conventionally | AiDomes

The following is a recap of American Ingenuity Domes and Acts of Nature like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tree impact, snow load and hail.  Since 1976,  American Ingenuity’s dome design and prefabricated concrete panel has proved itself by withstanding the following acts of nature:  Hurricane Irma’s 200 mph winds, Hurricane Maria’s 185 mph winds,  Hurricane Andrew’s 165-212 mph winds, a tornado that rolled up a steel horse trailer and slammed it against the Miami Florida dome, four hurricanes in 2004, Hurricane Katrina, 6.6 earthquake in 2006, sub-zero temperatures and heavy snow loads of the Northwest Territory of Canada, a 30″ in diameter 115 foot tall hickory tree impact, a lighting strike, Colorado hail storm and many other conditions.  To view engineering statement that Ai domes comply with 2009, 2012 & 2015 International Building Code, California Building Code and 2014 Florida Building Code 5th Edition, please click on Strong Concrete Home.  The dome kit when assembled comes with a 225 mph and F4 Tornado warranty. This warranty does not apply to a cupola, link, exterior doors, windows or exterior framed wall areas.

To view an article which covers why build a geodesic dome for your new home that summarizes the major info about the Aidome building system and component panel, please click on Why Build a Geodesic Dome.

34′ Aidome in British Virgin Islands built in 2007

withstood Hurricane Irma’s 200 mph winds with no damage. 

 

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withstood Two Category Five Hurricanes with no damage
Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria’s 185 mph winds
An Aidome owner in St Croix, US Virgin Islands, has emailed, called and sent pictures of their 34’ Aidome with 1,100 sq.ft. – two bedrooms & two baths.  Liz wrote: “I live in an Aidome on St Croix, USVI and in September was hit by not one, but 2 horrific hurricanes, Irma and Maria.  Let me tell you I was so happy to be in a dome with no roof to lift.  Maria hit St Croix with 185 MPH winds!!   The only damage at all was to our solar whole house fan on top of house.” 
She also called and told us: “Within 12 days we went through two category 5 hurricanes (Irma and Maria) where the area was destroyed.  The hurricanes took out our hospitals, airports and schools.  The Aidome stood strong and suffered no damage with only the solar fan broken.   Also she said they had mini tornadoes which blew their storage sheds apart.   Her husband is a Purple Heart Vietnam War Veteran who said the area looked like a war zone.   Click on St Croix  to view a photos of this dome. 
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45′ Elevated Aidome in Florida Keys 

withstood 2017 Hurricane Irma with no damage

Per the Orlando Sentinel: Florida Keys officials say the island chain hit hard by Hurricane Irma will reopen to tourists Oct. 1.

Officials made their announcement Monday Sept 25, 2017, more than two weeks after the Category 4 storm made landfall in the Florida Keys. The storm destroyed an estimated 25 percent of homes on the islands.

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Exterior hurricane Jeanne Dumpster Domes

Domes built in 2000 suffered no damage from Hurricane Frances & Hurricane Jeanne

34′ (two bedroom and two bathroom) connected to a 22′ one car garage dome. A conventional house across the street lost its roof in Hurricane Jeanne. In the dumpster is house’s shingles and on the ground is its carpet.  The interior of the house was destroyed.  Roof and interior had to be rebuilt.

Q: Does American Ingenuity have an engineering statement about your dome panels that can be submitted to my building department?

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

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Hurricane Andrew 1992-sustained winds of 165 mph-with bursts of 212 mph-Category 5

 

8.18 Exterior pilings2 Mowery platform-edited2

Above 40′ Key Largo Dome Built in 1987 – Suffered No Damage in Hurricane Andrew

 

Menendez -exterior

Above 45′ in diameter dome (built in 1989)

was in direct path of Hurricane Andrew and Tornado

& Suffered No Structural Damage – Minor Damage Due to Horse Trailer Impact

In August 1992 American Ingenuity domes were put to the ultimate test of strength when they faced the wrath of Hurricane Andrew as it slammed into south Florida. Winds at the nearby Tamiami airport were clocked at 212 mph, spawning over 100 tornadoes within the storm and leaving practically everything in its wake leveled. Nearly 200,000 people become homeless overnight. Even a tower at the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant, designed to withstand 200-mph winds, was irrevocably damaged by this fierce storm. We were not surprised, however, when we learned that our domes survived – in great contrast to the thousands of conventionally built houses of their neighbors. On Key Largo, just 20 miles south of the eye of the storm, an Ai 40′ dome faced the brunt of the storm. Built on pilings near the Atlantic Ocean, it was exposed to relentless high winds and driving rain. Unlike houses and commercial buildings in the surrounding area, it sustained absolutely no damage.

Above is picture of a 45′ American Ingenuity dome home built in 1989 that was in the direct path of the devastating storm, bearing the worst Andrew could deliver; yet it suffered no structural damage. A two wide metal horse trailer was impelled against the dome leaving a paint skid marking on the dome where the trailer slide around the dome to the other side. The horse trailer caused a crack in the riser wall and a chunk of concrete to break loose. The dome owner, caulked the crack and mixed up fiber concrete and filled the chunk and then painted the area.

Due to the type and direction of the debris scattered around the dome’s neighborhood, an engineer from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (F.E.M.A.) surmised that a tornado had struck the area. The engineer’s own Alabama home had been hit by a tornado a few years ago, so he was impressed by the integrity of the dome on an emotional as well as a professional level. The dome structure had withstood not only the force of a hurricane but a tornado as well. The incredibly intense winds ripped open double entry doors and 12′ sliding glass doors, which had been covered with protective plywood sheathing. Even though the wood and glass doors of the entryways succumbed to the wind and allowed interior water damage from the rain, the dome itself stood strong.

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Hurricane Katrina…category 4 wind speed 140 mph  

Hurricane Katrina caused many deaths and over $34 Billion dollars in damages making it one of the worst American Catastrophe. Ai had domes in its direct path.  The domes suffered no structural damage. To learn more about American Ingenuity’s warranty against 225 mph winds and F4 Tornadoes,  view Warranty.

According to information from the Insurance Information Institute, the 2004 Florida Hurricanes (Charley, Frances, Jeanne and Ivan) are among the 10 costliest U.S. catastrophes when measured by insured damages. At the time of the 2004 hurricanes over 123 Ai domes were built in Florida, not one of them suffered any damage due to these hurricanes. Ai had domes in the direct path of Charley in the cities of Port Charlotte and Fort Meyers. News reports stated that in 2004 one out of every five residences in Florida suffered damage due to the hurricanes. The following was taken from the Insurance Information Institute’s web site www.iii.org.

Florida allows a wind mitigation form to be filled out by a certified engineer.  Ai domes that have had this form submitted to their insurance companies have paid greatly reduced prices for the hurricane part of their insurance.  One client’s hurricane premium went from $850 to $90.

 

Core Dome 02

 

40′ American Ingenuity Dome built from kit in 1987

Survived Hurricane Katrina with no damage to the dome. (cupola is built differently now)

 

Core Dome 01

40′ American Ingenuity Dome built from kit in 1987. 

The dome is built on wood pilings with the storage room below the dome built with break-away- walls.   This dome owner chose to build her platform with pressure treated wood joists. Or the elevated platform can be designed to be built from concrete.  During Hurricane Katrina, there was no damage to the dome but when the water level rose under her dome, debris damaged a joist.  Depending on your area and soil report, pilings can be wood or concrete with the above ground columns designed from concrete block.  To see latest design of concrete platform, with concrete columns, concrete deck & stairs, ask Ai for photos.

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American Ingenuity’s Concrete Dome Homes Have Exceptional Strength

A dome shape has inherent strength that exceeds all other home designs as proven by Buckminster Fuller. Ai’s steel reinforced concrete dome home’s shell is able to withstand large wind and snow loads.

As home manufacturers American Ingenuity is confident of its housing kits and Ai offers a structural guarantee the dome shell will withstand 225 mph winds and F4 tornadoes. To read about Ai’s warranty, view Guarantee.

During the 2004 Hurricane system, Florida experienced four hurricanes. None of our concrete domes suffered any damage, even though some were in the direct path of Charley, Ivan, Frances and Jeanne.  Scroll down the page to view a recap hurricanes and other Ai dome strength info.

American Ingenuity has had its domes go through Hurricane Andrew (165 mph winds with burst of 212 mph winds…category 5) and a tornado spawned by Andrew and Hurricane Katrina (140 mph winds…category 4) with no structural damage. Hurricane Sandy had 90 mph winds and water surges.  Ai did not have any of its domes in Sandy’s path.  If  building near coastal areas, build your Ai dome on pilings and concrete platform to allow water surge to go under the dome.

Q: What wind and snow loads will the Ai dome withstand?
A:
A triangle is the strongest shape known to man.  To view a video that explains this view Triangle.  Most of the American Ingenuity geodesic dome consists of triangle shaped panels which combined with the steel reinforced concrete exterior, makes the dome incredibly strong and easily enhanced to accommodate unusual requirements. The dome design will accommodate 225 mph. winds and 50 lb. snow loads.  To view load test on Ai panel, click on load test.

Two of Ai’s domes in Hawaii went through a 6.6 earthquake in 2006 and suffered no structural damage. To learn more about the earthquake, view ABC News Link and on MSNBC News Link.

Since 1976,  American Ingenuity’s dome design has proved itself by withstanding the following acts of nature with no structural damage: Hurricane Andrew’s 165-212 mph winds, a tornado that rolled up a steel horse trailer and slammed it against the Menendez dome, four hurricanes in 2004, Hurricane Katrina, 6.6 earthquake in 2006, sub-zero temperatures and heavy snow loads of the Northwest Territory of Canada, a 30″ in diameter 115 foot tall hickory tree impact, a lighting strike and many other conditions.

More about steel horse trailer impact: American Ingenuity warranties their concrete domes against 225 mph hurricanes and #4 tornadoes. Since our dome kit manufacturing business started, Ai has sold kits into 47 states and 14 foreign areas. Since then Ai does not know of any of our client’s domes suffering any damage due to hurricanes, earthquakes or tornadoes except for one dome during Hurricane Andrew. During Andrew a tornado slammed a two wide metal horse trailer against a 45’ Ai Dome.  A riser wall of the dome ended up with a hairline crack and a missing chunk of concrete. The dome owner caulked the crack, mixed up some fiber concrete to fill the chunk and then painted over the area.

Info about Tree Impact:

 

Above is photo of 40′ Aidome and Tree Impact due to Hurricane Irma .

Ai has heard from one of its dome owners whose steel reinforced concrete dome went through a tree impact caused by Hurricane Irma. The dome suffered no damage  – only a minor dent to a dormer.  This dome home was built in 2000 and is a 40’ dome linked to a 27’ garage dome located in Seminole County – central Florida.  Per the Orlando Sentinel  that area had 74 mph wind gusts with 50 mph sustained winds.  The following quote was emailed to Ai:  “I thought I’d send you this shot of a tree that landed on the dome during hurricane Irma.  My girlfriend was actually standing inside the doorway (inside the dome) when the tree hit and we both heard and felt the thud.  The tree is a Red Maple about 50’ tall. It uprooted from the ground and came to rest as you see in the photo.  It has a split trunk with a base dimension of 30” x 26”.  The two main trunks beyond the split are about 13” and  15” in diameter.  Once all of the smaller tree limbs were removed it was clear that the dome shell suffered no damage other than cosmetic paint scuffing and a minor dent in the edge of the dormer rim.  (fixable with Bondo or patching cement).  No cracks or other damage have been observed inside or out from the tree impact.  This is a testament to the strength of the dome!  I’ve also attached a shot of the tree with it’s branches removed so you get a clearer view of the tree itself without all the leaves and vines.  I’m still enjoying the dome living life after 17 years here now.”

More about the tree impact: There was no damage to the Brack’s 48′ Ai dome or its basement after winds in excess of 75 mph hit North Carolina in July of 1996. The real test came when a 115′ high, 30″ in diameter hickory tree was blown over and fell on their dome. The impact broke a 10″ diameter branch. The tree slid off the dome and landed on a deck post driving it and it’s 16″ square concrete footer 6″ further into the ground. The insurance agent who inspected the damage to the deck conveyed his amazement about the dome’s strength with this comment, “If that had been a frame house the tree would have ended up in the basement!”  Why the American Ingenuity dome could handle the tree impact is because the steel mesh from panel to panel is overlapped, locked & covered with fiber concrete. As a result the continuous mesh transfers the stress throughout the dome. In a conventional house the stress is confined to one area resulting in the tree probably coming through the roof of the conventional house.

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More about the lightning strike: American Ingenuity’s 45′ office dome withstood another one of nature’s most powerful forces, a LIGHTNING STRIKE. The lightning hit the outer edge of an entryway and the only damage it did to the dome was to knock off a handful of concrete at the point of impact! A couple of our computers have not been the same since, but the cost to repair the dome did not exceed $30 in materials and labor.

More about heavy snow loads: In 1995 Mr. and Mrs. Carroll visited Robens and Tom Napolitan’s dome.  Robens was enthusiastic, but Tom was not. Tom explained to the Carroll’s, “its all HER idea, I didn’t want a dome.” Mary Carroll phoned the Napolitans in 1996.  Mrs. Carroll said you couldn’t keep Tom quiet this time.  He had nothing but wonderful things to say about the dome and had completely turned around about the wonders of living in an American Ingenuity dome…..ROOFS HAD COLLAPSED in their area under several feet of snow, but NOT HIS DOME!   Tom’s turnaround sold Mary and her husband on an Ai dome.

More about hail: 34′ Dome on full basement in Colorado that is 15 years old:  Toni told us: “I built the American Ingenuity dome for my retirement home and now that I am retired I am so glad that did. I love my dome.  In 2014 we experienced a hail storm that beat the paint off part of their dome & damaged a vent. There was no damage to the concreted panels. To warm the dome in the winter I designed the windows to face south to let the sun in, I installed baseboard heaters that are heated with hot water and I use propane to heat the water in the boiler.  For back up I have a small gas stove.”

Hurricane Irma in September 2017

This recap starts with the most current hurricane, Irma.  The following info came from Wikipedia:

Hurricane Irma was an extremely powerful and catastrophic Cape Verde type hurricane, the strongest observed in the Atlantic since Wilma in 2005 in terms of maximum sustained winds. It was the first Category 5 hurricane to strike the Leeward Islands, followed by Hurricane Maria only two weeks later. It was also the most intense Atlantic hurricane to strike the United States since Katrina in 2005, and the first major hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Wilma in 2005. The ninth named storm, fourth hurricane, and second major hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, Irma caused widespread and catastrophic damage throughout its long lifetime, particularly in parts of the northeastern Caribbean and the Florida Keys.    The storm caused catastrophic damage in BarbudaSaint BarthélemySaint MartinAnguilla, and the Virgin Islands as a Category 5 hurricane.

 

HURRICANE IKE, September 2008

third most destructive hurricane

to ever make landfall in the United States

Mr. & Mrs. Evans of Seabrook, Texas went through Hurricane Ike in an American Ingenuity dome home (48’ and 34’ dome).  Vicki states, “Our domes had no damage although we had significant tree damage on our one acre lot.  We slept through Hurricane Ike and only the next day realized how violent the hurricane had been.  Whole communities two miles away in the Galveston Bay area  were destroyed.  Our neighbors could not believe that we slept through the storm….they told us that they had been up all night due to the violent winds and noise. We did not have to replace or repair our roof. YEA!  Many of our neighbors have spent the last several months replacing their roofs.   Because of the aerodynamic shape of the dome, its steel reinforced concrete construction and its thick insulation, the hurricane sounds were not absorbed through the walls of the dome and our domes had no damage.  We are really glad that we built our domes back in 1991.”

The following info about Ike came from the Wikipedia dictionary.

Hurricane Ike was the third most destructive hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States. It was the ninth named storm, fifth hurricane and third major hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. It was a Cape Verde-type hurricane, as it started as a tropical disturbance off the coast of Africa near the end of August, then tracked south of Cape Verde and slowly developed. On September 1, 2008, it became a tropical storm west of the Cape Verde islands.  Ike made its final landfall in Baytown, Texas, United States as a Category 2 hurricane.

Ike was blamed for at least 195 deaths. Of these, 74 were in Haiti, which was already trying to recover from the impact of three storms earlier that year: Fay, Gustav, and Hanna. In the United States, 112 people were killed, and 34 are still missing. Damages from Ike in US coastal and inland areas are estimated at $24 billion (2008 USD), with additional damage of up to $4 billion in Cuba, $200 million in the Bahamas, and $60 million in the Turks and Caicos, amounting to a total of $28.26 billion in damages. Ike was the third costliest U.S. hurricane of all time, behind Hurricane Andrew of 1992 and Hurricane Katrina of 2005.

 

Catastrophe (year) Inflation adjusted losses*
1
Hurricane Katrina (2005)
$40.4 billion
2
Hurricane Andrew (1992)
$20.86 billion
3
Sept. 11 Attacks (2001)
$20.05 billion
4
Northridge, CA Earthquake (1994)
$15.93 billion
5
Hurricane Charley (2004)
$7.47 billion
6
Hurricane Ivan (2004)
$7.11 billion
7

Hurricane Hugo (1989)

$6.39 billion
8
Hurricane Frances (2004)
$4.59 billion
9
Hurricane Jeanne (2004)
$3.65 billion
10
Hurricane Georges (1998)
$3.36 billion
11
Tropical Storm Allison (2001)
$3.09 billion
12
Hurricane Opal (1995)
$2.60 billion
13
Hurricane Floyd (1999)
$2.22 billion

*Note: Adjusted to 2004 dollars by the Insurance Information Institute.

 Hurricanes & The American Ingenuity Dome

Hurricane Katrina August 29, 2005…140 mph…category 4

American Ingenuity Dome Homes are located in:

  • The Louisiana cities of St Bernard, Baton Rouge and Slidell
  • The Mississippi cities of Purvis, Magee, Byhalia, Saucier, Pattison and Pulaski
  • The Alabama cities of Rainsville, Scottsboro, Enterprize, Dora and Madison

On September 5th, 2005 the Murphy’s in Purvis Mississippi called and said their 48′ dome shell was erected but the inside was not finished. Hurricane Katrina destroyed their conventional house so they moved into their unfinished dome. They had water but no electricity or gasoline for their generator.

On October 11, 2005 Ai heard from our dome owner in Slidell Louisiana. She purchased a 40’ dome in December 1987. She told us the following: “At first we evacuated to a hotel whose roof was blown off by the hurricane. So we had to move to another location. My 40’ American Ingenuity dome sits 8’ above sea level and was built on 10’ tall wood stilts with break-a-way basement walls. There was no damage to my dome structure. The water surge was 18’. Water splashed under a door but there was no water damage in my house other than a skylight leaked.” (Ai-no longer manufactures skylights…instead customer installs solar tubes or maxes out second floor dormers for additional light.)

Her dome was the only livable house in the area. Down the street the only thing left of her sister’s house was a concrete slab.

The water surge pushed a big object under her dome bending a beam under the platform and cracking one wood stilt. The surge of water washed away the break-a-way basement walls and all her electrical and plumbing from under the dome. All she needed to move back into her dome was to get the plumbing and electric reconnected.

The first time she visited her dome after Hurricane Katrina, a man was standing looking at her dome. This person had visited her dome during its construction back in 1988. He reminded her about the “Nay Sayers that told her she was building the wrong type of house.” She wondered, “What those same people would think now.”

Hurricane Ivan 2004

Florida Today’s headline for September 17th was titled “Pensacola in Pieces.” Part of the story read, on September 15, 2004 Hurricane Ivan came on shore at Gulf Shores Alabama but the northeast winds caused the most damage to cities in the nearby Florida Panhandle of Pensacola, Milton, Santa Rosa, ……….

A Client in Milton Florida purchased a 45’ and 30’ dome  March 1995. They were in the direct path of Hurricane Ivan. On Sept 16th John said, “We were in the middle of the eye and had the full blast of the winds plus there was a tornado in our area. The area looks like a war zone. Our concrete domes were wonderful and suffered no damage.” He told us, “Firefighters came by our dome and told us ‘You have the right house for hurricanes.’” He had not received any reports on the wind speed but it was probably 135 to 145 mph or more plus there was a tornado. Pine trees in his yard were stripped of their needles and their bark. Many of his pine trees were laying on a 45 degree angle. A 2×6 board hit the dome and ricocheted onto their screen dome breaking a rib causing the screen dome to collapse. (American Ingenuity does not warranty the screen domes against wind damage, and no longer manufactures screen domes.) Interstate 10’s Bridge over Pensacola Bay is missing a precast concrete segment on each end…whole electrical substations were blown up. Casinos in Biloxi were destroyed.

A client in Santa Rosa Beach Florida purchased a 48’ and 34’ domes in July 1996. Gary told us, “They had over 135 mph winds and their domes suffered no damage.” Their domes sit higher, at 56′ above sea level, than the surrounding houses.

Hurricane Charley

came on land at Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda August 13, 2004

A client in Punta Gorda purchased 40’ and 27’ domes in December 2002. They were in the direct path of Hurricane Charley coming on land in Florida. On September 8th, Trudy called to thank us for their dome. They had winds greater than 145 mph and their dome had no problem….one window got a crack from debris. She said that most of town was destroyed and all three area hospital’s roofs were blown off. Their domes are in Charlotte County near Lee County.

A client in North Ft Meyers purchased a 34’ dome home, and a 27’ two car garage in January 2003. Amy called us August 17, 2004 and said that they were 15 miles from the direct hit of the hurricane and had 117 mph sustained winds. Their domes stood strong, the only vulnerable part was their garage door that wanted to blow in. So they used 2×4’s, plywood and sandbags to hold it in place. The first thing Amy said to us was, “Thank you for our domes.” Their Domes are located in southern Charlotte County near Lee County.

A client in Geneva Florida (near Orlando and Sanford) purchased 40’ and 27’ domes in March 1999. His domes were in the path of Charley and Frances and suffered no damage. Charley’s winds were over 100 mph and Frances winds were 70 to 80 mph.

A client in Bunnell (near New Smyrna Beach) purchased a 40’ dome in February 1992. They were in the exit path of Charley and had 90 mph gusts. Their dome stood strong while houses in their neighborhood lost their roofs.

A client in Flagler Beach purchased 34’ and 27’ domes in January 1999. Their domes were 15 miles from Charley’s exit path. They had 70 mph sustained winds with gusts of 80 mph. During the hurricane they could hear stuff hitting their domes. In the morning they walked around their yard, picked up shingles and soffits from their neighbor’s houses and washed off their driveway resulting in their property and dome looking like no hurricane had occurred.

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Hurricane Frances 2004

On September 5, 2004 Hurricane Frances came on land at Fort Pierce and Vero Beach with the north east winds slamming Ai’s County of Brevard.

A client in Ft. Pierce purchased a 45’ concrete dome  in June 1993. Frances’s eye wall sat on area for two hours so the category 2 hurricane did category 3 damage. Cecelia said they experienced 120 to 130 mph winds with no dome damage while the house across the street lost most of its shingles.

Exterior Office lots of green

American Ingenuity Dome offices (pictured above), dome factory and all of our concrete dome residences in Brevard County went through 100 mph winds of Hurricane Frances and suffered no damage. Many conventional buildings lost roofs or had roof problems.

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A client in Flagler Beach purchased 34’ and 27’ domes in January 1999. Their domes not only went through Frances but went through the exit winds of Charley (70 mph) with no structural damage.

34 ft dome home linked to 22' one car garage dome.

Flagler Beach 34′ dome with 27′ two car garage domes

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Hurricane Jeanne 2004

On September 26, 2004 Hurricane Jeanne came on land at Stuart Florida just below Vero Beach with the north east winds hitting Indian River County and our County of Brevard.

American Ingenuity Dome offices, dome factory and all of our concrete dome residences in Brevard County went through about 10 hours of 105 mph winds of Hurricane Jeanne and suffered no damage. Many conventional buildings lost roofs or had roof problems. None of our thirteen dome clients in Brevard County suffered any damage to their domes. One 34’ dome home and 22’ dome garage in Melbourne is separated from the Indian River on the east only by a street (Pineapple). The domes suffered no damage while a house to the south directly across from the dome lost its roofing. The picture on this page illustrates rolls of their carpet at the street and their shingles in a dumpster. Unfortunately, the house contents got wet and were destroyed.

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Earthquakes and the American Ingenuity Dome

Ai. has shipped its domes into California. New construction in California requires CA engineer sealed building plans and structural calculations that include wind, snow and seismic loads for that construction site areas.

Two of Ai’s domes in Hawaii went through a 6.6 earthquake in 2006 and suffered no structural damage. To learn more about the earthquake, view ABC News  and view NBC News.   

Tree Impact and the American Ingenuity Dome

There was no damage to the Brack’s 48’ dome after winds in excess of 75 mph hit North Carolina in July 1996. The real test came when a 115 foot tall, 30 inch in diameter hickory tree was blown over and fell on their dome. The impact broke one of the tree’s 10” diameter branches. The tree slid off and landed on a deck post driving it and its 16” square concrete footer 6” further into the ground. The insurance agent who inspected the damage to the deck conveyed his amazement about the dome’s strength with this comment, “If that had been a frame house the tree would have ended up in the basement.”

Lighting Strike and the American Ingenuity Dome

American Ingenuity’s 45’ Office Dome withstood another one of nature’s most powerful forces, a lightning strike. The lightning hit the outer edge of an entryway and the only damage it did to the dome was to knock off a handful of concrete at the point of impact. A couple of our computers have not been the same since, but the cost to repair the dome did not exceed $30 in materials and labor.

The following covers Ai Dome Energy Efficiency FAQS.

EXTERIOR Schoonover

American Ingenuity 40′ dome linked to 30′ garage dome

Q: Where can I view on your web site, the energy bills for your Florida Dome Offices and for a Florida Dome Home?

A: To view the FP&L utility bills showing the Ai 3,700 sq.ft. dome offices can be cooled for less than $85 a month during Florida’s hottest months, view Office Electric Bills. To view the FP&L utility bills showing a Florida 1,075 sq.ft. 34ft in diameter dome can be cooled for less than $27 a month during Florida’s hottest months, view Home Energy Bills.  Heating Ai domes is even easier than cooling because when heating, the heat generated by computers, refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes dryers, etc.  is used and does not need to be overcome as is needed when cooling a structure.

Q: Tell me about an American Ingenuity dome beating a home sponsored by the utility company, Florida Power & Light, to win the award for Most Energy Efficient Residential Unit in the southeastern United States.

A: Florida Power & Light is a nuclear powered utility company in Florida. FP&L sponsored the design of a passive solar home and entered it in a contest held by the Southeast Builder’s Conference, a division of the National Home Builders Association.  An American Ingenuity dome was entered into the same contest.  The Ai dome beat the FP&L home to win the award for the Most Energy Efficient Residence in the southeastern United States. The Home also won the Grand Award for all energy efficient categories…beating out the FP&L home in a second category.

Q: What Energy Star rating has the American Ingenuity dome received?

A: A 5+ Energy Star rating, the highest rating given, Energy Star is a joint program between the Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Department of Energy that is designed to promote products, buildings and homes that use less energy without sacrificing quality.

American Ingenuity has received in the past the Energy Star endorsement for our dome homes, making us the first among Geodesic Domes. Our domes not only qualified but we far exceeded their efficiency standards that are derived from the Model Energy Code.

In an American Ingenuity dome, you can receive a 5+ Star rating, the highest rating given. When financing, this rating will entitle you to the maximum benefits like reduced fees and lower interest rates. The Energy Star Rating cannot be given on a building kit…only on a finished dome. Therefore, once you build your dome you can apply for the Energy Star Rating. Energy Star’s web site ishttp://www.energystar.gov

The Energy Star label can only be placed on completed houses. The label cannot go on a Building Kit. Some of American Ingenuity’s clients have had their completed dome homes rated and received the Energy Star label. To find out how your dome home can receive an Energy Star Label, call the EPA Energy Star hot line 1-888-782-7937 and ask for a company in your area that can rate your home.

Klaus Kolb’s South Carolina Ai concrete dome house earned EPA’s Energy Star.  Home Energy Partners certified his home used 61% less energy than in comparably-size housing.  To view pictures of his dome home, click on Earned Energy Star.  He installed a geothermal cooling & heating system. To view pictures & info about his geothermal system, click on System.  Klaus’s 2003 total monthly average energy bill was $49. This includes the electricity and propane costs for his entire 1,600 sq.ft. – 40 ft. dome.

Q: What do I need to consider when searching for an ENERGY EFFICIENT house?
A:
To best answer that question let us examine how most of the heating and air conditioning is lost in a house. The major loss is usually through the walls and ceiling with the amount of loss directly proportional to the combined area. Solution, minimize the surface area of the house. Domes have about 20% to 40% less surface area than an equal size conventional house. This results in an equal and significant improvement in the efficiency.

The insulation value of the walls and ceilings are important but you cannot just compare R-values. R-values provided for conventional houses represent optimum conditions. They do not take into consideration that the insulation is interrupted by the framing, has voids, settles and absorbs moisture. In our domes, the E.P.S. insulation is continuous, rigid and it will not settle or absorb moisture. R-28 E.P.S. insulation in our dome exceeds the performance of R-45 fiberglass in a conventional house.

Blower tests repeatedly show that wood frame houses loose 10-25% of their heating and AC through the numerous leaks in the walls, attic, electrical outlets, etc. It is very difficult to seal these leaks due to their volume and inaccessibility. American Ingenuity domes are sealed airtight on the outside of the insulation; therefore, eliminating the energy absorbing leaks.

The insulation on Heating and AC ducts is usually only R-6 to R-8. In addition, when the fan is running, the air in the ducts is under pressure and thus the ducts are more inclined to leak. Ducts in the attic, or anywhere outside the insulation envelope, account for sizable energy loss. In American Ingenuity domes all of the ducts are inside the insulation; therefore, there is zero loss in the ducts even if they leak.

If you add up the potential energy savings of American Ingenuity dome living, you will understand why our dome owners often claim savings in excess of 50% to 60%.

To learn more about heating and cooling an American Ingenuity Dome view Energy.

Q: How does your insulation R-value compare to other wall R-values?
A:
The following are comprehensive wall values based on the average value of the complete wall. For example the comprehensive R-value:

  • 2×4 solid wood with 3 1/2″ fiberglass is about R-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
  • While the wall value of Ai’s 7″ thick E.P.S. insulation is R-28 and Ai’s’s 9″thick E.P.S. insulation is R-36.
  • To view data about the modified expanded polystyrene insulation utilized by Ai, click on Panel Composition

Q: How do I remove water vapor from cooking, showering, laundry, etc.?
A:
When the air conditioner or furnace is operating, some water vapor is removed by condensation at the evaporator coil.  Water vapor can be controlled by installing an exhaust fan in top center of the dome, exhaust fans in the bathrooms, at the stove, microwave and clothes dryer. Also if your dome is in a cold climate install a Heat Recovery Ventilator.   To learn more view Heat Recovery Ventilator.

Q: Does thermal mass affect energy efficiency?
A:
No. Generally speaking, in a home, thermal mass is the amount of stuff inside the house that retains heat. Although thermal mass accounts for the fact that some things have a greater “thermal capacity” to store heat than others, to understand its effect you can think of it as the total weight of everything contained in the house.

With more thermal mass (heavy stuff) inside your house more heat will have to be added or removed to change the temperature. Expressed another way, if heat is not being added the temperature will be slower to change.

Does Thermal Mass effect the energy efficiency of the house? No.

As heat in the house is lost through walls, windows, etc. the temperature drops. The thermal mass releases (loans) heat into the house slowing down the temperature change. When the heating system turns on, it must replace heat lost to the outside and it must  replace (pay back) that heat given off by the thermal mass. There is no long-term gain or loss, all of the heat given off by the thermal mass must be replaced. The amount of heat required to maintain the temperature inside a house is solely dependent on the amount of heat that escapes to the outside.

All houses have walls, floors and usually fixtures, appliances and stuff that will retain heat. A large amount of thermal mass can cause long on/off cycles of the heating system when shorter cycles would stir the air more frequently providing more comfort and uniform temperatures inside. The recent generation of thermostats are a proven money saver by lowering the inside temperature (which lowers the heat loss to the outside) during those hours you are away at work, etc. A large thermal mass makes it much harder to change the temperature; therefore, reducing the savings.

During the summer while using AC (substitute cold for heat) the effect remains the same.

Q: Can I use alternative power sources with my American Ingenuity dome?
A:
Yes. By providing your own Alternative Power, you can live in a remote location (less expensive land) and still have all the amenities of a developed area. However be aware the cost of these alternative power sources could be $20,000 to $70,000.  The alternative power systems typically consist of a power source, storage device and conversion systems. Most systems use photovoltaic cells but is some cases gasoline or diesel engine generators or wind or water driven generators are practical. The storage device is usually large batteries. The conversion system allows you to have 110 volts AC and use conventional appliances. The technology is very refined and the systems are top notch.

The cost of the system will depend directly on the amount of power that you will need. By first investing in an energy efficient house, you will reduce your power demand and save money. If you are considering an American Ingenuity dome home, you couldn’t make a better choice and you will be doing your part to conserve power and lower greenhouse emissions.

If you are also connected to the local power grid, you will not need batteries for backup and in most cases you get paid for putting power back into the system.

If the cost of the system is included in the home financing it can be paid off with a little higher monthly mortgage payment. Not having an electric bill may even it out.

Utilizing an alternate power source does have a few drawbacks: COST: while systems are getting more affordable, they are still expensive. It is still less expensive to buy power from mass-produced power companies unless you are far from the power lines. MAINTENANCE and RELIABILITY: Most systems are very reliable but occasionally they need attention. Several of our dome owners have alternative power systems and are very satisfied with the results.

To view pictures and info on a 40′ dome in Pennsylvania which has a GeoThermal WaterFurnace Synergy 3D heating/cooling system, click on Charles Dome.   To info on a South Carolina 40′ dome utilizing geothermal, click on Kolb Dome.  To view pictures of Kolb Dome, click on South Carolina.

Jim Collar’s Utah Ai concrete dome buildings at 7,500 ft elevation operate off the grid by using photovoltaic’s, masonry heater fireplace and passive solar water tubes. To learn more, click on  Off The Grid.   If you are considering an alternative power system in your dome the magazine Home Power offers many solutions. 

 

45' dome with 30' dome in Utah snow.

45′ dome with 30′ dome in Utah at 7,500 ft/ elevation – off the grid. On right are photovotaics

SOLAR HOT WATER PANELS:

Helpful web sites are:

Solar Panels: Solar Hot Water panels can be designed to set on top of the entryways or link. Anchors are buried into the entryway concrete on site. Grooves are cut in the EPS insulation to lay the pipes in and the water pipe(s) are inserted through the entryway EPS before the entryway is concreted. I have a solar hot water panel mounted on my dome link. It sits on the link and lies against the side of the dome. To hide the ends of the solar panel, we filled in the ends with foam and stuccoed over the foam so it matches the dome. View Solar Panels to learn more.

Q: Would you give me more information about solar hot water heaters and photovoltaic panels?
A:
An article in Mother Earth News reported that since 1970, the demand for electricity has outpaced the World’s population growth by more than 20 percent. They continue and explain how we are ignoring the warning signs, that Builders are still constructing poorly efficient housing and others are overlooking the importance of renewable/alternate energy sources.

The first and most important step is to limit or reduce the energy loss in the home. An investment in good, uninterrupted, insulation and a design that does not leak the conditioned air to the outside has the best return. The savings is not only in the reduced energy loss but, also in the reduced cost of a smaller heating and air conditioning system. The next step is to replace some of the energy, which is consumed. A solar water heater has proved to have quick payback in most parts of the country. In fact, sometimes they can be financed and save more money in reduced electric bills than the cost of payments. When they are paid off it becomes pure savings. Photovoltaic cells have continued to improve in efficiency and cost.

The Mathes’ dome (34′ dome home with 30′ garage dome) in Florida utilizes a solar water heater and photovoltaic panels to power their lights and refrigerator. Although, their A/C, washer, well pump and TV are still connected to the meter, their total electric bill was less than $150.00 for the year. The owner/builder states, “This has been a wonderful experience that I would not trade for ANYTHING!”   View Photovoltaic to learn more.

ss2American Ingenuity 34′ dome. Solar Hot water Panel installed on top of standard entryway.

Q: How did the American Ingenuity dome perform in the energy efficiency tests at the Florida Solar Energy Center?
A:
Superbly. Test findings were released after a yearlong 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-efficient Styrofoam house designed by Dow Chemical. It came as no surprise to us that our test dome far surpassed both the conventional and Dow test houses in being THE MOST ENERGY EFFICIENT.

Although the test was conducted in a temperate locale without summer and winter temperature extremes, the American Ingenuity dome outperformed 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. In tests using infrared, thermal irregularities in the dome were shown to be insignificant.

The Florida Solar Energy Center can be reached at 321-638-1000 or write them at 1679 Clearlake Rd, Cocoa, FL 32922.

Q: Which heating and air-conditioning system is the most practical and efficient for my location?
A:
Keep in mind that because of the superb energy efficiency of the dome the required size of your air conditioning and heating system is reduced to half that of a typical home. It is usually not economical to purchase super-efficient systems because the energy savings is also reduced. The smaller sized domes can be cooled with a window air conditioner. The best heating system will vary with the area and the type of fuel that is readily available. A ventilated wood stove may provide all the needed heat for even our larger domes located to cold climates. A ground water (or water-to-air) heat pump is very efficient for both heat and cool. It uses the constant, moderate temperature of the underground earth to absorb or provide the heat instead of outside air. Besides, being more efficient than an air-to-air unit, it can efficiently produce heat when the outside temperature is below freezing.

Q: Can a radiant in floor heating system be installed in my dome?
A:
Yes. Check your yellow pages or Google local Radiant Floor Heating Subcontractors.

View Radiant Floor Heating to learn more.

Charles exterior

American Ingenuity Dome utilizing radiant floor heating.

Q: Why are your dome homes so energy efficient?
A:
You can save 50-70% 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 the framed exterior walls under entryway and dormer panels that contain your locally purchase exterior doors and windows.
  • Downsized heating and cooling equipment.

Your kit comes with R-28 E.P.S. insulation or if you choose, thicker R-36 E.P.S. insulation is available.

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

 

Kolb dome prius 3

American Ingenuity Dome Owners care about our environment. 

The Build Energy Efficient Homes & Tend to Drive Fuel Saving Vehicles.

Kolb exterior 40 27 P7120015

Kolb 40′ Dome Home Linked to 27′ (two car garage dome) – earned Energy Star

Q: What Energy Star rating has the American Ingenuity dome received?

A: A 5+ Energy Star rating, the highest rating given. Energy Star is a joint program between the Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Department of Energy that is designed to promote products, buildings and homes that use less energy without sacrificing quality.  The Kolb Dome Home earned the Energy Star Rating.

In the past American Ingenuity has received the Energy Star endorsement for our completely constructed dome homes. Ai domes not only qualified but far exceeded their efficiency standards that are derived from the Model Energy Code. In an American Ingenuity dome you can receive a 5+ Star rating, the highest rating given. When financing this rating will entitle you to the maximum benefits, like reduced fees and lower interest rates.

The Energy Star Program will not give a rating on a Building Kit. The rating is for a newly finished home. Since American Ingenuity manufactures dome building kits and rarely constructs finished domes, we no longer have an Energy Star rating.

However our clients can participate in this program. Energy Star’s web site is http://www.energystar.gov

Q: What do I need to consider when searching an ENERGY EFFICIENT house?

A: To best answer that question let’s examine how most of the heating and air conditioning is lost in a house. The major loss is usually through the walls and ceiling with the amount of loss directly proportional to the combined area. Solution, minimize the surface area of the house. Domes have about 20% to 40% less surface area than an equal size conventional house. This results in an equal and significant improvement in the efficiency.

The insulation value of the walls and ceilings are important but you cannot just compare R-values. R-values provided for conventional houses represent optimum conditions. They do not take into consideration that the insulation is interrupted by the framing, has voids, settles and absorbs moisture. In our domes the E.P.S. insulation is continuous, rigid and it will not settle or absorb moisture. R-28 E.P.S. insulation in our dome exceeds the performance of R-45 fiberglass in a conventional house.

Blower tests repeatedly show that wood frame houses loose 10-25% of their heating and AC through the numerous leaks in the walls, attic, electrical outlets, etc. It is very difficult to seal these leaks due to their volume and inaccessibility. American Ingenuity domes are sealed airtight on the outside of the insulation; therefore, eliminating the energy absorbing leaks.

The insulation on Heating and AC ducts is usually only R-6 to R-8. In addition when the fan is running, the air in the ducts is under pressure and thus the ducts are more inclined to leak. Ducts in the attic, or anywhere outside the insulation envelope, account for sizable energy loss. In American Ingenuity domes all of the ducts are inside the insulation; therefore, there is zero loss in the ducts even if they leak and are not insulated at all.

If you add up the potential energy savings of American Ingenuity dome living, you will understand why our dome owners often claim savings in excess of 50%.

Q: How does your insulation R-value compare to other wall R-values?
A:
The following are comprehensive wall values based on the average value of the complete wall. For example the comprehensive R-value:

  • 2×4 solid wood with 3 1/2″ fiberglass is about R-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
  • The wall value of our standard 7″ thick E.P.S. insulation is R-28 which is comparable to 11″ of fiberglass batting

Q: Should I be concerned about moisture and dampness?
A: Yes
. Moisture is added inside a house as a result of washing, cooking, laundry, showers, etc. an Exhaust Fan is installed in the top center of the dome along with exhaust fans in each bathroom, for stove, microwave and clothes dryer. To bring fresh air into the house, research either a heat recovery ventilator or an energy recovery ventilator.  Click on Heat Recovery Ventilator to learn more.

Q: Does thermal mass effect energy efficiency?
A:
No. Generally speaking, in a home, thermal mass is the amount of stuff inside the house that retains heat. Although thermal mass accounts for the fact that some things have a greater “thermal capacity” to store heat than others, to understand its effect you can think of it as the total weight of everything contained in the house.

With more thermal mass (heavy stuff) inside your house more heat will have to be added or removed to change the temperature. Expressed another way, if heat is not being added the temperature will be slower to change.

Does Thermal Mass effect the energy efficiency of the house? No.

As heat in the house is lost through walls, windows, etc. the temperature drops. The thermal mass releases (loans) heat into the house slowing down the temperature change. When the heating system turns on, it must replace heat lost to the outside and it must also replace (pay back) that heat given off by the thermal mass. There is no long term gain or loss, all of the heat given off by the thermal mass must be replaced. The amount of heat required to maintain the temperature inside a house is solely dependent on the amount of heat that escapes to the outside.

All houses have walls, floors and usually fixtures, appliances and stuff that will retain heat. A large amount of thermal mass can cause long on/off cycles of the heating system when shorter cycles would stir the air more frequently providing more comfort and uniform temperatures inside. The recent generation of thermostats are a proven money saver by lowering the inside temperature (which lowers the heat loss to the outside) during those hours you are away at work, etc. A large thermal mass makes it much harder to change the temperature; therefore, reducing the savings.

During the summer while using AC (substitute cold for heat) the effect remains the same.

Q: I see that American Ingenuity is no longer manufacturing skylight panels. What lighting methods do you recommend?

A: Over the years American Ingenuity has accumulated information about the skylights and has determined that skylights are not the best method to bring light into our dome structures. Rather than offer an option that we feel is not beneficial, American Ingenuity has decided to remove this item as an option on our dome kits.

The most efficient way to add interior light is to install first floor entryways and max out second floor window dormers and or install second floor door dormers. Instead of installing a door install a tall window. This way when double paned glass gets moisture between it, you or your handyman can remove the window and tarp the dormer so no rain will come in while the window is being repaired. The dormers also provide an awning to protect the window. If you purchase windows that can be opened (with a pole or electrically for inaccessible windows); this would be an additional way to get fresh air into the dome.

There are five specific locations on the second floor where window dormers or door dormers can be installed. If selecting an existing plan, Ai can let you know where additional dormers can be installed. Or on a new custom plans design you can see where they can be located on the floor planner.

If your master suite is on the first floor and an entryway is designed in the suite, there will be ample light coming in through windows installed in the entryway. Once your dome kit is assembled (but not finished), you can better determine if more light is desired by standing inside the unfinished dome. At this point install solar tubes; they can be added into the panels during the finishing of your shell. A hole can be cut into any panel; just do not cut within 8” of the center of a seam.

Solar tubes unlike traditional skylights, are designed to control the problematic aspects of sunlight. They reduce glare and inconsistent light patterns. They also screen infrared rays that can overheat interiors as well as ultraviolet rays that can fade furniture and fabrics.

snow dome northey good

American Ingenuity Dome utilizing photovoltaics

Q: Can I use alternative power sources with my American Ingenuity dome?
A:
Yes. By providing your own Alternative Power you can live in a remote location (less expensive land) and still have all the amenities of a developed area. The alternative power systems typically consist of a power source, storage device and conversion systems. Most systems use photovoltaic cells but is some cases gasoline or diesel engine generators or wind or water driven generators are practical. The storage device is usually large batteries. The conversion system allows you to have 110 volts AC and use conventional appliances. The technology is very refined and the systems are top notch.

The cost of the system will depend directly on the amount of power that you will need. By first investing in an energy efficient house you will reduce your power demand and save money. If you are considering an American Ingenuity dome home you couldn’t make a better choice and you will be doing your part to conserve power and lower green house emissions.

If you are also connected to the local power grid, you will not need batteries for backup and in most cases you get paid for putting power back into the system.

If the cost of the system is included in the home financing it can be paid off with a little higher monthly mortgage payment. Not having an electric bill may even it out.

Utilizing an alternate power source does have a few drawbacks: COST: while systems are getting more affordable they are still expensive. It is still less expensive to buy power from mass produced power companies unless you are far from the power lines. MAINTENANCE and RELIABILITY: Most systems are very reliable but occasionally they need attention. Several of our dome owners have alternative power systems and are very satisfied with the results.

Click on the following to learn more:

If you are considering an alternative power system in your dome the magazine Home Power offers many solutions. They can be reached at their email address hp@homepower.com or at their web site http://www.homepower.com

PHOTOVOLTAIC EXPERTS & SOLAR HOT WATER PANELS:

Solar Panels: Solar Hot Water panels can be designed to set on top of the entryways or link. Anchors are buried into the entryway concrete on site. Grooves are cut in the E.P.S. insulation to lay the water pipes in and the pipes are inserted through the entryway E.P.S. before the entryway is concreted.

Other helpful web sites are:

Q: Would you give me more information about solar hot water heaters and photovoltaic panels?
A:
An article in Mother Earth News reported that since 1970, the demand for electricity has outpaced the World’s population growth by more than 20 percent. They continue and explain how we are ignoring the warning signs, that Builders are still constructing poorly efficient housing and others are overlooking the importance of renewable/alternate energy sources.

The first and most important step is to limit or reduce the energy loss in the home. An investment in good, uninterrupted, insulation and a design that does not leak the conditioned air to the outside has the best return. The savings is not only in the reduced energy loss but, also in the reduced cost of a smaller heating and air conditioning system. The next step is to replace some of the energy which is consumed. A solar water heater has proved to have quick payback in most parts of the country. In fact, sometimes they can be financed and save more money in reduced electric bills than the cost of payments. When they are paid off it becomes pure savings. Photovoltaic cells have continued to improve in efficiency and cost.

The Mathes’ dome (34′ dome home with 30′ garage dome) in Florida utilizes a solar water heater and photovoltaic panels to power their lights and refrigerator. Although, their A/C, washer, well pump and TV are still connected to the meter, their total electric bill was less than $150.00 for the year. The owner/builder also states, “This has been a wonderful experience that I would not trade for ANYTHING!”

Q: How did the American Ingenuity dome perform in the energy efficiency tests at the Florida Solar Energy Center?
A:
Superbly. Test findings were released after a yearlong 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 efficient styrofoam house designed by Dow Chemical. It came as no surprise to us that our test dome far surpassed both the conventional and Dow test houses in being THE MOST ENERGY EFFICIENT.

Although the test was conducted in a temperate locale without summer and winter temperature extremes, the American Ingenuity dome outperformed 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. In tests using infrared, thermal irregularities in the dome were shown to be insignificant.

Click on Energy Test to learn more.

You can call the Florida Solar Energy Center at 321-638-1000 or write them at 1679 Clearlake Rd, Cocoa, FL 32922.

Q: Which heating and air-conditioning system is the most practical and efficient for my location?
A:
Keep in mind that because of the superb energy efficiency of the American Ingenuity dome:

  • The required size of your air conditioning and heating system is reduced to half that of a typical home.
  • It is usually not economical to purchase super efficient systems because the energy savings is also reduced.
  • The smaller sized domes can be cooled with a window air conditioner.
  • The best heating system will vary with the area and the type of fuel that is readily available.
  • A ventilated wood stove may provide all the needed heat for even our larger domes located to cold climates.
  • A ground water (or water-to-air) heat pump is very efficient for both heat and cool. It uses the constant, moderate temperature of the underground earth to absorb or provide the heat instead of outside air. Besides, being more efficient than an air-to-air unit, it can efficiently produce heat when the outside temperature is below freezing.

Q: Can a radiant in floor heating system be installed in my dome?
A:
Yes.  Please check your yellow pages for local companies.

Click on Radiant Floor Heating to see Ai dome with radiant floor heating installed.

Q: Why are American Ingenuity dome homes so energy efficient?
A:
You can save 50-70% 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 (22′ with R-14).

To learn more click on Ai Dome Energy Efficiency.

To learn more about the E.P.S. insulation click on E.P.S.

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

finishing seams

Workers sponge finishing final second layer 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 Aidome, 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 created a home which 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 thirteen foreign areas.

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 are needed when you acquire a building permit. The plans are composed on our computer aided drafting system as stock plans, or custom plans based on your individual requirements and design. Some of the pages are a 3-D elevation and a 3-D perspective view. These plans include all the structural drawings, show the placement of the electrical outlets, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures; however, they do not have 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 do their own layouts.

Where can I see one of your finished domes? Ai has facilities in Florida where it manufactures the kits. Ai has sold domes into 47 USA states and fifteen foreign areas. 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 its building kit.  There are over 800 American Ingenuity Domes throughout the country.  We are thankful a few dome owners allow us to give out their name and number after we have answered the callers basic questions.   To learn more view Visit our Dome Offices.

Dome Built on Basement w’ perimeter deck

Only a few of our dome owners allow us to give out their name and telephone number.  Ai promises the dome owner that we will not take advantage of their courtesy and we will only give out their name to those who are serious and knowledgeable of the information on our web site. That way the dome owner is not answering basic questions that we can answer or is answered on our web site. After Ai answers your basic questions, we will review our dome referral listing for the dome owner closest to you who allows us to give out their name & phone number.  Ai has also promised to not give out the dome owner’s address to assure that they will not have surprise visitors.

Dome Finished Costs:

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

About 40% of our clients assembly their kit while others hire a Builder who hires the independent kit assembly Consultant.  The Component Panels and Building Plans  come marked with panel nomenclature. If you do not want to manage the assemble of the dome kit, Ai knows of independent working consultants which travel around the country assembling the dome shell using your concrete workers or your contractor’s concrete workers. To view a list of possible Builders, click on builders.  Best to hire a builder and pay him Cost Plus.

Using three to five good concrete workers 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 entryways and two dormers) can take from 14 to 26 days. To learn more about hiring the Specialist view Kit Assembly Specialist/Consultant.

You or your contractor hires local conventional subcontractors to perform the conventional jobs like forming and pouring the slab, plumbing, electrical, framing, etc. Ai believes you should not pay some one 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 because he did not know how long it would take or what problems would arise.  The Kit Assembly Consultant works directly for you as an independent subcontractor and can provide you with references for previous Ai domes built.  Using this consultant will assure that the temporary wooden rib system and your building kit is assembled correctly and in a timely fashion.  You 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.  The Consultant/Specialist does not apply concrete, he is there to supervise the job site workers.

Hiring the consultant for one week can save you two to three weeks or more of shell assembly time.

The consultant works for around $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 you are interested in utilizing the Consultant, please call our office at 321-639-8777.

Contact your local Home Builder’s Association for the names of contractors and subcontractors in your area. American Ingenuity maintains a list of dome owners, contractors or subcontractors who have assembled Ai dome shell kits. To view this list view Builders & Assemblers.

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

The following is a quick overview of Ai’s panelized kit contents and our building process to give you an idea of what is is required in building an American Ingenuity dome prior to the purchase of your personal dome. When you purchase a dome shell kit from us, the full “Assembly Manual” is included and is much more extensive and precise.

The American Ingenuity dome building kit includes one entryway and all the panels to assemble the dome shell. The triangular and riser panels are preconcreted, insulated and have wall board. The dome shell kit package includes: 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 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 E.P.S. with wallboard adhesive. It employs fiberglass mat facing instead of paper on both sides of the board. The core is silicon treated gypsum providing excellent moisture resistance, fire resistance and adhesion properties.  It 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, you can select additional building kit options which are determined by your choice of floor plan. The options include: 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. Within the entryways and dormers, on site a 2×4 or 2×6 PT wall is built and your 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 wall board. Ai believes you should not pay shipping on items you can purchase 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 preconcreted 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 on site. Prior to installing entryway, door dormer and window dormer panels, review your plans for any stud 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 you apply the first layer of concrete in the seams.  Prior to applying the scratch coat of concrete, the anchoring hardware or stud 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 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 and High Profile Entryway panels for the 30-48 domes, utilize 3 1/2″ E.P.S. wrapped in steel mesh, are preconcreted on the underside surface and have a precast trough on the outer edge. You place rebar into the trough, fill the trough with concrete and concrete the outside surface and apply a second layer of concrete to the underside. The openings under the entryways are framed in on the site to fit your choice of locally purchased standard windows and doors.

G or Garage Type Entryways for the 15′, 18′, 22′ and 27′ domes, utilize 3 1/2″ EPS, but are not wrapped in steel mesh or concreted. You can purchase the steel mesh from Ai and at no cost to you 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 on site stucco. The openings under the dormers are framed in on site to fit your choice of standard windows and doors that you 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 and 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 and whether you order the link panels with wallboard.

Domes are connected together with a Link made of the same materials as the dome panels; E.P.S. insulation. The Link connects to the adjacent domes in the same locations as an entryway or sometimes a door dormer. 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 like an entryway or door dormer. The length of the Link varies from 2 ft. to 10 ft. Because the riser wall is a standard 4’ high, all domes will match each other despite a difference in diameters.  Steel mesh can be purchased from Ai and on site the mesh is attached and then the link panels are concreted.

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 for 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 our 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 third floor loft.

Hot air and moisture will rise to the top of the dome. If you build your dome without a cupola, we recommend installing a vent at the peak of your dome in within an interior second floor wall for ventilation. The electric fan vent has the added advantage of being easily controlled with a switch or timer. You can purchase vents used in sailboats that are quiet. The vent fan is installed in an interior wall near the top of the dome to exhaust the moisture and or hot air. The ducting for the vent fan runs through the interior walls and if need be in the floor joist to exit under a first floor entryway. That way there is no hole in the top of the dome to protect from leaking. Or you can install a Heat Recovery Ventilator  in colder climates.

Does a copula change the structural integrity of the geodesic dome? In hurricane areas you would want to have shutters over the cupola windows. The cupola does not weaken the rest of the dome, but the cupola is more vulnerable to wind loads because it sticks up at the top. In high winds the overhang panels could come off; although in 30 years the eaves or overhang panels have never come off any of the Ai domes. Because the overhang panels are nonstructural if they did come off, they would simply be replaced after the storm.

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 from the dome concreted seams by suspension rods allowing for very “open” first floor plan designs. The American Ingenuity dome is capable of supporting a large amount of weight, including the 2nd floor, from the concrete dome shell. This weight is suspended by threaded steel rods which anchor into the concrete seams and extend vertically down into the dome. 3,000 lbs. can be supported by a 5/8″ threaded rod suspended in one of the concrete seams. To learn more view Interior Finishing and Framing.

Suspension Rods: The location of the suspension rods is determined by your floor plan selection. The Building Plans will show the suspension rod’s positioning. The suspension rod with nut sets on a 3″x 7″ steel plate, which 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 40 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: Almost all of the electrical and plumbing will be contained in the interior frame 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, insert the wire, use spray foam in a can to fill the groove and finish the wall like you would do conventional sheet rock with joint compound and tape. To install electrical boxes, conduit or plumbing pipes: cut the E.P.S. insulation and wall board slightly larger than needed, insert the box or pipe and fill in the opening with spray expanding foam. The spray foam will harden in about half an hour, holding the box or pipe secure. To learn more view Electrical and Plumbing.

AC/Heating Ducts: 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 more 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, stilts or pilings. To learn view Foundations.

Because of the reduced surface area of a dome and its thin shell construction, our domes weigh less than the average house, but are remarkably stronger. 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 first floor and second floor will be calculated with load bearing walls designed into your foundation to support this load.

Prior to ordering building plans, determine your soil type and what type footing & foundation you need. Will it be normal footings under a concrete slab or will there need to be augured footings down to cap rock or wood pilings driven 40’ into the ground prior to the footing installation, etc.?  To determine what type footing you need, you may need to hire a Soil’s Engineer and have a soil bore test.  The soil under the footing and slab has to be compacted to 98% density for a minimum of 2,000 psf of bearing pressure. You cannot build on clay and you cannot back fill your basement walls with clay.  Basically if you can build a regular house on your soil, you can certainly build a dome.

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 you are in a flood zone, you will need to submit to Ai a letter stating the government official name that gave you the height and their phone number.  Ai does not determine this height.  If your home is not built at the correct finish floor height and you are in a flood zone, you will not be able to obtain insurance.  And without insurance you cannot obtain a mortgage.

What is unusual about the foundation is the shape and rebars are designed to come out of the foundation and are concreted into the dome riser wall seams, into the front and back of entryway 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 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 rib system is illustrated by the photo on the right. 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 free standing geodesic framework. A deposit is placed on the hubs and is refunded to you when you mail or UPS the hubs back to Ai. The bolts/nuts/washers 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 with concrete curing two weeks, the “Rib System” is removed and recycled into the interior framing or second floor knee wall framing and the hubs returned to us.

5.10 Construction Sabin two rows assembled

Panel Assembly: The panel assembly process begins positioning of the four foot high riser panels on the floor 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.

Then overlap the steel mesh from adjoining riser panels, lock the mesh with C-rings every 2″, apply the first layer of special formulated concrete following the concrete guidelines for watering down all the premade concrete around where you are working.  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. Two different tension cables are inserted on the locked mesh in two locations.

Once you apply one layer of concrete into the seams and onto the entryways, dormers, cupola, link, etc., you or your workers come down the dome from the top and apply a second layer into each of the seams using a bonding agent between the coats of concrete and on the flat bonding ledges and the sloping bonding ledges. (bonding agent comes with your Ai dome kit). The new concrete must be kept moist to allow for the concrete hydration. The Assembly Manual that is shipped with each kit gives specific guidelines for concrete application and mixing.

Panel Concrete: The panel concrete is a special formulation containing synthetic fibers and liquid admixtures. Ai ships these same fibers and admixtures with your building kit. 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 concrete in your dome out performs other exteriors because of its specially developed formula. Because of its exceptional composition, it actually gains strength over the years. Locally, you purchase bags of Portland Cement (type 1 or 111) and sand (masonry or stucco sand) and add in the fibers and admixtures per the recipe in the Assembly Manual. The concrete is mixed with a mortar mixer NOT a cement mixer.  Do not use a cement mixer because it does not have paddles.  Paddles are required to get a thorough mixing of the cement, sand, fibers and admixtures.

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. You install the panels and trowel concrete into the seams. The first layer of concrete fills the seams up to the steel mesh. After all the seams are half filled with concrete, then a second layer of cement is troweled into the seams after bonding agent is applied.  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: The concreted seams are usually finished in one of two styles:

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

1. 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.

2. 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 and shaped to create a rounded transition between adjacent panels. This method should be used when a rounded appearance is desired.

 

Interior Scaffold
Beginning Framing

Additional supports under the steel hubs are required to hold the weight until all the seams and options are concreted and framing is installed in the entryways and dormers. Then the extra supports and temporary wooden rib system are removed. The dome shell is self supporting. Interior walls and second floor joists are conventionally built.   

Interior Showing a Suspension Rod

The left photo illustrates a conventional interior wall covered with 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’x1/4″ 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 can be purchased from Ai and added to your Parts List.  A Parts List is a page within American Ingenuity’s official Dome Building Kit Order Form…that lists the items that come with the Ai kit at no cost and lists items you can purchase from us….for example the suspension rods and top and bottom plates that help support the second floor, extra cans of expanding foam (20 ozs), steel mesh, Simpson joist hangers, additional Admixture A and B, additional C -rings, C- ring pliers, additional bonding agent, 1″ EPS in 4’x8′ sheets, 2×4’s cut, drilled and painted for the temporary wooden rib system, etc.

Ai’s building kits come with the interior wall board (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. On site apply joint compound and tape to finish the seams between the wall board. On site the wall board is primed with two coats of primer.

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

 
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 concrete primer and two coats of paint.  Ai dome owners prefer Ames Research Laboratories primer & paint. 

 

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.

 

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.

  pic_schoon4linkdoorgar0288-250

40′ dome home linked to 34 garage dome.

 

45' dome living room.

45′ dome living room

Painting the American Ingenuity Dome:

The component panels do not come with any paint on them.  Ai. does not add any color to the concrete.  On site you concrete the seams so if we painted the panels or added color to the concrete it would not match your painted seam concrete.  The concrete shell is painted with two coats of good quality exterior concrete paint after the entire kit is assembled.

  • Stain is not used because stain will not seal the concrete.
  • The painting of the dome includes a concrete primer and two coats of good quality exterior concrete paint.
  • The dome can be painted any color, tan, green, blue, 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.  You know when to repaint the dome when you rub your hand on the paint and it chalks.  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 killing algae with bleach/water mixture or oxygen 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.
  • Yes you can walk on any of the domes.  If you do not have a cupola, install an eye bolt in the top of the dome to tie a rope through to attach to harness.
  • To paint the top of the dome stand on the dome with the rope tied to your 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.

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

Exhaust fans and energy recovery ventilator or heat recovery ventilator are installed in the dome to exhaust 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.  Also any paint that would have a high gloss would highlight flaws in the seam finish.  A paint that would withstand UV light or last longer would be advantageous but keep in mind that it is much easier to paint a dome than a conventional house.