considering | AiDomes

 

Dome on basement with ramp.

Dome on basement with wheel chair ramp. Three standard entryways one screened in.

Yes, most of our building plans can be made handicap accessible with either 32″ or 36″ doorways, correct wheelchair turn radius, ramps, rail chairs or interior lifts, etc. For Ai to quote a price to design the floor plan handicap accessible, give us the size dome and floor plan name you are considering. To email info, please click on Contact Us. Or fax your plan needs to us at 321-639-8778.  If you fax or email your plan changes, please call our office at 321-639-8777 and assure that we received all your email or faxed pages and that they were legible.

To clarify, if you fax or email American Ingenuity and you have not heard from us in two to three business days, please call our office at 321-639-8777 and confirm that we received your fax or email.

We handle all the floor plan designs via telephone, fax and or email.

Because of the shape of the dome, a second floor is a natural. It is most cost effective to utilize the second floor for a guest room or storage.  However, any of our domes can be built without a second floor.

 

In a conventional house there is an attic which rarely gets used. To us it is just a space that holds hot or cold air which is waiting to leak into your house. In a dome the second floor space is useable versus being an unused attic space.

 

On the second floor of our domes even though you cannot stand all the way to the perimeter, there is ample useable square footage. To visualize the second floor useable space use the to-scale ruler in the back of the Stock Floor Plan Booklet (which is in the Planning Kit). Each mark is one foot. Cut out this ruler and use it to measure the second floor square footage that is six foot or higher from the dome shell. Note on the floor plans we have drawn in five foot, six foot and seven foot height lines around the second floor perimeter.


For example if you want to see how many feet on the second floor has six foot or higher ceilings, put the end of the ruler at the six foot height line on one side of the second floor and measure across the second floor to the other six foot height line and you will see how many useable feet is between the two six foot height lines.

 

If you choose a floor plan which maxs out the second floor and only leaves one fifth of the first floor open to the dome shell, you can have the following second floor useable square footages: 27′-225 sq.ft.; 30′ – 424 sq.ft.; 34′ – 614 sq.ft.; 40′ – 886 sq.ft.; 45′ – 1,127 sq.ft.; 48′ – 1,278 sq.ft. Generally most of our clients want only one half of the second floor installed. Therefore there are high vaulted ceilings over one half of the first floor, generally over the living room and dining room.

 

If you do not want to access the second floor by walking up the stairs, you could install a rail chair or a lift instead of an elevator. Your contractor would install an electric winch powered lift versus an elevator.


This way you can easily access the second floor rooms.

 

For information on rail chairs click on http://www.4-stair-lifts.com/?source=adwords

 

For information on lifts click on www.jazzy-electric-wheelchairs.com/vertical-platform-lifts.htm

 

The following information came from Jazzy Electric’s web site.

This vertical platform Lift is an interior or exterior lift that can be used for lifting persons with physical disabilities from the ground up-to the main floor of their home or outside lifting up to the porch or the steps. Lift can also be used in commercial applications such as restaurants or office buildings. The lift is designed to meet U.S. and Canadian safety standards and can easily be adapted to various situations.

 

Versatility is a key to this lift. Can be used to stop at 3 different heights. Can lift from 14″ up to 144″. Designed for easy installation. Smaller units 52″ and down can be installed in 30 minutes.

 

The lift described sells for around $3,500.

 

This Lift is smooth and provides quiet performance. Dependable and Versatile Unit is Perfect for Residential or Commercial Application. All lifts can be configured to meet the AME A 17.1 or A 18.1 depending on the options selected. This lift also meets ADA requirements in most states.

 

Listed below are some of the features of this versatile lift:

    • Weight capacity of 550 pounds
  • Unit uses standard 110v/15a wall outlet.
  • Straight though platform is 54″ long x 34″ wide
  • Keyed call send stations available
  • Keyed Emergency stop to control use of lift
  • Soft Touch Control Pads designed for easy operation.
  • Direct Drive Worm-Gear
  • Maintenance Free Operation
  • Standard Metal Platform has a diamond grill that allows for full visibility under the platform

 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’ 160 mph winds 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.

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Photo of Elevated Aidome in Marathon Florida – Fl Keys that went through 

Hurricane Irma’s 74 mph winds 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
 

The following is a listing of Insurance Companies who have insured concrete domes.

Marshall exter-2

During your research for an insurance company to insure your American Ingenuity concrete dome, feel free to have your insurance agent call us so we can answer any questions they may have.   Ai has found the following to be the best approach when talking to insurance companies:

  • When the insurance person asks “What are the exterior walls built of?” Reply, “Steel reinforced concrete.”
  • When the insurance person asks, “What is the roof made of?” Reply, “Steel reinforced concrete.”

Great news Legacy Insurance Solutions will insure domes in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and some other areas. As of October 2015, a Florida dome owner called and gave us info on this insurance company which insured their dome. Their agent is Justen Bell.  The agent  told dome owner they were excited about insuring concrete domes.  They have two offices in Florida. One in Tallahassee and one in Palm Bay. 850-728-5420.

Florida Dome Owners can purchase insurance through the Florida Residential Causality Joint Association at 1-800-524-9023 or visit Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.  Citizens Property Insurance Corporation is the State’s homeowners’ insurance safety net. It was created by the Legislature in 2002 to offer property coverage to Floridians without private insurance options. 

The State of Florida requires Insurance Companies to offer reduced rates to homes that have high wind mitigation features.  The American Ingenuity dome meets and exceeds these requirements.  One of our client’s hurricane insurance premium went from $850 to $90 after he had his concrete dome with exterior glass shuttered inspected and a Uniform Mitigation Verification Inspection Form was completed by a Qualified Inspector or Certified Builder.

The Insurance Information Institute’s web site www.iii.org has a feature where you can find the names of insurance companies in your state. Their web site tool allows consumers to select the state in which they live and the type of insurance they are looking for. It provides a random listing of insurance companies in their state.

Another helpful web site, maintained by the State of Florida, is ShopandCompareRates.  

The following are the names of insurance companies that have insured American Ingenuity Domes or concrete domes in the past or were considering insuring our domes. Bear in mind that the companies could have changed their minds or changed ownership and might no longer insure domes.  If you have any updated information about other insurance companies or these companies, please email us by clicking on Contact Us.

ALL STATE

  • Insured Ai dome in Homestead Florida that went through Hurricane Andrew with no structural damage. The agent was Richard Chorak, 954-963-2044.
  • Also All State insured an Ai dome in Ocean Springs Mississippi. The agent was Vernon McHan at 228-388-7223.

All State Subsidiary – NORTH LIGHT SPECIALTY INSURANCE

California:  In some zip codes in California which have the most risk of fires, the insurance companies are now refusing to write homeowner’s insurance.  One of American Ingenuity’s California dome customers, Mr. Kaufman, said after their insurance company would no longer insure their zip code, they purchased insurance through North Light. Here is their info.http://www.northlightspecialty.com/
2775 Sanders Road, Northbrook, IL 60062  1-866-745-6522

ALPHA INSURANCE

  • Insured Ai dome in Georgia.

BLANKENSHIP & ASSOCIATES INSURANCE SERVICESThe following quote came from Dia Blankenship in January 2011:

  • I want to confirm that I have reviewed the underwriting manual for farm owner’s policies and geodesic domes are eligible for either a farm or hobby farm policy.  (An application must be submitted prior to binding, but binding can usually be accomplished within 24 hours once all of the required documentation is submitted.)
  • My agency writes farm coverage in 11 states across the mid-Atlantic region (including Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennesee, Virginia and West Virginia), so I’d be happy to assist any of American Ingenuity’s customers who may be having difficulty finding insurance coverage in those areas.
  • We have also earned the Nationwide Agribusiness On Your Side Farm Certification, which requires extensive additional training about farm products so we can provide superior service to Ai’s clients.
  • A farm policy often provides better coverage than a homeowner’s contract because rural homeowners may need coverage for detached outbuildings, equipment such as tractors and or ATV’s, or non-building structures such as well pumps or free standing wind turbines which we can add to the policy to cover each individual’s needs.
  • For info contact Dia Blankenship, P&C Manager, Certified Farm Specialist at 866-326-1461

Citizens Property Insurance Corporation for Florida Residents

CORNER STONE INS

  • Was thinking of insuring a concrete dome. Agent is Gary Walker 804-542-4301 in Richmond, VA.

FARMERS ALLIANCE MUTUAL INS

  • Thinking of insuring a concrete dome in Kansas. The agent was Larry Gould, 1122 N. Main St, Mopherson KS 67460-2849; 816-648-1114

FEDERATED NATIONAL: www.fednat.com/home/contact/  Insured an American Ingenuity dome in Florida in 2013.  They are located in Sunrise, Florida. In August of 2014 an owner was tentatively approved, then denied. Per the customer part of the denial was due to it being a dome structure.  We are unsure of the full circumstances for the denial;  if the denial was done on an individual basis or if it is a regional/ countrywide policy practice. Please contact your local Federated National agent for additional clarification.

HANOVER INSURANCE

  • Insured Ai dome in North Carolina. Fortner Insurance Co 828-682-2147. Hanover also does Builders Risk Insurance during the construction phase.

LEGACY INSURANCE SOLUTIONS 

  • Agent is Justen Bell. As of October 2015 the agent told the dome owner they want to insure concrete domes.  They can issue policies in Florida, Georgia and Alabama and some other areas.  They have two offices in Florida. One in Tallahassee and one in Palm Bay. 850-728-5420.

PREFERRED RISK HOMEOWNERS

  • Insured Ai dome in Des Moines, Iowa 800-217-4176  

STATE FARM INS

  • Insured Ai dome in Lakeland Florida. The agent was Jan Butler 863-688-2613.  (As of 2/07, State Farm is not taking on any new Florida policies.)

UNIVERSAL PROPERTY & CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY

  • Insured Ai dome in Florida.   Agency is in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. 800-425-9113

USAA  (Have to be present or past member of the military before you can be a member of USAA)

  • Insured Ai dome in Melbourne Florida 800-531-8111.  Currently USAA is not issuing home insurance in Florida.  But they set up a special agency that can possibly locate a insurance company to insure the dome.

USF & G

  • Insured Ai dome in North Carolina.

ZURIC Insurance

  • Provided Builder’s Risk to one of our clients in Tennessee.

 

FORT LAUDERDALE FL

For Mortgage Financing contact:

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

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

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

Web site & Loan Application:  To fill out loan application, click on   http://www.guaranteedloanmoney.com/  and then click on Loan Application and complete the form listing that you are inquiring about loan to build an Aidome.

The cash down payment varies from no cash down payment required to 10% to 20% down depending on your circumstances.

Info: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Financing Alternatives: 

  1. take out an equity line on property you own
  2. obtain a personal loan from family or friends (offering them a higher interest rate than banks, etc. are offering on money markets certificates, etc.)

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Q: What is the resale value of American Ingenuity domes?

A: American Ingenuity 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.

Ai 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. Ai 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:
    • matches the neighborhood in size and value
    • exhibits quality construction
    • is landscaped well
    • 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:
Conventional mortgage lenders tend to be ultra conservative when considering a dome. Mortgage brokers, small local banks, local credit unions 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.

Why are lenders conservative about loaning on domes? Very few dome owners ever sell their domes. So there is no dome resale value. 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. If the homeowner does not pay their mortgage, they will have to resale the dome. So they are reluctant to loan as much money on a dome project. Typically they want 25% to 35% 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. 

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 four scenarios to focus on when it comes to financing a dome home. Three of the four 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.  Great News – 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. 321-639-8777 Monday – Friday 9-5 Eastern time

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.

 

 


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