engineer seal | AiDomes

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:


Engineer Sealed Dome Building Plans can be purchased from American Ingenuity.

45' dome on full basement by pond in summer time. The pictures in this grouping are for this dome.

45′ dome on full basement by pond in summer time.

Pictured above is 40′ dome on full basement in Missouri. 

Standard entryways, second floor balcony, cupola.

It is American Ingenuity’s philosophy that each customer pay for only what they need. Ai does not burden the price of the building kit with plan’s pricing, engineer seal cost or energy report cost. Building plans are purchased three months to 1 1/2 years prior to kit shipment.  About 50% of the building departments require engineer sealed plans and an energy report to issue a permit. As a result each customer pays for their plans separately from the building kit and pays for a seal and energy report only if their building department requires them.  Commercial building plans and their engineer seal can cost 2-3 times the price of residential dome plans due to the complexity of the plan design.  To view sale pricing on the dome plans and the dome building kit, please click on Sale.  Dome Kit Assembly photos can be viewed at Kit Assembly.  Engineering statement can be viewed at Statement.  To view examples of stock floor plans for each diameter of dome, click on Tiny Domes and  Geodesic Dome Home Plans. Once on the page, scroll down to find the hyperlinks to click on.

If you give us your property tax ID number or property address and your building department name  at no cost to you, American Ingenuity can call your building department, show them our web site, drop box generic plans to the official and ask them the following questions.  Is an Engineer’s seal required on the building plans?  Is an Energy Report required? If required the Engineer Seal and the Energy Report can be purchased from Ai.

What are building departments concerned with? They are concerned with strength and safety and domes excel in these areas. Building departments and building codes are not concerned with appearance; although a plans examiner may be unfamiliar with the aspects of dome construction.  They are also concerned with environmental issues and endangered plants and animals.  Ai can email you a document that lists the items to watch out for prior to purchasing land and the questions to ask if you already own your property.

Do some building departments require engineer sealed building plans to obtain a building permit? About 50% of Ai’s client’s building departments require engineer sealed building plans to issue a building permit.  Call your building department and find out what they require to issue a permit.  If they require engineer sealed plans, this means that a licensed engineer for your state will need to review American Ingenuity’s building plans to assure that they comply with your state’s building requirements. Ai has a list of engineers certified for all USA states who have sealed Ai plans.  Ai calls the engineer and obtains a seal cost which is included on your Plans Quote. When you agree with the Plans Quote and make payment in full for the plans and the engineer seal, Ai starts your plans design and emails the pdfs to the engineer for his review. He tells us of any changes, we make those changes, plot out your plans and mail them to the engineer for his stamp and signature.  He then mails them on to you. His signature and stamp means he takes responsibility for the dome design not your building department. 

Does all new construction in Florida and California require engineer sealed plans & energy report to obtain a building permit? Yes. 

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

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

What is the standard foundation included with the stock plans? Concrete slab. For Ai to design a basement or concrete columns or stem wall or pilings, etc. an engineer fee is added to the Plans Quote to cover the cost for a structural engineer to calculate the load of the dome and the load of the two floors within the dome and give joist/edge beam size/spacing and foundation design to our CAD department to incorporate within the plans. Please call for engineer fee.

Florida Engineer Seal info:

  • A Florida engineer seal for 36′ or smaller dome built on a slab is $400. The seal cost for a 40′ – 48′ dome on a slab is $500.

Florida building departments also require a Florida Energy Report to be submitted at the same time the Florida sealed building plans are submitted.  This report is quite detailed and specific.  Each dome client provides Ai with their window and exterior door info and what type water heater, AC/furnace they will use along with the direction their front entryway faces.  The window info includes the window size, frame type, double pane or impact resistant glass, Low E number, U factor, SHGC (Solar Heat Gain Coefficient), etc.   Please call Ai at 321-639-8777 for Energy Report cost.

Building in California:  A California engineer seal for one dome (22′ – 48′) on a slab is $600. Plus California requires Energy Calculations. Ai. can put you in contact with a firm that performs the California Energy Calculations. 

The following building departments in California will allow the Ai dome to be built – California Counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Trinity, Solona, Shasta and Riverside. The building department will accept CA engineer sealed plans, CA sealed structural calculations, CA sealed engineering statement that includes the following: “panel composition of the geodesic dome buildings is designed in accordance with and conforms to the intent of California Building Code that allows for alternative materials and methods of construction”.  If you are thinking of building near a large California city, the building department could require that the building kit be certified by the state of California. It is not cost effective for American Ingenuity to pay for this certification.  As a result if this is required, the Ai dome cannot be built.

At no cost to you, Ai can contact your building department –  show them our web site and email generic plans, engineering statement, sample of structural calculations.  When calling Ai will ask if California engineer sealed plans, California Energy Report, California sealed engineering statement and wind/seismic/snow/bracing calculations and all their other required paperwork and reports are submitted can a residential building permit be obtained on the Ai dome kit.  Ai is happy to talk to your building officials to answer their questions.

What does the engineer do? He reviews the American Ingenuity Dome Building Plans to assure that they comply with your state’s building codes. The engineer will let us know if anything needs to be changed. We make the changes to the plans and we send the revised plans to the engineer who then crimps them with his seal and signs his name to the structural sheets. This seal and his signature mean that he certifies that the plans comply with your state’s building codes. Either we or the engineer mails the signed plans to you. You take them along with the other required paperwork to your building department to obtain your building permit. Because each city and county within each state can have varying requirements, your city or county building department may request some changes to the sealed plans. Ai will work with your building department to make those changes at no cost to you. However if the engineer has to get reinvolved with design work, there may be an engineering fee. If your building department will not accept the changes via electronic sealed document and require the revised sheets to be printed or new sets of sealed plans submitted, the buyer will incur a plotting and shipping cost on the required blueprints.

When an engineer seals a set of plans he is taking responsibility for the structural design for a single dome in the location intended and the seal would not apply to other projects.

Can Building Departments be hard to work with? Not normally.  American Ingenuity is used to working with building departments and is happy to answer any and all of their questions. For example we had two clients in Palatka Florida who were going for building permits around the same time. Their building department approved their plans (with no changes) within a couple of weeks. Similar plans with similar information were submitted to counties south of us and the building officials wanted changes and took a couple of months to give the client a building permit. Ai never knows how each building official will interpret the Building Codes for their state.

Tell me about the strength of the Ai dome. The code design criteria requires that Ai show the American Ingenuity Dome Building can with stand wind, snow and seismic loading.  Our standard design will accommodate forces in excess of up to 225 mph winds, F4 tornado and 50 lbs. snow load.  Click on Strength to learn more.

To view pictures about the kit assembly, click on Dome Kit Assembly.

Our dome design has proved itself by withstanding hurricane Andrew’s 200 mph winds, sub-zero temperatures and heavy snow loads of Canada and the Northwest Territory, a 30″ in diameter tree impact, four Florida hurricanes in 2004 and many other conditions since 1976. Click on Hurricane Recap to learn more.  Although our Building Plans have been reviewed by over 30 different engineers, the plans do not come with an engineer’s seal for the following reasons.  About half of our dome owners needed engineer sealed Building Plans to obtain a building permit and rather than adding the engineer seal cost to all plans it is more economical to have the plans sealed as needed. As the designer and manufacturer American Ingenuity would not hesitate to guarantee the structural integrity of our dome and we do just that with our guarantee. Each state only accepts a seal from an engineer who is registered in that state which prevents us from applying any seal that would be universally accepted.

Does the Ai Dome comply with the new  Florida Building Code? Yes, although we have been informed that Dade and Broward Counties in South Florida require product approval on the wall segments. Due to the cost and complexity of the tests, Ai has concluded it is not economical for us to pursue product approval. Ai has found that most all other Florida building departments will accept Florida engineer sealed plans, Florida Engineer Sealed Structural Calculations and Florida engineer sealed engineering statement that says “panel composition of the geodesic dome buildings is designed in accordance with and conforms to the intent of 2014 Florida Building Code 5th Edition, Residential and referenced provisions of the 2014 Florida Building Code, Building that allows for alternative materials and methods of construction.”