energy report | AiDomes

7th Step – Obtain Building Permit.  Every Building Department in each state and city and county within a state can vary as to what they require to issue a building permit for a new residential home.  As a result it is American Ingenuity’s philosophy that each Buyer pays for only what their building department requires.  Ai does not burden the price of the building kit for building plans pricing, engineer seal fees or energy report fees. If we did, the Ai dome kit price would need to increase in price.

Some areas in Arkansas, Indiana, Vermont, Texas and other states do not have building departments, so the property owner only obtains a septic tank permit and well permit if needed.  In the cases where no Building Plans are submitted to a building department, the building plans (13-17 blueprints) are utilized to build the foundation, dome kit and finish the interior of the dome home.

Some building departments can require not just building plans be submitted but they want the plans sealed by an engineer licensed for that state.   States vary as to what code they adopt and enforce.  The codes can be 2015 International Building Code, 2012 International Building Code, 2009 International Building Code, California Building Code and 2014 Florida Building Code 5th Edition, etc. The Ai dome building plans comply with all these codes, but the building officials do not know this.  The seal confirms that the plans comply with that state’s code.  Engineer seals are specific to each floor plan and to each state. The engineer’s seal can be purchased through American Ingenuity.  The cost for a seal for any state for one dome on a slab is $600.

Prior to utilizing this PE Engineer to seal the dome plans, Ai hired engineering firms or architectural firms whose seal fees were $1,200, $1,500, $3,000 or more depending on the dome size.  The fees were larger because the firms had to cover their overhead and labor costs, etc.  The Professional Engineer that Ai utilizes to seal your plans does not have the high overhead and labor costs that firms do; therefore his fees are much less.

For custom foundations other than slab – basement, stem wall, pilings, concrete columns, etc. engineer seal fees vary.  Please call Ai for pricing.  321-639-8777 Mon-Fri 9-5 ET.

Besides the sealed plans, the building department can require the following be submitted to issue a building permit:

  1. An Energy Report be completed on the envelope of the home including the exterior door and window U factors.  Ai can complete the REScheck Energy Report for all other states but California, Washington and Florida. The price for Energy Report for one dome on a slab is $190.  These three states have their own programs so companies specializing in their completion are hired. Ai has the name of CA firm that has completed California Title 24 Energy Report on an Ai dome in Riverside Ca. For Florida Ai will provide the company you hire the wall dimensions to be entered in the report.
  2. Engineer sealed structural calculations on the structure showing the dome complies with snow, wind and seismic conditions for that area.   The Ai Dome exceeds any code requirements but the officials do not know that so they can ask for structural calculations that are sealed by an engineer licensed for your state.  If needed these engineer sealed calcs can be purchased through Ai. (Please do not ever ask a building official if they want structural calculations, because they will say yes. We wait and see if they request them.)
  3. In Florida all new construction requires Florida Engineer Sealed Building Plans, passing Florida Energy Report and other docs. If building in Florida, at no cost to you if you give us your properties tax ID number or site address we call the building department and email them a sample set of dome building plans and find out what is required.    A few Florida building departments may require Site Specific Local Product Approval on the prefab panel.  If needed the docs and calculations for the site specific local product approval are completed by an engineering firm.  Please call Ai for more pricing.
  4. Elevation Certificate – if your property is in a Flood Zone you will be required to hire a surveyor to determine the height of your finished floor to get it above the water surge or mean high water mark.  This height is entered on your building plans and you give the Certificate to your building department.
  5. Site Map – this is completed by you or a local company.  It shows outline/dimensions of your property, setbacks, driveway, location of the dome, well, septic drain field (or city sewer or city water lines), location of other out buildings, etc.  Ask your building department what they want included on your site map.
  6. Electrical Diagram, Plumbing Diagram and HVAC Diagram.  Ai does not include these diagrams in the 13-17 blueprints because Ai has found the electrical, plumbing and HVAC subcontractors prefer to design their own diagrams based on how they are going to layout your electrical, plumbing and HVAC (heating & air conditioning ducts or ductless units).
  7. If your building department requires the following, please hire your local HVAC subcontractor to complete: Manual S (Equipment Sizing Certification); Manual D (Duct Design & Layout Drawing); or Manual J for the Rescheck Energy Report (Residential Heat Load Calculation).
  8. If no city sewer or water, obtain permit to install well and septic tank and drain field based on number of bedrooms in the plan.
  9. Building Permit Fees are paid to the county or city.  In Florida impact fees are also paid.

3rd Step – Ai Calls Building Dept. For You.   At no cost to you, if you provide Ai with your property’s address or tax I.D. number or the potential property’s tax ID number you are considering purchasing along with the building department’s telephone number, we will call the building department.  We will discuss items on our  web site and email them a drop box invitation that includes info about our prefabricated home dome building kits, sample set of building plans and engineering statement.

Ai will confirm that they will accept the American Ingenuity concrete prefabricated panel as is, as well as what additional  requirements are needed for a new home permit on the dome.  For example will your building department require the building plans be engineer sealed by a engineer licensed for your state?  Will they require an Energy Report?  If so the building plans, engineer seal and REScheck Energy Report can be purchased from Ai.  In Florida, California and Washington private companies complete the required Energy Report after Ai emails them wall dimensions and you provide specific exterior door and window info. During Plans Design Ai emails elevation views of each entryway and dormer showing the rough opening size area with recommended door and window sizes. 

We will recap what we find out and email that info to you along with the name and phone number of the persons we spoke with.  

On our web site file building permit, we list most frequently asked questions about obtaining a building permit.

The following information covers buying land for your new Aidome Home.

Or the document can be utilized as a checklist prior to the clearing of your property.

Deck area above basement.

45′ Dome – was built on a basement due to the land slope. 

Beautiful deck area to enjoy spring time.

The following covers the general topics of New Home Construction Budget, Cash Down Payment If Financing and Checklist of Items to look out for prior to purchasing your property. If you own your property already, then use this as a checklist for items to review.

American Ingenuity (Ai) is happy that you are considering its Geodesic Dome Building Kit for your future home. You have made a big decision to build your dream home, and building with an alternative concrete housing structure that comes with 225 mph wind and F4 tornado warranty that saves 50% to 60% on heating and cooling over conventional house is a smart decision.  To view 10 Steps in building Ai dome, click on ten steps.

Prior to purchasing your land or if you own property, first determine the overall budget you can afford for your new home, land and land development.  If you will be financing, determine the amount of cash down payment needed. Loans for alternative housing such as a geodesic dome are often harder to come by, and lenders generally require between 25% and 35% cash down.  On an approximate $200,000 build for the structure and land development, this could mean a cash down payment of between $50,000 and $70,000. Keep in mind lenders may or may not take under consideration your equity in your land, when lending for the structure and land development. Therefore, if needing a loan to build it is wise not to invest all your liquid assets into the purchase of the property because a large cash down payment will be required on the home loan.  Feel free to call us at 321-639-8777 for a friendly chat to clarify these items.

It is sometimes best to purchase a small piece of affordable land instead of large acreage.  This way you keep your land cost down so you have more cash money available for your mortgage cash down payment or more cash to build if you are an owner/builder.  To keep your construction costs down, best to build as small a dome as possible; therefore you are on your property living in a super-strong, super-energy efficient dome home saving money on your heating & cooling costs to add on a second dome later.  For example a 40’ dome (3 bedroom, two bath) can have 1,800 sq.ft.  A 36’ dome (2 or 3 bedroom, two bath) can have 1,400 to 1,600 sq.ft.  If your finished cost per square foot for your area is $105, then building the smaller 36’ dome automatically saves you $20,000 to $40,000 in construction costs.  A 27’ dome (two bedroom/two bath) can have 800 sq.ft.  Building a 27’ dome vs a 36’ dome automatically saves you $60,000 to $80,000 in construction costs.

That being said, American Ingenuity tries to look out after each perspective client to assure that they are not “blindsided” or shocked about some property issue that could stop them from building their dream dome.  The following is a web site that can be used to locate property by state and region without using a real estate agent, click on landwatch.

If building site already owned, use below to determine what’s needed to build on your property.  If purchasing land, American Ingenuity highly recommends the following items be answered before purchasing.

    1. Call the government agency over the different pieces of land you are considering purchasing and ask whether you will be taxed by both a City and County or whether it will be just one taxing authority and which is it?  Each piece of land could be governed by a different entity.  You want to know what your property tax rate will be per each sq. ft. of your house, etc.  Obtain an example of their property tax bill to see what all is on it. Comparing property tax rates from one city to another city or one county to another county may save you a lot of money on your annual property tax bills.
    2. Call the building department and obtain a list of what is required to obtain a building permit; is an Engineer Seal required on the building plans and an energy report?
      1. If building out of Florida, each building department determines if the dome building plans have to be sealed by an engineer licensed for that state and whether an Energy Report is required. The engineer seal and the energy report can be purchased when the building plans are purchased. The engineer seal cost is much lower than what engineering firms or architectural firms charge. A Florida seal for one dome on a slab is $400 or $500 depending on dome size. The seal for one dome on slab for any state other than Florida is $600. The energy report for one dome on a slab is $190.  Ai can call your building department and see if a seal or energy report are required.
        If building in Florida, all new home construction requires a Florida licensed engineer’s seal on the plans and an Energy Report.  Both items can be purchased from Ai.  Even though an Aidome located in Dade County went through Hurricane Andrew and a tornado at the same time and had no structural damage, some Florida counties (Dade, Broward, West Palm Beach & St. Johns) require the dome kit to have Florida Product Approval to issue a permit.  Other Florida Counties do not require product approval….it is the call of the building official as to what they require.   Most Florida Counties will accept Florida Engineer sealed building plans, Energy Report & other paperwork to issue a permit on the dome. For example an Ai dome received a building permit in  2014 in Marathon, Florida (part of the Keys) which is south of  Dade County and in a higher wind speed, 180 mph, than Dade County without needing product approval.  It is not economical for American Ingenuity to purchase product approval.  As a result the Ai dome kit cannot be built in a few Florida counties unless the building official gives you an exception.  See number 2,  Ai will call your building official (email set of building plans if needed) and find out what is required to issue a building permit on the dome.
      2. Provide Ai with the tax id for the property you are considering purchasing & the building department name. At no cost to you, Ai will call the building department, show them our web site, email them sample plans pdfs, describe the component panel, etc. and find out if the Ai dome kit can be built in your area.  Besides engineer sealed plans, an engineer sealed engineering statement can be submitted that states the Ai component panel conforms to the provisions of 2014 Florida Building Code 5th Edition, California Building Code and 2012 International Building Code that allows for alternative materials and methods for construction.  Georgia-Pacific’s Armor Plus High Performance Interior ½” Gypsum Wallboard is used as the interior face of the panels which meets the thermal barrier requirements of R316.4 as shown by third party testing.
      3. Site plan?  Survey?
      4. Impact fees: If building in Florida, because there is no state income tax, government agencies get revenue by assessing impact fees.  They figure new construction, brings more cars on the road, greater need for fire trucks, schools, etc.  so they assess impact fees based on the square footage of the house.  What are the impact fees on that piece of property?  Due to the recession, some cities and counties are waiving some or all of the impact fees, if the fees are waived when will they be going back into effect?   What date do you have to receive your Certificate of Occupancy (CO) before impact fees will be assessed?
      5. If you purchase land with a mobile home that will get moved or older building that will be torn down, are you still assessed impact fees to build your new home or are you exempt?
      6. Any Building permit application fees?  Once you get a permit, how long is the permit good for, can you get extensions on your building permit?
      7. What are the setback requirements on front, rear and sides? What are the setback requirements from city sewer or city water line or wetlands or flowing water?  Or if installing septic tank/drain field and well, what are set backs from each?  By asking these questions you determine how much property is left to build on.
      8. If building in Florida or a coastal area, what is the wind borne speed for that area? If you are in 130 mph or greater wind zone, impact resistant glass and or shutters are required.
      9. Ask if there is a requirement on the minimum house square footage & if a garage is required?
    3. Find out department who handles the endangered plant and animal listing for that city and county. Determine if there are any on the perspective properties.
    4. Are there any running streams on the property? If so, what are the setbacks as to how close you can build to the stream?
    5. Find out which department has the flood plan maps, and make sure your property is high and dry. If your property is in a Flood Plain, the finished floor elevation has to be stated on your building plans. Call F.E.M.A. or local government offices to find out what the finished floor height has to be. This height will determine how much fill has to be brought in and the type foundation that has to be built; slab, pilings, stem wall, above ground concrete columns, etc.
    6. Are there any wet lands on your property? You may not be allowed to build on wetlands.  Or if you do land mitigation is involved.  Talk to local gov’t natural resource department who has wetland maps.
    7. Soil Report: Before purchasing land, have a soil test done on the area where you want to build to prove there is clean, compacted fill with no subsurface vegetation or voids and that soil will perk for septic tank if installing one.  For standard foundation, Ai requires the soil be compacted to 98% density for a minimum of 2,000 PSF of bearing pressure. Compaction can be less if slab is thicker and footer enlarged.
    8. Does any fill need to be brought in before you can put in your foundation, if so what height will the fill need to be? (foundations usually have to be built so many inches above the crown of the nearest street)
    9. What type of soil? Clay soil is the most difficult to build on as it absorbs water and expands.  In the foundation area, the clay soil may need to be removed and replaced with a mixture of gravel and soil. Your building department will know what you need to do if you have clay soil. If you are building on a slab or basement and you have clay soil, if your building department requires engineer sealed plans, the engineer may require you to hire a Soil Engineer and obtain a Geotechnical Study before the engineer can design and seal your slab or basement wall plans.  The soil should be compacted to 98% density for a minimum of 2,000 pounds per sq. ft. (p.s.f.) of load bearing pressure.
    10. Can you get electric to your property or does a neighbor have to sign an easement so you can connect electric?  What is the cost to access closest electric poles?  Contact the local electric company for information.
    11. If you will not have city sewer, will your soil perk for the septic tank drain field? Where are your neighbors septic systems located, is it so close to your property that you cannot obtain a septic permit?
    12. If you do not have city water available to hook up, what does it cost to drill a well?  What is the fee for city water hookup (if available)?
    13. If you have to put in a driveway, how long will the driveway be, culvert size and how much fill and rock will be needed to be brought in to make it drivable?
    14. Access to maintained road: Many building departments will not issue a building permit for property that does not a butt a county/city maintained road. Find out if the property has access to a county maintained road.  Their logic is that the road needs to be maintained so a fire truck or ambulance can get to your residence if needed.
    15. Zoning: Single Family vs Multi family: If you are considering building a smaller dome first and renting out the smaller dome after you add on a larger dome, please check zoning to assure the land you purchase will allow a rental unit on the property.   Is there a minimum size new home requirement?   Is there a garage requirement – if so what size?  What is the zoning on the property?  In Florida if the property is zoned RC1, that area requires a certain pitch to the roof and wants the roof to be a traditional roof.  Ai can change the pitch of the dome roof by increasing the tilt of the cupola panels. However the dome concrete exterior is not a traditional roof, so a variance would be required to build the dome.  Ai can assist in the writing of the narrative that gets submitted with the variance. Just call and we will help you.  321-639-8777 Mon-Fri 9-5 eastern time.
    16. Please click on Planning Process to view steps in site preparation to delivery of dome kit.
    17. It is sometimes best to purchase small piece of affordable land instead of large acreage.  This way you keep your land cost down so you have more cash money available for your mortgage down payment or more cash to build if you are an owner/builder.  Best to build as small a dome as possible; therefore you are on your property living in an energy efficient, strong home saving money on your heating & cooling costs to add on a second dome later.
  • LAND AND ARCHITECTURAL RESTRICTIONS: Over the last seventy plus years, it has become common for developers to buy up large tracks of land, plat it out and resell the individual lots to perspective homeowners. By doing so, they created subdivisions. These subdivisions may, or may not be governed by additional entities of a Homeowners Associations/ Property Owners Associations or Planned Unit Developments. All of these entities may have restrictions on size, style and materials for homes to be built within the subdivision. Before you buy your land, view the MLS listing. MLS listing will show if the property is within a subdivision, HOA, POA or PUD. If there is, ask to review the governing documents to see what restrictions may be in place. Documents for the above are registered in the state located. If the agent or landowner is unable to provide you with the document, contact the Clerk of Courts for the county where the property is located. They will have on file documents that pertain to the subdivision.  These documents are generally free to review; there may be a small fee to get a copy.
    • SUBDIVISONS: You may find a property that although not governed by a homeowners association, property-owners association or Planned Unit Development (P.U.D.) may still be within a Subdivision. Subdivisions are land that has been plotted by a developer, and have legal documents that have been submitted to the state. These documents cover RESTRICTIONS AND COVENANTS pertaining to the subdivision and contain information on what can or cannot be built upon the property (type of structure, rooflines, materials etc.).  It also may contain the minimum/maximum size home that you can erect on the property.  Review the document and look for above restrictions, also look to see if you will need to contact the  developer or agent to get approval for your home. Keep in mind that if the subdivision is older this may not be possible.  If so, and there is no restriction on the style of home or materials to be used listed within the document (other than size), as long as you receive an okay from the building department there should be no issue with building one of our dome kits.
  • PLANNED UNIT DEVELOPMENT (PUD), is a type of building development and also a regulatory process. It may cover multiple Subdivisions . Meaning that there are covenants and bylaws regarding what can and cannot be built regarding size, style and materials. As a building development, it is a designed grouping of both varied and compatible land uses, such as housing, recreation, commercial centers, and industrial parks, all within one contained development or subdivision. Generally, there are building restrictions within a PUD although not as stringent as a HOA. As an example may require that all structures on property have the same style of architecture, so if a structure is Colonial in style any additional structures must also be in Colonial style.   Documents will state if you need approval to build, if so get any approval in writing.
  • HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION In the United States, a homeowner association (or homeowners association) (HOA) is a corporation formed by a real estate developer for the purpose of marketing, managing, and selling of homes and lots in a residential subdivision. HOA’s are governed by elected board members. Generally, there are building restrictions within a HOA, and HOA’s are usually the most restrictive. Within a HOA will be limitations on size, style and finishing materials. These restrictions may exceed the restrictions listed within the subdivision documents and PUD documents. Documents will state if you need approval to build. If granted approval, get it in writing so subsequent boards cannot reverse the approval.
  • PROPERTY OWNER ASSOCIATION: POA members may be residential homeowners, but they might also be property managers or business owners who contribute to the real estate industry. POAs do not necessarily have regulations the way HOAs do. Instead, their purpose is to support the local real estate industry and provide members with networking and education opportunities. Generally not part of building process in terms of what can be built.

 American Ingenuity Inc. 321-639-8777

To email, click on Contact Us

Click on the following to learn about foundations:


When planning the construction of your new dome home, best to consider this Planning Process and whether freezing temperatures could stop your kit assembly.  Do freezing temperatures occur in your area in November or December or January?  Once you know what cold weather dates you want to beat, calculate backwards and determine when your dome kit assembly needs to start.  If your freezing temperatures start in November then commence your kit assembly by mid September.   If your freezing temperatures start in December, then commence your kit assembly by mid October.

The Building industry moves slowly. We cannot stress enough the importance of starting your preparations early for all aspects of building. What you think may take two months can easily consume four or five months or more. To have any hope of beginning the actual construction on time you must at least double the time you think it will take to acquire blueprints, financing, building permits and contractors or subcontractors. Optimists should triple their expectations. Blueprints are usually the first step once your land has been acquired.

If you intend to begin building this fall, order your plans prior to May and accept delivery of your kit by August.

If you intend to begin building spring of 2017,  start the process by September of this year. Other expectant homeowners will be clogging the system during spring, so if you are the early bird they will be waiting behind you instead of vice versa.

Hummingbird in dome front yard.

Hummingbird enjoying spring time flowers. To accept delivery of your dome kit in the spring time, order your kit Nov – Feb.

 

18.17 second floor door & window P2260008

This dome owner completed his kit assembly before the cold, snow season occurred.

During the winter, he is living snug as a bug in his cozy, warm American Ingenuity Dome.

General Planning Timeline

Prior to purchasing Building Plans and an American Ingenuity Dome Building Kit,  assure you have answers to the following questions:

  1. Does the deed for your land have any restrictions on alternative housing such as domes?
  2. If there is a Home Owners Association governing your land, check with them and make sure you can build a dome.  Click on Association to learn more. 
  3. What is required from your building department to obtain a building permit….engineer seal, energy report, site map, survey, soil report, septic tank permit, well permit, etc.
  4. Ask your building department if there is a minimum size new house requirement.  Ask if they require a garage be built with the house. If so is there a minimum size garage requirement?
  5. Do you have your financing secured? Or will you build your dome with boot strap financing, meaning purchasing the dome kit and building as you have money?   Click on Financing Overview to learn more.
  6. Review 10 Steps to building an Aidome.
  7. Review Approx. Finished Price and determine which size dome fits your budget.

Owner builders can acquire their own building permit and do any of the work that they are capable of and that passes code.  To learn more about assembly click on Owner BuilderDome Kit Assembly and  Construction Overview.

ONE TO TWO YEARS OUT,  DETERMINE DOME SIZE, PURCHASE BUILDING PLANS AND PURCHASE LAND:

1. Determine Dome Size(s): because American Ingenuity’s dome kit is so reasonable in price, sometimes our clients forget that the major costs involved in building a home is the site preparation, utility hookups, permits and the interior finishing costs.

To determine the dome size, you need to estimate what it will cost to finish the dome. To view American Ingenuity’s stock plans which show square footage by floor and a to-scale ruler, click on Stock Plans and scroll down the page to the hyperlinks.

Reviewing the different floor plans will help you determine which size dome is the best size for you. To determine the approximate finished price, multiply that dome’s square footage times your area’s square footage construction cost.

  • If you do not know what a finished house costs per square foot to build in your area, contact a local builder or local real estate agent and ask them. To learn more about square footage costs click on Is the A.I. Dome Home cheaper to build than a regular stick built house?
  • For example if you chose a 2,000 sq.ft. dome and if the square footage cost is $100 for your area, then the estimated finished cost for your dome will be $200,000. Lenders tend to want 20% to 30%. So for a $200,000 house they will want $40,000 to $60,000 down. The lender will accept any equity you have in your land towards this down payment. If you cannot afford this down payment, then you may need to build a smaller dome first and later add a larger dome when you can afford it.
  • Figure Finances. Use American Ingenuity’s Financing Booklet for a financing overview.
  • Estimate Building Costs. The web site rsmeans sells Home Building Software for Owner Builders that assists in estimating your building costs.  For those who have never built a house we want to clarify that it is quite easy to make a mistake that will cost you $300 or more. The purchasing of Home Building Software can really help you get a handle on all your building costs and hopefully help eliminate estimating problems.
  • Decide on a floor plan. If you do not find a stock plan that fits your needs, American Ingenuity can modify a stock plan or design a custom plan from your sketches for a reasonable price.  Modified stock plans can take five weeks and custom designed plans can take 8 weeks to design from the date you place your plan order.  It all depends on what plan orders Ai has in queue when you place your plans order.
  • Call the Building Department and print out a list of what is required to obtain a building permit for a new Residential House….Engineer Sealed Building Plans? Energy Report? or just Building Plans?  Site map, survey, septic tank permit, well permit?  Are there impact fees?
  • Order building plans by returning the Plans Quote Form signed with payment in full for the building plans, the Energy Report and the Engineer seal if these two items are required by your building department. Request an exterior door and window chart from American Ingenuity so you can research your doors and windows.  If your building department requires an Energy Report, you can purchase this report thru Ai.  For Ai to complete your plans and Energy Report specific door and window info has to be provided to Ai.   Ai will email a questionaire that lists the info required. You do not need to purchase your doors and windows, but you must select them in order to give Ai specific heat transfer (U factor) and SHGC (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient) info from the vendor spec sheets.

2. Prior to purchasing your land: Give Ai your parcel ID number and building department name and Ai will call the plans examiner, email generic dome plans, etc. and ask what is required to issue a permit on the dome and will the dome panel be accepted as is under the Alternative Materials and Methods Building Code Section.

Please contact your building department and see if there is a minimum size new house requirement.  Ask if they require a garage be built with the house. If so is there a minimum size garage requirement? Also ask the building department what the front, back and side set backs are. Decide if you want to drive around your dome to access the back yard. Determine the largest size dome(s) that you want to build on the property; this will determine the width of the property that you will need. For example if you decide you want a 40’ dome home linked to a 27’ two car garage you will need at least 77’ plus the side sets and drive around space. {40 + 27 + 10 (Link); + side set backs + drive around space}.

Prior to purchasing your land check out these items to assure you can build your dome and review our buying land info.:

  • Assure there is no Home Owner’s Association governing the land and restricting what can be built on it.
  • Assure there are no Deed Restrictions stopping you from building an alternative type home such as a  dome.
  • Assure there are no environmental (Flood Zone or Wetlands or running streams) or rare animal or plant species concerns for the property.
  • Ask if your area has impact fees…fees to pay for new roads, schools, fire stations.  In Florida the impact fees to obtain a building permit can be as much as $10,000 or more depending on the area.
  • Ask the building department if you would have to build your home on pilings and a platform. This can drive up your costs up $60,000 to $80,000 or more. For example one of our Buyer’s soil report showed the soil on the barrier island where she wanted to build required wooden pilings to be driven forty feet into the ground!  Due to water surge, the home had to be built 11-12 feet off the ground.  As a result her foundation design also had to include a grade level concrete beam to connect the pilings together, pile caps to connect the piles to the above ground concrete block columns and 11′ tall concrete block columns with concrete beam to tie the columns together an.
  • Determine if the ground contains rock that has to be blasted out before your foundation can be built. This would drive up your excavation costs.
  • Determine if your soil is clay.  If it is clay, a local company will need to be hired to complete a soils report which will determine your site preparation, footer depth, etc.  If you are constructing a basement, different fill will need to be brought in to back fill your basement.
  • Ask the building department if any fill has to be brought in before you can form your foundation. Or whether you have to build on pilings and a platform.  Usually the foundation has to be so many inches above the crown of the nearest road. For protection from flooding, the building department knows what height the ground needs to be under your foundation. If it is low lying ground, you might have to bring in four feet of fill or more. This could amount to several truck loads of fill. You want to know about this possible expense before you purchase the property.  To view information about possible foundations, Concrete Slab, Pilings, Basements, click on Foundations.

Purchase your land under the following conditions (see buying land doc for all items):

  • If you do not have city sewer, assure the soil will perk for your septic drain field.
  • If you do not have city water, assure that water can be found on the property. If you have to drill a well, how many feet did your neighbors have to go before they found water…..100 feet, 200 feet, 300 feet. How much does it cost per foot in your area to drill a well?
  • Electricity is accessible to your property. Sometimes your neighbors have to sign easements to get electricity brought to your property.
  • There are no environmental concerns (wet lands, flood zone) or plant or tree or animal concerns.
  • Call Zoning and find out zoning on the property.  Some zoning requires certain pitch roof and roof conformity. Also find out side setbacks and front and back setbacks to assure they do not stop you from building the size dome(s) you want.  
  • That you can build on it. If there is a spring or flowing water sometimes building departments determine how close you can build to water. This might cause the property to not have enough buildable space left on it.  Check with your building department to find out how close you can build next to water.

3. Building Plan Items:

  • Decide on a floor plan. If you do not find a stock plan that fits your needs, American Ingenuity can modify a stock plan or design a custom plan from your sketches for a reasonable price. Allow 5 weeks for modified plans and 8 weeks for custom plans.  To view stock plans by dome diameter size, click on Stock Plans.
  • Call the Building Department and ask what is required to obtain a building permit for a Residential House….Engineer Sealed Building Plans? Energy Report? or just Building Plans, Site Map, Survey, Septic Tank Permit, Well Permit, Soil report, etc?
  • Order building plans by returning the Plans Quote Form signed with a check in full for the building plans and the Energy Report and the Engineer seal if these two items are required by your building department. If an Energy Report is required, Ai will email a list of specific technical data that Ai requires on your exterior doors, windows, water heater, AC/furnace, etc. in order to fill out the report.

SIX MONTHS TO ONE YEAR OUT:

  • Obtain a survey of the site
  • Obtain contractor bids (see two months out) on the foundation and finished dome. If your contractor has never assembled an Ai Dome Kit Shell, ask him to hire the Kit Assembly Consultant to supervise his workers to get the kit assembled. Then the Contractor’s subs apply the second layer of seam concrete, apply the finish layer of concrete on the entryways and dormers, prime and paint the exterior, install plumbing, electrical, framing, doors and windows, complete the interior finishing and wallboard finishing, etc.
  • Layout building location and driveway on your site
  • Obtain a site map (ask at the building department for names of companies that perform this function)
  • Apply for financing. Click on Financing Overview to learn more.
  • Obtain an appraisal. Mortgage lenders require an appraisal to help them determine how much your property will be worth once your new home is completed. The appraiser will make a judgement as to the value of your completed dome based on many factors including:
    • Market value of the homesite based on zoning and sales value of comparable properties in the neighborhood
    • Improvements to the property such as fencing, ponds, docks, outbuildings, or extensive landscaping
    • Advancements available to the homesite such as sidewalks, drainage, streetlights, or fire hydrants
    • Type of construction
    • Square footage of living and utility areas
    • Luxury fixtures included in construction
    • Quality of construction
    • Marketability and sales price of the completed home and property if the lender must take possession

If possible obtain one appraisal that is acceptable to all the lenders you are considering. A single appraisal will save you time and the extra expense of duplicate appraisals. An appraisal from a designated professional appraiser, such as an SRA or MAI, will be the most comprehensive and most widely accepted, but may also be the most expensive.

It is also very important that you select the appraiser and spend whatever time it takes until you get someone who has a positive attitude about domes. After you have paid your money, you don’t want to find out that they are as resourceful as a square house. A pessimistic appraiser can kill the whole deal. Ask what they will do about comparables and assist them in locating unique houses in your area.  Ai knows of an appraiser who visited a 15 year old Aidome and completed an appraisal for Wells Fargo.  This appraiser allows us to give out his name and number for other appraisers to call him. 

Many appraisers find it difficult to establish a market value on a dome house. They may also believe that it is necessary to have a “comparable” sale of another dome in your area. Fannie Mae (see Secondary Mortgage Market” page 22), the nations largest source of home mortgage funds, gives special consideration to unique housing.  Mr. Kang at Wells Fargo allows for appraisals of conventional houses with similar square footage without requiring dome home comparables.

Be sure your appraiser is aware of the Fannie Mae “Selling Guide” manual concerning unique housing. Chapter 4, Section 401.01, pages 755 and 756 explains this.

Geodesic domes, etc. are eligible if both the appraiser and the underwriter (lender) determine there is sufficient information to develop a reliable estimate of market value. It is not necessary to have comparable sales of other domes if the appraiser is able to determine sound adjustments for the difference in the homes used for comparison; he can demonstrate the marketability of the dome based on older sales. Sales in competing neighborhoods or the existence (without a sale) of similar homes in the area, or any other reliable data.

FOUR TO SIX MONTHS OUT:

  • Order your Dome Building Kit by returning the Building Kit Order Form signed and include a personal check to equal a 30% to 40% deposit based on the building kit size. Click on Special discount to see the deposit amount.  If your dome has upgraded insulation, the deposit will be increased to cover the thicker insulation costs. 
  • Place deposit with Kit Assembly Specialist to secure him coming to your site. Research where the Consultant/Specialist will stay. 
  • Obtain septic tank permit or sewer hookup
  • Obtain building permit. Click on Building Permit to learn more.

THREE TO FOUR MONTHS OUT:

Find Subs by asking your neighbors, asking your local home building association or looking in the yellow pages under subcontractor listings:

  • For site clearing, look under the sub listing: grading, hauling, site preparation.
  • If you are drilling a well, look under the sub listing: drinking water, pump and tank sales/service
  • To find slab or basement construction sub, look under the sub listing: slab on grade, carpentry formwork, foundations, patios. (If you are in Florida we know of a slab sub that will travel any where in Florida forming up and getting the slab poured.  Plus this person will talk to your slab subcontractor to explain about installing dome slab.
  • If you are installing a septic tank and system, look under the sub listing: tank, drain fields and filter beds new installation.
  • For an electrical subcontractor look under: residential, new construction
  • For a plumbing subcontractor look under: residential, new construction
  • For obtaining temporary electric hookup, find out who sets posts, installs fusible switch and meter can. Ask an electrical contractor, a neighbor or the power company. Be prepared to act as soon as you receive your building permit.
  •  Hire the laborers & concrete workers who will assist the Kit Assembly Specialist with the dome shell assembly.
  • For interior framing of walls, steps and floors look for a building contractor or a framing subcontractor. Click on Choosing a Contractor and Subcontractors and Assemblers/Builders to learn more.

ONE TO TWO MONTHS OUT:

  • Construct foundation.
  • Coordinate the rental of a fork lift to unload the dome kit from the semi truck. Depending upon the size building kit you order, you will need two to three people to assist the fork lift driver in the unloading of the truck. Assure that the semi-truck has enough space to drive to your site and exit from the site. If there is not enough space at your site for the semi-truck to turn around, you will have to figure out where you can off load the kit and then transport the panels to the site using a trailer or “bob cat”.
  • Research which type of hoisting mechanism you will use when erecting the dome shell. Coordinate the rental of the hoisting mechanism.
  • Determine where the building kit will sit on your site.  Prior to winter, the kit can sit outside 2 to 3 months before assembly.
  • Write out directions to your site from the nearest interstate and email to American Ingenuity
  • Take delivery of your Building Kit. (Before the kit shipment, pay the balance due on your kit in the form of a cashiers check or bank check.)

ONE TO TWO MONTHS OUT:

  • If you are using the Kit Assembly Specialist, coordinate his arrival.
  • Confirm that the Kit Assembly Specialist has a place to stay.
  • Confirm the concrete workers are available to assist the Specialist
  • Order supplies for the shell assembly: bags of Portland cement, sand, mortar mixer, wheel barrows, hoisting mechanism. Once you have paid the deposit on the dome kit and signed Kit Order Forms, Ai will mail an Assembly Manual.  It includes a list of items needed at the job site for kit assembly.  (If International Buyer, list can be emailed as Manual is shipped in the container.)

Planning Overview:

The Building industry is not only behind the times, it moves slowly. We cannot stress enough the importance of starting your preparations early for all aspects of building. What you think may take two months can easily consume four or five months or more. To have any hope of beginning the actual construction on time you must at least double the time you think it will take to acquire blueprints, financing, building permits and contractors or subcontractors. Optimists should triple their expectations. Blueprints are usually the first step once your land has been acquired.

If you intend to begin building next summer start the process before the end of this year. Other expectant homeowners will be clogging the system next spring, so if you are the early bird they will be waiting behind you instead of vice versa.

Items to be aware of:

  • Some Building Departments require that blueprints be sealed or approved by one of their state architects or engineers prior to giving permits, which takes more time.
  • Some Building Departments require an Energy Report. The dome buyer provides Ai with techical data on the exterior doors and windows…..U factor and SHGC number, etc. that is utilized to fill out the Energy Report – which can take 2-3 weeks to obtain from your window and door supplier.
  • A survey and site map takes time.
  • Mortgage lenders can take more time.
  • Remember to allow time for having the land cleared, prepped, and ready for the foundation.
  • All permits pertaining to electrical, water, septic tanks, sewer hookups, driveway, and building will take time.
  • Review our Stock Floor Plan Booklet in the Planning Kit and decide what size dome is the best for you and your budget.
  • Purchase your land, so you can determine which direction you want your dome to face, etc.
  • Choose a stock floor plan for the size dome you prefer or have us modify a stock plan or design a custom plan based on your sketches.
  • Take your building plans and obtain your building permit, septic permit, etc.

Conventional mortgage lenders tend to be ultra conservative when considering a dome. Mortgage brokers or indirect sources for financing may be more flexible and quicker for you. Refinancing other property or acquiring loans for other sources may be easier while avoiding the restrictions and requirements of conventional construction loans. Another popular option is the pay-as-you-go method. Combined with partial financing, this can get you into your new dome. For a helpful, in depth look at financing read our Financing Your Dome booklet.

If you obtain financing through a bank, etc. they may require you to have a contractor whom will sign a contract as to what he will charge to totally finish your dome. We know of some independent subs, which can work for the contractor and assemble the dome kit. The contractor can best provide local laborers to work on the dome shell. The contractor can also hire conventional subs to do the interior framing, plumbing, electrical, flooring, etc.

Construction Loans are difficult to acquire. An appraiser takes the Building Plans and determines a value for the finished house and will also appraise your land.

 

 AMERICAN INGENUITY’S AI’S PHILOSOPHY

One of the main reasons our company has been in business over 39 years and is very reputable, is that we try to treat all our customers the same. Our business philosophy and product is unique to the housing industry. We believe that each person should pay for only what they need. As a result, our dome kit’s pricing is usually one third to one half less than other housing kits.   To learn more click on Finished Cost.  To view sale pricing on our Tiny Home Kits, click on Tiny Concrete Kits. To view Ai’s current kit discount, click on discount.

  • Each person who wants to research our concrete dome building kit further can do so by printing out information from our web site or purchasing the Planning Kit with a DVD.  To view the DVD for free click on DVD.  To order literature, please call our office at 321-639-8777.  If we gave out a Planning Kit and video to 100-200 people a month, that cost would be paid by the Building Kit client.
  • Plus some of our clients do not need Engineer Sealed Building Plans or an Energy Report  in order to obtain a building permit. As a result the engineer seal and the energy report are separate costs.  To learn more click on Engineer Sealed Plans.

There is more than one reason why Ai has set up our business this way.

The first reason is: American Ingenuity has decided that our objective is to offer highly energy efficient homes at the lowest possible price. Ai operates like a “Cash and Carry Business”. To do this, Ai cannot burden the cost of our business with the expenses resulting from trying to collect bills from people who do not pay.

A second reason that Ai is like a “Cash and Carry Business” is that anyone can pick up their building kit at our Rockledge Florida Plant with the correct size semi-truck and straps.  Of course Ai will load the kit on a semi-truck of your choosing or Ai can coordinate the shipping. The trucks that transport the kits carry cargo insurance.

A third reason: it is more practical for a buyer to check the credibility and financial history of a business than vice a versa.

American Ingenuity is also looking for ways you as an individual can check our financial responsibility without incurring a cost. We have an excellent rating with Dunn & Bradstreet. They will provide that information to subscribers like lending institutions, businesses, etc. at no cost but they do charge individuals and nonsubscribers to access this information. Our Dunn & Bradstreet number is 07-727-8844, our rating is 2A1. Their number is 800-234-3867.