diy | AiDomes

The American Ingenuity Dome Kits
are DIY Prefab Dome Homes for Owner Builders or for a Contractor

The prefab dome kit can be a Do It Yourself Project with the owner builder utilizing family and friends or hiring his own workers for kit assembly.  Or the home owner can hire a builder who hires the independent Kit Assembly Specialist who travels world-wide to supervise your kit assembly and the application of the first layer of fiber concrete into the panel seams and onto the entryways and dormers. Then either your workers or your builder’s workers complete the second layer of concrete in the seams & on the entryways and dormers. For interior finishing complete yourself or hire local subcontractors to complete the plumbing, electrical, framing, window/door installation, wall board finishing, kitchen cabinetry, bathroom fixtures, etc.  To view pictures of prefab concrete panel assembly, click on Dome Kit Assembly.

American Ingenuity’s (Ai’s)dome kit is affordable, strong and can be assembled by Do It Yourself individuals because the kit is engineered as a system of pre-finished prefabricated component panels. Each panel is cut at a computer-generated angle so that it fits flush with the adjacent panel. The edges are precisely beveled at the seams where steel and concrete will unite to complete the structure. All panel materials are noncombustible and contain no food source for mold growth.

Building an Ai dome from prefab concrete panels makes home construction easier than stick built construction and results in the dome exterior having a 225 mph wind and F4 tornado guarantee. The process of stacking the panels, overlapping/locking the steel mesh of adjacent panels and filling the seams with special fiber concrete, produces the structural components of the home, the finished concrete surface, installs the insulation and all the dome shell 1/2″ drywall.

This advanced building system makes it easier for an owner builder to construct an American Ingenuity dome than a conventional house or a wooden dome. No exterior walls, no roof trusses, no sheathing, tar paper, or shingles, no soffit, exterior trim, insulation or siding to install and no interior shell drywall to install.  During the dome kit assembly, owner builders or builders can email pictures of the kit assembly. At no cost to you, Ai will review the pictures and give feedback about rebar and cable installation, etc.  Due to large size of panels in 45′ and 48′ domes, considering hiring the consultant to assist in your assembly.

 

Nomenclature-top

Nomenclature Diagram for Downloading & Printing
Nomenclature Diagram
Nomenclature Diagram for Viewing in Browser
Nomenclature Diagram

The building plans contain blueprints for the installation of the foundation and installation and location for each panel. Within the plans is a nomenclature blueprint that shows lettering and numbering for each panel. An example of a nomenclature blueprint is above.

An Expanded Assembly Manual is now available with each dome kit order that explains step by step the panel assembly. (Once a deposit with signed order is received, the manual can be shipped). In the blueprints and Manual is the recipe for the concrete. Ai wants the concrete mixed on site to have the same properties as the concrete that is applied at our factory; as a result the same two liquid admixtures and fibers are shipped with each kit. In the manual is a list of tools and materials to have on site. To view a list, click on Materials and scroll down the page to view the list.

American Ingenuity’s prefabricated component panel consists of:

1.   7″ thick, rigid, nontoxic E.P.S. Insulation (not Styrofoam): The E.P.S. Ai utilizes is a closed cell with a 1 lb. per cubic foot density.  Seven inches of sturdy, rigid R-28 expanded polystyrene foam insulation forms the core of each component panel and is:

  •  Permanent
  • Chemically/thermally stable
  • Resistant to mildew and mold
  • Provides no nutritive value to animals/plants/microorganisms
  • Non-irritating to the skin
  • The insulation will not rot, shrink, absorb moisture, compact, or deteriorate due to age or the weather.
  • No CFC, no HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane), no TCPP (1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate, no Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and no Formaldehyde

2.     Concrete: the concrete in your dome out performs other exteriors due to our specially developed formula. Because of this exceptional composition, it actually gains strength over the years. The special concrete formulation of fibers and admixtures improve concrete characteristics.

3.     Galvanized Steel: Galvanized steel wire mesh is encased in the concrete of each panel. As your dome is assembled the mesh of each panel overlaps and is locked to the mesh of  adjacent panels with C rings commonly called hog rings – resulting in your home being completely wrapped by steel mesh.

4.   Half inch (½” ) Georgia Pacific DensArmor Drywall: The DensArmor is not conventional sheet rock. Conventional sheet rock consists of conventional gypsum and paper backing. The paper backing can be a food source for mold growth. Sheet rock when it gets wet crumbles and molds. The DensArmor gypsum when it gets wet does not crumble due to fiberglass reinforced core. It has fiberglass backing on both sides. After the DensArmor dries out it goes back to its original firmness and consistency per the manufacturer.

Concrete Home
Dome Exterior Has No Wood To Burn or To Rot or For Termites To Eat
No Shingles or Roof to blow off in high winds

To support the panels during dome kit assembly, a temporary wooden rib system is installed. Once all the seams are concreted and the entryways and dormers are concreted, the dome is self supporting and the wooden rib system is removed. Most of the wood can be recycled as interior framing.

 

45' dome - assembly of third row of panels

45′ dome – assembly of third row of panels

In this view of dome kit being assembled a side view of a component panel can be seen. The panel exterior is 3/4″ concrete reinforced with galvanized steel mesh. After the mesh is overlapped and locked between panels, special fiber concrete mixed on site is hand troweled in the seam areas in two applications — bonding agent is applied between the two layers. The seam areas are about 3″ deep by 5″ wide with average of 2″ thick concrete.  In this picture you see the first scratch coat applied to the exterior of the entryway panels and first layer of concrete in some of the seams between the panels.

Steps for American Ingenuity Concrete Building Kit Assembly:

  • Foundation installed. Standard foundation is monolithic slab; however Ai can design basement plans, pilings or columns, stem wall, etc.
  • Depending on size dome two to five workers are needed. Some with concrete experience.
  • Installing the first row of panels which are the 4’ vertical riser panels, base panels of the entryways and any first floor door dormer base panels
  • Erecting a temporary wooden rib system to support the triangle and riser panels during assembly using your locally cut, drilled and painted 2×4’s bolted to steel hubs borrowed from Ai.
  • Placing the panel’s one row at time using a hoisting mechanism (man lift) on to the rib system.
  • overlapping steel mesh from adjacent panels, locking mesh with C rings and pliers and depressing the steel mesh in the seam
  • mixing concrete with mortar mixer following concrete recipe in the manual (Portland Cement Type III, masonry or stucco sand, fibers, liquid admixtures)
  • installing cables per blueprints
  • installing rebar around back of entryway panels, back of first floor door dormer panels, top of entryway panels & around first floor window dormer panels per building plans
  • form up and install beams or troughs around lip edge of entryway panels, first & second floor door dormer panels, channels in top of the entryways
  • Concreting the seams between the panels (5″ wide and 3″ deep) with two separate layers of concrete using a bonding agent between the layers; and watering down all cured concrete before applying bonding agent or new concrete. Seam areas average 2” thick concrete.
  • Concreting the entryways, window dormers, door dormers, cupola and link with two layers of concrete. Sponge float finish the final layer of concrete to blend seam concrete to the panel concrete.
  • Framing in the entryways and dormers and installing your locally purchased exterior doors and windows.
  • Removing the temporary wooden rib system. Return the steel hubs to receive a full deposit refund if returned during five month rental period and if all hubs are intact.
  • Wash efflorescence off concrete, prime, paint the exterior concrete per waterproofing instructions in Assembly Manual.

Onsite concrete is only applied in the seam areas between the panels and on the entryways, dormers (or possible link or cupola). Concrete is not applied over the pre-concreted component panels. The interior shell drywall can be finished similar to conventional sheet rock with adhesive fiberlass and joint compound. To blend the seams joint compound can be skip troweled over the drywall before priming and painting.

To learn more about Hoisting Mechanisms click on Hoisting. To learn more about entryways, dormers, etc. click on Building Options.

If I am not ready to assemble my dome immediately, can the kit be stored outside? Yes, however if you expect to have your kit outside for more than two to three months, request that the E.P.S. edges be painted. On site if you need longer than 2-3 months prior to assembly, then on site the EPS edges can be painted again. (some boxed items & wooden 2×4 ribs if ordered should be stored inside.) The dome kit should not sit outside in the winter as freezing can harm the drywall.   Please call us for details at 321-639-8777 – Monday – Friday 9-5 eastern time.

American Ingenuity – 8777 Holiday Springs Rd. – Rockledge, Florida 32955   email: GlendaB.Aidmes@gmail.com

The following info covers various hoisting mechanisms (Lull,
Front end loader, self-built Gantry) to lift the American Ingenuity prefab panels into place

Another view of panel being installed in third row of panels.

Lull being used to place panel in third row of 34′ dome.  First  layer of fiber concrete being applied to exterior of entryway panels. 

Wooden rib system is temporary. Once all panels are placed with entryways/dormers framed in and two layers of concrete in the seams & on entryways and dormers, the dome is self supporting. The rib system is removed.

The panels are best placed using a Lull or Man Lift. The Man Lift is great to use because you can not only lift panels but workers can stand in the bucket with buckets of concrete to apply concrete in the seams.  If you use a  crane & are installing 45′ or 48′ dome, it needs to be capable of lifting 400-500 pounds, 25 feet up & 25 feet out.  A chain is put through the steel mesh at each of the three points and ties back on itself and is secured to lifting spikes.  Lifting spike is inserted between the concrete and the rigid EPS insulation.  Once the panel is in place, the chains are unhooked and the lifting spikes are removed. Continue using the same process to lift the other panels into place. 

22' panels assembled with back hoe

Front end loader utilized to lift 22′ dome kit panels into place. 

P1300026

Mr. Shalla built his own Steel Gantry System to lift his 48′ dome panels into place.
With his Gantry he is installing the panels with no workers. 

With a four-person work crew, use of a temporary wooden rib system & proper bracing of the panels, one row of panels of a 48’ dome can be placed in about a day of crane time.  In most cases, total crane rental time will vary from about 14 days for a smaller dome to approximately 26 days for a 48’ dome. This estimate is for a dome with one entryway, two dormers and no cupola that is built on a concrete slab utilizing the independent consultant.  This link, Rib, explains the temporary wooden rib system assembly method for the domes.

On this link, Kit Assembly Specialist, Ai gives a recap on the equipment needed to assemble the building kit and an estimate on the Specialist’s hours and worker hours to erect the kit.  The specialist is independent from American Ingenuity. He can supply dome assembly references for your review and calling.  To view the labor and equipment recaps, scroll down Consultant article to the yellow and blue boxes. 

For those owner builders who do not have a deadline for kit assembly, the prefab panels can be installed without hiring the consultant. The kit is assembled as a Do It Yourself (DIY) project following the Assembly Manual and the building plans.

These links, Kit AssemblyConstruction Overview and California Assembly Pics show assembly steps to erect the American Ingenuity dome building kit.

Monthly rentals on transverse lifts also called Boom Lifts, Horizontal Boom Fork Lifts, Roofing Lifts, Shooters are available from National Rental Chains like US Rentals, Hertz Equipment Rentals, United Rentals, etc.  The companies can be found in the telephone book.

Ai’s web site has over 150 pages of detailed information including an extensive frequently asked questions and their answers located on left hand side menu bar.  We look forward to answering your questions as you research which housing kit is best for you and your family.  Just to clarify, none of our staff is on commission….we are simply here to answer your questions as you analyze Ai’s dome housing kit which is the latest evolution in housing technology.

 PANEL LIFTING SPIKES

To make the lifting of the panels easier, four lifting spikes are purchased for $100 and shipped with your kit.   They are used to lift the triangular dome panels and the riser panels. 

The following information is in Ai’s Assembly Manual and includes sketches.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CAUTION

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

The only way to assure safety is to assume that the panel can fall at any time.  Anytime a panel is lifted Never allow anyone under the panel or within range of its possible impact.

Even after a panel is set in place and supported movement of other panels or supports could cause it to fall. 

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

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

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


 

 

 

 The following covers ABC Radio Interview on a Texas ABC Station

Glenda Carlin-Busick, co-owner of American Ingenuity, was interviewed by Sandra Yancey, founder of eWomen Network.  The radio interview aired March 15, 2009 on Texas WBAP News/Talk 820, an ABC/Disney Company.

Click here to download/listen to this interview (mp3 format)

On the left hand side of our web site are over 14 menu times of photos for various concrete domes built in California, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Connecticut, Oklahoma, etc.   To view stock floor plan layouts for each of the ten dome sizes, from 172 sq.ft. to 2,992 sq.ft, click on Stock Plans and scroll down the page to find the hyperlinks to click on. 

The dome can be owner built or the home owner can hire a Contractor. The dome kit assembly can be a DIY project because all the panels are numbered and lettered to match the building plans and the Assembly Manual.   Either the owner builder or contractor can hire the independent kit assembly consultant to supervise the dome kit assembly.

Because a geodesic dome as a home is probably new to you, you may have several questions.   Feel free to call American Ingenuity at 321-639-8777.  Ai’s office is open Monday through Friday 9-5 Eastern time and closes in observance of New Years, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Building an American Ingenuity dome building kit can be a Do It Yourself project or a Kit Assembly Consultant can be hired to supervise your workers or your builder’s workers.  Please scroll down this page to learn 1) about this specialist; 2) materials/tools/equipment needed for kit assembly; 3) charts showing approximate assembly time and approx. costs by dome diameter size when hiring the consultant.

 

Third row panel being lifted into place.

Third row panel being lifted into place.

The dome kit can be assembled by owner builders or the home owner or the home owner’s builder can hire the independent Consultant to supervise their workers to assemble the dome kit to the stage of having all the panels placed with one layer of concrete in the seams and on all the entryways and dormers.  The consultants travel through out the USA and internationally.   When hiring a local builder, best to pay him cost plus versus an overall bid. 

Great news as of May 2017,  Ai knows of a licensed Florida Builder, Randy Dixon, who will travel to some USA areas with 2-3 men to assemble the kit on your prepared foundation. Then yourself or your local builder’s subcontractors can install the doors and windows, prime/paint the exterior and finish the interior with locally purchased materials.  If his crew does not travel to your area, he will travel as independent consultant.  If you are considering hiring Randy and his crew, it is best to pay them by the hour rather than have him bid the project where he will need to include in the bid a cushion. 

Ai knows of three other independent kit assembly Consultants, Kevin Killian (Florida), Steve Cooke (California) and Bob Bailey (South Dakota) who will travel to your site to supervise Aidome kit assembly as well.  

In Brevard County Florida, Builder Ray Vince with Pistolatun Inc. will bid the dome kit assembly and the finishing of the dome and complete the financing for those who qualify.   He also has land to sell in Palm Bay Florida plus knows of our property for sell in the County.  His info is 76 E. Merritt Island Cswy. #205, Merritt Island Fl 32952.  His phone number is 321-284-8116

In Texas, builder Don Simons with NewTech Builders, Inc. states he will bid the dome kit assembly and the finishing of the dome for Texas and surrounding states.  He has a superintendent who will travel to your site, interview subs and hire subs for the site clearing, driveway installation, foundation installation, dome kit assembly, electrical, framing, plumbing and finishing of the interior and exterior of the Aidome.  His number is 979-212-6000.

Within the building plans is a nomenclature sheet where each panel is identified with numbers or letters showing where each panel is installed.

If you have a deadline for your kit assembly or are assembling the large 45′ or 48′ dome, consider hiring the consultant to save  up to  2-3 weeks of labor costs.  Please scroll down to view charts listing estimated kit assembly times.  Click on Kit Assembly and Construction Overview to view other assembly photos.  Our finished cost per sq.ft. page discusses geodesic dome cost.  To view stock dome floor plans, click on Plans.

The Consultant will travel to your construction site and supervise your workers or subs or your contractor’s workers for the dome kit assembly with the first layer of concrete in the seams and a “scratch coat” on the entryways and dormers….and then he goes home.  FYI, he does not apply concrete….that is done by your concrete workers.  He supervises that the fiber concrete is mixed properly and installed properly.  The dome owner or their builder hires a finish stucco person, to apply and finish the second layer of concrete in the panels seams and on the entryways and dormers. Usually second layer of finished concrete can be applied in around one hour per seam for a flat seam or up to 1 1/2 hrs for a custom rounded seam.  Approximate number of seams in a three frequency dome (30′ – 48′) is 126 – number varies depending on number of entryways and dormers. A two frequency dome (15′-27′) has around 62 seams.   Prior to second layer of concrete, a bonding agent supplied by Ai is applied to the first layer of concrete that needs to set 30 minutes prior to the second layer of seam concrete being applied. The interior finishing is completed by you or by your contractor hiring local conventional subs (plumbers, electricians, drywall finishers, framers, etc.) to complete the interior finishing and the installation of your locally purchased doors and windows per your dome plans.

Prior to the availability of a Kit Assembly Consultant to supervise the dome kit assembly,  some of Ai’s dome owners had to hire a contractor who generally had never assembled a dome before.  As a result the contractor would tend to over charge because he did not know how long it would take or what problems would arise.  The Kit Assembly Consultant can provide you with references from previous American Ingenuity Domes he has assembled so you can assure yourself that your building kit will be assembled correctly and in a timely fashion. This Consultant works directly for you or your general contractor as an Independent Sub-Contractor.  The standard daily rate for the independent Kit Assembly Consultant/Specialist is $300.  If the Specialist is not paid mileage to drive to your site, he is reimbursed for a round trip airfare, round trip shuttle transport cost between his home & the airport & car rental cost for the time at the job site.  The dome owner arranges and pay for lodging with Wi-fi availabilty in vicinity of grocery store & restaurants.

The use of a consultant for one week can save up to two to three weeks on your shell assembly time and assures the kit is assembled accurately per the building plans.

The cost of materials to complete the assembly of the kit are not included in the labor estimates.  Many times rental costs are less for one month than daily or weekly rental costs.  As a result sometimes monthly rental is shown because it is cheaper. Equipment rental costs are from United Rentals.  

Estimates below are based on 2015-2016 construction data.  In 2017 there is a shortage of concrete workers which drives their pay up.  We will review the estimates in this post and update as data is collected.

The assembly time estimated below is based on a dome kit having one entryway, two dormers and no cupola built on a slab foundation.  

  • For each additional standard entryway: add one day for the consultant and 24 hours for the workers.
  • For a garage entryway two frequency: add 1 day for the consultant and 24 hours for the workers.
  • For each additional window dormer: add 2 hrs for the consultant and 12 hours for the workers.
  • For each additional door dormer: add 3 hrs for the consultant and 18 hours for the workers.
  • Cupola: takes three partial days because the concrete has to have time to cure during each process.  First partial day of 5 hrs: concrete beam around top opening is formed and poured.  Second partial day of 5 hrs: concrete corner columns are framed and poured.  Third partial day of 5 hrs: set top five panels, attach overhang panels & apply first coat of concrete in the seams.  During the rest of the partial days, workers can complete window dormers or door dormer installations.If the rib system has not been cut and prepared: add one day for the consultant and 8 hours for the workers.
  • If you want to speed up the kit assembly, consider renting a scissor lift for inside personnel movement (instead of using ladders and scaffolding) and renting a Straight boom lift – man lift or cherry picker- for outside personnel work (instead of ladders, planks and scaffolding).   A 19-foot electric scissor lift approx. rental is $350 to $500 per week, and $900 to $1,200 per month.  A 40′ straight boom lift approx rental is weekly $956 or monthly $1,915.
Labor & Equipment Estimates for AiDome Shell Assembly
Utilizing an Independent Kit Assembly Consultant

 Estimate For  22′ Dome Shell Assembly
With First Layer of Concrete in Seams & on entryways & Dormers

Consultant Days 14 $300/day $4,200
Worker Hours & Cost if $18/hr 328 $18/hr* $5,904
Worker Hours & Cost if $25/hr

Rental, Fork Lift (days)

328

1

$25/hr*

$405/day

if $25 hr -$8,200

$405

Rental Variable Reach Lull  two weeks  $1,169/wk $2,338
Rental, Scaffolding (days)$15- $50  14 $15/day $210
Rental, Mortar Mixer (days) 8 cu.ft. 14 $50/day $700

Approx Sub Total  For One Layer of Concrete in Seams & on 1 entryway & 2 dormers:  $13,757 – $16,053

*Worker Hourly Costs vary depending on your construction location. Plus travel costs or airline ticket for the Consultant. The Consultant is reimbursed for a round trip airfare, round trip shuttle transport cost between his home & the airport & car rental cost for the time at the job site.  The dome owner arranges and pay for lodging with Wi-fi availability in vicinity of grocery store & restaurants.

The dome owner or their builder hires finish stucco person(s), to apply and finish the second layer of concrete in the panels seams and on the entryways and dormers. Usually second layer of  seam concrete can be applied in 50 minutes per seam for a flat seam or up to 1 1/2 hrs for a custom seam.  Approximate number of seams in a three frequency dome (30′ – 48′) is 126 – number varies depending on number of entryways and dormers. A two frequency dome (15′ – 27′)  has around 62 seams.

 

 Estimate For 27’/30′ Dome Shell Assembly
With First Layer of Concrete in Seams & on Entryways & Dormers

Consultant Days 16 $300/day $4,800
Worker Hours & Cost if $18/hr 384 $18/hr* $6,912
Worker Hours & Cost if $25/hr

Rental, Fork Lift (days)

384

1

$25/hr*

$405/day

if $25 hr – $9,600

$405

Rental Variable Reach Lull two weeks  $1,169/wk $2,338
Rental, Scaffolding (days) $15-$50 15 $15/day $225
Rental, Mortar Mixer (days) 8 cu.ft. 15 $50/day $750

Approx Sub Total  For One Layer of Concrete in Seams & on 1 entryway & 2 dormers:  $15,430 – $18,118

Worker Hourly Costs vary depending on your construction location.  Plus travel costs or airline ticket for the Consultant, The consultant is reimbursed for a round trip airfare, round trip shuttle transport cost between his home & the airport & car rental cost for the time at the job site.  The dome owner arranges and pay for lodging with Wi-fi availability in vicinity of grocery store & restaurants.

The dome owner or their builder hires finish stucco person(s), to apply and finish the second layer of concrete in the panels seams and on the entryways and dormers. Usually second layer of  seam concrete can be applied in 50 minutes per seam for a flat seam or up to 1 1/2 hrs for a custom seam.  Approximate number of seams in a three frequency dome (30′ – 48′) is 126 – number varies depending on number of entryways and dormers. A two frequency dome (15′ – 27′)  has around 62 seams.

 

  Estimate For 34’/36′ Dome Shell Assembly
With First Layer of Concrete in Seams & on Entryways & Dormers

Consultant Days 17 $300/day $5,100
Worker Hours & Cost if $8/hr 408 $18/hr* $7,344
Worker Hours & Cost if $25/hr

Rental, Fork Lift (days)

408

1

$25/hr*

$405/day

if $25 hr – $10,200

$305

Rental Variable Reach Lull two weeks  $1,169/wk $2,338
Rental, Scaffolding (days) 17 $15/day $255
Rental, Mortar Mixer 8 cu.ft. month $620 $620

Approx Sub Total  For One Layer of Concrete in Seams & on 1 entryway & 2 dormers: $15,962 – $18,818

*Worker Hourly Costs vary depending on your construction location.  Plus travel costs or airline ticket for the Consultant. The Consultant/Specialist  is reimbursed for a round trip airfare, round trip shuttle transport cost between his home & the airport & car rental cost for the time at the job site.  The dome owner arranges and pay for lodging with Wi-fi availability in vicinity of grocery store & restaurants.

The dome owner or their builder hires finish stucco person(s), to apply and finish the second layer of concrete in the panels seams and on the entryways and dormers. Usually second layer of  seam concrete can be applied in 50 minutes per seam for a flat seam or up to 1 1/2 hrs for a custom seam.  Approximate number of seams in a three frequency dome (30′ – 48′) is 126 – number varies depending on number of entryways and dormers. A two frequency dome (15′ – 27′)  has around 62 seams.

 

Estimate For 40′ Dome Shell Assembly
With First Layer of Concrete in Seams & on Entryway & Dormers

Consultant Days 20 $300/day $6,000
Worker Hours & Cost if $18/hr 640 $18/hr* $11,520
Worker Hours & Cost if $25/hr

Rental, Fork Lift (days)

640

1

$25/hr*

$405/day

if $25 hr -$16,000

$405

Rental Variable Reach Lull month $2,346 $2,346
Rental, Scaffolding (days) 20 $15/day $300
Rental, Mortar Mixer  8 cu.ft. month $620 $620

Approx Sub Total  For One Layer of Concrete in Seams & on 1 entryway & 2 dormers: $21,191 – $25,671

*Worker Hourly Costs vary depending on your construction location
Plus travel costs or airline ticket for the Consultant
The Consultant/Specialist is reimbursed for a round trip airfare, round trip shuttle transport cost between his home & the airport & car rental cost for the time at the job site.  The dome owner arranges and pay for lodging with Wi-fi availability in vicinity of grocery store & restaurants.

The dome owner or their builder hires finish stucco person(s), to apply and finish the second layer of concrete in the panels seams and on the entryways and dormers. Usually second layer of  seam concrete can be applied in 50 minutes per seam for a flat seam or up to 1 1/2 hrs for a custom seam.  Approximate number of seams in a three frequency dome (30′ – 48′) is 126 – number varies depending on number of entryways and dormers. A two frequency dome (15′ – 27′)  has around 62 seams.

 

 Estimate For  45′ Dome Shell Assembly
With First Layer of Concrete in Seams & on Entryways & Dormers

Consultant Days 23 $300/day $6,900
Worker Hours & Cost if $8/hr 736 $18/hr* $6,720
Worker Hours & Cost if $25/hr

Rental, Fork Lift (days)

736

1

$25/hr*

$405/day

if $25 hr – $18,400

$405

Rental Variable Reach Lull month  $2,346 $2,346
Rental, Scaffolding (days) 23 $15/day $345
Rental, Mortar Mixer 8 cu.ft. month $620 $620

Approx Sub Total  For One Layer of Concrete in Seams & on 1 entryway & 2 dormers: $17,336 – $29,016

*Worker Hourly Costs vary depending on your construction location
Plus travel costs or airline ticket for the Consultant
The Consultant/Specialist is reimbursed for a round trip airfare, round trip shuttle transport cost between his home & the airport & car rental cost for the time at the job site.  The dome owner arranges and pay for lodging with Wi-fi availability in vicinity of grocery store & restaurants.

The dome owner or their builder hires finish stucco person(s), to apply and finish the second layer of concrete in the panels seams and on the entryways and dormers. Usually second layer of seam concrete can be applied in 50 minutes per seam for a flat seam or up to 1 1/2 hrs for a custom seam. Approximate number of seams in a three frequency dome (30′ – 48′) is 126 – number varies depending on number of entryways and dormers. A two frequency dome (15′ – 27′) has around 62 seams.

 

 Estimate For  48′ Dome Shell Assembly
With First Layer of Concrete in Seams & on Entryways & Dormers 

Consultant Days 26 $300/day $7,800
Worker Hours & Cost if $18/hr 832 $18/hr* $14,976
Worker Hours & Cost if $25/hr

Rental, Fork Lift (days)

832

1

$25/hr*

$405/day

if $25 hr- $20,800

$405

Rental Variable Reach Lull month  $2,346 $2,346
Rental, Scaffolding (days) 26 $15/day $390
Rental, Mortar Mixer 8 cu.ft. month $620 $620

Approx Sub Total  For One Layer of Concrete in Seams & on 1 entryway & 2 dormers: $26,537 – $32,361

*Worker Hourly Costs vary depending on your construction location
Plus travel costs or airline ticket for the Consultant
 The Consultant/Specialist is reimbursed for a round trip airfare, round trip shuttle transport cost between his home & the airport & car rental cost for the time at the job site.  The dome owner arranges and pay for lodging with Wi-fi availability in vicinity of grocery store & restaurants.

The dome owner or their builder hires finish stucco person(s), to apply and finish the second layer of concrete in the panels seams and on the entryways and dormers. Usually second layer of  seam concrete can be applied in 50 minutes per seam for a flat seam or up to 1 1/2 hrs for a custom seam.  Approximate number of seams in a three frequency dome (30′ – 48′) is 126 – number varies depending on number of entryways and dormers. A two frequency dome (15′ – 27′)  has around 62 seams.

 

To view info about the DVD that shows dome assembly, click on View.  To view the video free, click on DVD.

To unload the dome kit from the semi-truck, rent a fork lift and have 2-3 workers available.  Ai provides a document that describes the unloading process.

The dome owner provides three to five good concrete workers (depends on dome size).  Materials used in the shell construction are to be provided by the dome owner on site before the Kit Assembly process begins.  The bags of cement don’t have to all be delivered in advance but as soon as first needed during the assembly.

To view what items are included in the Dome Building Kit, click on Kit Contents.  To view what items are not included in the kit, click on Items Not Included.

Due to possible injury on a job site, have some form of insurance.

The following are items required at your job site:

Cement
  • Portland Cement in 94 pound bags (prefer Type III) (first number is the diameter of the dome/second number is bags of cement):  22′ – 30, 27′ – 40 (two frequency dome panels are larger so require less cement), 30′ – 70, 34′ – 79, 36′ – 83, 40′ – 90, 45′ – 100, 48′ – 106.  These bag numbers are based on the dome having two entryways, four window dormers, one door dormer and no cupola.
  • For each additional entryway add: 22′ – 3,  27′ – 3.5, 30′ – 4.0, 34′ – 4.5, 36′  – 4.5, 40′ – 5.0, 45′ – 5.0, 48′ – 5.5
  • For a cupola add: 30′ – 4, 34′ – 4.5, 36′ – 4.5, 40′ – 5.0, 45′ – 5.5, 48′ – 6.0.
  • For an additional door dormer on any size dome add 2.5 bags of cement.
Masonry or Stucco Sand
  • Sand in cubic yards; 27′ – 5, 30′ – 8, 34′ – 9, 36′ – 9, 40′- 10, 45′ – 11, 48′ – 12.  These computations are based on the dome having two entryways, four window dormers, one door dormer and no cupola.
  • For each additional entryway add cubic yards of sand: 22′ – 0.3, 27′ – 0.4, 30′ – 0.4, 34′ – 0.4, 36′ – 0.5, 40′ – 0.5, 45′ – 0.5, 48′ – 0.6.
  • For a cupola add cubic yards of sand: 30′ – 0.4, 34′ – 0.5, 36′ – 0.5, 40′ – 0.5, 45′ – 0.6, 48′ – 0.6.
  • For an additional door dormer on any size dome, add 0.3 cubic yards of sand.
Misc Items:
  • 2×4’s cut to length, holes drilled & ends painted for the temporary wooden rib system…can be purchased from Ai.
  • Water Source and water hoses
  • #3, #4 and #5 rebar (per the Building Plans)
  • Concrete Blocks; 8″x16″
  • Electric Power or Generator
  • Extension Ladder; 26′
  • Mortar Mixer – Do not use a cement mixer because it does not have spinning paddles.  Spinning Paddles are required to obtain a thorough mixing of the cement, sand, fibers and admixtures.
  • Lumber for Bracing the steel hubs, entryways and dormers
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Step Ladders
  • Two Saw Horses
  • Tarps to cover Cement and Sand
  • Ropes and chains
  • 5 gallon Buckets
  • Toilet facilities
  • Brushes to apply bonding agent
  • Soft Steel Tie Wire
  • Wire Cutters
  • Sponges to sponge finish final layer of concrete
  • Place to store boxed items out of the weather….C rings, pliers, cans of expanding foam, 1″ EPS Sheets, etc.

Additional Items Required:

  • Steel Hubs for Rib System (borrowed from Ai with a deposit placed)
  • Purchase bolts, nuts, washers to use with the hubs (purchased from Ai). During dome assembly most of these items are damaged; therefore they are not returned to Ai.
  • 2×4′ ribs for temporary wooden rib system – cut to length, holes drilled and ends painted. Can be purchased from Ai.
  • 9/16″ socket & ratchet and one 9/16″ wrench (use for bolts with HUBS)
  • Lifting Spikes set of 4 (purchased from Ai for $100). During panel lifting the spikes get damaged. If you have two domes, please order two sets of lifting spikes.
  • Panel Lifting Harness – custom make the harness from Ai sketch using four strands of 1/4″ chain 7 foot long & Quick Links.
  • Zinc or Galvanized Quick Links – To make the harness purchase Quick Links: 1 – 3/8″, 2 – 5/16″, 8 – 1/4″   2 – 3/8″, 4 – 5/16″.  During panel lifing the Quick Links are disconnected quite often so the threads become damaged.  Purchase additional Quick Links to have on hand for replacements….8 – 1/4″, 2 – 5/16″
  • Hoisting Mechanism; preferably rent 45′ Man Lift for dome on a slab or rent a 60′ Man Lift for dome built on basement.
How Long Will Shell Assembly Take with a Consultant?

Using three to five good concrete workers and depending upon the size dome, soil condition around the dome to allow movement and placement of the panels, type of hoisting mechanism and prevailing weather, shell assembly can take from 9-16 days if your dome kit includes two entryways, four dormers and no cupola and if dome on a slab. Once you know how many entryways and dormers are needed for your floor plan, Ai’s office can give you a more specific estimate on shell assembly time.  Click on Hoisting Mechanisms to learn more.

Typically it is cost effective to only have the Consultant stay for the assembly of the temporary wooden rib system, all panel placement including building options (entryways, dormers, link, cupola, etc.)  are assembled which includes the first coat of concrete in the seams and a “scratch coat” on the entryways and dormers.  Then your workers can:

  • apply the bonding agent and finish coat of concrete in the seams and on the building kit options. Remember to always water down all “old concrete” in the area you are working and all around the area working before applying bonding agent.
  • Follow Waterproofing document in the manual. The type of primer, tape and paint that is used, determines whether primer is applied before any areas are taped or patching compound applied prior or after priming.  Two coats of paint are applied. The following paints have been used by Ai dome owners: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 DepotBehr’s Premium Elastomeric Masonry, Stucco & Brick Paint –Home DepotAmes 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 with Ames Paint….TT3 sealant cannot be used)Sherwin Williams: Loxon XP Paint, Loxon Primer and ConditionerRichards Paint:  Rich Flex 245; use Rich Flex Alkali Resistant 100% Acrylic Masonry PrimerSeal Krete Paint (pigmented) –Home Depot
  • frame in and install the exterior doors and windows. (can be done earlier)
  • complete rough framing, electrical, plumbing
  • finish the interior shell wallboard with fiberglass adhesive  tape/joint compound. To blend the drywall seams to the DensArmor, skip trowel joint compound over the dome shell drywall.
  • prime then paint the dome shell interior gypsum
  • complete rest of construction phases.

As far as finishing the exterior seams with a second layer of fiber concrete, no need to pay to have the consultant on- site for this.  Best to hire a local finish stucco person by the hour with the conditions if he does timely work and good work, you will retain him.  If you are not satisfied with his work or speed, pay him for the time worked and replace him.  The second layer of concrete can take 20-30 minutes to apply per seam after the bonding agent is applied.  The bonding agent supplied by Ai needs to set 30 minutes before the second layer of concrete is applied. Approximate number of seams is 126…number varies depending on number of entryways and dormers.

Once your Building Plans have been ordered, American Ingenuity can estimate the number of days needed to assemble the shell.  Each floor plan varies as to the number of building kit options (components) needed to complete the shell kit; i.e. cupola, link, entryways, door dormers and window dormers.  Building Options take longer to install than triangles do.  To learn more about Building Options, click on Options.

You or your contractor hires local subcontractors to perform the typical jobs like forming and pouring the slab, plumbing, electrical, framing, drywall finishing, etc. Ai does not believe you should pay someone to come in from out of county or state to do work that your local subs can perform.  Click on Finished Cost, to learn about what it will cost to finish your dome home.  Click on Builders and Assemblers to learn more.

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

Contact Ai if you are interested in utilizing the Consultant/specialist…..321-639-8777…..9-5 Eastern Time.

If you are employing a contractor to assemble the kit, an experienced consultant on the construction site will make the assembly go faster and reduce costs.  The contractor provides the additional workers needed and the consultant directs them through the assembly of the kit.

If you choose to hire the Kit Assembly Consultant, the following labor estimates assume the following:

  • You have hired three to five good concrete workers depending on the size dome.
  • The slab/foundation and floor are completed.
  • A Hoisting Mechanism/Lifting Device/Boom Truck or Crane or Man Lift is on site to move the panels, to set the panels in place and lift buckets of concrete.
  • Additional equipment is on site, e.g.: wheelbarrows, ladders, scaffolding, mortar mixer, etc.
  • The first floor of the dome is not elevated above ground level.
  • The construction site is readily accessible for equipment and personnel.
  • Your local Laborer cost per hour is $15.  The labor cost per hour varies depending on your construction site location.  In California labor costs can be $25 to $30 an hour.

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 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 thirteen 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.

Exterior community pic dome on stilts in woods

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 Ai Dome versus Stick Built.

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.

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 $295 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 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.