considerably | AiDomes

Unlike buildings with flat roofs, which rely on regularly spaced columns for support (the bigger the roof, the more columns required), domed roofs are designed to provide the maximum amount of unobstructed covered space. With no internal support columns standing in the way, domed structures are well suited as places where people congregate, such as convention centers and sports venues.

In a traditional, hemispheric dome, a series of arches intersects at the crown. Here, forces move inward toward the center, pushing the halves of each arch together and making the resulting dome rigid. The great weight of concrete material, however, creates downward and outward forces near the bottom of the dome that must be balanced by upward and inward forces to prevent the dome from collapsing. In a well-designed dome, the material from which it is built provides enough support to balance the downward force of the load. But what can be done to minimize the outward push, or tension, in the lower portion of the structure? Two things: encircle the dome’s rim with a steel cable or chain, or build heavy concrete step rings around the dome’s perimeter to keep it in compression, or pushed in.

Over time, engineers have devised new ways to manage forces in domes, employing lighter materials and using less of them. By using a smaller, self-supporting internal dome as a base, fourteenth-century engineers discovered they could build steeper, more impressive outer domes that weighed just a fraction of what the inner dome weighed. London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral and the U.S. Capitol building each have “false”p double domes, the outermost of which is little more than a shell. Engineers have also turned to new materials like iron to construct domes that are more supportive and considerably lighter than stone or concrete domes of the same size.

In the mid-twentieth century, space frames, which are assemblies of lightweight tubular steel struts, were adapted to create a model for the most efficient and economical means of enclosing large spaces: the geodesic dome. This self-supporting spherical structure has inspired the wide-spanning tension domes that have today become the design of choice for sports venues.

Questions for Discussion

  • How is the room you are in like a dome? If it is not curved, is it a dome anyway?
  • Use everyday materials to build a dome that will cover an object in your house, such as a plant or cake or some delicate item. What forces act on your dome? How does your structure withstand these forces?
  • Use a sketch to show where tension and compression forces are operating in the domes you chose in the interactive challenge for the baseball stadium, the greenhouse, and the Capitol Building.

The standard seven inch thick (R-28) expanded polystyrene insulation (E.P.S.)  in the American Ingenuity 22′ thru 48′ dome building kits can be upgraded to nine inch thick (R-36) E.P.S.  See below for pricing.  To view the detailed data and characteristics of E.P.S. insulation, please click on Panel Composition and scroll down the page to view the EPS data.

Cold northern climates like Vermont and Wisconsin, etc. are appropriate areas to build Ai dome kits with the thicker 9″ (R-36) insulation. If a 48′ dome’s insulation is upgraded, your shipment will require two semi-trucks for delivery.  The Ai dome with 7″ E.P.S. will easily out perform conventional housing with 10″ thick fiberglass insulation. Instead of purchasing thicker insulation from American Ingenuity consider applying the money for the thicker insulation to purchase thermal coverings for windows, triple panned windows and insulated doors.

E.P.S.- Expanded Polystyrene Insulation

E.P.S. is frequently mistakenly referred to as “Styrofoam”. Although they both come from the same “base” material, polystyrene, the two products differ in many respects. “Styrofoam” is the registered name of Dow Chemical Co. and refers to the extruded polystyrene insulation product produced and marketed solely by that company. “Styrofoam” is generally blue in color and has a minimum density of about 1.80 pounds per cubic foot. It has a different cell structure (like hollow bubbles) and has a marginally lower better R value, but is considerably more expensive, not only per board foot but even more so on a “cost per R” basis. E.P.S. is available from more than 100 manufacturers throughout the country in a variety of sizes, densities and forms. “Styrofoam” is only available from one company in a more limited range of sizes.

Seven inches of sturdy, rigid R-28 expanded polystyrene (E.P.S.) insulation forms the core of each American Ingenuity component panel. This insulation is permanent, chemically and thermally stable, and resistant to mildew, provides no nutritive value to animals, plants, microorganisms, is non-irritating to skin, and is Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and formaldehyde free. This 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 Ai uses is sometimes referred to as bead board and sometimes incorrectly referred to as Styrofoam (Styrofoam is the trade name for extruded polystyrene manufactured by Dow Chemical Co). Ai does not use Styrofoam.

American Ingenuity uses the one pound per cubic foot density, closed cell E.P.S. which has a thermal resistance (R-value) of 4.17 per inch of insulation at near freezing temperatures. This also explains why it is a very common insulation used in housing and sold at hardware stores. Ai uses the 7” thick E.P.S. which has an R-value of about 28.

Ai chose the expanded polystyrene over the extruded polystyrene because the extruded polystyrene is almost twice the cost with only a slightly better R-value.

When should you purchase the 9″ thick E.P.S.? If you have five or more days a year where the temperature reaches zero degrees then you may want to purchase the thicker 9″ insulation. If you have hotter days than most climates, we leave it up to you whether you need the 9″ thick E.P.S.. On the price list go to the Building Options and look down the list for 9″ Insulation.

Ai does not recommend that you purchase the 11″ E.P.S. insulation unless you live in a severe climate like the Northwest Territory of Canada.

Insulation Comparisons:

  • 2×4 solid wood with 3 1/2″ fiberglass is about R-8.
  • 8″ Concrete Block, with 3/4″ air, 3/4″ Celotex is about R-9.
  • 2×6 Solid wood construction with 5 1/2″ fiberglass is about R-11.
  • 2×4 solid wood with 3″ urethane is about R-13.
  • 7″ E.P.S. insulation is R-28 and is comparable to 11″ of fiberglass insulation.
  • 9″ E.P.S. insulation is R-36.
  • 11″ E.P.S. insulation is R-44.

American Ingenuity’s component panels for the 22′  thru 48′ domes includes the R-28 insulation and most of the steel reinforced concrete exterior finish and all the interior shell wallboard. Typically, in wooden domes you will likely have to purchase the insulation, wallboard and roofing materials for extra costs.

Estimated 2018 Pricing For Thicker 9″  E.P.S. Insulation
call for pricing
call for pricing


If you upgrade your 48′ dome with 9″ EPS a second semi-truck will be required  for its delivery.  All Kits whose insulation is upgraded are considered Specialized Orders and are custom made for that Buyer.  These orders require a 50% deposit to start manufacturing.  If the specialized order is cancelled any payments made are non-refundable.

Q: Why are your dome homes so energy efficient?
You can save 50-60% on heating and air-conditioning costs with your American Ingenuity dome over a conventionally built home. Some of the reasons for this superb energy efficiency are:

  • Super insulation that does not degrade with time, moisture, or compaction.
  • Spherical shape means reduced exposed surface.
  • Airtight exterior virtually eliminates energy leakage.
  • Solid thermal envelope.
  • Uniform R-value. The insulation is not interrupted with structural members (e.g. 2X4’s roof trusses). The only breaks are for doors and windows.
  • Downsized heating and cooling equipment.

Your kit comes with lifetime R-28 E.P.S. insulation or if you choose, thicker R-36 E.P.S. insulation is available. Even in cold climates, you may find that a single ventilating wood stove can heat a smaller dome (22′, 27′ or 30′) will provide all the heat your home will need. Larger domes need a centralized ducting system or mini-split ductless unites to disperse the heated or cooled air throughout your dome.


The Expanded Bead Polystyrene (E.P.S.) Insulation that American Ingenuity utilizes is seven inches of sturdy, rigid R-28 modified E.P.S. insulation that forms the core of each component panel. The E.P.S is one pound per cubic foot density (pcf).

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. is:

·         permanent

·         chemically and thermally stable

·         resistant to mildew

·         provides no nutritive value to animals, plants, microorganisms

·         non-irritating to skin

·         Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and formaldehyde free.


Kolb prius domes

American Ingenuity Dome Owners are Concerned About the Environment

They build energy efficient Ai domes & drive energy efficient cars to save our natural resources.

This dome earned EPA’s Energy Star. To view more pics of this dome, click on Star

Question:  How did the American Ingenuity dome perform during the Energy Efficiency Study prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy?  Superbly. Test findings were released from a year long study prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy by the Florida Solar Energy Center, a governmental consumer agency, in cooperation with the University of Oregon and the University of Central Florida. This study compared an American Ingenuity dome with an energy efficient conventionally built structure and a super energy efficient Styrofoam house designed by Dow Chemical. It came as no surprise to us that our test dome far surpassed both the conventional house and the Dow test house in being the most energy efficient.

Although the test was conducted in a temperate locale (Florida) without summer and winter temperature extremes, the American Ingenuity dome out performed the other structures. In the summer, the energy savings for the dome exceeded 36% and during the winter, the energy savings exceeded 42%. In areas of severe cold and heat, savings would be expected to be considerably higher.

Also, the blower door test showed the 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.

Some of the reasons for the American Ingenuity’s Dome’s super energy efficiency are:

  • Super insulation that does not degrade with time, moisture, or compaction.

  • Spherical shape means reduced exposed surface.

  • Airtight exterior virtually eliminates energy leakage.

  • Solid thermal envelope.

  • Uniform R-value. The insulation is not interrupted with structural members (e.g. 2×4 roof trusses). The only breaks are for doors and windows.

  • Downsized heat and air equipment.

The American Ingenuity Dome kit comes with lifetime R-28 Expanded Bead Polystyrene Insulation (E.P.S.), or if you choose, thicker R-36 E.P.S. insulation is available. In cold climates, you may find that a single ventilating wood stove will provide all the heat your 22′ – 30′ in diameter dome home may need.  Larger square footage domes (34′, 36′, 40′, 45′, 48′) need a ductless or ducted system where the heated or cooled air can be distributed evenly throughout the dome.  Heat recovery ventilators or exhaust fans remove interior water vapor from the dome.  The air conditioner or furnace will be one third smaller than is needed for the same square footage conventional house.

Insulation Comparisons:

  • 2×4 solid wood with 3 1/2″ fiberglass is about R-8

  • 8″ Concrete Block, with 3/4″ air, 3/4″ Celotex is about R-9

  • 2×6 Solid wood construction with 5 1/2″ fiberglass is about R-11

  • 2×4 solid wood with 3″ urethane is about R-13

  • 7″ E.P.S. insulation is R-28 (standard insulation with the Ai dome kit) is comparabel to 11″ of fiberglass batting.

  • 9″ E.P.S. insulation is R-36 (you can order this thicker insulation for colder climates.)

Have the AiDomes won energy efficiency awards?

  • Yes, our first office dome (40′ and 30′ garage) built in 1986 won the Aurora Award for Most Energy Efficient Home in the Southeastern United States and the Aurora Grand Award for the Most Energy Efficient Structure. This dome with standard R-28 insulation beat a passive solar home designed and built by Florida Power & Light, a nuclear powered Florida Utility Company.

Insulated Concrete Form Buildings Save Energy*

A study, conducted by Dr. Pieter VanderWerf of the Boston School of Management and sponsored by the Portland Cement Association, revealed that homes built with insulating concrete forms (ICFs) consume, on average, 44% less energy to heat and 32% less energy to cool than conventional wood-frame homes.  (Ai’s dome has 30% less surface area than a conventional shaped house and the insulating concrete panels are not interrupted by wood, as a result the Ai dome gives a 50% to 60% reduction in heating and cooling costs versus a conventional box shaped house heating and cooling bills.)

The study analyzed statistics from 29 ICF homes and 29 wood-frame homes. All of the homes were less than six years old. “We wanted to approach this study as an ‘apples to apples’ comparison,” said VanderWerf, “so we paired each ICF house with a comparable frame house.”

The paired houses were located near each other and were of similar square footage. VanderWerf adjusted the energy consumption of each house to account for differences in size, design, foundation, number of occupants, thermostat setting and HVAC equipment. “We tentatively concluded that these rates of savings should be fairly constant, regardless of location (or local climate),” said VanderWerf.

Although most of the homeowners participating in the study liked there dwellings, regardless of the type of construction, the reasons they gave for their satisfaction were quite different. The ICF homeowners most often cited functional advantages, such as comfort (including evenness of temperature and low air infiltration), sound reduction, energy efficiency, solidity and strength. Several ICF homeowners said they liked their low utility bills. Owners of the wood-frame homes most often cited advantages unrelated to the home’s quality of construction, such as location, floor plan and inclusion of the owner’s preferred features. VanderWerf added that “not many of the owners of frame homes considered it superior construction.”

Superior construction is one of the main reasons for the continuing upsurge of ICF construction in North America over the past several years. PCA market researchers report that in 1994, only 0.1% of new home construction (1,110 homes) was built using ICF. But, researchers predict that by 2000, nearly 7% of all homes built in the country (about 68,000 homes) will use ICF construction.

*Source: Portland Cement Association

For Mortgage Financing contact:

The mortgage lender named HomePromise has contacted Aidomes and said that they will loan on the purchase and finishing of the Aidome building kit if the customer meets their loan guidelines.  Please call 800-720-0250 for more information. Their corporate headquarters is located at 60 South Washington Street, Suite 106, Greencastle, PA 17225.   We spoke with the President of HomePromise and learned:

  • Says can do VA loans, if person qualifies
  • Does not do construction loans hoping to do so in the future
  • Says with good credit usually 20% down for traditional home mortgage based on the finished price of the dome, if can do VA possible 0% down
  • In 15 states, including Florida, not in NC possibly within the next 1- 1 ½ years
  • Regarding appraisals, uses other alternative housing comparables, and traditional homes to arrive at an appraisal figures for the mortgage

Regarding Construction loans which can be difficult to obtain, many clients look at alternative forms of financing, and convert to a mortgage loan once the dome is completed. Some ideas would be to borrow equity in a property already owned, borrowing from retirement funds, or securing a loan from family members.

HomePromise Corporation is licensed to do business in:

  • California (Finance Lenders License Number 603B131 – Loans made or arranged pursuant to a California Finance Lenders Law License)
  • Colorado (Mortgage Company Registration – Regulated by the Division of Real Estate)
  • Connecticut (License Number ML-102836)
  • Florida (Mortgage Lender Servicer License Number MLD156)
  • Georgia (Mortgage Lender License 49479)
  • Maryland (Mortgage Lender License 21584)
  • Michigan (1st Mortgage Broker/Lender/Service License FL0020947)
  • Minnesota (Residential Mortgage Originator License Number MNMO20581020)
  • New Jersey (Residential Mortgage Lender License – Licensed by the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance)
  • Ohio (Residential Mortgage Lending Act Certificate of Registration RM.804315.000)
  • Oregon (Mortgage Lending License Number ML-5601)
  • Pennsylvania (Mortgage Lender License Number 21566 – licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Banking)
  • Tennessee (Mortgage License Number 109080)
  • Virginia (NMLS ID# 102836
  • Washington (Consumer Loan Company License CL-102836). NMLS ID 102836


Financial Innovations Real Estate Corporation states they will loan on Aidomes for those that qualify.  They have licenses in WA, PA, DC, KS, VA, CA, NJ, AR, KY and CT.  They can issue a personal loan Nationwide to build the Aidome if the customer obtains the loan prior to issuance of certificate of occupancy.  Their info is:  Kareem Brathwaite,  Founding Partner,  Financial Innovations Real Estate Corporation 804-396-7575, email       


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

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

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

Web site: 

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


  • 6% interest rate
  • 80% to 100% LTV – (Loan to value)
  • No credit score required.
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:

If you live in Burnsville North Carolina area and want financing for a finished Aidome, here is info on the closest Regions Bank Lender in Johnson City, TN  that knows about Smart Solutions program for unique properties for that area.   Please call Pasquanel (PJ)  Bailey, and he will take your information and application.   PJ will contact the Smart Solutions department to see if the loan can be issued.   His number is 423-900-8782.  His email is


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:


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


David Buffington, Mortgage Loan Officer  
605 North Orlando Avenue
Orlando Fl 32789
Office 407-691-2150. Mobile 407-256-0015    Email:


If you are in Florida contact Wauchula State Bank.  In Spring 2018 they issued a loan on a 40 foot in diameter Aidome to be built in Highlands County Florida.  They have branches in the following cities:  Bowling Green (863) 375-2238;  Lake Placid (863) 773-4151;  Sebring (863) 471-1972;  Winter Haven (863) 733-7010;   Wauchula  (863) 773-4151;  and Zolfo Springs (863) 735-0200


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.


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.


Purchase/Refinance Options are available through:
Sovann Kang, Branch Manager  – nmls #275454
Umpqua Bank Home Lending
Mobile: 253-376-0991
Web site:



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


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.)


The following information was written by Michael Darling.

Dear dome home owners, buyers and builders:

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

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

Three Scenarios for Financing a Dome Home

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

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

1. Three or More Comps

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

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

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

3. No Comps and No Domes in the Market Area

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


To view other alternatives than using a lender;

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

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


The following info gives a construction overview of the American Ingenuity Panelized Dome Kit

finishing seams

Workers are sponge finishing second layer of concrete in the seams between the panels.
Sponging produces a “sponge sand finish” which blends the seam fiber concrete to the prefabricated panel fiber concrete.
45′ dome home on the left linked to 34′ garage dome.

To view You Tube Videos about construction of Aidomes, click on these videos:

Video 1:   This video is part of a series of video detailing Aidomes 22ft in diameter dome when finished with local materials is one bedroom/one bath.   Customer ordered 2 – 22′ kits, one to live in while visiting parents and one to rent out.  Kit assembly and site prep is performed by Kevin Kirchmer with Infinite Improvements Construction.



Video 2:  Construction Process Video 2.  Prefab AiDome Home Kits – Shows Types of Foundations.



Video 3:  Construction Process Video 3.  The dome home is considered dried in if local workers have framed in exterior doors and windows & finished the exterior wall around the doors and windows. To make weather tight, after all concrete work is done, the exterior concrete is watered down at least once a week to remove efflorescence for 3-4 weeks. Remove any algae with combination of bleach water or oxygenated bleach water and then exterior concrete is pressure washed. Next step is to apply white primer, seal any hair line cracks with patching compound and then paint the exterior with two layers of elastomeric paint. The interior finishing is completed by the owner builder or his builder’s subcontractors; i.e. interior framing, plumbing, electrical, installation of kitchen cabinets, bathroom fixtures, drywall work, etc.



To view assembly pictures of 45′ dome home & 34′ dome garage, view Dome Kit Assembly.

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.

The American Ingenuity geodesic dome shell kit is designed with unique and practical materials. Ai developed simplified, effective construction techniques, invented a component panel and building system which created a home, that offers the ultimate in energy efficiency, strength and practicality. Ai has been in business, with the same owners, since 1976 and has domes in 47 states and fifteen foreign areas.

The prefabricated panels for the dome kit include exterior 3/4″ concrete reinforced with galvanized steel mesh and fibers, center core of nontoxic, rigid, 7″ Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) R-28 insulation (not Styrofoam) with half-inch Georgia Pacific DensArmor Plus drywall adhered to the underside of the EPS with drywall adhesive. Onsite, the kit is assembled by lifting the panels into place with some type of hoisting mechanism, on to a temporary support skeleton, overlapping and locking the galvanized steel mesh in the seam areas.  The seams, entryways and dormers are then concreted onsite with fiber concrete (seam concrete averages 2″ thick). The concrete/steel/eps/ and drywall contain no food source for mold growth and are noncombustible.  Since our panels come pre-concreted, only the seam areas between the panels, along with and the entryways and dormers are concreted on site; resulting in reduced on site labor costs versus building a conventional house with separate materials to build the vertical walls and install roof trusses, plywood, tarpaper, shingles, insulation and drywall.  

 When assembled, the prefabricated panels produce all the structural components, the concrete roof, all the insulation and all the interior drywall for the dome shell.  In addition, the dome shell (triangles & risers) carries a 225 mph wind and F4 tornado guarantee. This warranty does not apply to a cupola, link, exterior framed wall areas, or exterior doors and windows.  Our panelized system does not contain wood framing (ribs) to interrupt our standard R28 insulation. There is no exterior wood to burn or rot or for termites to eat (Pressure Treated wood is used to frame the walls under the entryways and dormers.).  FYI during kit assembly a temporary wooden rib system is assembled to support the panels.  When the kit is assembled, the dome is self-supporting and the rib system is removed. As an added bonus, there is no roof to blow off in high winds, and has a noncombustible fire resistant concrete exterior. To learn more about our panels please view Composition.     

Whatever size floor plan you seek, whether for a modest starter home or a grand estate, American Ingenuity domes are flexible enough to adapt to your conditions.  The dome kit can be a Do It Yourself project with panels assembled by owner builders or the home owner can hire a contractor who hires the independent kit assembly consultant. To view info about DIY, click on owner builder.

To view stock plans for each diameter dome, click on Stock Plans Pdf.  If you do not see a stock plan to fit your lifestyle, Ai can design modified or customized plans per your sketches and descriptions.

American Ingenuity’s new DVD is $7 includes mailing costs.  To order please call our office at 321-639-8777 – Mon – Fri 9-5 eastern time.  To view at no cost, click on Free DVD.

Building plans include the basic drawings for the dome that needed to acquire a building permit. The plans are created using our computer aided drafting system (AutoCAD) as stock plans, or custom plans based on your individual requirements and design and consist of 13 -23 blueprints.  Some of the sheets contain a 3-D elevation and a 3-D perspective view. These plans include all the structural drawings; slab foundation is standard or custom design basement, elevated platform, etc.; wall sections; panel composition; entryway and dormer details; floor plan layouts showing room arrangements, placement of the electrical outlets, light fixtures, and plumbing fixtures. However, they do not include the electrical, plumbing, HVAC layouts. We have found if the layouts are included, then the inspectors require the subcontractors to follow the diagrams when usually the subs like to complete their own layouts.

Where can I see one of your finished domes? Ai’s office is in two Aidomes in Florida and can be viewed on our web site and in person by appointment.  Ai has sold dome kits into 47 USA states and 15 foreign countries. We would like to have model homes throughout the country but it is not economically possible. If we had models throughout the country, Ai would need to triple the price of the building kit.  There are over 800 American Ingenuity Domes throughout the world, and we are thankful a few dome owners allow us to give out their name and number after we have answered the perspective dome buyer’s basic questions.   Ai promises the dome owner that we will not take advantage of their courtesy, and that we will only give out their name to those who are serious and knowledgeable regarding the information on our web site. That way the dome owner is not answering basic questions that we can answer, or is readily available on our website. After Ai answers your questions, we will review our dome referral listings for a dome owner closest to you, and provide you with their name and number.  Ai has promised not to give out the dome owner’s address to assure that they will not have surprise visitors.    To learn more view Visit our Dome Offices.

Dome Built on Basement w’ perimeter deck

Dome Finished Costs:

The finished costs on the domes depends so much on what the labor costs are in your area and what price points are selected for windows, doors, cabinetry, flooring, bathroom fixtures, kitchen appliances, lighting fixtures, etc.  Ask at your local hardware store or a local contractor what the finished price per square foot is running for a conventional house. This will give an approximate cost to finish the domes (if you are not doing the labor yourselves). The interior build out is almost the same as a conventional house,….plumbing, electrical, lighting fixtures, bathroom fixtures, flooring, kitchen cabinets, windows and doors, etc.  However, the home owner ends up with a super-energy efficient, super-strong home for about the same price as a conventional house. The one phase of construction which will cost more than a conventional house is the foundation.  It is multisided and will cost 15% to 25% more to install than a rectangle shape.  To learn more view  Approx Finished Price Per Square Foot and  Approx. Finished Cost.

About 50% of our clients assemble their kit; the remainder hire a Builder who then hires the independent Kit Assembly Consultant to supervise their workers during kit assembly.  There are consultants located in Florida, California and South Dakota who can travel nationwide and internationally. The Component Panels are numbered and lettered to match the Nomenclature blueprint in the building plans.   Using three to five good workers (some proficient in concrete) and depending upon the size dome and type of hoisting mechanism used, shell assembly of  22′ – 48′ domes to the stage of having one layer of concrete in the seams and on the building options (Kit with one entryway and two dormers) can take from 14-26 days.  Once a floor plan is decided on, Ai can estimate the number of days needed to assemble the shell.  To learn more about hiring the Consultant view  Kit Assembly Specialist/Consultant.

Contact your local Home Builder’s Association for the names of contractors and subcontractors in your area. To view a list of possible Builders, click on builders.  Best to pay a builder  Cost Plus.

The dome owner or their contractor hires local conventional subcontractors to perform the conventional jobs like forming and pouring the slab, plumbing, electrical, framing, etc.  Ai believes the dome buyer should not pay someone to come in from out of state to do work that your local subs can perform.

Prior to the Kit Assembly Consultant supervising the dome kit assembly, our clients had to hire a contractor who generally had never assembled an American Ingenuity Dome before.  As a result, the contractor would need to over-charge. This is because he did not know how long it.  The Kit Assembly Consultant works directly for the dome owner or their builder as an independent subcontractor and can provide references for previous Ai domes built.  Using this consultant will assure that the temporary wooden rib system, and building kit is assembled correctly, in a timely fashion.  The dome owner or your builder hires concrete workers who mix the concrete to the special recipe and trowel the concrete into the panel seams and onto the entryways and dormers per the Assembly Manual.  The Consultant does not apply concrete; he is there to supervise the workers.

Hiring the consultant for one week can save one to three weeks or more of shell assembly time depending on the dome kit size.

The consultant works for minimum $300 a day plus travel costs, motel, and car rental costs while at the job site. These costs include travel from his home base to the job site and a return to his home base at the completion of the job.  If interested in utilizing the Consultant, please call our office at 321-639-8777.

A helpful web site is They provide construction manuals, construction estimating CD’s, etc.

The following is a quick overview of the Aidome kit contents and the building process to give an idea of what is required in building an American Ingenuity dome.  When a dome shell kit is purchased the full “Assembly Manual” is included and is much more extensive and precise.

The American Ingenuity dome building kit includes panels for one entryway and all the panels to assemble the dome shell. The triangular and riser panels have pre-concreted exterior, insulated R28 center core and interior ½ inch special DensArmor drywall. The standard dome shell kit includes the Triangular Panels, four foot tall Riser Wall Panels, Entryway Panels, Galvanized Steel Mesh, Concrete Fibers, Two Concrete Admixtures, Reinforcing Tension Wire, Concrete Bonding Agent, Connecting C-Rings, C-Ring Pliers, Cans of Expanding Foam, Metal Dispensing Gun for the expanding foam and the Assembly Manual. To learn more about the Kit Contents view   To learn more about the Kit Contents view Contents. To learn what is not included in the Kit view Not Included.

The interior wall board on the riser and triangle panels consists of Georgia Pacific 1/2″ DensArmor Plus Gypsum Wallboard adhered to the Expanded Polystyrene (E.P.S.) with wallboard adhesive. It employs fiberglass mat facing instead of paper on both sides of the board. The core is special treated gypsum providing excellent moisture resistance, fire resistance and adhesion properties.  It won’t harbor spores that create sick homes. To learn more about this board view Panel Composition.and scroll down the page to the wallboard section or go to Georgia Pacific’s web site DensArmor and click on the its product specs.

For freedom and flexibility of design, additional building kit options can be selected depending upon the floor plan selection. These options include the additional Entryway Panels (garage, high profile, or standard), Window Dormer Panels (first floor and or second floor), Door Dormer Panels (first floor and or second floor), Cupola Panels, Link Panels and R-36 Insulation. Onsite a 2×4 or 2×6 PT wall is built under the entryways and dormers where locally purchased doors and windows are installed. . To learn more about the Building Options view Options.

No interior items are included in the kit except for the interior shell wallboard. Ai believes the Buyer should not pay shipping on items which can be purchased locally such as: plumbing, electrical, framing, flooring, kitchen cabinets, bathroom fixtures, stairs, fireplaces, windows, doors, etc.

The basic building process consists of 1) placing the pre-concreted insulated panels, entryway, door dormer and window dormer panels onto a temporary wooden rib system; 2) overlapping and locking the steel mesh with “C” rings and 3) concreting the seams and options. There is no need to concrete over the entire dome exterior. Only the panel seams and the building kit options are concreted onsite. Prior to installing entryway, door dormer and window dormer panels, review the building plans for any stud or header that needs to extend thru the EPS and for any anchoring hardware that needs to be installed; i.e. J bolts (top plate in door dormer & entryway framed wall), power studs (into sill plates), bolts, nuts, washers (into base entryway panels).  The entryway, door dormer and window dormer panels, are installed in the row of panels that they are in and receive a first layer of concrete when the first layer of concrete is applied in the seams.  Prior to applying the scratch coat of concrete, the anchoring hardware or stud or header that extends thru the eps of the entryway or door dormer has to be installed. The next row of panels cannot be installed, until the concrete on the entryways, dormers and seams has passed the scratch test.

The temporary wooden rib system and its bracing cannot be removed until 1) all panels (entryways, dormers, risers, triangles, link, cupola) are installed with two layers of concrete; 2) all framing is installed within the entryways and dormers and concrete has cured for two weeks.

Prior to priming and painting the concrete, tap on all seams to see if any sound hollow or the concrete shifts or vibrates.  If this occurs then this concrete needs to be removed and new fiber concrete installed in that seam.  Also allow the concrete to be rained on weekly or hosed down for one month to remove efflorescence. Examples of Paint which Aidome owners have had success with are:  

  • Behr’s top of the line exterior latex paint is Marque. Seabrook Texas dome owner loves this paint. He uses semi-gloss. Marque has the most titanium.  – Home Depot
  • Ames Research Labs: Maximum – Stretch, at participating ACE & True Value Stores 
  • Sherwin Williams: Loxon XP Paint, Loxon Primer and Conditioner
  • Richards Paint: Rich Flex 245; use Rich Flex Alkali Resistant 100% Acrylic Masonry Primer
  • Behr’s Premium Elastomeric Masonry, Stucco & Brick Paint –Home Depot
  • Seal Krete Paint (pigmented) –Home Depot

Once your kit is assembled, install framing and electrical.  Then the wall board on the interior of the dome shell is ready to be finished similar to the method drywall board seams are finished. To accommodate some electrical wiring, grooves are cut through the wallboard and the EPS to allow for the insertion of electrical wiring.  Grooves can be cut where baseboard will be installed to hide the grooves.   To blend the taped electrical areas to the DensArmor finish, skip trowel joint compound over the DensArmor drywall. Call Ai at 321-639-8777 for further info.

A Brief Description of Ai’s Building Options and other items

Standard, High Profile and Garage Entryway panels for the 30‘- 48’ domes, utilize 3 1/2″ E.P.S. wrapped in steel mesh, are pre-concreted on the underside surface and have a precast trough on the outer edge. On site place rebar into the trough and fill the trough with concrete. After the correct hardware, headers, king studs are installed, concrete the outside surface and apply a second layer of concrete to the underside. The openings under the entryways are framed in on site to fit locally purchased standard windows and doors.

G Type Entryways for the 15′, 18′, 22′ and 27′ domes, utilize 3 1/2″ EPS, but are not wrapped in steel mesh or concreted.  If the steel mesh is purchased from Ai, at no cost Ai will install the mesh on the garage entryway panels.

Window and door dormer panels consist of 3 1/2″ E.P.S. wrapped with steel mesh ready for onsite stucco. The openings under the dormers are framed in on site to fit your choice of standard windows and doors which are purchased locally.

To learn which domes come with which building options; i.e. second floor single opening window dormers or door dormers, standard entryways versus high profile entryways versus garage entryways, please view Building Options or call us or email us.

Link: Link panels consist of E.P.S. insulation, interior ½” DensArmor but are not concreted or wrapped with steel mesh. Link panels are custom fit to the dome panels on site.  Link prices vary depending upon the width and length of the link.

Domes are connected together with a Link made of the same materials as the dome panels; E.P.S. insulation – 7” or 9” thick. The Link connects to the adjacent domes where an entryway or door dormer would have been installed. The thickness of the EPS 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 links depends on the size of domes and whether they are connected where an entryway or door dormer would have been. 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.  Steel mesh can be purchased from Ai, on site the mesh is attached with plastic stacks, and then the link panels are concreted.

Riser Panel Heights – All Aidome building kits come with standard four-foot-tall vertical riser panels.  However, the 22’ & 27’ kits can have custom 5’ risers instead of 4′ risers.  The 30’ or larger domes can have a custom two-foot riser installed above the standard 4’ risers resulting in first floor ceiling height where a second floor is installed of 9’6” in 27’, 34’ & 36’ or 10 feet in 40’, 45’ or 48’ domes.   The 15’ & 18’ kit pricing includes 4’ risers plus 2’ risers.

Cupola: Is the “cap like” item that can be installed on the top of the dome.  Ai does not recommend a cupola due to the cost of installation and need to purchase five windows.  The windows allow hot or cold air to come in the dome, thus increasing your heating and AC costs.

Its purpose is to give additional headroom for a third floor loft in the 40′ or larger domes. The topside exterior of the five panels of the cupola and the underside exterior of the overhang (eave) are prefinished steel reinforced concrete, while the topside & edges of the eave are stuccoed onsite.

The top five insulated panels of the dome make up the cupola top with the overhang panels added on site. We recommend that you build the cupola only if you want a third floor loft. The cupola is a way to add height to the top center of the dome and another way to have opening windows. With the installation of a cupola, there is enough headroom in the 40′ and larger domes to have a small third floor loft.

Hot air and moisture will rise to the top of the dome. Whether a cupola is built or not, we recommend installing an exhaust fan at the peak of your dome, in each bathroom, on the stove and the clothes dryer.  Ask your local HVAC subcontractor if your area has enough hot to cold variation, consider installing an Energy Recovery Ventilator or a Heat Recovery Ventilator   heat recovery ventilator.  

Cupolas are not covered by American Ingenuity’s 225 mph wind and F4 tornado warranty.

Interior Framing: The interior framing of the dome is built much like conventional housing and can be either wood or metal. Some of the second floor can be hung or suspended from the concreted seams of the dome by suspension rods allowing for very “open” first floor plan designs.  The American Ingenuity dome is the opposite of a conventional roof truss house in that it is self-supporting and its shell is capable of supporting some of the 2nd floor weight.  The weight is suspended by threaded steel rods, top and bottom plates purchased from A.  The Top Plate and part of the threaded rod are installed on top of the overlapped mesh in the seam and concreted over when the seam is concreted. The threaded rod extends vertically down into the dome with a bottom plate installed to hold the ends of the edge beam.   To learn more view  Framing.

Suspension Rods: The location of the suspension rods to support parts of the second floor framing is determined by your floor plan selection. The Elevation Blueprint within the Building Plans shows the suspension rod’s positioning, the suspension rod with nut sets on a (3″x 7″ steel plate) is embedded in the concrete seam. The seam is reinforced with #4 rebar, & two layers of galvanized steel mesh. The second floor can support at least 55 pounds per square foot, the same as other houses. We can easily design for a more demanding second floor load such as for waterbeds, whirlpool tubs, spas, libraries, etc.

Electrical and Plumbing: Most of the electrical and plumbing will be contained in the interior framed walls and installed 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 with a router or circular saw, insert the wire or conduit and then wiring, use spray foam in a can to fill the groove and finish the area with joint compound and fiber glass 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 blend the taped areas to the DensArmor texture, skip trowel joint compound over the DensArmor.  To learn more view Electrical and Plumbing.

AC/Heating Ducts: The dome buyer and their HVAC subcontractor determines whether mini-split ductless units or ducted heat pumps are installed.  We leave the AC ducting diagram to your subcontractor, but generally, the ducts run through interior walls, in the second floor joists and or behind the second floor knee wall. The vents are either in the interior walls or in the floor of the second floor.  To learn mover view AC/Heating and Fireplaces.

Click on picture below for a full size view

Foundation with Road Mesh and 6 mil Vapor Barrier
Pouring the Foundation


Foundations: Your dome can be built on your choice of foundation including: concrete slab, raised wood floor, stem wall or pier foundation, full or partial basement, concrete columns or pilings. To learn view Foundations.

Because of the reduced surface area of a dome and its thin shell construction, the Aidomes weigh less than the average house, but are remarkably stronger due to the triangle shape and the steel reinforced concrete exterior. American Ingenuity domes are considerably lighter than a concrete block house. A finished 27′ dome shell weights about 25,000 lbs.; a finished 48′ in diameter dome weights about 42,000 lbs.  Besides the weight of the dome, the load of your second floor will be calculated with load bearing walls designed on the first floor and with load bearing footings in your foundation to support this load.

Prior to ordering building plans, determine your soil type and what type footing & foundation will be designed.   Will it be normal footings around a concrete slab or will there need to be augured footings down to cap rock or concrete columns or wood pilings driven 40’ into the ground, etc.? To determine what type design is needed, if the foundation is anything other than a concrete slab, hire a Geotechnical Company and have a soil bore test completed.  In the soil report a soil engineer will recommend the type foundations which can be built on that type soil.  The dome buyer will talk with local foundation subcontractors which build those type foundations to determine which type foundation is best and fits their budget.  FYI, for Ai to design any type foundation other than a concrete slab, the buyer of the building plans pays for Ai to hire a local engineer, to review your soil report, calculate load of the dome, load of the first and second floor and provide design details to Ai to incorporate within your custom foundation plans.

The soil under the footing and slab criteria is: compaction to 98% density for a minimum of 2,000 psf of bearing pressure.  If your soil psf is less than 2,000 psf let us know and the engineer will design a larger footer and thicker slab to accommodate your soil pressure.  The foundation cannot be built on clay and basement walls cannot be back filled with clay.  If a regular house can be built on your soil, a dome can certainly be built.

If three to five feet of fill needs to be brought in to reach the correct finished floor height, your foundation may need to be a stem wall with concrete slab or wood floor.  If your property is in a flood zone, the building plans have to show the finished floor height. Contact your government department that handles FEMA or flood zone info to find out if your property is in a flood zone.  If in a flood zone, submit to Ai a letter stating the government official name that gave the height and their phone number.  Ai does not determine this height.  If the house is not built at the correct finished floor height and your site is in a flood zone, flood insurance cannot be obtained.  Without insurance a mortgage cannot be obtained.

What is unusual about the dome foundation is its multi-sided shape and rebar is designed to come out of the foundation in specific places to attach the dome riser wall seams, the front and back of entryway panels and first floor door dormer base panels and certain places under first floor window dormers.  There are rebar hooks installed in the perimeter footing to come up under the horizontal riser wall seams. Check your entryway, door dormer and window dormer, link, cupola plans for anchoring hardware, etc.  Always use a vapor barrier with your slab of 6 mil. plastic sheeting and 6″ x 6″ steel mesh or fibers.

Truck Departing with Kit
Rib System Being Assembled

Shipping: The above photo shows a building kit loaded onto a semi-truck ready for shipment to the client. The domes behind the truck are two of our factory domes, a 48′ and a 45′ with the 60′ dome are not pictured.  For more info view Shipping.

Support Systems: Ai recommends the installation of a temporary wooden rib system to support the panels during the kit assembly. The photo on the right illustrates the rib system. The rib system consists of your own 2×4’s (cut and drilled to our specs), bolts/nuts/washers purchased from Ai and steel hubs on loan from American Ingenuity to erect a freestanding geodesic framework. A deposit is placed on the hubs and is refunded when the hubs are shipped back to Ai. International buyers purchase the steel hubs.  The bolts/nuts/washer and lifting spikes are not returned to Ai.  Ai can purchase the 2×4’s, cut, drill and paint them and ship them on the truck with your dome kit.  Pricing varies depending upon the 2×4 cost.  Please call our office, 321-639-8777 Monday through Friday 9-5 eastern time for pricing.

During Assembly, additional supports are used to brace the steel hubs, to brace panels, to brace both sides of the riser panels and to brace the entryway and door dormer panels.  The “Rib System” dictates the exact panel placement. For more info view Rib.

Once all the seams and building options have been concreted with two layers of concrete, openings framed in and  concrete cured for two weeks, the “Rib System” is removed and most wood is recycled into the interior framing or second floor knee wall framing and the hubs returned to Ai.

5.10 Construction Sabin two rows assembled

Panel Assembly: The panel assembly process begins by positioning the four-foot-tall riser panels on the foundation (specific radius dimension is on the First Floor Plan Blueprint) and then assembling the rib system. Apply expanding foam under the riser panels to seal them to your foundation. Plumb the risers and fill any gaps between them with E.P.S. insulation wedges or expanding foam.

Overlap the steel mesh from adjoining riser panels minimum two inches, lock the mesh with C-rings every 2″, apply the first layer of special formulated fiber concrete following the guidelines for watering down all the premade concrete around where new concrete is being applied.  Do not get concrete on the panel’s flat bonding ledges or the sloping bonding ledges…only partially cover the steel mesh.  Your first layer of concrete is thrown through the steel mesh and fills the seam area behind the mesh. Prior to applying the first layer of concrete assure all rebar, hardware, king studs and heaters, etc. are installed.

Once the first layer of fiber concrete is applied into the seams and onto the entryways, dormers, cupola, link, etc., check your blueprints for the specific locations around the dome where any rebar or a cable is laid on top of the overlapped and locked mesh and attached to the mesh with tie wire before the second layer of concrete is applied.  The bottom and top cable are connected to rebar or the cable itself with cable clamps in specific locations.

Usually the stucco crew works their way down the dome from the top, and applies a second layer of fiber concrete into each of the seams after watering down first layer of concrete, ledges and adjacent concrete and applying a bonding agent between the coats of concrete, on the flat bonding ledges and the sloping bonding ledges (bonding agent comes with your Ai dome kit & each dome kit buyer purchases additional bonding agent).   The top layer of concrete finished in either a flat or rounded appearance and is rubbed with a sponge to produce a sponge sand finish which matches the sponge sand finish on the prefab panel.  The new concrete must be kept moist to allow for the concrete hydration. The Assembly Manual shipped with each kit gives specific guidelines for concrete application and mixing.

Panel Concrete: The prefabricated panel concrete is a special formulation containing synthetic fibers and two liquid admixtures. Ai ships the same fibers and admixtures with your building kit that it uses to mix the concrete on the prefabricated panels. 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, improve freeze protection.

The exterior concrete out performs other exteriors because of its specially developed formula. Because of its exceptional composition, it actually gains strength over the years. Locally bags of Portland Cement (type 1 or 111) are purchased along with sand (masonry or stucco sand) with the fibers and admixtures added to the mix per the recipe in the Assembly Manual and on the building plans. The concrete is mixed with a MORTAR MIXER not a cement mixer.  Do not use a cement mixer to mix the concrete because it does not have paddles.  Paddles are required to obtain a thorough mixing of the cement, sand, fibers and admixtures – which is a grout type cement that contains no rocks or aggregate.

2.51 seam area lifting panel Kaufman picture assembly 209

Hoisting Mechanisms: The typical method for lifting the panels is by a man lift or crane or transverse forklift. Monthly rentals on man lifts, transverse lifts also called Boom Lifts, Horizontal Boom Fork Lifts, Roofing Lifts, Shooters are available from National Rental Chains.

If you want to speed up the kit assembly, considering renting a scissor lift for inside personnel movement (instead of using ladders and scaffolding) and a Straight boom lift – man lift or cherry picker- for outside personnel work (instead of ladders, planks and scaffolding).   

Rolling Scaffold
Rolling Scaffold


These photos illustrate the use of planks on the exterior for filling and finishing seams and concreting the options. Or worker can stand in a cherry picker.  The panels are installed and concrete is hand troweled into the seams after adjacent prefab concrete is watered down next to where new concrete will be applied. The first layer of concrete fills the seams up to the steel mesh.  After all the seams are half filled with concrete and appropriate rebar or cable or top plate for suspension rod, etc. is installed, a second layer of fiber cement is troweled into the seams after first layer of concrete and adjacent concrete is watered down and bonding agent applied over first layer of concrete and on flat & sloping bonding ledges.  The first layer of seam concreting is done one row of panels at a time.

Most of fourth row of panels installed.

Most of fourth row of panels installed.

Seam Finish:   Start at the top of the dome and work down. This will allow practice on easier seams and ones that are less visible and any spills will not be on finished work. The concrete in the seams is usually finished in 1 of 2 styles:

Flat: The quickest, highlights the geometry, the least cost and least labor intensive. The concrete fills the seam up to the edges of the prefinished concrete of each panel and is troweled to a flat surface between those panel edges. When complete there will be two concrete edges along each seam where the panel concrete meets the concrete that fills the seam. The edges of the concrete panels can be used to screed the flat surface making this the quickest method of finish, the lowest cost with the least labor.

Rounded: requires the most skill to be consistent but like the flat seam it can be completed with two coats. The concrete is mounded in the seams, then shaped to create a rounded transition between adjacent panels. This method is used when a rounded appearance is desired.


Interior Scaffold
Beginning Framing

Additional supports are required under the steel hubs hold the weight until all the seams, entryways, dormers, etc. are concreted, and framing is installed under the entryways and dormer panels. Then the extra supports and temporary wooden rib system can be removed because the dome shell is self-supporting.

Interior walls and second floor joists are conventionally built except parts of the second floor and perimeter edge beam is supported by first floor load bearing walls and suspension rods.     

Interior Showing a Suspension Rod

The left photo illustrates a conventional interior wall covered with standard drywall.  The photo on the right illustrates how the opening under the entryway was 2×4 framed and insulated with E.P.S. (waiting for plywood sheathing & either 1/4’ x 1/4″ or  1/2″ x 1/2″ steel mesh & stucco to be applied).  Above the standard entryway is a door dormer.

Past Ai clients have found it difficult and expensive to purchase steel mesh locally. As a result, the steel mesh used to frame in the entryways and dormers is available for purchase from Ai, and added to the Parts List.  A Parts List is a page within the American Ingenuity Dome Building Kit Order Form, which lists the items that come with the Ai kit and lists items which can be purchased from Ai. For example, the suspension rods and top and bottom plates that help support the second floor, extra cans of expanding foam (20 oz.), steel mesh, Simpson joist hangers, additional Admixture A and B, additional C -rings, C- ring pliers, additional bonding agent, 2×4’s cut, drilled and painted for the temporary wooden rib system, etc. can be purchased from Ai.

Ai’s building kits come with the interior wallboard (Georgia Pacific 1/2″ DensArmor Plus gypsum wallboard that is moisture resistant and mold resistant) already adhered to the triangles and riser panels with drywall adhesive. Onsite apply joint compound and fiberglass tape to finish the seams between the wall board. On site to blend the taped area to the DensArmor finish, skip trowel joint compound on the DensArmor. The wall board is primed with two coats of primer and then painted.

In summary, there is now no need to plaster or apply dry wall board to the dome shell interior EPS insulation because the triangular and riser panels come with 1/2″ Georgia Pacific DensArmor Plus drywall already installed.

Concrete Finish Being Textured
Complete and Ready for Cleaning Prior to Painting


An owner/builder is finishing her concreted seams with a sponge. The seam sponge finish matches the panel texture.
A finished dome prior to painting. This is a 34′ dome home connected to a 22′ dome one car garage.


Unpainted Concrete Dome
Paint Being Applied


A 40′ dome before painting.
Apply white concrete primer and two coats of elastomeric paint.  Paint brands are listed above.


The Finished Product!
Some finished Concrete Domes


The above dome is a 34′ in diameter built on a full basement. Behind the deck railing is a standard entryway that was framed in on site to accept a door and window. This dome was painted a blue grey; however, you can paint your dome any color tan or moss green, etc.
Another finished American Ingenuity dome. The dome on the left has a standard entryway framed in to accept six small windows. The wall under the second floor dormer contains two small windows. And the cupola on top was framed in to accept five opening windows.


45’ AiDome on Elevated Concrete Platform w’ partial Basement in Florida Keys

that went through Hurricane Irma’s 160 mph winds with no damage. 


This Aidome In St Croix went thru Hurricane Irma’s 200 mph winds

& Hurricane Maria’s 185 mph winds with no damage.


Dome with two standard entryways on basement

Dome with two standard entryways on basement

45' dome on full basement

45′ dome on full basement

27' exterior side view with 40' dome

27′ dome garage linked to 40′ dome home.


40′ dome home linked to 34 garage dome.


45' dome living room.

45′ dome living room

Painting the Exterior of the American Ingenuity Dome:

The component panels do not come with any paint on them and  Ai does not add any color to the concrete.  Onsite the seams between the component panels are concreted so if we painted the panels or added color to the concrete it would not match your painted seam concrete.  After the entire kit is assembled, the concrete shell is primed and then painted with two coats of elastomeric paint.

  • Stain is not used because stain will not seal the concrete.
  • The dome can be painted any color – tan, green, blue, yellow, etc. preferably a light to medium color to reflect the sunlight.

Around 1948 Latex paints became the first water-based alternative to oil-based paints.  Many improvements have been made but perhaps the most significant is the introduction of Acrylic Resins.  Paint of 100% Acrylic is more resistant to ultraviolet rays, retains its color longer, is less prone to chalking, retains its elasticity, is more alkaline resistant and can be cleaned up with water.

It is not difficult to paint the dome….there are no soffits or gutters to have to deal with.  The dome is repainted when a hand is rubbed on the paint and chalking occurs. It is best to roll the paint on to get a good mill thickness.   Typically the American Ingenuity dome is repainted every 4-5 -6 years, it depends on your personal preference.

  • Clean the dome prior to painting by removing algae with bleach/water mixture or oxygenated bleach and water and then pressure washing.
  • The sides of the dome can be painted using an extension ladder and paint roller on a pole. Or use equipment which has a power roller that carries paint from a bucket on the ground, through a plastic tube to bring paint to the roller to paint the dome.
  • Yes, you can walk on any of the domes after kit assembly.  During kit assembly, five eye bolts are installed in the top five seams around the top exhaust vent.  Prior to painting attach a rope through the eye bolt and is tied to the painter’s harness.
  • To access the top of the dome either climb out a cupola window or put an extension ladder to the top of a second floor dormer and then walk onto the top of the dome.
  • Listed below are exterior paint brands.  In the Dome Kit Assembly Manual is a section on waterproofing the dome.


Ai dome owners recommend the following primer and paints:    (In the Dome Kit Assembly Manual is a section on waterproofing the dome.

  • Ames Research Labs: Maximum – Stretch, at participating ACE & True Value Stores (if using Ames see separate Ames doc because specific type sealants and primer need to be used….NOT TT3)
  • Sherwin Williams: Loxon XP Paint, Loxon Primer and Conditioner
  • Richards Paint: Rich Flex 245; use Rich Flex Alkali Resistant 100% Acrylic Masonry Primer
  • Behr’s Premium Elastomeric Masonry, Stucco & Brick Paint –Home Depot
  • Seal Krete Paint (pigmented) –Home Depot

To remove water vapor from the highly insulated dome, install an exhaust fan in the top center of the dome, on the stove and clothes dryer.  Plus install an exhaust fan with humidistat in each bathroom.  Depending on your climate an energy recovery ventilator or a heat recovery ventilator may need to be installed to remove water vapor from showering, laundry, cooking, etc.

Specialty paints like epoxy are unable to stretch and the epoxy paint can “in some areas” crack and allow water to pass through.  In addition, any paint that would have a high gloss would highlight flaws in the seam finish.