installation | AiDomes

Building Envelope

The following came from the EPA’s web site: 

http://energystar.gov/ia/new_homes/features/VEFraming1-17-01.pdf 

An effective building envelope is a key element for an energy –efficient home.  Value-engineered framing increases the thermal resistance of the building envelope without compromising structural integrity by eliminating unnecessary framing members.  This can result in up to 25 percent reduction in the amount of wood used.  With lumber prices high, optimizing the use of wood can significantly lower the framing cost and reduce the resource impact of new home construction. 

Wood loses or gains heat more quickly than insulation.  In frame construction, studs, joists and rafters are placed at regular intervals throughout the building envelope.  The cavities formed by these framing members are filled with insulation.  The unnecessary use of wood displaces insulation and degrades the thermal efficiency of the building envelope. 

Standard construction practice places framing members at 16 inches on center.  Most building codes allow this spacing to be increased to 24 inches by using deeper framing members (i.e. 2×6’s instead of 2×4’s).  This also reduces labor costs.  

The size and location of doors and windows has an impact on the thermal efficiency of the building envelope.  Figure 1 shows a window opening in standard framed wall.  The location of the window opening requires the installation of additional studs to support the frame.  By utilizing value-engineered framing and adjusting the location of the window opening as shown in Figure 2, unnecessary studs are eliminated. 

At exterior corners and the intersection of interior partitions and exterior walls, additional studs are required to support the drywall.  Figures 3 and 4 show how these studs create pockets that are difficult to insulate and air seal.  By making the modifications shown in Figures 5 and 6, these pockets are eliminated.  Using “drywall stops” can further increase the thermal efficiency at these locations. 

Look for Energy Star labeled homes to include value-engineered framing for improved thermal performance of the building envelope. 

Value-engineered framing can provide many benefits including:

  1. Improved Comfort:  By increasing wall insulation and eliminating air spaces, value-engineered framing increases the overall R-value and integrity of the building envelope.  This results in walls that are warmer in winter and cooler in summer.  This is important because approximately 40 percent of our physical comfort is due to the radiant heat exchange between our bodies and the surrounding interior surfaces.  Value-engineered framing reduces this radiant heat exchange, thus maintaining a more consistent level of comfort throughout a house.
  2. Reduced construction cost:  Value-engineered framing can reduce the amount of lumber and labor needed to construct a home.  This results in construction cost savings.
  3. Lower utility bills:  Value-engineered framing reduces the amount of heat and air that flows through the building envelope.  This results in lower utility bills, making homes less expensive to operate.
The exterior walls and roof of the American Ingenuity dome contain no wood to interrupt the insulation.  The seven inch thick blocks of Expanded Bead Polystyrene that Ai uses is comparable to eleven inches of fiberglass insulation. During the shell kit assembly, a temporary wooden rib system is used to support the component panels until the seams between the panels and all the entryways and dormers are concreted…then the rib system comes down.  There is no wood in the exterior walls and roof of the Ai dome to interrupt the insulation…no wood to burn…no wood to rot and no wood for termites to eat.  The exterior of the Ai dome is steel reinforced concrete that does not contain shingles.
So the Ai dome exterior is a tight envelope because it does not have wood interruping its insulation and the insulation is super-thick; as a result the Ai dome saves its clients 50% to 70% on their heating and cooling bills.  For example, American Ingenuity can cool its 3,700 sq.ft. office domes to 76 degrees during work times for less than $133 a month in the hot Florida summer months.

EPA Energy Star

Exhaust Ventilation Systems

To read about the Ai dome and Heat Recovery Ventilators, click on HRV.  To read the most common asked energy questions with answers, click on Energy FAQ.  To read about the Ai dome and geothermal pipes, click on GeoThermal

The following came from the EPA’s Energy Star web site:

http://energystar.gov/ia/new_homes/features/ExhaustVentilation1-17-01.pdf 

The air within homes can become stale from moisture, odors, and pollutants that penetrate the home or are generated internally by human activity and out gassing from building materials and furnishings.  A constant supply of fresh, outdoor air can provide greater assurance of good indoor air quality and improved comfort. 

In most homes, ventilation is provided accidentally when air leaks through the building envelope.  Accidental ventilation is unreliable because it is dependent on a pressure difference between indoor and outdoor spaces caused by temperature or wind variations.  Too much fresh air often enters a house during cold weather, causing uncomfortable drafts and high heating bills.  Not enough fresh air may enter during mild weather which can lead to poor indoor air quality. 

Air leakage through the building envelope accounts for between 25 percent and 40 percent of the energy used for heating and cooling in a typical residence.  Many new homes are being air sealed to reduce this energy use.  Where tighter construction reduces air leakage and accidental ventilation, active ventilation systems may be needed to provide fresh air. 

Figure 1 shows how exhaust ventilation works in a small home.  Indoor air is continuously exhausted from a central fan (shown) or remote fans usually located in bathrooms.  Fresh outdoor air can be drawn into the house through remaining leaks in the building envelope.  Homes built with extremely tight envelopes may require the installation of room wall ventilation openings or specially designed windows that allow outdoor air to enter. 

These opening are sized and located to allow the proper amount of fresh air to enter homes without causing uncomfortable drafts and to prevent indoor pressurization.  Kitchens should have separate, manually operated, exhaust fans. 

The advantages of exhaust ventilation are control and consistency.  Moisture, odors and pollutants are removed continuously, regardless of weather conditions.  High indoor air quality is maintained due to the constant infiltration of outdoor air. 

Exhaust ventilation systems are most suitable for moderate climates.  Care must be taken during design and installation to prevent these systems from “back drafting” dangerous combustion gases from fireplaces and gas appliances into homes. 

Resources used for this article:

  1. The Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings (Wilson and Morrill), Available from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy at 510-549-9914
  2. Moisture Control in Homes fact sheet available from the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Clearinghouse (EREC), POBox 3048, Merrifield, VA 22116, (1-800-363-3732)

To read about energy efficiency and the American Ingenuity Dome, view Efficient Ai Dome.

The following information came from:

The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Program’s web site is Energy Star.

Air will leak through a building envelope that is not well sealed. This leakage of air decreases the comfort of a residence by allowing moisture, cold drafts and unwanted noise to enter and may lower indoor air quality by allowing in dust and airborne pollutants. In addition, air leakage accounts for between 25 percent and 40 percent of the energy used for heating and cooling a typical residence.

The amount of air leakage in a house depends on two factors. The first is the number and size of air leakage paths through the building envelope. As shown in Figure 1, these paths include joints between building materials, gaps around doors and windows, and penetrations for piping, wiring, and ducts. The second factor is the difference in air pressure between the inside and outside.

Pressure differences are caused by wind, indoor and outdoor temperature differences (stack effect), chimney and flue exhaust fans, equipment with exhaust fans (dryers, central vacuums) and ventilation fans (bath, kitchen. To prevent air leakage, it is important to seal the building envelope during construction prior to installation of the drywall. Once covered, many air leakage paths cannot be accessed and properly sealed. There are many products available for air sealing including caulks, foams, weather stripping, gaskets and door sweeps.

Air sealing the building envelope is one of the most critical features of an energy efficient home. Look for the results of a “blower door” test (typically included with a Home Energy Rating) to ensure that your Energy Star labeled home had all air leakage paths identified and sealed using appropriate materials.

Once a house is tightly sealed, you will want to make sure there is adequate fresh air for ventilation. It is better to use controlled or active ventilation than to rely on air leakage. In many Energy Star labeled homes, an active ventilation system is installed along with air sealing to ensure that fresh air is provided.

Benefits: air sealing the building envelope can provide many benefits including:

  1. Improved Comfort: A tighter building envelope reduces the amount of unconditioned air, drafts, noise, and moisture that enter your home. Proper air sealing will also minimize temperature differences between rooms. As a result, tight envelopes can maintain a more consistent level of comfort throughout a house.
  2. Improved indoor air quality: A tighter building envelope reduces the infiltration of outdoor air pollutants, dust and radon as well as eliminating paths for insect infestation. Properly sealing the building envelope will also reduce moisture infiltration from outdoor air in humid climates.
  3. Increased quality: Building codes establish the legal minimum construction standards. Energy Star labeled homes, constructed to exceed these codes with air sealing, can offer a better quality product.
  4. Lower Utility Bills: Air leakage accounts for 25 percent to 40 percent of the energy used for heating and cooling and also reduces the effectiveness of other energy-efficiency measures such as increased insulation and high-performance windows. Thus. Air sealing results in lower utility bills.
  5. Fewer condensation problems: Condensation can lead to mold and mildew problems. In hot, humid climates, moisture can enter into wall cavities through exterior cracks and result in costly damage to framing and insulation. In cold climates, gaps in the interior walls allow moisture from warm indoor air to enter wall cavities and attics. This moisture can condense on cold surfaces and lead to structural damage. By significantly reducing air leakage, Energy Star labeled homes can reduce or eliminate these problems.
  6. Reduced obsolescence: Based on recent trends for improved efficiency and higher indoor air quality, tighter building envelopes are expected to become standard practice for the building industry. Since it is both difficult and costly to make the building envelope tighter after a house is constructed, it is best to seal all joints, holes and seams during construction. Energy Star labeled homes constructed to exceed current building codes are therefore, expected to be less vulnerable to obsolescence.
  7. Improved resale position: Air sealing a home can provide the many impressive benefits discussed above and lead to a more comfortable, quieter and better quality home with lower utility bills, fewer condensation problems and reduced obsolescence. These benefits can translate into higher resale value.

Resources used:

    1. The Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings (Wilson and Morrill), 5th edition, 1996, available from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy at 510-549-9914
    2. Homemade Money (Heede and the staff of RMI), 1995, available from the Rocky Mountain Institute at 970-927-3851
    3. Caulking and Weatherstripping fact sheet available from the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Clearinghouse (EREC), POBox 3048, Merrifield, VA 22116, (1-800-363-3732)

Kitchens, Cabinets, Islands, Appliance Garages

Almost any of American Ingenuity’s stock floor plans can be modified to increase the counter and cabinet space. To view sample stock plans showing kitchen arrangements for each of the ten dome kit sizes, click on Stock Plans.  If you do not see a stock plan to fit your lifestyle, Ai can modify or customize the plans from your descriptions or notes.   We would love to answer your questions about floor plan design within a dome home.  Please call us Monday – Friday 9-5 eastern time.

  1. American Ingenuity can move the bottom cabinets about 17″ away from the curved dome wall, add overhead cabinets to a 7 ft. partition wall and create appliance garages by extending the counter top to the dome shell.
  2. Kitchen cabinets can also be installed on an entryway wall. This will allow for a above counter cabinets and a window above the sink to be installed in framed entryway wall.
  3. If kitchen is designed along dome wall, a window dormer can be installed above the kitchen sink to allow for an opening window above the sink.
  4. Or kitchen cabinets can be hung on interior walls within the dome.

 

These two photos are of a kitchen in a 40′ dome with the sink and cabinets installed on an outside dome shell wall. A 2×4 wall is attached to the dome shell to make a vertical wall for the installation of the cabinets.

 

 

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This center kitchen has a counter 

 

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Kitchen in a 45′ Dome Kitchen in a 40′ Dome

 

Appliance Garages in American Ingenuity Dome Kitchens

To install kitchen cabinets along an outside dome shell, a vertical 2×4 framed wall is built. This results in a deep area behind the counter top which can be used to park appliances…keeping clutter off your counters.  Here the dome owner constructed vertical sliding doors to hide the appliances.

 

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This dome owner built their kitchen on an interior wall. Because they wanted appliance garages, they built deeper walls. The appliance garages are hidden behind the blue glass panels.

 

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Kitchen/dining area in a 40′ Dome
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Kitchen in a 40′ Dome

Knock $4,000 off Your Taxes by Going Solar

Save even more by adding state incentives to those in the new federal energy bill, the first in 20 years

 

By Forbes.com


In the new energy law, the U.S. Congress lavished tax breaks on its usual fossil-fuel favorites—there’s $1.6 billion in tax credits for new coal technology, $1 billion for gas distribution lines, another $1 billion for oil and gas exploration costs, $400 million for oil refineries, and so on.

 

 

But the solar energy industry is betting that its comparatively tiny share of the energy bill spoils will be enough to jump-start the industry.

 

The cost of the solar tax breaks to the U.S. Treasury—less than $52 million out of a $14.5 billion energy package—may seem trifling. But the handout shows that Washington supports solar, and that should encourage more states to offer breaks too, solar supporters say.


“For anybody who has ever considered installing a solar system, Washington is telling you to do it now,” says Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association in Washington, D.C. That’s good news for solar equipment manufacturers like General Electric and Evergreen Solar.


Claiming the credit


The law both increases tax credits for commercial solar installations and offers individual homeowners a credit for the first time in 20 years. (An earlier personal-use solar credit was in effect from 1979 to 1985.)

 

 

Companies such as FedEx and Johnson & Johnson that have already installed solar systems on some properties, and have made a commitment toward adding more, are likely to pick up the pace, predicts Resch. “The federal incentives by themselves will not create a market for solar energy, but when combined with state incentives, you reach the economic tipping point to make it work,” he adds.


Homeowners get a more limited credit. They can put in a photovoltaic system (roof panels that take in energy from the sun and turn it into electricity) and/or a solar-powered hot water system (for hot water heaters, radiant floors or radiators), and get a federal tax credit worth 30% of the systems’ cost, up to a credit of $2,000 per system. There are a couple of catches: The heating system can’t be for a pool or hot tub, and the federal credit applies to the net system cost after any state incentives.


The good part is that this new federal break is a credit—not a deduction—meaning it reduces your tax bill directly, dollar for dollar. So, if you install both eligible solar systems in your house, you can knock $4,000 off your federal tax bill. And if you have more credit than you owe in tax, you can carry it over and use it to defray next year’s federal tax bill.


 

One of American Ingenuity’s Pennsylvania Dome Owners Roger & Jeanne Charles installed radiant floor heating with Geothermal Water Furnace Synergy 3D heating and cooling system in their basement and dome first floor.   To view pictures of their dome & learn more about the system,  please click on Charles Dome

This a quote from them and below are two pictures.

“We live in the mountains of PA. The winters up here can be brutal. Our Ai Dome is a 40ft with Link on a 9” livable basement. {Den, Office/Computer room, Kitchenette} The entire interior, to include the mechanical room, is heated and cooled by a GeoThermal, Water furnace, Radiant floor system.

Our zone controllers are set on 74 degrees winter and summer. Our sole power source, at present, is the grid. Our costs per month range from $99 to a high of $120. We were amazed that our cost now are less than when we lived in a 14 by 73 ft mobile home while building the Dome.

Our decision to build an American Ingenuity Dome home was the best decision we have ever made.”

Charles exterior

 

 

Charles living pic1

Colorado Geothermal Company.   American Ingenuity has learned of a respected Geothermal Company in Colorado named Major Heating.  Their main office is in Wheat Ridge 303-424-1622  and outlet in Steamboat 970-870-0983.

U.S. Dept of Energy,  Renewable Energy

The following came directly from the U.S. Dept of Energy web site:

Types of Radiant Floor Heating

    • There are three types of radiant floor heat: radiant air floors (air is the heat carrying medium); electric radiant floors; and hot water (hydronic) radiant floors. All three types can be further subdivided by the type of installation: those that make use of the large thermal mass of a concrete slab floor or lightweight concrete over a wooden subfloor (these are called “wet” installations); and those in which the installer “sandwiches” the radiant floor tubing between two layers of plywood or attaches the tubing under the finished or subfloor (dry installations).
  • Because air cannot hold large amounts of heat, radiant air floors are not cost-effective in residential applications, and are seldom installed.
  • Electric radiant floors are usually only cost-effective if your electric utility company offers time-of-use rates. Time-of-use rates allow you to “charge” the concrete floor with heat during off-peak hours (approximately 9 p.m. to 6 am). If the floor’s thermal mass is large enough, the heat stored in it will keep the house comfortable for eight to ten hours, without any further electrical input. This saves a considerable number of energy dollars compared to heating at peak electric rates during the day.
  • Hydronic (liquid) systems are the most popular and cost-effective systems for heating-dominated climates. They have been in extensive use in Europe for decades. Hydronic radiant floor systems pump heated water from a boiler through tubing laid in a pattern underneath the floor. The temperature in each room is controlled by regulating the flow of hot water through each tubing loop. This is done by a system of zoning valves or pumps and thermostats.

Concrete Network.com

http://www.concretenetwork.com/concrete/radiantfloorheating/

Provides an extensive listing of questions and answers relating to radiant floor heating.

Wirsbo

www.wirsbo.com

The following came directly from their web site:

    • At Uponor Wirsbo we are committed to providing exceptional Life, Safety and Comfort Systems. Our quality Radiant Systems can deliver comfort and efficiency beyond compare.  Aquasafe is a clean, quiet and healthy plumbing system for your home and Aquasafe combines our plumbing system with fire sprinklers giving you fire protection and peace of mind.
  • Free Advice on Radiant Floor Heating Free advice on buying and repairing radiant floor heating from leading authority and Home and Garden TV personality, Don Vandervort.

 

 

 

Dome on basement with ramp.

Dome on basement with wheel chair ramp. Three standard entryways one screened in.

Yes, most of our building plans can be made handicap accessible with either 32″ or 36″ doorways, correct wheelchair turn radius, ramps, rail chairs or interior lifts, etc. For Ai to quote a price to design the floor plan handicap accessible, give us the size dome and floor plan name you are considering. To email info, please click on Contact Us. Or fax your plan needs to us at 321-639-8778.  If you fax or email your plan changes, please call our office at 321-639-8777 and assure that we received all your email or faxed pages and that they were legible.

To clarify, if you fax or email American Ingenuity and you have not heard from us in two to three business days, please call our office at 321-639-8777 and confirm that we received your fax or email.

We handle all the floor plan designs via telephone, fax and or email.

Because of the shape of the dome, a second floor is a natural. It is most cost effective to utilize the second floor for a guest room or storage.  However, any of our domes can be built without a second floor.

 

In a conventional house there is an attic which rarely gets used. To us it is just a space that holds hot or cold air which is waiting to leak into your house. In a dome the second floor space is useable versus being an unused attic space.

 

On the second floor of our domes even though you cannot stand all the way to the perimeter, there is ample useable square footage. To visualize the second floor useable space use the to-scale ruler in the back of the Stock Floor Plan Booklet (which is in the Planning Kit). Each mark is one foot. Cut out this ruler and use it to measure the second floor square footage that is six foot or higher from the dome shell. Note on the floor plans we have drawn in five foot, six foot and seven foot height lines around the second floor perimeter.


For example if you want to see how many feet on the second floor has six foot or higher ceilings, put the end of the ruler at the six foot height line on one side of the second floor and measure across the second floor to the other six foot height line and you will see how many useable feet is between the two six foot height lines.

 

If you choose a floor plan which maxs out the second floor and only leaves one fifth of the first floor open to the dome shell, you can have the following second floor useable square footages: 27′-225 sq.ft.; 30′ – 424 sq.ft.; 34′ – 614 sq.ft.; 40′ – 886 sq.ft.; 45′ – 1,127 sq.ft.; 48′ – 1,278 sq.ft. Generally most of our clients want only one half of the second floor installed. Therefore there are high vaulted ceilings over one half of the first floor, generally over the living room and dining room.

 

If you do not want to access the second floor by walking up the stairs, you could install a rail chair or a lift instead of an elevator. Your contractor would install an electric winch powered lift versus an elevator.


This way you can easily access the second floor rooms.

 

For information on rail chairs click on http://www.4-stair-lifts.com/?source=adwords

 

For information on lifts click on www.jazzy-electric-wheelchairs.com/vertical-platform-lifts.htm

 

The following information came from Jazzy Electric’s web site.

This vertical platform Lift is an interior or exterior lift that can be used for lifting persons with physical disabilities from the ground up-to the main floor of their home or outside lifting up to the porch or the steps. Lift can also be used in commercial applications such as restaurants or office buildings. The lift is designed to meet U.S. and Canadian safety standards and can easily be adapted to various situations.

 

Versatility is a key to this lift. Can be used to stop at 3 different heights. Can lift from 14″ up to 144″. Designed for easy installation. Smaller units 52″ and down can be installed in 30 minutes.

 

The lift described sells for around $3,500.

 

This Lift is smooth and provides quiet performance. Dependable and Versatile Unit is Perfect for Residential or Commercial Application. All lifts can be configured to meet the AME A 17.1 or A 18.1 depending on the options selected. This lift also meets ADA requirements in most states.

 

Listed below are some of the features of this versatile lift:

    • Weight capacity of 550 pounds
  • Unit uses standard 110v/15a wall outlet.
  • Straight though platform is 54″ long x 34″ wide
  • Keyed call send stations available
  • Keyed Emergency stop to control use of lift
  • Soft Touch Control Pads designed for easy operation.
  • Direct Drive Worm-Gear
  • Maintenance Free Operation
  • Standard Metal Platform has a diamond grill that allows for full visibility under the platform

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?
A:
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.

Windows can add a lot to a home’s character. But if they’re old and worn, they can also add to your heating and cooling bills.

From Better Homes and Gardens.

In older houses, faulty windows can account for a third of the total heat loss in winter and as much as 75 percent of interior heat gain in summer. Look for the following telltale signs that a window has lost its effectiveness:

  • Stand inside your house on a windy day with a lit candle near the window’s operative edge. If the flame flickers or goes out, your weather stripping might be damaged.
  • During the winter, if a window develops ice buildup or a frosty glaze on the interior of the pane, the ventilation in your home may not be adequate. Another possibility is that your window may not be providing enough insulation value, a situation that can make your heating bills soar.
  • If you need to prop open your window with a book or a stick, the window may have lost its functionality.
  • Sit near your window. If you feel cold air coming in during the winter or warm air during the summer, your windows have little insulation value. This means you’re paying more to heat and cool your house to compensate for the exterior air entering your home.
  • Do your windows get fogged with condensation? If so, you may have a seal failure and need to replace the glazing or the entire window.

In some cases, replacing broken panes and tending to loose or missing weather stripping may buy some time. If your windows are old and ill-fitting, however, you need more than stopgaps.

Replacement window options:

Wood is the choice of most homeowners. Wood is strong, insulates well, and has natural appeal and a warm look. It needs exterior maintenance, and interior surfaces can be painted, stained, or finished any number of ways.

Vinyl windows do not need to be painted or stainedóa plus on the exterior. They offer good insulation value and strength, making them a viable alternative to wood.

Aluminum windows have a stronger frame but poorer insulation than wood or vinyl. They’re fine in areas with a mild climate, and are also used for commercial applications.

Fiberglass combines the higher strength and stability of aluminum with the insulating properties of wood and vinyl. Fewer options are available at this time, as fiberglass is just beginning to show up in the window market.

Combination windows are available with wood on the interior and vinyl or aluminum on the exterior, combining the look of wood with a low-maintenance exterior material. This is known as “cladding” (as in vinyl-clad or aluminum-clad).

Features to consider:

Energy efficiency. Almost any good-quality window available today incorporates two pieces of glass with a sealed airspace between then as a buffer between indoors and out. Some windows are even triple-paned. You may have the option of argon gas instead of air between the glass to further the window’s insulating abilities. Most window manufacturers also offer such options as low-E glass, which reflects heat and screens out the sun’s rays.

Design. Windows are available in shapes ranging from quarter rounds to ovals. Consider an arrangement of smaller windows instead of one large one, or vice versa.

Ease of installation. The easiest type of replacement window is a frame-within-a-frame design that can be installed in an existing frame without disturbing walls or trim work. Some are sold in kit form, complete with hardware, for standard sizes. If your original windows have divided lights or panes, look for multipane replacements or snap-in grilles that match glass dividers on the old units as closely as possible. If your windowsills are rotting or damaged, however, you’ll need to replace the old frame as well.

Ease of maintenance. Weather-resistant materials will reduce your regular maintenance; vinyl or aluminum-clad exteriors need no painting. For ease of cleaning, choose windows that tilt in or open from the side. Many double-hung windows now come with tilting sashes so both interior and exterior glass surfaces can be cleaned from inside the house.

Function. Tempered glass is required by code for certain applications, such as glass doors and some window installations with low sill height. For more extreme conditions, such as coastal environments, consider laminated impact-resistant glass designed to withstand hurricane-force winds and the impact of airborne debris.

Hardware. Some manufacturers offer improved hardware for crank-out windows such as casements and awnings — specifically, collapsible or low-profile handles that don’t interfere with blinds or other window coverings. Others offer a variety of style options for latches and locks. To be safe, ask about these and any other convenience features before the units end up in your walls. Also, try the hardware in the showroom. Does the window lock, unlock, and open easily? This test gives you a feel for the window’s usability and its overall quality as well.

Cost guidelines:
Broadly, vinyl and wood are the least expensive, fiberglass costs more, and clad windows are even more. That said, a general price range for an average size (30-inch by 48-inch) window is $100 to $200, which will be higher in urban areas.

More featuresólike tilting versions and higher E-ratingsóincrease the cost, although sometimes as the price and quality increase, more options are included. Differences in the up-front purchase price of a window may eventually be offset by other factors. Energy efficiency and a no-maintenance exterior will offset the up-front cost difference over time. Second, installation and labor costs could actually be higher for an “economy-grade” all-wood window, if you factor in charges for painting, and how much sooner you may have to replace it than a window made from more durable material.

One way to keep your window costs from rising is to avoid special orders. Try to work with standard sizes from a manufacturer, and select from the standard styles and features that your local retailer stocks.

Update your older windows

Windows can add a lot to a home’s character. But if they’re old and worn, they can also add to your heating and cooling bills.

From Better Homes and Gardens.

In older houses, faulty windows can account for a third of the total heat loss in winter and as much as 75 percent of interior heat gain in summer. Look for the following telltale signs that a window has lost its effectiveness:

  • Stand inside your house on a windy day with a lit candle near the window’s operative edge. If the flame flickers or goes out, your weather stripping might be damaged.
  • During the winter, if a window develops ice buildup or a frosty glaze on the interior of the pane, the ventilation in your home may not be adequate. Another possibility is that your window may not be providing enough insulation value, a situation that can make your heating bills soar.
  • If you need to prop open your window with a book or a stick, the window may have lost its functionality.
  • Sit near your window. If you feel cold air coming in during the winter or warm air during the summer, your windows have little insulation value. This means you’re paying more to heat and cool your house to compensate for the exterior air entering your home.
  • Do your windows get fogged with condensation? If so, you may have a seal failure and need to replace the glazing or the entire window.

In some cases, replacing broken panes and tending to loose or missing weather stripping may buy some time. If your windows are old and ill-fitting, however, you need more than stopgaps.

Replacement window options:

Wood is the choice of most homeowners. Wood is strong, insulates well, and has natural appeal and a warm look. It needs exterior maintenance, and interior surfaces can be painted, stained, or finished any number of ways.

Vinyl windows do not need to be painted or stained?a plus on the exterior. They offer good insulation value and strength, making them a viable alternative to wood.

Aluminum windows have a stronger frame but poorer insulation than wood or vinyl. They’re fine in areas with a mild climate, and are also used for commercial applications.

Fiberglass combines the higher strength and stability of aluminum with the insulating properties of wood and vinyl. Fewer options are available at this time, as fiberglass is just beginning to show up in the window market.

Combination windows are available with wood on the interior and vinyl or aluminum on the exterior, combining the look of wood with a low-maintenance exterior material. This is known as “cladding” (as in vinyl-clad or aluminum-clad).

Features to consider:

Energy efficiency. Almost any good-quality window available today incorporates two pieces of glass with a sealed airspace between then as a buffer between indoors and out. Some windows are even triple-paned. You may have the option of argon gas instead of air between the glass to further the window’s insulating abilities. Most window manufacturers also offer such options as low-E glass, which reflects heat and screens out the sun’s rays.

Design. Windows are available in shapes ranging from quarter rounds to ovals. Consider an arrangement of smaller windows instead of one large one, or vice versa.

Ease of installation. The easiest type of replacement window is a frame-within-a-frame design that can be installed in an existing frame without disturbing walls or trim work. Some are sold in kit form, complete with hardware, for standard sizes. If your original windows have divided lights or panes, look for multipane replacements or snap-in grilles that match glass dividers on the old units as closely as possible. If your windowsills are rotting or damaged, however, you’ll need to replace the old frame as well.

Ease of maintenance. Weather-resistant materials will reduce your regular maintenance; vinyl or aluminum-clad exteriors need no painting. For ease of cleaning, choose windows that tilt in or open from the side. Many double-hung windows now come with tilting sashes so both interior and exterior glass surfaces can be cleaned from inside the house.

Function. Tempered glass is required by code for certain applications, such as glass doors and some window installations with low sill height. For more extreme conditions, such as coastal environments, consider laminated impact-resistant glass designed to withstand hurricane-force winds and the impact of airborne debris.

Hardware. Some manufacturers offer improved hardware for crank-out windows such as casements and awnings — specifically, collapsible or low-profile handles that don’t interfere with blinds or other window coverings. Others offer a variety of style options for latches and locks. To be safe, ask about these and any other convenience features before the units end up in your walls. Also, try the hardware in the showroom. Does the window lock, unlock, and open easily? This test gives you a feel for the window’s usability and its overall quality as well.

Cost guidelines:
Broadly, vinyl and wood are the least expensive, fiberglass costs more, and clad windows are even more. That said, a general price range for an average size (30-inch by 48-inch) window is $100 to $200, which will be higher in urban areas.

More features?like tilting versions and higher E-ratings?increase the cost, although sometimes as the price and quality increase, more options are included. Differences in the up-front purchase price of a window may eventually be offset by other factors. Energy efficiency and a no-maintenance exterior will offset the up-front cost difference over time. Second, installation and labor costs could actually be higher for an “economy-grade” all-wood window, if you factor in charges for painting, and how much sooner you may have to replace it than a window made from more durable material.

One way to keep your window costs from rising is to avoid special orders. Try to work with standard sizes from a manufacturer, and select from the standard styles and features that your local retailer stocks.