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Ai Warranty Against Dome Structural Damage
Exterior pilings2 Mowery platform
40′ Concrete Dome Withstood Hurricane Andrew With No Damage.
Your dome home is designed to withstand the powerful forces of nature. American Ingenuity’s warranty or  guarantee assures against any structural storm damage as a result of up to category 4 tornadoes and up to 225 mph hurricane winds on the triangle and riser panels.  This warranty does not apply to a Cupola, link, exterior doors, windows or exterior framed wall areas. Such a warranty has been unheard of in the construction industry until now.

Q: What are the advantages of the dome shape?
A: The dome, or partial sphere, is a geometric form that encloses the greatest amount of volume with the least amount of surface area. Historically, massive domes constructed of stones, brick or concrete were common in ancient Greece and Rome. In modern times, Buckminster Fuller was the first to formulate geodesic principles for constructing a spherical surface by triangular subdivision.

During the past decade the home buying public has experienced a substantial increase in the cost of construction, the cost of energy and the cost of borrowing. As a result, there has been increased interest in the use of technology to help address these concerns. In the last decade, many people have discovered that the dome home design offers a viable solution.

As a residential building concept, geodesic dome home construction translates into a highly comfortable and livable home that has a maximum of floor area enclosed by a minimum of materials. These features combine superior strength and cost-effectiveness in a single structure. In short, the building concept of a dome home expands the range of simple and economic housing options.

Manufactured dome homes are constructed using a triangular network to form a spherical shape. This method provides for a free span, self-supporting structure requiring no internal supports such as roof load bearing partition walls. This allows for maximum flexibility of floor plan design and utilization of interior space.

As an architectural form, the dome is one of the strongest structural forms devised and built by man. Domes that were built centuries ago enclose many of the great cathedrals of Europe. Domes are structurally superior to rectilinear enclosures. The partial sphere is an aerodynamic shape that is very stable in high winds and can withstand heavy snow loads. For these reasons, residential domes greatly exceed the structural requirements of the major building codes in the United States.

One of the most exciting architectural environments ever designed, a dome brings its best attributes to your home. It delivers a rewarding living experience filled with warmth, light and open space to those who accept the challenge to build and live in their own dome.

Q: Do you have an engineering statement about your dome panels that can be submitted to my building department?

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

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American Ingenuity warrants only the structure and is not liable for the loss of personal property, life, or limb. In the event of natural disasters, the occupants should evacuate when advised to do so by local authorities.  To read about a load test which proves the strength of the Ai component panel, click on Load Test.  Prior to hurricanes, glass doors and windows should be protected with code approved shutters.

The founder of American Ingenuity, Michael Busick, manufactured and built his first concrete dome in 1976. Since then no American Ingenuity Dome has suffered any structural damage due to hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes. As a matter of fact, only one of our domes has suffered any damage during this time due to a hurricane, earthquake or tornado. And that was in 1992 during Hurricane Andrew when a tornado slammed a two wide metal horse trailer against a 45′ American Ingenuity Dome. Minor damage occurred, a hairline crack and small chunk of concrete was broken loose. The dome owner caulked the crack and mixed up the special fiber concrete, filled the chunk and painted over the area.

In 2008, Hurricane Ike destroyed the Texas coast.  The Seabrook, Texas dome owners slept through the hurricane and had no damage to their dome while their neighbor’s homes suffered damage and the families could not sleep during the howling winds.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. One Ai dome owner could have moved back into her dome but the neighborhood did not have water or electricity.  Another family called and told us that  their conventional house was destroyed so they moved in to their dome while it was under construction.  The shell kit was assembled but the interior had not finished.

In 2004, Florida had four hurricanes, none of American Ingenuity’s concrete domes had any damage.
 
In 1992, Hurricane Andrew destroyed parts of South Florida and Homestead Florida.  An Ai dome not only survived Andrew but it survived a tornado and had no structural damage.   To read a recap of the hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquake, tree impact and lighting strike the American Ingenuity domes have survived without any structural damage, click on Hurricane Recap.

The following is taken directly from the American Ingenuity Conditions of Sale:

  • American Ingenuity warrants to the original Buyer that their triangle & riser panels will remain free from structural damage directly attributable to hurricane winds of up to 225 mph and category 4 tornadoes, when completely assembled and installed in accordance with: American Ingenuity’s specifications, Professional building practice, Applicable building codes.  This warranty does not apply to a Cupola, link, exterior doors, windows or exterior framed wall areas.
  • In the event such structural damage occurs: The Buyer shall notify American Ingenuity promptly of such damage. After receipt of notification, American Ingenuity shall repair or, at American Ingenuity’s option, provide the necessary replacement components at no charge to the Buyer. The buyer shall be responsible for freight charges and/or reasonable travel and living expense of American Ingenuity personnel for travel to the site, if necessary.
  • Disassembly and reassemble of any damaged component shall be the sole responsibility of the Buyer.
  • This structural warranty shall not apply if the products or components have been subjected to abuse, abnormal wear, corrosive environmental conditions, or improper maintenance by the Buyer.
  • This structural warranty shall not apply to any glass, utility domes, or related components, exterior doors, framed walls under entryways and dormers, cupola or link. 
  • American Ingenuity warrants only the structure and is no way liable for the loss of personal property, life, or limb. In the event of natural disasters, the occupants should evacuate when advised to do so by local authorities.
  • In no event shall American Ingenuity’s liability arising out of this agreement or use of the products or components provided by American Ingenuity exceed the amount paid by the buyer.  American Ingenuity shall not be liable for any special, incidental, or consequential damages.

Hurricane Ratings

The following information came from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes – FLASH, Inc. is a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization dedicated to promoting disaster safety and property loss mitigation. Their web site is http://www.flash.org

What is a Hurricane? A hurricane is a powerful tropical storm that measures several hundred miles in diameter. Hurricanes have two main parts. The first is the eye of the the hurricane, which is a calm area in the center of the storm. Usually, the eye of a hurricane measures about 20 miles in diameter and has very few clouds. The second part is the wall of clouds that surrounds the calm eye. This is where the hurricane’s strongest winds and heaviest rain occur.

How Hurricanes Form: Hurricanes need warm tropical oceans, moisture and light winds above them. If the right conditions last long enough, a hurricane can produce violent winds, incredible waves, torrential rains and floods. Hurricanes rotate in a counter clockwise direction around an “eye.” Hurricanes have winds of at least 74 miles per hour. There are on average six Atlantic hurricanes each year; over a three-year period, approximately five hurricanes strike the United States coastline from Texas to Maine.

Tropical Depression: A tropical depression is an organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 38 mph.

Tropical Storm: A tropical storm is an organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39-73 mph.

When a Hurricane Strikes: When hurricanes move onto land, the heavy rain, strong winds and heavy waves can damage buildings, trees and cars. The heavy waves are called a storm surge. Storm surge is very dangerous and a major reason why you MUST stay away from the ocean during a hurricane warning or hurricane.

The Saffir-Sinpson Hurricane Scale is used to rate a hurricane’s present intensity. The scale ranges from one to five and uses sustained wind speed to estimate the potential property damage and flooding from a hurricane landfall.

  • Category One — Wind Speed 74-95 mph. Damage: No real damage to building structures. Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery and trees; also some coast flooding and minor pier damage. Examples: Irene 1999, Allison 1995.
  • Category Two — Wind Speed 96-110 mph. Damage: Some roofing material, door and window damage to buildings; considerable damage to vegetation, mobile homes and piers. Coastal and low-lying escape routes flood in two to four hours before arrival of the center of the storm. Small craft in unprotected anchorages break moorings. Examples: Bonnie 1998, Georges 1998 and Gloria 1985.
  • Category Three — Wind Speed 111-130 mph. Damage: Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with a minor amount of curtain wall failures. Mobile homes are destroyed. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with large structures damaged by floating debris. Terrain continuously lower than five feet above sea level may be flooded inland eight miles or more. Examples: Keith 2000, Fran 1996, Opal 1995, Alicia 1983 and Betsy 1965.
  • Category Four — Wind Speed 131-155 mph. Damage: More extensive curtain wall failures with some complete roof structure failure on small residences; major erosion of beaches. Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore. Terrain continuously lower than ten feet above seal level may be flooded requiring massive evacuation of residential areas as far as six miles. Examples: Katrina 2005?Andrew 1992, Hugo 1989, Donna 1960.
  • Category Five — Wind Speed 155 ++++ Damage: Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located 15 feet above seal level and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within five to ten miles of the shoreline may be required. Examples: Mitch and Gilbert in 1988.

Exterior Hurricane Andrew Dome 6

American Ingenuity Dome went through Hurricane Andrew & Tornado with no structural damage.

Tornado picked up two wide steel horse trailer & slammed it against the dome. Only damage was hairline crack & small chunk of concrete missing. If the trailer had impelled conventional house, typically the trailer would cause a hole in the house to let wind in to lift the roof off the house.  The Ai dome stood strong.

Tornadoes

What is a Tornado? Tornadoes are the most sudden, unpredictable and violent storms on earth. Tornadoes aren’t like hurricanes that are born over open waters and can take days to reach land. Tornadoes are spawned from thunderstorms that form when warm humid air meets a mass of cool, dry air. Only one in a hundred thunderstorms produce a tornado. They can happen quickly and often stay on the ground for only a few minutes. While Florida gets the most tornadoes of any state, a strip of land that extends from northeast Texas through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri has more tornadoes than any other place in the United States. That area is called “Tornado Alley.”

The dangers of tornadoes: During the last century, more than 10,000 Americans died in tornadoes. About 1,000 tornadoes are recorded each year in the U.S. — over 10 times more than in any other country. Tornadoes can happen in any state, at any time — on the plains, in cities or forests, early in the morning or late in the evening. They can start in an empty field, or in a busy city, picking up homes, cars and businesses, leaving nothing but destruction in their path.

Ranking a Tornadoes Strength

The Fujita Scale: The Fujita Scale is used to measure tornado wind speeds and damage.

  • F0 Gale Tornado: Light damage, winds less than 72 mph. Some damage to chimneys, branches broken off trees, shallow-rooted trees uprooted, signboards damaged.
  • F1 Moderate Tornado: Moderate damage, winds 73-112 mph. Surface peeled off roofs, mobile homes pushed off foundations or overturned, moving autos blown off road.
  • F2 Significant Tornado: Considerable damage, winds 113-157 mph. Roofs torn off frame houses, mobile homes demolished, large trees snapped or uprooted, light objects become missiles.
  • F3 Severe Tornado: Severe Damage, winds 158-206 mph. Roofs and some walls torn off well-constructed houses, trains overturned, most trees uprooted, heavy cars lifted off the ground and thrown.
  • F4 Devastating Tornado: Devastating damage, winds 207-260 mph. Well-constructed houses leveled, structures with weak foundations blown-off some distance, cars thrown.
  • F5 Incredible Tornado: Incredible damage, wind 261-318 mph. Strong frame houses lifted off foundations and swept away, automobile-sized missiles fly through the air more than 100 yards, trees debarked.

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

This a quote from them and below are two pictures.

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

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

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

Charles exterior

 

 

Charles living pic1

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

U.S. Dept of Energy,  Renewable Energy

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

Types of Radiant Floor Heating

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

Concrete Network.com

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

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

Wirsbo

www.wirsbo.com

The following came directly from their web site:

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

 

 

 This page provides info about American Ingenuity domes built on pilings and platform.

8.18 Exterior pilings2 Mowery platform-edited2

40′ dome built in 1990 on concrete platform on concrete block columns.

This concrete dome survived Hurricane Andrew with no damage.

 

40' dome built on pylons extending 12' above ground. This dome survived Hurricane Katrina.

40′ dome built in 1992 on wood pylons extending 12′ above ground.

This dome survived Hurricane Katrina with no damage.

 

The standard foundation that comes with American Ingenuity’s building plans is a concrete slab. For Ai to design any other foundation other than concrete slab, a local Florida licensed engineer is hired.  He requires a soil’s report where the soil engineer recommends what type foundation is to be built for your specific type soil. The local PE engineer uses the soil report data to give Ai details for your foundation design.  He calculates the load of the dome and its interior floors to determine joist size and spacing and wall design.  Ai then incorporates the engineer’s designs into your building plans.  Call our office at 321-639-8777 for engineer pricing.

The dome’s standard footing size is 20″ tall by 16″ wide with slab 4″. Foundation should be built on undisturbed native soil or fill – with soil compacted to 98% density for a minimum of 2,000 psf of bearing pressure. If your bearing capacity is less, then the engineer can increase your footer size and slab thickness. For example the soil for a dome being built in California was 1,500 psf. Its footer was increased to  20″x 20″ and slab was increased to 6″.

Have you checked with your local building department to see what they require your house be built on? If you live near the ocean or body of water, the building department may require concrete or wood pilings which could be driven 10′ to 15′ or more down into the ground versus concrete columns on a footer.

When there is a potential for waves of water washing dirt out from under your house, the local building department usually  requires pilings. If your property is within a few hundred feet of the ocean or gulf then it is the federal government that decides what foundation type your house will have. If you have neighbors that are currently building, ask them what foundations they are utilizing.

Whether you use concrete pilings or concrete columns, Ai can design a wood platform under the dome, wood deck, wood stairs with deck and stairs made out of plastic wood or pressure treated wood. Or Ai can design a concrete platform with concrete stairs. Your building department will require the piling and platform plans and the dome plans to be engineer sealed by an engineer licensed for your state. These seals can be purchased through Ai.

Once you know which types of stilts and platform are acceptable by your building department and soil’s engineer, the next step is to ask the Building Department and or your friends, neighbors, relatives that have built on stilts and a platform for contractor
references.  Contact two or three of these stilts/platform contractors and obtain pricing quotes for a platform the square footage of the dome home you are planning….1,178 sq.ft. for 40′, 916 sq.ft. for 36′, 1,489 sq.ft. for a 45′ dome….adding in whatever deck and patio area that you want.

We think the prices will shock you!  That is why you are shopping types of stilts and platforms and different size domes so you can get an idea of construction costs.  To keep your costs down, we recommend that you build as small a dome as you can because stilts and platform costs can range from $30,000 to $60,000 to $100,000 and that pricing does not include the costs for the dome kit, materials to finish the dome or any labor to assemble the dome kit and finish its interior.  While you are at it, ask the contractors what the approximate cost per sq.ft. is to finish a conventional house in the neighborhood where you are thinking of building.  Once you have this number then you can really decide what size dome you can afford to finish. The dome size will ultimately determine the size of your platform.

If you need to obtain financing, the lender will require 25% to 35% down based on the finished price of your stilts/platform and the dome.  So if you build a 36′ dome (about 1,664 sq.ft.) and the price per sq.ft. to build is $100 and your foundation costs are $60,000 then your finished cost is $226,000.  The lender will want $56,000 to $79,000 down.  They will accept some equity you have in the land, but they will want a lot of cash to be included in the down payment.  Is this down payment within your budget?

We hope we are not bursting your bubble….but over the 39 years that American Ingenuity has been in existence, we have found it better to be up front on the “big picture”; so that our clients do not purchase building plans for too large a size dome and then later not be able to afford to finish their dream home.  To us the single biggest bargain our clients receive is the American Ingenuity Dome building kit…which is usually one third to one half less in cost than the materials cost for the walls and roof of a conventional house or wooden dome or gunited concrete dome…..but this does not mean that all the finishing costs will be one half less.  The kitchen cabinets, doors, windows, plumber, electrician, stilts, platform, etc. all cost the same whether it is a box house or a dome.  So it is best to build the smallest dome you can and even consider not installing the second floor till later.  That way you can afford to finish your dome, live on your  property and save month to month on your heating and cooling costs and have a tornado and hurricane proof house.

As far as selecting a contractor for your dome, we recommend that you get quotes from several builders to compare construction costs….all the time explaining to them that they need to quote based on hiring the Kit Assembly Consultant to supervise their workers to get the shell assembled.  The Consultant can give you an agreement showing the number of days needed for assembly with the first layer of concrete in the seams.  This way the contractor does not need to be worried about estimating the assembly costs and making mistakes during the assembly just because he has never assembled and Ai dome kit before.  Once the dome is erected, and a scratch coat of concrete is in all the seams and on all the entryways and dormers, the Consultant can leave and the contractor’s subs can finish the interior and even finish the last coat of stucco in the seams and on the entryways and dormers. To view info about Consultant, please click on Specialist/Consultant.

Various Questions American Ingenuity receives: 

  1. My property is in a flood zone, what height is the finished fill and finished floor height to be?  If you are in a flood zone, then FEMA requires your finished floor height to be at a certain height. Contact your local Natural Resources government department and ask them for the FEMA phone number and what info you have to provide the County when you submit for your building permit.
  2. I might have wetlands on my property, what do I do to build?  Contact your government office for who to contact to see where the wetlands are and determine how much of the property is buildable.  Find out the set backs on your property to see what size of property is left to build on.  If you need to install septic tank and drain field and well then there are  setbacks from those as well.  Ultimately you end up with a site map showing your driveway, set backs, septic, well or city water & sewer line, etc.
  3. I think I need to build my foundation off the ground.   First of all, how high off the ground does the first floor have to be? If you do not know this answer, you will need to  call your building department and ask them.

Possible Solutions

  • If your dome has to be eight feet to ten feet off the ground Due to a wave of water, not rising water then the dome will have to be built on concrete columns and a concrete or wood platform
  • If you want enclosed rooms or a garage under the platform, then you can install break-a-way basement walls. Build concrete block columns under the corners of the platform.
  • If your dome has to be raised two to three feet, the best thing may be to bring in fill and construct the concrete slab onto the fill.
  • If your dome has to be raised two to three feet build a stem wall: bring in fill to fill within the stem wall and pour a concrete slab onto of the fill (most economical and energy efficient)  install a wood floor that sets on piers and beams. You would have a crawl space. (more expensive)

Q: In my area I have to deal with the possibility of a wave surge, can I build my dome on “break away basement walls”?
A: Yes. If you have to design with the possibility of a wave surge, you may be able to enclose the first floor pilings with breakaway walls. Breakaway walls are nonstructural walls that will break-a-way in the event of a wave surge. Pilings (columns) would support the structure and the breakaway walls could be installed between the pilings to enclose the ground floor. The purpose is to enclose the ground floor but preserve the house if a wave tears down the walls.

Q: In my area I have to build on pilings and a platform. Can the dome be built on pilings and still maintain its structural integrity?
A: Yes, building our dome upon pilings does not effect the dome’s structural integrity. We can design the pilings and the  platform, but you will need an engineer licensed for your state to seal the Piling Blueprints. For example, the Building Plans  Cost for the pilings and concrete platform for a 45′ dome could be more than $2,000…..this pricing does not include the building plans for the 45 dome home itself.  We know of a Florida engineer who charges from $1,000 to $2,000 to seal the pilings and platform plan.

If you built the dome on the ground using a concrete slab, the standard dome building plans contain the slab foundation.  As a result you are paying for the building plans and the engineer’s fee to seal the plans for your state.  All the costs associated with elevating any house onto pilings is considerable more and worth considering other options.

For a complete summary of all types of foundations that can be used with the American Ingenuity Dome, click on this link
Foundation Summary.

                          

                                                            CONCRETE PILINGS AND CONCRETE PLATFORM

piling20mowery0061

piling220mowery0062 piling320mowery0063
            This Ai Dome Home with a Cupola was built in mid 80’s. The Cupola’s look is different now; it is
             not so tall and it has overhangs that extend out from the top panels. These raised seams collect
                    water. Only have flat, rounded or accentuated seams on your dome; not raised seams.
piling420mowery0064
                        Pilings with oval Concrete Platform for 40′ Dome Home
 

 

Click on the photo to enlarge it.  Please scroll down to view the Questions with their Answers. 

Image Image

Q: What makes your panel concrete so crack resistant?

A: The panel concrete is a special formulation containing synthetic fibers and liquid admixtures. 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 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 panel concrete adheres directly to the steel mesh and the E.P.S. insulation without the need of a bonding agent.

Q: I understand when I mix concrete on site to fill the panel seams; the recipe includes the same liquid admixtures and fibers that American Ingenuity used in the panel concrete. Is this true?

A: Yes, Ai ships the same liquid admixtures and synthetic fibers with the Building Kit so the seam concrete that is mixed on site in a mortar mixer not a cement mixer will have the same properties as the panel concrete that was applied at the Ai plant.  Fibers in concrete work to reduce the formation of shrinkage, (cracks in concrete’s plastic state) while helping to improve shatter resistance and reduce water migration. The result: tougher concrete.

The liquid admixtures shipped with your dome kit are marked A and B.  One is an air entrainment and the other is a water reducer.

The Concrete Mix recipe includes water, 1 bag Portland Cement (type 1 or 111), Admixture A, Admixture B, ¼ large bag fibers, Sand (called masonry or stucco sand….no rocks). The Assembly Manual includes the precise amounts for each of these items, and when to apply the admixtures.  During the assembly of the dome kit, the seam areas between the panels are filled with the special concrete in two applications.  In between the two applications of bonding agent, that is shipped with your kit, is applied on the first coat of concrete and onto the bonding ledge of each panel before the second coat of concrete is applied. Prior to the second layer of concrete being applied, decide the seam appearance, flat or curved.  The second layer is sponged so that its appearance is a “sponged sand finish” to match the sand finish, which is the finish on Ai’s prefabricated component panels. Prior to priming and painting the concrete allow the concrete to be rained on for one month to remove efflorescence. 

Prior to the application of concrete into the seams, all the prefabricated panel concrete or cured concrete around the area to receive the new concrete is watered down.  The “Old” concrete is kept wet while the new concrete is curing. Ai’s Assembly Manual explains step by step how to apply concrete in the seams and onto the entryway and dormer panels. 

Q: After all the seams between the component panels and building options are concreted, what is used to seal the concrete?

A:  Ai does not depend on the concrete to make the dome watertight. The dome is sealed with a concrete primer and two coats of good quality exterior concrete paint purchased locally.  Ai dome owners recommend the following paints:

  • Richards Paint: Rich Flex 245; use Rich Flex Alkali Resistant 100% Acrylic Masonry Coating for the primer.
  • 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 in the Behr’s line.  – Home Depot
  • Sherwin Williams: Loxon XP Paint, Loxon Primer and Conditioner
  • Behr’s Premium Elastomeric Masonry, Stucco & Brick Paint –Home Depot
  • Seal Krete Paint (pigmented) –Home Depot
  • Ames Research Labs: Maximum – Stretch, at participating ACE & True Value Stores or can be purchased directly from Ames at 888-345-0809 (if using Ames paint, specific type sealants and primer need to be used.  TT3 sealant cannot be used.)

Q: I am considering applying elastomeric paint over the entire dome, should I do this?

A: Yes if the concrete was primed with concrete primer, if the paint is breathable and if interior water vapor is removed from the interior with Broan Bathroom Exhaust Fans, Top of dome exhaust fan, stove/microwave exhaust fans and use of Heat Recovery Ventilator or Energy Recovery Ventilator if needed in your area.  Water vapor accumulates in the dome from breathing, doing laundry and dishes, showering and should be removed from the dome. 

In northern climates, install a Heat Recovery Ventilator to remove moisture or check with your local HVAC subcontractor for latest solutions.  To read about Heat Recovery Ventilators click on HRV.

For an existing dome that has elastomeric paint applied to it, please do not remove the elastomeric paint.  Please call our office for the most current painting info for previously painted domes.  Phone 321-639-8777 Mon – Fri 9-5 eastern.

Q: What if I get a leak in the dome shell?

A:  Generally, it is easier to repair a leak in our concrete dome than it is to make a repair in a shingled roof. Applying EternaBond Tape (has MicroSealant) and textured knife grade patching compound is all it takes to seal the area if the concrete is bonded.  Call Ai’s office for more info (321-639-8777). 

Q: Where am I most likely to get a leak?

A: Where a passageway connects two domes, what Ai calls a link. A leak most likely will occur where the long flat roof of the link butts up to the curved surface of the dome shell. The expansion and the contraction associated with temperature changes produce the flex or separation at the link. The fall is the most likely problem time. Seal the area where the link meets the dome with the EternaBond Tape and textured knife grade patching compound and elastomeric paint.

Q: Explain why the use of a bonding agent helps prevent leaks.

A: Technology has developed now to prevent cold joints. The Assembly Manual that comes with the American Ingenuity Dome Kit explains how to utilize bonding agent and other techniques to join the concrete in the seams. 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.

Q: What else do I do during the seam concreting to assure that the second layer of concrete bonds to the concrete of the panels and to the first layer of the seam concrete?

A: This is discussed in detail in the Assembly Manual,  basically, wet the adjacent panels with water and allow them to soak up all the water they will before applying concrete into the seam areas. Plus apply bonding agent on the concrete ledge at the edge of the panel and on any concrete that has been placed in the seam before the second layer of concrete is applied.

Q: What other special features are designed into the panels of your kit to improve the bond and strength of your dome?

A: The pre-concreted 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. The steel mesh, which extends from the old concrete to the new concrete is a small mesh which compliments the effect of the fibers in securing the joint.

Q: Can I spray concrete into the seams instead of hand applying it?

A: No. Ai does not recommend pumping or spraying the concrete into the dome seams because the equipment usually pumps faster than the seams can be finished. The over spray gets on the panels and unless it is washed off ASAP, it will harden and be difficult to remove.

Q: Why is it more beneficial to have pre-concreted panels instead of spraying concrete all over the dome on site?

A: A continuous sprayed concrete structure will cause the concrete to cure all at once.  Pre-concreted panels allow for the panel concrete to cure prior to the seam concrete being applied.

In 1976 American Ingenuity manufactured and then built its first geodesic dome prototype by utilizing reinforced concrete over E.P.S. insulation. Steel mesh was hand tied onto the propped up E.P.S. insulation, concrete was then gunited and troweled over the propped up E.P.S. insulation. Countless designs and manufacturing construction techniques were analyzed in the early years as American Ingenuity developed a new generation in dome housing. Ai has outgrown two previous models as we progressed to a five dome complex.

Ai does not recommend sprayed concrete structures because spraying concrete causes a waste of labor and concrete. The concrete ends up being 2″ thick in one place and 3″ to 4″ thick in other places. The concrete on the dome needs to be thick only in the seams and thin on the panels.  It is a waste of labor because it is difficult for the concrete finishers to stand in the concrete and try to finish the concrete as it cures.

Q: What is the curing time for the seam concrete?

A: The weather and the mix of the concrete (amount of water, etc.) will effect the curing time of the concrete. Usually by the time a complete row of panels is placed the next row can be assembled. If  a panel is placed above another panel and cracks start to form in the first coat of concrete, then the concrete has not cured long enough.  Stop placing panels until the concrete has cured and passes the “scratch test”.  Take a nail or screw driver and scratch the concrete if no indentation place the next row of panels.

  Answers to Our Most Frequently  
Asked Financing Questions

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

For Mortgage Financing contact:

Per Jennie Lyn Steeg with Regions Mortgage is able to loan on the Aidomes through its Smart Solutions portfolio.  Jennie wrote Ai:  “We are able to provide end-loan financing to your client through our niche portfolio – Smart Solutions.   I am happy to assist any of your clients.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Financing Alternatives: 

  1. take out an equity line on property you own
  2. obtain a personal loan from family or friends (offering them a higher interest rate than banks, etc. are offering on money markets certificates, etc.)
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Q: What is the resale value of American Ingenuity domes?
A:
Ai knows of only a few of our dome owners who have sold their dome; which is a compliment in itself. Therefore, we have no resale statistics on our dome, but we have heard of other domes being sold at a profit well above their initial building cost. We can offer some insight that would apply.

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

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

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

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

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

The following information was written by Michael Darling.  There is good news; there are more lenders who will lend on domes than on other “unique properties. There is bad news – it is still more difficult to get a loan for a dome home than for traditional construction. And there is good reason for hope for improvement in the near future.
Four Scenarios for Financing a Dome Home

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

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

1. Three or More Comps

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

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

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

3. No Comps and No Domes in the Market Area

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

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

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

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

Appraisal

Lenders should be thought of as investors who invest in a loan. And each has their own investment criteria. Most investors want to know they can sell their investment at some point in time- and in the mortgage lending world this means that most lenders underwrite with similar standards and criteria so that a loan can be sold. While the general challenge for financing domes is the shortage of lenders or loan programs, I have access to several loan programs that will accept unique properties if the appraisal includes sufficient market analysis to establish a market valuation for the property. So the specific challenge is typically the appraisal. I can help find an experienced appraiser that will be able to complete the kind of appraisal required.

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

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

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

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

 


 

American Ingenuity No Longer Offers Lay-a way

Due to Suppliers Increasing Material’s Costs Without Notice

American Ingenuity No Longer Offers Layaway

Due to Suppliers Increasing Material’s Costs Without Notice

Pre-Construction Consulting 

This page is being revised.