Loxon Primer and ConditionerRichards Paint:  Rich Flex 245; use Rich Flex Alkali Resistant 100% Acrylic Masonry PrimerSeal Krete Paint (pigmented) –Home Depot
  • frame in and install the exterior doors and windows. (can be done earlier)
  • complete rough framing, electrical, plumbing
  • finish the interior shell wallboard with fiberglass adhesive  tape/joint compound. To blend the drywall seams to the DensArmor, skip trowel joint compound over the dome shell drywall.
  • prime then paint the dome shell interior gypsum
  • complete rest of construction phases.

As far as finishing the exterior seams with a second layer of fiber concrete, no need to pay to have the consultant on- site for this.  Best to hire a local finish stucco person by the hour with the conditions if he does timely work and good work, you will retain him.  If you are not satisfied with his work or speed, pay him for the time worked and replace him.  The second layer of concrete can take 20-30 minutes to apply per seam after the bonding agent is applied.  The bonding agent supplied by Ai needs to set 30 minutes before the second layer of concrete is applied. Approximate number of seams is 126…number varies depending on number of entryways and dormers.

Once your Building Plans have been ordered, American Ingenuity can estimate the number of days needed to assemble the shell.  Each floor plan varies as to the number of building kit options (components) needed to complete the shell kit; i.e. cupola, link, entryways, door dormers and window dormers.  Building Options take longer to install than triangles do.  To learn more about Building Options, click on Options.

You or your contractor hires local subcontractors to perform the typical jobs like forming and pouring the slab, plumbing, electrical, framing, drywall finishing, etc. Ai does not believe you should pay someone to come in from out of county or state to do work that your local subs can perform.  Click on Finished Cost, to learn about what it will cost to finish your dome home.  Click on Builders and Assemblers to learn more.

A helpful web site is rsmeans.com It has construction manuals, construction estimating CD’s, etc.

Contact Ai if you are interested in utilizing the Consultant/specialist…..321-639-8777…..9-5 Eastern Time.

If you are employing a contractor to assemble the kit, an experienced consultant on the construction site will make the assembly go faster and reduce costs.  The contractor provides the additional workers needed and the consultant directs them through the assembly of the kit.

If you choose to hire the Kit Assembly Consultant, the following labor estimates assume the following:

  • You have hired three to five good concrete workers depending on the size dome.
  • The slab/foundation and floor are completed.
  • A Hoisting Mechanism/Lifting Device/Boom Truck or Crane or Man Lift is on site to move the panels, to set the panels in place and lift buckets of concrete.
  • Additional equipment is on site, e.g.: wheelbarrows, ladders, scaffolding, mortar mixer, etc.
  • The first floor of the dome is not elevated above ground level.
  • The construction site is readily accessible for equipment and personnel.
  • Your local Laborer cost per hour is $15.  The labor cost per hour varies depending on your construction site location.  In California labor costs can be $25 to $30 an hour.