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Wood Star on exterior Dome Wall.

Wood Star on exterior Dome Wall

The American Ingenuity dome owner is conscious of what materials are used to finish

the interior of their dome. Natural sold oak was used for the stair case

and wood star.  Very warm and cozy.

 

Healthy Dome Living Questions & Their Answers

Q: Does the interior shell wall board that American Ingenuity utilizes support the growth of mold and mildew?

A: No. The 1/2″ Georgia Pacific Dens-Armor Plus drywall that Ai utilizes showed no mold or mildew growth when tested per ASTM D 3273. The drywall is adhered to the E.P.S. insulation with wallboard adhesive. The Dens-Armor employs fiberglass mat facing instead of paper on both sides of the board. The inorganic core provides excellent moisture resistance, fire resistance and adhesion properties. It doesn’t provide fuel for an accidental fire. It isn’t even damaged by multiple immersions in water. It won’t harbor spores that create sick homes.

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. The moisture-resistant inorganic core has superior mold, mildew and fire resistance.

The following info was taken from Georgia Pacific’s 1/2” Dens-Armor Wall board data sheets:

Dens-Armor wall board features an inorganic glass mat embedded into a water-resistant treated gypsum core. The combination of glass mat surfacing and a treated core renders Dens-Armor wall board more resistant to delamination from water than paper-faced gypsum products. Comparative testing has demonstrated Dens-Armor wall board’s supremacy over such alternatives as perlite and fiberboard. Its engineered features make Dens-Armor wall board the obvious substrate for housing membranes. Resists delamination, deterioration and warping, puncturing and other job site damage and resists rot.

Fire Protection: Because of its noncombustible core and surface, Dens-Armor wall board offers greater fire protection than other conventional products. Dens-Armor wall board, when tested to ASTM E 84, has achieved a rating of 0 flame spread and 0 smoke developed. Noncombustible when tested in accordance with ASTN E 136.

Properties of Dens-Armor: Noncombustible, Water Resistance, Dimensional Stability, Decay Resistance, Resistant to Warping, Rodent and Fungus Resistance, Torch Safe, High Compressive Strength.

Fire Classification: UL Class A, ULC S-102; UL 1256, ULC S-126; UL 790; ULC S-107.

Flame Spread/Smoke Developed: per ASTM E 84 – 0

R-Value: as tested in accordance with ASTM C 518 (heat flow meter) -.28

Surface Water Absorption, grams: per ASTM C 473- 2.5

Mold & Mildew Resistance: per ASTM D 3273- No growth

The wallboard finishing includes applying joint compound and tape on the seams and painting the wall board. To blend the seams, mix some vermiculite into your paint.

You can purchase the building kit without the interior wall board. If you do not purchase the optional interior wall board, on site you can trowell either plaster or stucco directly to the E.P.S.

Q: Do any of the materials utilized in your panel – EPS (Expanded Polystyrene insulation), Galvanized Steel Mesh, Fiber Concrete or Georgia Pacific DensArmor – contain any food source for mold growth?

A: No. The materials are not a food source for mold growth.  Algae can sometimes be mistaken for mold.  It contains no spores and is not mold. Algae will grow on materials if exposed to water and sunlight. Algae is removed with combination of bleach and water or oxygen/bleach and water.

Q: I have allergies. Does your product promote allergic reactions?
A:
We have had a individuals contact us who are allergic to chemicals, etc. Feel free to us at 321-639-8777 Monday thru Friday 9 to 5 eastern time with your questions or click on Contact Us and email your questions. One of our clients has had to live in a stainless steel trailer due to reactions to conventional building materials. She investigated our dome and  built two of Ai’s small domes for her permanent residence.

The best way to see if you would be allergic to our shell materials is to purchase a small sample of a panel. Then ask someone to place the sample in a brown paper bag and without you knowing when, have them put it under your bed. Let them remove it at a later date and put back an empty paper bag and see if you have any reaction at any time during the test period.

The E.P.S. insulation Ai uses was expanded with steam, no chemicals. The quality of your indoor air will be determined by your interior materials such as flooring, upholstery, cabinet composition and whether an energy recovery ventilator or heat recovery ventilator and exhaust fans have been installed in your dome.  Please ask your local HVAC subcontractor for his recommendations for how to bring in fresh air for your area.

American Ingenuity has been manufacturing dome housing kits since 1976, during that time we have not heard of any of our domes having “sick building syndrome” due the following:

  1. Dome Homes always have doors and windows. Double paned windows are only an R-4 so air moves back and forth through the glass and or the windows are opened to let in fresh air.
  2. Dome owners have central air conditioners, furnaces or dehumidifiers or energy recovery ventilators or heat recovery ventilators that serve the purpose of removing the moisture within the dome.
  3. To exhaust the moisture out of the top of the dome, exhaust fans are installed in top center of the dome, in each bathroom, above stove and microwave, in the laundry room.

Q: Does the insulation Ai manufacturers with support the growth of mold and mildew?
A:
Based upon a FHA test, expanded bead polystyrene insulation, E.P.S. ,will not support bacterial growth or fungus growth. It also contains no food value to any living organism. Its lack of food value means that although termites, ants and rodents could tunnel through it, there is no other attraction. The following is other information taken from the E.P.S. data sheets.

  • OUTGAS: The E.P.S. is made from expandable polystyrene beads. These spherical beads contain a blowing agent such as pentane, which causes the beads to expand up to 40 times their original volume in the presence of steam. After the expansion and long before the panels are shipped, virtually the entire blowing agent has escaped.
  • DEGRADING INSULATION VALUE: This rigid foam insulation does not compress, absorb moisture, deteriorate or degrade like fiberglass and many other forms of insulation.
  • Water Absorption: The E.P.S. insulation American Ingenuity uses is closed cell and will not absorb more than 2.5% of water based on volume. It is often used as flotation for docks because it will not absorb water. Insulation materials that absorb water have a significant loss of performance because water is a good conductor of heat. This is particularly true with fibrous materials, which must be positively protected by an efficient vapor barrier. There are two ways in which, moisture can effect insulation materials: water absorption from contact with damp surfaces or from condensation of water vapor. EPS is a closed cell material that has minimal water absorption and low water vapor transmission.
  • BREATHABILITY: The amount that a material will breathe or the amount of water vapor that will pass through the material is measured in “Perms” or sometimes “Perm inches”. EPS will breathe enough to allow moisture trapped inside of it to dry out but at the same time it is tight enough to also serve as a good vapor barrier.
  • In the American Ingenuity dome, the inside of the rigid insulation is covered with wallboard. Wallboard does not interfere with the drying process but will offer protection from fire. If the E.P.S. gets hot enough it will burn.
  • EPS will dissolve in gasoline or similar solvents
  • EPS does not become brittle at sub-zero temperatures.
  • EPS – HEALTH HAZARDS:
  •   Ingestion: May act as an obstruction if swallowed
    • Inhalation: Minor respirator irritation possible from dust particles
    • Skin Contact: No hazard is known
    • Eye Contact: Minor eye irritation possible from dust particles
    • Carcinogenicity: NTP: No IARC: No OSHA: No
    • Symptoms of Overexposure: Respiratory irritation may occur from dust particles
    • Medical Conditions Aggravated by Exposure: None known.

Q: Is there a web site that recommends building materials for sensitive individuals?
A:
Yes, we have learned of a site called Healthy Home Designs. It has a listing of “Recommended Healthy Building Resources.” Their web site is www.healthyhomedesigns.com The following info came from the healthy home designs web site:

  • What makes a home healthy? A healthy home is one that incorporates healthy design elements, non-toxic building materials, and proper construction techniques. It “breathes”, emits no toxic gasses, and is resistant to mold.
  • Our criteria for a healthy home include the following attributes:
  • Reduction of exposure to chemicals (such as formaldehyde in insulation and particleboard; volatile organic compounds in adhesives, sealants and paints; and pesticides, fungicides and heavy metals used to treat wood) through use of non-toxic building materials and products.
  • Mitigation of mold and rot by employing proper building techniques and materials from foundation to roof.
  • Utilization of passive airflow, day lighting, and fresh air exchange through proper placement of windows and doors.
  • Location of areas of high toxicity and combustible materials (such as the garage and utility room) away from bedrooms and primary living spaces.

The benefits are homes that are safer, quieter, more comfortable, and require less maintenance. A healthy home is also more energy efficient, and therefore incurs lower monthly operating costs.

 

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

4th row of panels being installed in 34′ dome.  45′ dome in back ground.

An American Ingenuity geodesic dome home kit is purchased in kit form. If you do not have the time or do not want to perform the geodesic dome construction, Ai knows of an independent Specialist that can be hired to supervise your laborers or your contractor’s laborers for the kit assembly. Click on Kit Assembly Consultant to learn more about this service. Do-it-yourselfers (DIY) can assemble their dome kit by following the Assembly Manual and Building Plans and emailing or calling our office with questions. An Expanded Assembly Manual is now available with each new dome order.  However, those home owners who hire the Specialist say he saves them two to three weeks of labor costs.

To view pictures of the Dome Kit Assembly Process, view Dome Kit Assembly.

To view info giving Construction Overview, view Overview.  Ai’s geodesic home kit construction process consists of:

  • installation of foundation – standard foundation is concrete slab. Dome can be built on a basement, concrete platform/columns, etc. 
  • installing temporary wooden rib system  
  • placing rows of preconcreted panels with a hoisting mechanism
  • overlapping and locking the steel mesh from adjacent panels
  • filling the exterior seams with concrete (hand troweling special on site fiber concrete in two applications using a bonding agent between each layer and watering down all the prefabricated concrete around where you are working)  Specific concreting guidelines & concrete recipe are in the Assembly Manual.
  • concreting the entryways and dormers
  • framing in entryways and dormers, installing your locally purchased doors and windows
  • priming and painting of the dome exterior
  • completing of standard interior finishing phases: plumbing, electrical, framing and finishing of  interior walls, kitchen and bathroom fixtures, etc.
  • finishing the interior shell’s wall board

This advanced building system makes it easier to construct an American Ingenuity dome than a conventional house or a wooden dome. No exterior walls to frame, No roof trusses to set, No sheathing, tar paper, or shingles to apply, No soffits, exterior trim, insulation or siding to install.  

Q: Can I assemble the Dome Kit myself?
A:
About 40% of our clients assemble their own dome kit shell themselves. The Kit panels come marked with numbers and letters to match the Assembly Manual that goes with the Building Kit. The Building Plans also have elevation views with numbers and letters. However, those home owners who hire the Specialist say he saves them two to three weeks of labor costs.
 

If you do not have the time or do not want to assemble the dome shell kit, American Ingenuity can refer you to a Specialist.  He will travel to your construction site and supervise the kit assembly.  After the kit is assembled, complete the interior finishing or your contractor hires local conventional subs (plumbers, electricians, drywall finishers, framers, etc.) to complete the interior finishing and the installation of your locally purchased doors and windows.

Prior to the availability of this Kit Assembly Specialist/Consultant to supervise the dome kit assembly, our clients 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 determine yourself that your building kit will be assembled correctly and in a timely fashion. This Consultant would work directly for you or your general contractor as an Independent Contractor.  The Consultant charges a daily rate plus travel from his home base to your job site and a return to his home base at the completion of the job. 

If you are interested in hiring the Kit Assembly Consultant, call our offices at 321-639-8777.

Using three to four good laborers and depending upon the size dome and type of hoisting mechanism you use, shell assembly to the stage of having one layer of concrete in the seams and on the building options (kit with two entryways and four dormers) can take from 9-16 days. Once you decide on your floor plan, we can estimate the number of days needed for your shell assembly (entryways and dormers take longer to install than triangles).  View Kit Assembly Consultant to learn more.

Q: How do I select a builder for my dome?
A:
Whether you are looking for a contractor to handle all the construction of your dome, or a sub contractor to handle only an individual job, it is best to make many contacts and choose the one with which you are most comfortable. View Builders to see a List of Builders/Subcontractors by State.

If you do not have the time or do not want to assemble the dome shell it, it is to your advantage to hire a local contractor that knows your area, have him use the Kit Assembly Consultant to supervise the dome shell kit assembly and have the local contractor hire conventional local subs to do the jobs; i.e. slab, plumbing, electrical, framing, cabinetry etc. To learn more about finishing, View Interior Finishing.

Based on our experience with building departments and slab subcontractors, no project ever starts on time. As a result at the point when you have the building permit and the slab is formed up and ready to be poured within a few weeks, we will determine which shell consultant is available.

CHOOSING A CONTRACTOR OR SUB-CONTRACTOR

Making a choice:

  • There are many considerations when selecting the contracting firm to build your new dome home. To help you make this important choice, find out all you can about contractors in your area.
  • The more you know, good or bad, the better prepared you will be for a project of this scale and complexity.
  • If you are building your dome yourself as an Owner-Builder, you will be operating as the contractor and accepting all those responsibilities. This will include making the choice of all the subcontractors who will be working on your dome, such as the electrician, carpenter, and plumber.
  • If you are building with a construction loan, your lender may require a written contract between you and a licensed contractor, binding both of you until the completion of the job.
  • Just like people, there are contractors of every type out there – honest and dishonest, good and not so good. If you take the time to be selective you can find one of the great.
  • While each contractor is reviewing your plans to arrive at an estimate for his work, you will be able to evaluate his nature and characteristics.
  • With a good and trustworthy contractor, this can be one of your most exciting and rewarding accomplishments.

What to look for:

A Contractor who:

Shows an interest in doing something unique

  • Has a positive attitude.
  • Is a creative thinker – he looks for solutions rather than complaining about problems.
  • Exhibits professionalism in his business.
  • Is organized in his work.
  • Displays neatness on his job sites.
  • Has a good credit history.
  • Research the experience of the contractor and talk to previous customers.
  • Visit his job sites.

What to look out for:

  • A contractor who promises too much, too quick, for too little.
  • A contractor who says, “Just trust me
  • A contractor who can’t supply you with names of previous satisfied customers, copies of insurance forms, a permanent business address, or occupational license numbers
  • If a contractor is a poor manager and about to go out of business, his credit with suppliers is one of the first places it will show up. Ask where he has credit accounts and call to see if he is in good standing with his suppliers.
  • If someone gets injured on your property during construction, you will most likely be held responsible for all expenses unless your contractor has Workman’s Compensation Insurance. Check to be sure that he does.

Where to look:

    • Scan through the yellow pages and their ads, making lots of calls.
    • Approach friends, family, business contacts, and people you work with for recommendations.
    • Question the building materials suppliers, eg. concrete delivery companies know of reliable subs for foundations.
    • Inquire of your building official if he has any suggestions.
    • Check with your Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau.
    • Contact local chapters of trade organizations such as the National Association of Home Builders.
    • By reviewing as many prospects as you can over the phone, and through a process of elimination, you will be able to narrow the list to a few contractors to review your plans for a quote.

 

Q: What support is used to hold up the component panels until the dome kit is assembled?
A:
American Ingenuity Dome Building Kits are generally erected using a system to temporarily hold the panels in place until the all the seam concrete and options’ concrete has cured. The rib system is dismantled upon completion of the dome and the 2×4’s are recycled as part of the interior framing. Shorter 2×4’s can be used to frame the second floor perimeter knee wall. To learn more click on Rib.  Due to the complexity of cutting the 2×4’s to precise dimension, the drilling of holes in each end and the painting of the 2×4’s red, white or blue, Ai can do this for you and ship the 2×4’s on the truck with your dome kit. 

The Rib System is the preferable assembly method on all the dome sizes. The Rib System consists of using your own 2×4’s, bolts/nuts/washers purchased from Ai and steel hubs on loan from America Ingenuity to erect a free standing framework matching the geometry of the dome. Additional supports are used to support each hub.  With a Rib System in place, a man lift or crane or hoisting mechanism can be used to set the panels into place. Since the Rib System reflects the dome geometry, a panel cannot be inadvertently positioned incorrectly.

Once the two layers of concrete has cured in the seams, link, cupola and on the entryways and dormers & the entryways and dormers are framed in, the rib system is disassembled, the hubs are returned to American Ingenuity and the 2×4’s are recycled as interior framing. The approximate rental charge is $850 for the hubs to be kept for five months.  If the hubs are returned to us intact within the five month period the complete deposit is returned. Thereafter, we subtract $20 for each additional month the hubs are kept and return the deposit difference to the client.

Q: What will it cost per square foot for a completed dome home in my area?
A:
First of all you save money by buying the American Ingenuity dome shell kit versus buying and installing the materials for a regular stick built house shell (roof trusses, plywood, tarpaper, shingles, insulation, wall board, soffits, gutters, etc.). Our shell kit is typically one half less in cost than the shell cost of a regular stick built house or wood dome or monolithic dome. View Stick Built to learn more.

If you hire all the work done, the finished price per sq.ft. on the American Ingenuity dome home will be about the same price as a conventional house in your area less the shell savings. This is because all the interior items for the dome interior are standard conventional items. The dome interior items are the same as for a conventional house; framing, plumbing, electrical, doors, windows, flooring, stairs, kitchen cabinets, bathroom fixtures, lighting fixtures, fireplaces, elevators, etc.

But you end up with so much more with an American Ingenuity dome….greater energy efficiency, greater strength, no wood in the shell for termites to eat or to burn, no shingles to replace, etc.

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

What are builders charging per square foot to finish a conventional house in your neighborhood? For example a 48′ dome can have over 3,000 sq ft. The building kit with options is approx. $60,000. Here locally in central Florida a conventional house can be built for around $100 to $125 per sq.ft. So a 3,000 sq.ft home would cost about $300,000 to $375,000 to finish without the land, land development and utility hookups. Lenders typically want 25% to 35% down of the finished price of the dome. That means $75,000 to $131,000 down. Lenders will accept part of the equity you have in the land towards the down payment amount; but they usually want a large cash down payment.  How does that fit in with your budget?

 

Q: How long will it take to completely build my dome home?
A: If you do no work yourself and hire subcontractors to complete the dome, it will take about the same amount of time to finish the dome as a conventional house. However the result is a super strong, super energy efficient home.

Q: What basic items will I need to erect my building kit?
A:
Depending on the size dome, to set the panels in place and concrete the seams you will need: Mortar mixer (4-8 cubic foot capacity — NOT a cement mixer!), cement trowels, sand (14 to 16 cubic yards), Portland cement Type 1 (40-100 bags) amount varies due to  number of entryways and dormers in your home. shovels, 5 gallon buckets, wheelbarrows, 3/8” polypropylene rope 50’-100’, 25’ Tape Measure, ladders 16’ and 32’, 16d common nails, extra 2×4’s, scaffolding, rental of a boom crane, labor to install the cement in the seams. View Items not in the Kit to learn more.

Q: What type of hoisting mechanism or crane will I need and for how long?
A:
The panels are placed using a man lift or crane that is capable of lifting 300-400 pounds, 25 feet up and 25 feet out.  Rentals on transverse lifts also called Boom Lifts, Horizontal Boom Fork Lifts, Roofing Lifts, Shooters are available from national rental chains. The rental companies can be found in your local telephone book.

With a four to six person work crew (depends on dome size) and proper bracing of the panels, a 45′ dome can be assembled in about 14 days.  In most cases, total crane operating time can be about 7 days for a smaller dome. For larger domes it may be most cost effective to rent a hoisting mechanism for a month. Then you can use the mechanism to not only lift the panels but to lift the buckets of cement that will be used to concrete the seams between the panels and concrete the entryways and dormers.

View Specifications for the panel weights for each dome size. 

 PANEL LIFTING SPIKES

Four lifting spikes are purchased from American Ingenuity for $100.   These are used for lifting of the triangular dome panels and the riser panels. 

The following information is in the Assembly Manual and includes sketches.

When preparing a panel for lifting, first bend the reinforcing wire mesh up almost in a vertical position to make the insertion of the lifting spikes easier.  Also having the mesh bent up will allow the panel to be placed without entanglement of the adjacent panel mesh. 

The lifting spikes are to be inserted at the midway locations along the panel’s edges. 

Push or hammer them into the EPS foam just under the concrete layer.  They should be parallel to the outer surface of the concrete. 

For safety reasons it is important that the lifting spikes are placed within 6″ of the center of the panel side. 

The spikes should be inserted so that the attached chain links can most easily to be threaded through the reinforcing wire mesh. 

Enlarge the opening in the reinforcing wire mesh so that the attached chain can go toward the center of the concrete side without obstruction.

Connected chains that will support 3 times the weight of the panel to the spike chain.  We recommend that you use a closed loop connector that can not release if there is no tension on the chain. 

Connect the 3 chains together so that the convergence point will be at a distance from the panel concrete surface equal to half the distance (length) of a panel side.  The chains should converge with about 90 degrees (square) between the two chains when viewed perpendicular.

Adjustments to the length of the 3 chains will allow you to tilt a panel to be better aligned with the location where it will be placed.

Some deviation in the spike placement and the convergence point height is allowable if you take in consideration how the forces are affected and follow all cautions listed below.

If the chains converge close to the panel the chains will be pulling more against each other and less in the direction intended for lifting the panel.  Reducing the convergence height to ¼ of the distance between spikes doubles the chain tension. 

Increasing the convergence height causes the panel to hang lower, reducing the height you can lift the panel.  Also when any chain is near perpendicular to the panel there is a serious risk of the spike being pulled out while lifting.

CAUTION

Because there are numerous things that could allow the panel to fall while lifting.  In addition to the chains and their connection, a sudden jerk from the lifting device, slack in the lifting cable and human errors and other things can cause the panel to fall.

The only way to assure safety is to assume that the panel can fall at any time.  Anytime a panel is lifted Never allow anyone under the panel or within range of its possible impact.  Even after a panel is set in place and supported movement of other panels or supports could cause it to fall. 

Don’t consider a panel secure until it has been C-ringed and concreted on two sides to adjacent secure panels and all of the concrete had time to adequately harden.

Not being full time safety conscious could result in fatality consequences.

Once a panel has been placed into its position at the dome shell, the lifting irons can be pulled out of the panel’s edge with a couple of strong outward jerks to the 3-link chain tail at the end of the lifting irons.

Q: What kind of vapor barrier will my dome have?
A:
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. Our E.P.S. insulation provides a good vapor barrier and our building method provides an air tight home.  Due to this tightness, you will run exhaust fans to exhaust moisture or in colder climates use a Heat Recovery Ventilator to remove moistre.  To learve about HRV, please view HRV.  To learn more about E.P.S. as a vapor barrier view Vapor Barrier.

Q: How will the concrete in my dome withstand the effects of freezing temperatures?
A:
Concrete is an excellent and common building material in all temperate zones throughout the world. Concrete is only affected by freezing temperatures when it is porous and absorbs water. The richness and density of our concrete prevents water absorption which spoils the surface when it freezes. Our concrete is also formulated with an air entrainment admixture which further improves the freeze-thaw characteristics. The exterior paint is an additional seal to any water that could freeze inside the concrete.

So that the concrete you mix on-site has the same properties as the panel concrete, we ship those same concrete ingredients with the Building Kit….synthetic fibers, liquid admixtures and a bonding agent. The concrete recipe using Portland Cement, sand, and ingredients is in the Assembly Manual. These ingredients improve the concrete’s characteristics, create super toughness, extend durability, make concrete impervious to water, give higher tensile and compressive strength, provide elasticity for expansion, and improve freeze protection.

The following is why we ship synthetic fibers with our Building Kit. Fibers in concrete work to reduce the formation of shrinkage and cracks in concrete’s plastic state while helping to improve shatter resistance and reduce water migration. The result: tougher concrete. Synthetic fibers are used in the first layer of concrete but are not needed in the second layer.

The concrete  in your dome out performs other exteriors because of its specially developed formula. Because of its exceptional composition, it actually gains strength over the years. The exterior concrete on the prefabricated panels adheres directly to the steel mesh and EPS without the need of a bonding agent. The concrete is in excess of 3500 psi which is stronger than it needs to be.  Although on site, you apply a bonding agent between the two layers of concrete and onto each panel’s flat bonding ledges and sloping bonding ledges.

To apply concrete in the seams the temperature should be above freezing, preferably at least 60 degrees. Do not allow the newly mixed concrete to freeze for two to three days. If you use a concrete accelerator do not allow the concrete to freeze for 1 ½ to 2 days.

The following is why we ship a Bonding Agent with our Building Kit. Concrete, or a cement mixture, will not bond to a dry absorbent surface such as dry concrete. The reason is easy to understand when you examine the curing process of cement. When new concrete is applied over old, dry concrete the moisture from the new concrete will be absorbed by the dry concrete especially at the surface where they meet. When the new concrete is robbed of its moisture at the joining surface it will not cure properly and therefore will not bond.

Bonding agents are designed to improve the adhesion between layers of concrete by acting as a glue and coating and sealing the dry concrete to prevent it from robbing the moisture.

To assure that the 2nd layer of concrete placed in the seams bonds will with the concrete of the panels, you should:

  1. Wet the prefabrciated panels with water and allow them to soak up all the water they will.
  2. Apply bonding agent on the concrete at the edge of the panel and on any concrete that has been placed in the seam. Allow the bonding agent to set for 30 minutes before applying the second layer.
  3. Keep the newly applied concrete moist during the concrete hydration.  Keep the old concrete around the newly applied concrete wet.

There are two special features designed into the panel of your kit to improve the bond and strength of your dome:

  1. The panels have a ledge molded into the edge of the concrete where the seam concrete is most needed to bond. This ledge increases the bonding surface, thereby increasing the ultimate strength of the joint.
  2. The steel mesh which extends from the old concrete to the new concrete is a small mesh with compliments the effect of the fibers in securing the joint.

The weather and the mix of the concrete (amount of water, etc) will effect the curing time of the concrete. Usually by the time you place a complete row of panels and are ready to start the next row, the concrete has cured enough. Take a nail and if you can scratch the concrete it has not cured.  Do not apply another row of panels until the concrete has cured in the prior row.

Q: What type of interior finish is on the triangle and riser panels?
A:
It consists of Georgia Pacific 1/2″ DensArmor Plus Gypsum wallboard adhered to the E.P.S. insulation with wallboard adhesive. It employs fiberglass mat facing instead of paper on both sides of the board. The core is silicon treated gypsum providing excellent moisture resistance, fire resistance and adhesion properties. It isn’t even damaged by multiple immersions in water. It won’t harbor spores that create sick homes.

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. The moisture-resistant inorganic core has superior mold, mildew and fire resistance. The 1/2 DensArmor showed no mold or mildew growth when tested per ASTM D 3273.  

The wallboard finishing includes applying joint compound and tape on the seams and painting the wall board or finish the seams with a mixture of cement and perlite. The cement recipe is in the Assembly Manual.

Q: How much weight will the second floor support?
A:
At least 40 pounds per square foot, the same as other houses. Ai can easily design for a more demanding load such as waterbeds, libraries, exercise rooms, whirlpool tubs, or spas.

Q: How is the second floor attached to the dome shell?
A:
Most often the second floor joists are set on top of the first floor walls, the same as in conventional framing. In areas where additional support is needed, or where there are no first floor walls, the floor may be hung from the dome shell by anchoring a 5/8″ threaded rod vertically into the concrete of a seam. One rod can hold 3,000 lbs. Because of the incredible strength of our dome we are able to use the shell to support the second floor.  The suspension rods and plates can be purchased from Ai.  These items are listed on a form called a Parts List which is one of the two pages in the American Ingenuity official Building Kit Order Form.

Q: Can I use steel studs and steel second floor joists in my American Ingenuity Dome?
A:
Yes, we can design your dome to utilize steel joist and steel studs by designing them into your Building Plans. There are many benefits in using steel framing over wood framing. Steel joists can span great distances; thus, larger rooms are possible because fewer supports are needed for the floor above. Durability is also a benefit. Unlike wood, steel framing will not rot, shrink, swell, split or warp; and because of its zinc coating, it will not rust. Steel framing is impervious to termites, rodents and is non-combustible. The environment benefits as well. Much of steel framing is made from recycled steel, and what little waste is leftover from construction can be recycled again. Also steel does not require pesticides or other toxic substances used to protect wood. Steel is priced competitively with wood and is easy to install; plywood flooring and wall board are attached with screws. Like our dome, steel studs are fire and termite resistant, affordable and earth friendly. A perfect match.

Ai does not recommend concrete second floors.

 

Ai can design your building plans for steel framing and second floor steel joists. However we do not supply any of these items with the building kit. Go to your yellow pages under Industrial Supplies or Wall Board Suppliers and you should find businesses that sell steel framing and steel joists.

 

Metal Framing:

  • If the first floor of the dome is concrete, there is an additional price for Ai to change the building plans to design with steel studs and joists for the second floor.
  • If the dome has a basement or raised first floor, it is an additional price to design basement studs and first floor joist with steel.
  • The cost of metal framing is slightly higher than wood. You should only use metal framing if your subcontractor has worked with it before.
  • Metal Framing is not more fire proof. In a fire it will deform quicker than wood.

Some of our dome plans are now designed to show the interior wall and floor framing utilizing steel studs and joists. There are many benefits in using steel framing over wood framing. Steel joists can span great distances; thus, larger rooms are possible because fewer supports are needed for the floor above. Durability is also a benefit. Unlike wood, steel framing will not rot, shrink, swell, split, or warp, and because of its zinc coating, it will not rust.

Steel framing is impervious to termites, rodents and is non-combustible. The environment benefits as well. Much of steel framing is made from recycled steel, and what little waste is left over from construction can be recycled again. Also, steel does not require pesticides or other toxic substances used to protect wood.

Steel is priced competitively with wood and is easy to install; plywood flooring and wallboard are attached with screws. Use metal framing only if the subcontractor doing your framing knows how to work with it. Metal framing is not necessarily more fire proof. In a fire the metal framing will deform quicker than wood will.

Please call our office at 321-639-8777 for additional cost for metal framing design in Building Plans:

Q: Can I install conventional doors and windows in the dome exterior? And where are they installed?
A:
Yes conventional doors and windows can be used in the dome. The doors and windows are installed under the entryways and dormers within 2×4 walls that you build on-site. View Window Sizes and Building Options for more info.

Q: How is the exterior wall within an entryway or dormer built?
A:
It is constructed on-site using typical 2×4 wood framing techniques allowing you to personalize an important part of your dome, including your choice of locally purchased standard doors and windows. Using your own custom design the entryway wall exterior finish may be stucco, siding, brick, rock, or any material you choose.  Prior to applying stucco, steel mesh is attached to 1″ thick EPS.  Conventional windows and doors are purchased locally to please your taste and budget. Be sure to use energy efficient windows with double glass and insulated doors. 

Ai’s past clients have told us how difficult and expensive it is to purchase steel mesh locally…small 15′ roll costs $15.  As a result, Ai can calculate how much 1/4″ x1/4″ or 1/2″x1/2″ steel mesh you will need for the exterior framed wall for each entryway and dormer and add the mesh to your Parts List at a reasonable cost per sq.ft.  Ai can also calculate how much 1″ EPS you will need for your entryways and dormers and add 4’x8′ sheets to your Parts List.

Q: How are the electric and plumbing lines installed in the wall of the dome shell?
A:
Almost all of the electrical and plumbing will be contained in the interior frame walls, in the same manner as conventional housing. To install electrical wiring in the exterior dome walls: simply cut a groove in the E.P.S. insulation and wall board and insert the wire. Fill the groove with spray foam and finish the area with joint compound and tape. To install electrical boxes, conduit, or plumbing pipes: cut the E.P.S. insulation and wall board slightly larger than needed, insert the box or pipe and fill in the opening with spray expanding foam. The spray foam will harden in about half an hour, holding the box or pipe secure. To learn more view Electrical and Plumbing.  Ai ships approximately 8 cans of expanding foam (20 ozs) with your kit along with a metal dispensing gun and one can of cleaner at no cost. The dispensing gun makes it so you do not have to use up the can all at once. 

Locally you can purchase small cans of spray foam that are dispensed with a plastic tube…which gets clogged, etc.  Ai’s clients save money by purchasing more cans of expanding foam from us…..this item can be added to your Parts List as well.

Q: How are plumbing vent pipes installed in the dome shell?
A:
The plumbing vent pipes can be routed sideways through the interior framing and can sometimes be joined together before they exit our dome. Where the vent pipe is to exit through the dome shell, all you need do is make a hole through the panel in the appropriate location, extend the pipe through, concrete back up against the pipe, caulk and paint. The plumbing vent pipes are sealed to our concrete dome with caulk, e.g. urethane or butyl rubber. A plumbing boot like the type used on shingled houses is not used. View Vent Pipes to learn more.

Q: Can the dome have a fireplace and how is a fireplace installed?
A:
Yes the dome can have a fireplace. We suggest that dome owners try to locate their fireplace toward the middle of the dome, rather than along the outside edge which would cause the flue to very high on the outside. This puts more of the flue pipe inside the house where it can radiate the heat. As long as the flue pipe is round, you simply bust a hole in the concrete, enlarge the hole in the foam so that you can replace the foam with 2” of fiberglass insulation, then concrete around the vent pipe, caulk and paint. Use a nonsilicon caulk like urethane or latex. A fireplace can be added to any dome. But it may affect the second floor framing, so the stock plan might need to be modified. View Fireplaces to learn more.

Q: How are domes connected together?
A:
Domes are linked at the entryways or door dormers. Our dome kits include a standard 4′ high riser wall allowing them to be linked together despite a difference in diameters. View Links to learn more.

Q: What is the link between the domes made of, etc.?
A:
Domes are connected together with a link. The link connects to the adjacent dome at entryways or door dormers. The thickness of the E.P.S. in a link is usually 7″ when it takes the place of an entryway and 3 1/2″ when it connects like a door dormer. The width of the link depends on the size of the domes and whether they are connected like an entryway or door dormer. The length of the link varies from 2 ft. to 10 ft. Because the riser wall is a standard 4′ high, all domes will match each other despite a difference in diameters.

You do not use or order an entryway or dormer at the locations where a link connects to either dome.  The cost of the link varies depending on its width and length. 

Link panels are not concreted or wrapped with steel mesh. The 7″ E.P.S. Link panels are precut but they will require custom trimming and custom fitting where they connect to the domes. After the E.P.S. panels are in place they get covered with steel mesh and then concrete is applied to the specified thickness.  Steel Mesh can be purchased from Ai.  Also you can order the link panels with wallboard adhered.

Q: Can I have balconies off the second floor?
A:
Yes, in a 36′ or larger dome can have up to five second door dormers. A door dormer is installed above a standard entryway and a railing built resulting in a balcony. In a 34’ dome, the second floor door dormer will only accept a 6’ door that is 24” wide. This size door is a special order at Home Depot, etc.  The 36’ or larger domes can accept a standard 6’8” door.

 

In order to walk on top of the entryway, at our factory Ai cuts a four inch deep trough in the top side of two of the entryway panels. On site during the assembly of the entryway, not only is the top of the entryway stuccoed but a rebar is laid in the trough and the trough is filled with concrete.

To install the posts to hold the balcony railings, drill and install concrete anchors into the top of the entryway and install concrete screws into the side of the door dormer. The top railing is bolted to a concrete seam on each side of the door dormer. The Building Plans have details explaining this.

Q: What type of paint should I use on the exterior of my dome?
A:
Ai recommends a two coats of good quality exterior concrete paint.Your dome can be painted in any of color, avoid darker shades. You purchase the paint locally.  The primer must say to be used on masory or concrete.

PAINT, GALLONS REQUIRED Based on 150 sq.ft. per gallon of coverage for each coat applied. The surface area refers to the exterior surface area.

Dome Size
22′ 25′ 27′ 30′ 34′ 40′ 45′ 48′
Surface
1,036 1,189 1,484 1,611 1,994 2,645 3,255 3,652
Gallons of Paint
7 8 10 11 14 18 22 25

Take the Exterior Surface Area and divide by 150 to determine an approximate number of gallons for each coat of paint for each size dome. Yes, the exterior surface is just the cement surface itself, and does not include the dormers or entryways. For each entryway add 220 sq.ft. for each window dormer add 30 sq. ft. for each door dormer add 50 sq.ft.

Typically the dome is repainted every 4-5 years, it depends on your personal preference. The sides of the dome can be painted using an extension ladder and paint roller on a pole. Yes you can walk on any of the domes. If you do not have a cupola you install an eye bolt in the top of the dome to tie a rope through. To paint the top of the dome you can stand on the dome with the rope tied to you.

Q: In most of the photographs the domes are painted white, how can I make the dome exterior more conventional?
A:
The following are some exterior appearance possibilities:

  • Install stone, cedar, or wood on the vertical walls around the doors and windows in the entryways and dormers.
  • Install a wooden deck off a second floor balcony. Or you could connect two second floor balconies by a continuous wood deck.
  • Paint the dome a warm tan or soft moss green color.
  • Landscape with trees around the dome. Or install trellis with roses, vines, etc. that can climb up to the second floor deck concealing the first floor of the dome.
  • Build a porch or deck off the first floor.
  • Install canopies off the top of the entryways and doors.

Q: Would you explain briefly what is involved in the assembly of my dome kit?
A:
By simply placing the component panels, interconnecting the steel mesh, and concreting the seams you complete the structural framework, the exterior finish, the insulation and most of the interior shell wall board for your home’s shell. View Construction Overview to learn more.

  • Foundation: Once you’ve chosen a home site, you may build your dome on a slab, raised wood floor, or basement foundation – or even on pilings if necessary.
  • Temporary Support System: During the kit assembly process, the panels of larger domes are held in place by a wooden support system. It is disassembled after the seam and building optionsare concreted. Much of the 2.4’s can be reused as interior wall framing. The system is erected with your 2×4’s and our steel hub kit, which is returned to us upon completion of the dome. On our smallest domes, a simpler radial support system can be used, in which each panel is braced by temporary supports. View Rib Support or Radial Support to learn more.
  • Panels: Following the detailed instructions in the “Assembly Manual”, four foot tall riser panels are anchored to rebars extending out of your prepared foundation. The riser walls are interconnected with subsequent rows of triangular panels. The steel mesh of adjacent panels is overlapped and hooked with C-rings (commonly called hog rings) The upper panels of larger domes need to be placed using an elementary hoisting system or small crane.
  • Seams: As the rows of panels are positioned; the seams are first half filled with the special fiber concrete mixed at the job site. Additives (synthetic fibers and liquid admixtures) supplied with your kit render the same formulation as the panel concrete. Once all the seams are half filled: you start at the top of the dome and come down the dome using the bonding agent and fiber concrete to fill the seams; you finish the seam tops by sponge rubbing them to match the sand texture of the prefinished panels. To vary the exterior appearance to your taste, the seam concrete can be shaped flat or rounded.
  • Openings: The openings for doors and windows are created by structural entryway and dormer panels. They are set in place, connected to the other panels, then finish stuccoed with a layer of our special formula concrete. The six panels that make up one entryway for a 30′ – 48′ dome, consist of 3 1/2″ EPS wrapped in steel mesh and are concreted on the bottom side. On site you cement the entryway seams, lip top and the top sides. The window and door dormer panels consist of 3 1/2″ EPS wrapped in steel mesh and are not concreted. On site you concrete the dormers.  Due to the width of the 22′ & 27′ garage entryway panels they consist of 3 1/2″ EPS not concreted and not wrapped with steel mesh.
  • Painting: After the final coat of seam concrete, additional sealing with two coats of good quality exterior concrete paint is applied.
  • Completion: After your kit is assembled; you have the freedom to finish your home as you desire. Your choice of standard windows and doors are installed within the dormers and entryways in a stud wall which can be finished in concrete, stone, or wood. To finish the shell interior wall board, fill the wall board seams with joint compound and tape. Then paint the shell wall board with 50/50 mixture of joint compount and paint. Or the wallboard seams can be finished with a mixture of cement and perlite with a jont compound skip trowelled over the wall board and then primed and painted.  Interior walls are constructed then finished to taste. The second floor joist rests on loading bearing first floor walls and or are suspended from the dome shell.
  • Assembly: This advanced building system makes it easier to construct an American Ingenuity dome than a conventional house or a wooden dome. No exterior walls to frame, No roof trusses to set, No sheathing, tarpaper, or shingles to apply, No soffits, exterior trim, insulation or siding to install.

Building a Concrete Home – Panel Composition.  Because of fires, super storms, hurricanes, tornadoes and increasing air conditioning & heating costs, home owners are researching concrete home construction and finding the American Ingenuity concrete dome kit.  Building an Aidome from prefabricated concrete panels makes home construction easier and results in a super-energy efficient dome whose exterior panels comes with 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 between the panels with special fiber concrete, produces the structural components of the home, the finished steel reinforced concrete surface, installs all the insulation and all the dome shell 1/2″ DensArmor 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 26 days. Assembly time depends on the kit size, 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 & fibers. After the mesh is overlapped and locked between panels, on site special fiber concrete is mixed and hand troweled in the seam areas in two applications — bonding agent is applied between the two layers. The seam areas average 2″ thick fiber 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.

A side view of a component panel can be seen above. 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.   

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.