The following info gives a construction overview of the American Ingenuity Panelized Dome Kit
Workers are sponge finishing second layer of concrete in the seams between the panels.
Sponging produces a “sponge sand finish” which blends the seam fiber concrete to the prefabricated panel fiber concrete.
45′ dome home on the left linked to 34′ garage dome.
To view You Tube Videos about construction of Aidomes, click on these videos:
Video 1: This video is part of a series of video detailing Aidomes 22ft in diameter dome when finished with local materials is one bedroom/one bath. Customer ordered 2 – 22′ kits, one to live in while visiting parents and one to rent out. Kit assembly and site prep is performed by Kevin Kirchmer with Infinite Improvements Construction.
Video 2: Construction Process Video 2. Prefab AiDome Home Kits – Shows Types of Foundations.
Video 3: Construction Process Video 3. The dome home is considered dried in if local workers have framed in exterior doors and windows & finished the exterior wall around the doors and windows. To make weather tight, after all concrete work is done, the exterior concrete is watered down at least once a week to remove efflorescence for 3-4 weeks. Remove any algae with combination of bleach water or oxygenated bleach water and then exterior concrete is pressure washed. Next step is to apply white primer, seal any hair line cracks with patching compound and then paint the exterior with two layers of elastomeric paint. The interior finishing is completed by the owner builder or his builder’s subcontractors; i.e. interior framing, plumbing, electrical, installation of kitchen cabinets, bathroom fixtures, drywall work, etc.
To view assembly pictures of 45′ dome home & 34′ dome garage, view Dome Kit Assembly.
Q: Do you have an engineering statement about your dome panels that can be submitted to my building department?
A: Yes, to view the statement click on Engineering.
The American Ingenuity geodesic dome shell kit is designed with unique and practical materials. Ai developed simplified, effective construction techniques, invented a component panel and building system which created a home, that offers the ultimate in energy efficiency, strength and practicality. Ai has been in business, with the same owners, since 1976 and has domes in 47 states and fifteen foreign areas.
The prefabricated panels for the dome kit include exterior 3/4″ concrete reinforced with galvanized steel mesh and fibers, center core of nontoxic, rigid, 7″ Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) R-28 insulation (not Styrofoam) with half-inch Georgia Pacific DensArmor Plus drywall adhered to the underside of the EPS with drywall adhesive. Onsite, the kit is assembled by lifting the panels into place with some type of hoisting mechanism, on to a temporary support skeleton, overlapping and locking the galvanized steel mesh in the seam areas. The seams, entryways and dormers are then concreted onsite with fiber concrete (seam concrete averages 2″ thick). The concrete/steel/eps/ and drywall contain no food source for mold growth and are noncombustible. Since our panels come pre-concreted, only the seam areas between the panels, along with and the entryways and dormers are concreted on site; resulting in reduced on site labor costs versus building a conventional house with separate materials to build the vertical walls and install roof trusses, plywood, tarpaper, shingles, insulation and drywall.
When assembled, the prefabricated panels produce all the structural components, the concrete roof, all the insulation and all the interior drywall for the dome shell. In addition, the dome shell (triangles & risers) carries a 225 mph wind and F4 tornado guarantee. This warranty does not apply to a cupola, link, exterior framed wall areas, or exterior doors and windows. Our panelized system does not contain wood framing (ribs) to interrupt our standard R28 insulation. There is no exterior wood to burn or rot or for termites to eat (Pressure Treated wood is used to frame the walls under the entryways and dormers.). FYI during kit assembly a temporary wooden rib system is assembled to support the panels. When the kit is assembled, the dome is self-supporting and the rib system is removed. As an added bonus, there is no roof to blow off in high winds, and has a noncombustible fire resistant concrete exterior. To learn more about our panels please view Composition.
Whatever size floor plan you seek, whether for a modest starter home or a grand estate, American Ingenuity domes are flexible enough to adapt to your conditions. The dome kit can be a Do It Yourself project with panels assembled by owner builders or the home owner can hire a contractor who hires the independent kit assembly consultant. To view info about DIY, click on owner builder.
To view stock plans for each diameter dome, click on Stock Plans Pdf. If you do not see a stock plan to fit your lifestyle, Ai can design modified or customized plans per your sketches and descriptions.
American Ingenuity’s new DVD is $7 includes mailing costs. To order please call our office at 321-639-8777 – Mon – Fri 9-5 eastern time. To view at no cost, click on Free DVD.
Building plans include the basic drawings for the dome that needed to acquire a building permit. The plans are created using our computer aided drafting system (AutoCAD) as stock plans, or custom plans based on your individual requirements and design and consist of 13 -23 blueprints. Some of the sheets contain a 3-D elevation and a 3-D perspective view. These plans include all the structural drawings; slab foundation is standard or custom design basement, elevated platform, etc.; wall sections; panel composition; entryway and dormer details; floor plan layouts showing room arrangements, placement of the electrical outlets, light fixtures, and plumbing fixtures. However, they do not include the electrical, plumbing, HVAC layouts. We have found if the layouts are included, then the inspectors require the subcontractors to follow the diagrams when usually the subs like to complete their own layouts.
Where can I see one of your finished domes? Ai’s office is in two Aidomes in Florida and can be viewed on our web site and in person by appointment. Ai has sold dome kits into 47 USA states and 15 foreign countries. We would like to have model homes throughout the country but it is not economically possible. If we had models throughout the country, Ai would need to triple the price of the building kit. There are over 800 American Ingenuity Domes throughout the world, and we are thankful a few dome owners allow us to give out their name and number after we have answered the perspective dome buyer’s basic questions. Ai promises the dome owner that we will not take advantage of their courtesy, and that we will only give out their name to those who are serious and knowledgeable regarding the information on our web site. That way the dome owner is not answering basic questions that we can answer, or is readily available on our website. After Ai answers your questions, we will review our dome referral listings for a dome owner closest to you, and provide you with their name and number. Ai has promised not to give out the dome owner’s address to assure that they will not have surprise visitors. To learn more view Visit our Dome Offices.
Dome Built on Basement w’ perimeter deck
Dome Finished Costs:
The finished costs on the domes depends so much on what the labor costs are in your area and what price points are selected for windows, doors, cabinetry, flooring, bathroom fixtures, kitchen appliances, lighting fixtures, etc. Ask at your local hardware store or a local contractor what the finished price per square foot is running for a conventional house. This will give an approximate cost to finish the domes (if you are not doing the labor yourselves). The interior build out is almost the same as a conventional house,….plumbing, electrical, lighting fixtures, bathroom fixtures, flooring, kitchen cabinets, windows and doors, etc. However, the home owner ends up with a super-energy efficient, super-strong home for about the same price as a conventional house. The one phase of construction which will cost more than a conventional house is the foundation. It is multisided and will cost 15% to 25% more to install than a rectangle shape. To learn more view Approx Finished Price Per Square Foot and Approx. Finished Cost.
About 50% of our clients assemble their kit; the remainder hire a Builder who then hires the independent Kit Assembly Consultant to supervise their workers during kit assembly. There are consultants located in Florida, California and South Dakota who can travel nationwide and internationally. The Component Panels are numbered and lettered to match the Nomenclature blueprint in the building plans. Using three to five good workers (some proficient in concrete) and depending upon the size dome and type of hoisting mechanism used, shell assembly of 22′ – 48′ domes to the stage of having one layer of concrete in the seams and on the building options (Kit with one entryway and two dormers) can take from 14-26 days. Once a floor plan is decided on, Ai can estimate the number of days needed to assemble the shell. To learn more about hiring the Consultant view Kit Assembly Specialist/Consultant.
Contact your local Home Builder’s Association for the names of contractors and subcontractors in your area. To view a list of possible Builders, click on builders. Best to pay a builder Cost Plus.
The dome owner or their contractor hires local conventional subcontractors to perform the conventional jobs like forming and pouring the slab, plumbing, electrical, framing, etc. Ai believes the dome buyer should not pay someone to come in from out of state to do work that your local subs can perform.
Prior to the Kit Assembly Consultant supervising the dome kit assembly, our clients had to hire a contractor who generally had never assembled an American Ingenuity Dome before. As a result, the contractor would need to over-charge. This is because he did not know how long it. The Kit Assembly Consultant works directly for the dome owner or their builder as an independent subcontractor and can provide references for previous Ai domes built. Using this consultant will assure that the temporary wooden rib system, and building kit is assembled correctly, in a timely fashion. The dome owner or your builder hires concrete workers who mix the concrete to the special recipe and trowel the concrete into the panel seams and onto the entryways and dormers per the Assembly Manual. The Consultant does not apply concrete; he is there to supervise the workers.
Hiring the consultant for one week can save one to three weeks or more of shell assembly time depending on the dome kit size.
The consultant works for minimum $300 a day plus travel costs, motel, and car rental costs while at the job site. These costs include travel from his home base to the job site and a return to his home base at the completion of the job. If interested in utilizing the Consultant, please call our office at 321-639-8777.
A helpful web site is rsmeans.com They provide construction manuals, construction estimating CD’s, etc.
The following is a quick overview of the Aidome kit contents and the building process to give an idea of what is required in building an American Ingenuity dome. When a dome shell kit is purchased the full “Assembly Manual” is included and is much more extensive and precise.
The American Ingenuity dome building kit includes panels for one entryway and all the panels to assemble the dome shell. The triangular and riser panels have pre-concreted exterior, insulated R28 center core and interior ½ inch special DensArmor drywall. The standard dome shell kit includes the Triangular Panels, four foot tall Riser Wall Panels, Entryway Panels, Galvanized Steel Mesh, Concrete Fibers, Two Concrete Admixtures, Reinforcing Tension Wire, Concrete Bonding Agent, Connecting C-Rings, C-Ring Pliers, Cans of Expanding Foam, Metal Dispensing Gun for the expanding foam and the Assembly Manual. To learn more about the Kit Contents view To learn more about the Kit Contents view Contents. To learn what is not included in the Kit view Not Included.
The interior wall board on the riser and triangle panels consists of Georgia Pacific 1/2″ DensArmor Plus Gypsum Wallboard adhered to the Expanded Polystyrene (E.P.S.) with wallboard adhesive. It employs fiberglass mat facing instead of paper on both sides of the board. The core is special treated gypsum providing excellent moisture resistance, fire resistance and adhesion properties. It won’t harbor spores that create sick homes. To learn more about this board view Panel Composition.and scroll down the page to the wallboard section or go to Georgia Pacific’s web site DensArmor and click on the its product specs.
For freedom and flexibility of design, additional building kit options can be selected depending upon the floor plan selection. These options include the additional Entryway Panels (garage, high profile, or standard), Window Dormer Panels (first floor and or second floor), Door Dormer Panels (first floor and or second floor), Cupola Panels, Link Panels and R-36 Insulation. Onsite a 2×4 or 2×6 PT wall is built under the entryways and dormers where locally purchased doors and windows are installed. . To learn more about the Building Options view Options.
No interior items are included in the kit except for the interior shell wallboard. Ai believes the Buyer should not pay shipping on items which can be purchased locally such as: plumbing, electrical, framing, flooring, kitchen cabinets, bathroom fixtures, stairs, fireplaces, windows, doors, etc.
The basic building process consists of 1) placing the pre-concreted insulated panels, entryway, door dormer and window dormer panels onto a temporary wooden rib system; 2) overlapping and locking the steel mesh with “C” rings and 3) concreting the seams and options. There is no need to concrete over the entire dome exterior. Only the panel seams and the building kit options are concreted onsite. Prior to installing entryway, door dormer and window dormer panels, review the building plans for any stud or header that needs to extend thru the EPS and for any anchoring hardware that needs to be installed; i.e. J bolts (top plate in door dormer & entryway framed wall), power studs (into sill plates), bolts, nuts, washers (into base entryway panels). The entryway, door dormer and window dormer panels, are installed in the row of panels that they are in and receive a first layer of concrete when the first layer of concrete is applied in the seams. Prior to applying the scratch coat of concrete, the anchoring hardware or stud or header that extends thru the eps of the entryway or door dormer has to be installed. The next row of panels cannot be installed, until the concrete on the entryways, dormers and seams has passed the scratch test.
The temporary wooden rib system and its bracing cannot be removed until 1) all panels (entryways, dormers, risers, triangles, link, cupola) are installed with two layers of concrete; 2) all framing is installed within the entryways and dormers and concrete has cured for two weeks.
Prior to priming and painting the concrete, tap on all seams to see if any sound hollow or the concrete shifts or vibrates. If this occurs then this concrete needs to be removed and new fiber concrete installed in that seam. Also allow the concrete to be rained on weekly or hosed down for one month to remove efflorescence. Examples of Paint which Aidome owners have had success with are:
- Behr’s top of the line exterior latex paint is Marque. Seabrook Texas dome owner loves this paint. He uses semi-gloss. Marque has the most titanium. – Home Depot
- Ames Research Labs: Maximum – Stretch, at participating ACE & True Value Stores
- Sherwin Williams: Loxon XP Paint, Loxon Primer and Conditioner
- Richards Paint: Rich Flex 245; use Rich Flex Alkali Resistant 100% Acrylic Masonry Primer
- Behr’s Premium Elastomeric Masonry, Stucco & Brick Paint –Home Depot
- Seal Krete Paint (pigmented) –Home Depot
Once your kit is assembled, install framing and electrical. Then the wall board on the interior of the dome shell is ready to be finished similar to the method drywall board seams are finished. To accommodate some electrical wiring, grooves are cut through the wallboard and the EPS to allow for the insertion of electrical wiring. Grooves can be cut where baseboard will be installed to hide the grooves. To blend the taped electrical areas to the DensArmor finish, skip trowel joint compound over the DensArmor drywall. Call Ai at 321-639-8777 for further info.
A Brief Description of Ai’s Building Options and other items
Standard, High Profile and Garage Entryway panels for the 30‘- 48’ domes, utilize 3 1/2″ E.P.S. wrapped in steel mesh, are pre-concreted on the underside surface and have a precast trough on the outer edge. On site place rebar into the trough and fill the trough with concrete. After the correct hardware, headers, king studs are installed, concrete the outside surface and apply a second layer of concrete to the underside. The openings under the entryways are framed in on site to fit locally purchased standard windows and doors.
G Type Entryways for the 15′, 18′, 22′ and 27′ domes, utilize 3 1/2″ EPS, but are not wrapped in steel mesh or concreted. If the steel mesh is purchased from Ai, at no cost Ai will install the mesh on the garage entryway panels.
Window and door dormer panels consist of 3 1/2″ E.P.S. wrapped with steel mesh ready for onsite stucco. The openings under the dormers are framed in on site to fit your choice of standard windows and doors which are purchased locally.
To learn which domes come with which building options; i.e. second floor single opening window dormers or door dormers, standard entryways versus high profile entryways versus garage entryways, please view Building Options or call us or email us.
Link: Link panels consist of E.P.S. insulation, interior ½” DensArmor but are not concreted or wrapped with steel mesh. Link panels are custom fit to the dome panels on site. Link prices vary depending upon the width and length of the link.
Domes are connected together with a Link made of the same materials as the dome panels; E.P.S. insulation – 7” or 9” thick. The Link connects to the adjacent domes where an entryway or door dormer would have been installed. The thickness of the EPS in a Link is usually 7″ when it takes the place of an Entryway and 3 1/2″ when it connects like a door dormer. The width of the links depends on the size of domes and whether they are connected where an entryway or door dormer would have been. The length of the Link varies from 2 ft. to 10 ft. Because the riser wall is a standard 4’ high, all domes will match each other despite a difference in diameters. Steel mesh can be purchased from Ai, on site the mesh is attached with plastic stacks, and then the link panels are concreted.
Riser Panel Heights – All Aidome building kits come with standard four-foot-tall vertical riser panels. However, the 22’ & 27’ kits can have custom 5’ risers instead of 4′ risers. The 30’ or larger domes can have a custom two-foot riser installed above the standard 4’ risers resulting in first floor ceiling height where a second floor is installed of 9’6” in 27’, 34’ & 36’ or 10 feet in 40’, 45’ or 48’ domes. The 15’ & 18’ kit pricing includes 4’ risers plus 2’ risers.
Cupola: Is the “cap like” item that can be installed on the top of the dome. Ai does not recommend a cupola due to the cost of installation and need to purchase five windows. The windows allow hot or cold air to come in the dome, thus increasing your heating and AC costs.
Its purpose is to give additional headroom for a third floor loft in the 40′ or larger domes. The topside exterior of the five panels of the cupola and the underside exterior of the overhang (eave) are prefinished steel reinforced concrete, while the topside & edges of the eave are stuccoed onsite.
The top five insulated panels of the dome make up the cupola top with the overhang panels added on site. We recommend that you build the cupola only if you want a third floor loft. The cupola is a way to add height to the top center of the dome and another way to have opening windows. With the installation of a cupola, there is enough headroom in the 40′ and larger domes to have a small third floor loft.
Hot air and moisture will rise to the top of the dome. Whether a cupola is built or not, we recommend installing an exhaust fan at the peak of your dome, in each bathroom, on the stove and the clothes dryer. Ask your local HVAC subcontractor if your area has enough hot to cold variation, consider installing an Energy Recovery Ventilator or a Heat Recovery Ventilator heat recovery ventilator.
Cupolas are not covered by American Ingenuity’s 225 mph wind and F4 tornado warranty.
Interior Framing: The interior framing of the dome is built much like conventional housing and can be either wood or metal. Some of the second floor can be hung or suspended from the concreted seams of the dome by suspension rods allowing for very “open” first floor plan designs. The American Ingenuity dome is the opposite of a conventional roof truss house in that it is self-supporting and its shell is capable of supporting some of the 2nd floor weight. The weight is suspended by threaded steel rods, top and bottom plates purchased from A. The Top Plate and part of the threaded rod are installed on top of the overlapped mesh in the seam and concreted over when the seam is concreted. The threaded rod extends vertically down into the dome with a bottom plate installed to hold the ends of the edge beam. To learn more view Framing.
Suspension Rods: The location of the suspension rods to support parts of the second floor framing is determined by your floor plan selection. The Elevation Blueprint within the Building Plans shows the suspension rod’s positioning, the suspension rod with nut sets on a (3″x 7″ steel plate) is embedded in the concrete seam. The seam is reinforced with #4 rebar, & two layers of galvanized steel mesh. The second floor can support at least 55 pounds per square foot, the same as other houses. We can easily design for a more demanding second floor load such as for waterbeds, whirlpool tubs, spas, libraries, etc.
Electrical and Plumbing: Most of the electrical and plumbing will be contained in the interior framed walls and installed in the same manner as conventional housing. To install electrical wiring in the exterior dome walls: simply cut a groove in the E.P.S insulation and wall board with a router or circular saw, insert the wire or conduit and then wiring, use spray foam in a can to fill the groove and finish the area with joint compound and fiber glass tape. To install electrical boxes, conduit or plumbing pipes: cut the E.P.S. insulation and wall board slightly larger than needed, insert the box or pipe and fill in the opening with spray expanding foam. The spray foam will harden in about half an hour, holding the box or pipe secure. To blend the taped areas to the DensArmor texture, skip trowel joint compound over the DensArmor. To learn more view Electrical and Plumbing.
AC/Heating Ducts: The dome buyer and their HVAC subcontractor determines whether mini-split ductless units or ducted heat pumps are installed. We leave the AC ducting diagram to your subcontractor, but generally, the ducts run through interior walls, in the second floor joists and or behind the second floor knee wall. The vents are either in the interior walls or in the floor of the second floor. To learn mover view AC/Heating and Fireplaces.
Click on picture below for a full size view
Foundations: Your dome can be built on your choice of foundation including: concrete slab, raised wood floor, stem wall or pier foundation, full or partial basement, concrete columns or pilings. To learn view Foundations.
Because of the reduced surface area of a dome and its thin shell construction, the Aidomes weigh less than the average house, but are remarkably stronger due to the triangle shape and the steel reinforced concrete exterior. American Ingenuity domes are considerably lighter than a concrete block house. A finished 27′ dome shell weights about 25,000 lbs.; a finished 48′ in diameter dome weights about 42,000 lbs. Besides the weight of the dome, the load of your second floor will be calculated with load bearing walls designed on the first floor and with load bearing footings in your foundation to support this load.
Prior to ordering building plans, determine your soil type and what type footing & foundation will be designed. Will it be normal footings around a concrete slab or will there need to be augured footings down to cap rock or concrete columns or wood pilings driven 40’ into the ground, etc.? To determine what type design is needed, if the foundation is anything other than a concrete slab, hire a Geotechnical Company and have a soil bore test completed. In the soil report a soil engineer will recommend the type foundations which can be built on that type soil. The dome buyer will talk with local foundation subcontractors which build those type foundations to determine which type foundation is best and fits their budget. FYI, for Ai to design any type foundation other than a concrete slab, the buyer of the building plans pays for Ai to hire a local engineer, to review your soil report, calculate load of the dome, load of the first and second floor and provide design details to Ai to incorporate within your custom foundation plans.
The soil under the footing and slab criteria is: compaction to 98% density for a minimum of 2,000 psf of bearing pressure. If your soil psf is less than 2,000 psf let us know and the engineer will design a larger footer and thicker slab to accommodate your soil pressure. The foundation cannot be built on clay and basement walls cannot be back filled with clay. If a regular house can be built on your soil, a dome can certainly be built.
If three to five feet of fill needs to be brought in to reach the correct finished floor height, your foundation may need to be a stem wall with concrete slab or wood floor. If your property is in a flood zone, the building plans have to show the finished floor height. Contact your government department that handles FEMA or flood zone info to find out if your property is in a flood zone. If in a flood zone, submit to Ai a letter stating the government official name that gave the height and their phone number. Ai does not determine this height. If the house is not built at the correct finished floor height and your site is in a flood zone, flood insurance cannot be obtained. Without insurance a mortgage cannot be obtained.
What is unusual about the dome foundation is its multi-sided shape and rebar is designed to come out of the foundation in specific places to attach the dome riser wall seams, the front and back of entryway panels and first floor door dormer base panels and certain places under first floor window dormers. There are rebar hooks installed in the perimeter footing to come up under the horizontal riser wall seams. Check your entryway, door dormer and window dormer, link, cupola plans for anchoring hardware, etc. Always use a vapor barrier with your slab of 6 mil. plastic sheeting and 6″ x 6″ steel mesh or fibers.
Shipping: The above photo shows a building kit loaded onto a semi-truck ready for shipment to the client. The domes behind the truck are two of our factory domes, a 48′ and a 45′ with the 60′ dome are not pictured. For more info view Shipping.
Support Systems: Ai recommends the installation of a temporary wooden rib system to support the panels during the kit assembly. The photo on the right illustrates the rib system. The rib system consists of your own 2×4’s (cut and drilled to our specs), bolts/nuts/washers purchased from Ai and steel hubs on loan from American Ingenuity to erect a freestanding geodesic framework. A deposit is placed on the hubs and is refunded when the hubs are shipped back to Ai. International buyers purchase the steel hubs. The bolts/nuts/washer and lifting spikes are not returned to Ai. Ai can purchase the 2×4’s, cut, drill and paint them and ship them on the truck with your dome kit. Pricing varies depending upon the 2×4 cost. Please call our office, 321-639-8777 Monday through Friday 9-5 eastern time for pricing.
During Assembly, additional supports are used to brace the steel hubs, to brace panels, to brace both sides of the riser panels and to brace the entryway and door dormer panels. The “Rib System” dictates the exact panel placement. For more info view Rib.
Once all the seams and building options have been concreted with two layers of concrete, openings framed in and concrete cured for two weeks, the “Rib System” is removed and most wood is recycled into the interior framing or second floor knee wall framing and the hubs returned to Ai.
Panel Assembly: The panel assembly process begins by positioning the four-foot-tall riser panels on the foundation (specific radius dimension is on the First Floor Plan Blueprint) and then assembling the rib system. Apply expanding foam under the riser panels to seal them to your foundation. Plumb the risers and fill any gaps between them with E.P.S. insulation wedges or expanding foam.
Overlap the steel mesh from adjoining riser panels minimum two inches, lock the mesh with C-rings every 2″, apply the first layer of special formulated fiber concrete following the guidelines for watering down all the premade concrete around where new concrete is being applied. Do not get concrete on the panel’s flat bonding ledges or the sloping bonding ledges…only partially cover the steel mesh. Your first layer of concrete is thrown through the steel mesh and fills the seam area behind the mesh. Prior to applying the first layer of concrete assure all rebar, hardware, king studs and heaters, etc. are installed.
Once the first layer of fiber concrete is applied into the seams and onto the entryways, dormers, cupola, link, etc., check your blueprints for the specific locations around the dome where any rebar or a cable is laid on top of the overlapped and locked mesh and attached to the mesh with tie wire before the second layer of concrete is applied. The bottom and top cable are connected to rebar or the cable itself with cable clamps in specific locations.
Usually the stucco crew works their way down the dome from the top, and applies a second layer of fiber concrete into each of the seams after watering down first layer of concrete, ledges and adjacent concrete and applying a bonding agent between the coats of concrete, on the flat bonding ledges and the sloping bonding ledges (bonding agent comes with your Ai dome kit & each dome kit buyer purchases additional bonding agent). The top layer of concrete finished in either a flat or rounded appearance and is rubbed with a sponge to produce a sponge sand finish which matches the sponge sand finish on the prefab panel. The new concrete must be kept moist to allow for the concrete hydration. The Assembly Manual shipped with each kit gives specific guidelines for concrete application and mixing.
Panel Concrete: The prefabricated panel concrete is a special formulation containing synthetic fibers and two liquid admixtures. Ai ships the same fibers and admixtures with your building kit that it uses to mix the concrete on the prefabricated panels. These ingredients improve the concrete’s characteristics, create super toughness, extend durability, make concrete impervious to water, give higher tensile and compressive strength, provide elasticity for expansion, improve freeze protection.
The exterior concrete out performs other exteriors because of its specially developed formula. Because of its exceptional composition, it actually gains strength over the years. Locally bags of Portland Cement (type 1 or 111) are purchased along with sand (masonry or stucco sand) with the fibers and admixtures added to the mix per the recipe in the Assembly Manual and on the building plans. The concrete is mixed with a MORTAR MIXER not a cement mixer. Do not use a cement mixer to mix the concrete because it does not have paddles. Paddles are required to obtain a thorough mixing of the cement, sand, fibers and admixtures – which is a grout type cement that contains no rocks or aggregate.
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).
These photos illustrate the use of planks on the exterior for filling and finishing seams and concreting the options. Or worker can stand in a cherry picker. The panels are installed and concrete is hand troweled into the seams after adjacent prefab concrete is watered down next to where new concrete will be applied. The first layer of concrete fills the seams up to the steel mesh. After all the seams are half filled with concrete and appropriate rebar or cable or top plate for suspension rod, etc. is installed, a second layer of fiber cement is troweled into the seams after first layer of concrete and adjacent concrete is watered down and bonding agent applied over first layer of concrete and on flat & sloping bonding ledges. The first layer of seam concreting is done one row of panels at a time.
Most of fourth row of panels installed.
Seam Finish: Start at the top of the dome and work down. This will allow practice on easier seams and ones that are less visible and any spills will not be on finished work. The concrete in the seams is usually finished in 1 of 2 styles:
Flat: The quickest, highlights the geometry, the least cost and least labor intensive. The concrete fills the seam up to the edges of the prefinished concrete of each panel and is troweled to a flat surface between those panel edges. When complete there will be two concrete edges along each seam where the panel concrete meets the concrete that fills the seam. The edges of the concrete panels can be used to screed the flat surface making this the quickest method of finish, the lowest cost with the least labor.
Rounded: requires the most skill to be consistent but like the flat seam it can be completed with two coats. The concrete is mounded in the seams, then shaped to create a rounded transition between adjacent panels. This method is used when a rounded appearance is desired.
Additional supports are required under the steel hubs hold the weight until all the seams, entryways, dormers, etc. are concreted, and framing is installed under the entryways and dormer panels. Then the extra supports and temporary wooden rib system can be removed because the dome shell is self-supporting.
Interior walls and second floor joists are conventionally built except parts of the second floor and perimeter edge beam is supported by first floor load bearing walls and suspension rods.
The left photo illustrates a conventional interior wall covered with standard drywall. The photo on the right illustrates how the opening under the entryway was 2×4 framed and insulated with E.P.S. (waiting for plywood sheathing & either 1/4’ x 1/4″ or 1/2″ x 1/2″ steel mesh & stucco to be applied). Above the standard entryway is a door dormer.
Past Ai clients have found it difficult and expensive to purchase steel mesh locally. As a result, the steel mesh used to frame in the entryways and dormers is available for purchase from Ai, and added to the Parts List. A Parts List is a page within the American Ingenuity Dome Building Kit Order Form, which lists the items that come with the Ai kit and lists items which can be purchased from Ai. For example, the suspension rods and top and bottom plates that help support the second floor, extra cans of expanding foam (20 oz.), steel mesh, Simpson joist hangers, additional Admixture A and B, additional C -rings, C- ring pliers, additional bonding agent, 2×4’s cut, drilled and painted for the temporary wooden rib system, etc. can be purchased from Ai.
Ai’s building kits come with the interior wallboard (Georgia Pacific 1/2″ DensArmor Plus gypsum wallboard that is moisture resistant and mold resistant) already adhered to the triangles and riser panels with drywall adhesive. Onsite apply joint compound and fiberglass tape to finish the seams between the wall board. On site to blend the taped area to the DensArmor finish, skip trowel joint compound on the DensArmor. The wall board is primed with two coats of primer and then painted.
In summary, there is now no need to plaster or apply dry wall board to the dome shell interior EPS insulation because the triangular and riser panels come with 1/2″ Georgia Pacific DensArmor Plus drywall already installed.
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.
A 40′ dome before painting.
Apply white concrete primer and two coats of elastomeric paint. Paint brands are listed above.
The above dome is a 34′ in diameter built on a full basement. Behind the deck railing is a standard entryway that was framed in on site to accept a door and window. This dome was painted a blue grey; however, you can paint your dome any color tan or moss green, etc.
Another finished American Ingenuity dome. The dome on the left has a standard entryway framed in to accept six small windows. The wall under the second floor dormer contains two small windows. And the cupola on top was framed in to accept five opening windows.
45’ AiDome on Elevated Concrete Platform w’ partial Basement in Florida Keys
that went through Hurricane Irma’s 160 mph winds with no damage.
This Aidome In St Croix went thru Hurricane Irma’s 200 mph winds
& Hurricane Maria’s 185 mph winds with no damage.
Dome with two standard entryways on basement
45′ dome on full basement
27′ dome garage linked to 40′ dome home.
40′ dome home linked to 34 garage dome.
45′ dome living room
Painting the Exterior of the American Ingenuity Dome:
The component panels do not come with any paint on them and Ai does not add any color to the concrete. Onsite the seams between the component panels are concreted so if we painted the panels or added color to the concrete it would not match your painted seam concrete. After the entire kit is assembled, the concrete shell is primed and then painted with two coats of elastomeric paint.
- Stain is not used because stain will not seal the concrete.
- The dome can be painted any color – tan, green, blue, yellow, etc. preferably a light to medium color to reflect the sunlight.
Around 1948 Latex paints became the first water-based alternative to oil-based paints. Many improvements have been made but perhaps the most significant is the introduction of Acrylic Resins. Paint of 100% Acrylic is more resistant to ultraviolet rays, retains its color longer, is less prone to chalking, retains its elasticity, is more alkaline resistant and can be cleaned up with water.
It is not difficult to paint the dome….there are no soffits or gutters to have to deal with. The dome is repainted when a hand is rubbed on the paint and chalking occurs. It is best to roll the paint on to get a good mill thickness. Typically the American Ingenuity dome is repainted every 4-5 -6 years, it depends on your personal preference.
- Clean the dome prior to painting by removing algae with bleach/water mixture or oxygenated bleach and water and then pressure washing.
- The sides of the dome can be painted using an extension ladder and paint roller on a pole. Or use equipment which has a power roller that carries paint from a bucket on the ground, through a plastic tube to bring paint to the roller to paint the dome.
- Yes, you can walk on any of the domes after kit assembly. During kit assembly, five eye bolts are installed in the top five seams around the top exhaust vent. Prior to painting attach a rope through the eye bolt and is tied to the painter’s harness.
- To access the top of the dome either climb out a cupola window or put an extension ladder to the top of a second floor dormer and then walk onto the top of the dome.
- Listed below are exterior paint brands. In the Dome Kit Assembly Manual is a section on waterproofing the dome.
Ai dome owners recommend the following primer and paints: (In the Dome Kit Assembly Manual is a section on waterproofing the dome.
- Ames Research Labs: Maximum – Stretch, at participating ACE & True Value Stores (if using Ames see separate Ames doc because specific type sealants and primer need to be used….NOT TT3)
- Sherwin Williams: Loxon XP Paint, Loxon Primer and Conditioner
- Richards Paint: Rich Flex 245; use Rich Flex Alkali Resistant 100% Acrylic Masonry Primer
- Behr’s Premium Elastomeric Masonry, Stucco & Brick Paint –Home Depot
- Seal Krete Paint (pigmented) –Home Depot
To remove water vapor from the highly insulated dome, install an exhaust fan in the top center of the dome, on the stove and clothes dryer. Plus install an exhaust fan with humidistat in each bathroom. Depending on your climate an energy recovery ventilator or a heat recovery ventilator may need to be installed to remove water vapor from showering, laundry, cooking, etc.
Specialty paints like epoxy are unable to stretch and the epoxy paint can “in some areas” crack and allow water to pass through. In addition, any paint that would have a high gloss would highlight flaws in the seam finish.