foundation | AiDomes

10th Step-Foundation, Kit Assembly.  Your Aidome building plans contain blueprints showing foundation type, dimensions and details for footers and  foundation rebar installation.  If you are located in the USA, after your plans are finished, two sets of building plans (either 18″ x24″ or 24″ x36″) will be shipped to you.

If Buyer lives outside the USA and the plans are not engineer sealed, there is no need for Buyer to pay shipping costs on the plans, Ai emails the finished plans pdfs for printing in your country.

Ai emails the finished pdfs to each Buyer so the pdfs can be emailed out to receive price quotes from subcontractors, or builder or the independent Kit Assembly Consultant.

Buyer can email the pdfs to Office Depot, or Staples, etc. and have extra sets of building plans printed locally.  These extra sets can be given out for bids on your foundation, dome assembly, exterior finishing and interior finishing.

Buyer accept bids for the foundation work and has the foundation installed. It is quite normal that the foundation does not get installed when planned due to weather, etc.   Accepting delivery of your dome kit is not dependent on your foundation being installed.  The dome kit can be stored on your site 2-3 months (in nonfreezing weather) waiting for the foundation to be installed.  Longer storage can be achieved by spraying another layer of paint on the EPS if needed.

After the foundation is installed, the kit assembly & temporary wooden rib system assembly begins.   There is a total of five rows of dome panels to be installed on to the temporary wooden supports. The first row of panels is installed directly onto the dome’s first floor. This floor is concrete if it is a concrete slab and wood if the dome is built on a basement.  All the prefab panels are numbered with numbers and letters to match the nomenclature blueprint in the Building Plans and the Assembly Manual that is shipped with each dome kit.   After a kit deposit and signed Order Forms are received, Ai can mail the manual to Buyer.

Once all the panels are installed with two layers of concrete in all the seams and on the entryways and dormers, link, cupola, etc., the dome is self-supporting and the temporary wooden rib system comes down.  There is no wood in the dome exterior walls to interrupt the insulation or to burn or to rot or for termites to eat.  Most of the wood can be used for interior framing, especially the knee wall around the second floor perimeter area.

In the dome there are two main sizes of triangle panels, named P or H.  Five P panels are installed together to make a Pentagon configuration.  Six H panels are installed together to make a Hexagon configuration. So when a panel calls for a P, your workers look in a stack of P panels and pull a P panel.  When the plan calls for an H, your workers look in the stack of H panels and pull a H panel.

The entryway and dormer panels are identified with specific numbers and letters and are installed in the row of panels shown on the blueprints. At specific locations around the perimeter of the dome, triangles and riser panels are left out to provide openings where the dome owner or their framer installs locally purchased exterior doors and windows. To structurally compensate for the triangle and riser panels being left out, these “structural awnings” – entryways, dormers or link or cupola are installed.

The Ai dome kit consists of all the triangular panels, four foot tall riser panels for the dome shell and panels for one entryway.  The exterior of each triangle or riser panel is 3/4″ concrete reinforced with fibers and galvanized steel mesh with a center of  7″  R28 noncombustible Expanded Polystyrene insulation (EPS) with interior 1/2″ Georgia Pacific DensArmor (moisture resistant/mold resistant gypsum drywall) adhered to each riser and triangle panel with drywall adhesive.

Your floor plan selection determines how many more entryways (standard, garage or high profile), window dormers, door dormers, cupola, link, etc. will be ordered. The link is used to connect two domes together.

The building kit does not include any doors or windows and does not contain any interior items (except for the interior shell drywall and insulation).  American Ingenuity believes that you should not pay shipping on items which can be purchased locally.

45' dome kitchen side view.

45′ dome kitchen side view

45' dome Kitchen area with high profile entryway in back ground

Different view of above kitchen in 45′ dome. High profile entryway in back ground.

Q: How are electrical wiring and plumbing pipes installed in the dome shell?

A: The electrical and plumbing will be contained in the interior frame walls in the same manner as conventional housing. Plumbing pipes typically are installed in the foundation and come up out of the foundation into the first floor interior framed walls. During foundation installation, conduit or pipe can be installed in the footer or slab to bring in natural gas, or wiring.  Or during kit assembly install conduit or pipe between two panels before the seam is concreted.

Grooves are cut in the 1/2″ DensArmor & EPS for electrical wiring with router, circular saw, chainsaw, etc. To install electrical wiring, electrical boxes, conduit to run wiring in, or plumbing pipes in the dome shell: cut through the wall board and E.P.S. insulation slightly larger than is needed, insert the box or conduit or pipe and fill in the opening with spray expanding foam. The spray foam will harden in about one half hour, holding the box or conduit or pipes secure. Use fiberglass tape and joint compound to finish the areas. Those seams and the other interior shell seams are finished with typical joint compound and fiberglass joint tape.  To blend the taped areas to the DensArmor, apply joint compound to the DensArmor in what is sometimes called a skip trowel finish, apply primer and then paint.   Or glue molding over the interior seam areas between the panels.   The Kit Assembly Manual contains a document covering drywall finishing. Or ask for Drywall Finishing doc to be emailed.  Call Ai 321-639-8777 Monday – Friday 9-5 eastern time.

During kit assembly always align the interior drywall/wallboard of one panel to next panel’s drywall versus aligning the exterior EPS of the two panels. This way less joint compound is needed to fill the interior seams. 

Bring the wiring to the second floor through the first floor framing, or through the second floor joists or use the area behind second floor perimeter knee wall areas for wiring and ducts.

Q: How are heavier light fixtures or ceiling fans hung from the dome shell?

A: Install threaded rods in the concrete seams as the dome shell is assembled. The threaded rod extends into the interior of the dome shell and is used to hang the light fixture or ceiling fan. To install the electrical wiring to the light fixture or fan cut a groove through the shell wallboard and the E.P.S. insulation, insert the wire and fill the groove with spray expanding foam, then joint compound and tape to finish.  Or see document in the Assembly Manual for how to install a light fixture or ceiling fan after the panels are assembled.

Q: How are plumbing vent pipes installed in the dome shell?

A: A hole can be cut in the prefab panels, just do not cut within 8″ of the center of a seam.  Some exhaust pipes can be routed sideways through the interior framing and can sometimes be joined together before they exit the dome. Where the vent pipe is to exit through the dome shell,  cut a hole through the panel concrete in the appropriate location, extend the pipe through, concrete back up against the pipe, caulk and paint. The plumbing vent pipes are sealed to panel concrete dome with caulk, e.g. urethane or butyl rubber. A plumbing boot like the type used on shingled houses is not used.  Assembly Manual has info on cutting hole in the panel.  Or ask & we will email doc.

Q: Does Ai’s building plans contain the electrical, plumbing, HVAC diagrams?

A: American Ingenuity’s building plans include all the structural drawings, show the placement of the electrical outlets, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures; however, they do not have the electrical, plumbing, HVAC layouts. We have found if the layouts are included, then the inspectors require the subcontractors to follow the diagrams when the subs like to design their own layouts.

Q: If I use an Ai Dome for a commercial building, how do I install water sprinklers?
Any of the dome sizes can be used for commercial purposes. Being commercial will have to comply with possible commercial requirements like running the electrical in conduit, installing water sprinklers, etc. If so the water sprinklers can be designed within the interior walls or grooves can be cut in the EPS to insert the conduit or sprinkler pipes then spray foam is applied to fill the grooves. Some building departments may require screws be installed thru the wallboard into the EPS with expanding foam.

Q: Are electric vents necessary at the peak of the dome as well as in the bathrooms to prevent moisture buildup?

A: Yes. The electric exhaust vents are installed in a vertical wall near the top of the dome, in top center of the dome, in bathrooms and above stove/microwave to exhaust water vapor (from laundry, cooking, showering, etc.)  In interior walls, use galvanized metal ducting that extends down the interior wall, through the floor joist and vents out under an entryway.  And install a heat recovery ventilator or energy recovery ventilator to remove moisture.  The Dome Kit Assembly Manual contains documents that cover vent installation.  To view our web site file that covers HRC, click on Heat Recovery Ventilator.


This page gives info about foundation excavation, types of foundations American Ingenuity design team can design and foundation resource.
For information on foundations used for the American Ingenuity Domes click on Foundation Summary, Concrete SlabPilings, Basements  and  Raised Wood Floor.  American Ingenuity Domes can be built utilizing the same foundation choices as conventional housing.
The foundation types that Ai designs are a) a monolithic concrete slab; b) poured footing with a stem wall and then a poured slab on fill;  c) poured footing with a stem wall and then a raised wood floor; d) basement and; e) pilings and a platform. The type of foundation that is built for your new home will depend on which is more advantageous for your area and what you soil’s report requires.
For American Ingenuity to design any foundation other than our standard monolithic concrete slab, we must hire a local engineer.  The engineer wants to view your soil report.  In the soil report a soil’s engineer will analyze your soil tests and recommend the type foundation that should be built.  The engineer uses this data to provide Ai information & details to be included in your foundation design.
About soil compaction:  Generally the soil under the foundation is compacted to 98% density for a minimum of 2000 pounds per square foot of bearing pressure.  Clean, compacted fill with no subsurface vegetation or voids.  If your soil cannot compact to 2,000 psf, then the footer will be designer larger and the slab might be 6′ thick instead of 4″ thick if acceptable by your building department.
Misc. Foundation Info

The following information came from the book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Building Your Own Home, second edition by Dan Ramsey. Any sentences that are in italics were added by American Ingenuity.

Excavating for the Foundation:

Houses require foundations. Why? Foundations support and stabilize the walls and roof. That’s a pretty important job! Excavation is the removal of soil to make room for the building’s foundation. So before excavating, let’s learn about foundations.

The foundation itself needs a foundation. Most houses are so heavy that the foundation must be widened at the base to keep it from sinking into the ground. (An American Ingenuity Dome shell weights less than a conventional house shell due to the thin concrete on its panels.) The wide part of a foundation is called the footing. Its size depends on the kind of soil under it. Most footings are designed to carry 1,000 pounds per square foot. A two-story house will have a wider foundation footing than a single-story house. Typically, the footing is twice as wide as the wall. That is, the footing for an 8-inch foundation walls is usually 16 inches wide. However, don’t go by this; go by your house’s foundation plan.

The foundation wall can be just 1 foot tall or it can be, with support, 10 feet tall or more. Or it can be shorter on one side and taller on another. It just needs to be level on top where the floor will be installed, which I’ll tell you about in the next chapter.

How tall and wide is the foundation for your home? Refer to the foundation plans approved by your building department. It will include the foundation’s layout, dimensions, size, elevation and height.

A slab foundation is a solid floor set directly on the soil. Most modern garage floors are concrete slabs with a continuous wall foundation around the perimeter.

A pier foundation is a series of concrete piers and footings that support the structure. If made of pressure-treated wood, it’s called a pole or post foundation.

It’s important to know the type and size of the foundation now because it tells you what soil needs to be removed or excavated for the foundation. It’s best not to remove any more compacted soil than necessary when excavating for a foundation. The more the earth has been disturbed, the more difficult it is to ensure that the foundation won’t move in the future.

Valuable resources as you excavate for and install your home’s foundation include the following:

  • Local building department
  • Building material suppliers
  • Excavation contractors
  • Transit-mix concrete suppliers
  • Foundation contractors
  • Backhoe and loader operators
  • Construction engineers
  • Concrete block manufacturers and suppliers
  • Construction tool rental yards
  • Alternative foundation sources (treated lumber, stone)
  • The many websites, books, videos, and magazines listed in Appendix B

If you want to know even more about foundations, check bookstores or for a copy of my book Builder’s Guide to Foundations and Floor Framing (see Appendix B). It includes lots of illustrations, tables, and in-depth information on all types of residential and light commercial foundations.