installing | AiDomes
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.

The following info covers pluses and minuses of installing a cupola.


Cupola on 45′ and 34′ domes

40' dome - ladder on left to access loft under cupola.

40′ dome – ladder on left to access loft under cupola.


Cupola area with beam poured ready to accept top five panels.

Cupola area with beam poured ready to accept top five panels.


34' dome cupola legs formed up. Window dormers not installed.

34′ dome cupola legs formed up. Window dormers not installed.

5.50 cupola overhang Kaufman picture assembly 407

45′ Dome Cupola Overhang Panels Being Installed.

Does the cupola have the same 225 mph wind and F4 tornado warranty as the dome prefab panels?  No it does not come with this warranty.

Question:  Why consider installing a cupola?  A cupola added on top of the larger domes, 40′, 45′, or 48′  creates enough headroom so a third floor loft can be built. A ships ladder is installed to access the loft from the second floor. For example in a 40′ dome with a cupola, a third floor can be built so one can stand in the loft and see out the windows.

If your property is zoned RC1 or R1, the panels in the top of the cupola can be elevated to increase the pitch to make the dome roof acceptable to your building department. Call Ai at 321-639-8777 for more info.

For additional light on the second floor:

  1. max out the number of window dormers and door dormers instead of installing a cupola. A door dormer can be installed on the second floor if there is a first floor standard entryway below it.  To receive additional light on the second floor instead of installing a door in the door dormer (which results in a balcony railing being installed), install a tall window for light.
  2. On site install solar tubes in the prefabricated panels.  Ai recommends prior to installing solar tubes, assemble the dome kit with the additional dormers and see if lighting from the dormers is adequate.  Dome owners are surprised how the light from dormers radiates easily in the dome.

A cupola can be installed in a  22′ or 27′ domes.  In all domes, Ai recommends the installation of an exhaust fan with humidistat in top center of the dome and in each bathroom.  Plus an exhaust fan is installed on the stove and clothes dryer.  If a cupola is installed the exhaust fan with humidistat is installed in the top center of the cupola.  Also vents can be installed in the top of some second floor walls. The interior wall ducting for the fan can run thru the vertical second floor wall and second floor joist and vent out under an entryway or dormer.  Second floor window dormers are not available in the 22′ or 30′ domes.

Because of window costs and the installation steps involved in the assembly of the cupola, your dome construction budget might increase from $5,000 – $10,000 for a cupola. The following is an overview of the Cupola Construction.

The top five component panels of the dome make up the cupola top with overhang panels (eave panels) added on site.

  • The topside exterior of the five pentagon panels of the cupola is prefinished steel reinforced concrete. These panels have seven inch thick E.P.S. insulation.

  • The overhang/eave panels consist of 3 1/2″ thick E.P.S. wrapped in steel mesh. The underside of the eave panels have prefinished concrete.

  • The topside and edges of the eave panels are stuccoed onsite.

The actual cupola assembly instructions consist of six pages. The subcontractor and four laborers take two to three days to build and assemble the cupola. Yes some form of hoisting mechanism is needed to lift the cupola panels to the top of the dome. The cupola is made by installing the top five panels on top of a five-sided concrete wall that contains the windows.

  • The first step is to form and pour a concrete beam around the top opening which reinforces the opening.

  • Next, set 2×4 window frames in place on top of the beam.

  • Then form and pour a concrete column at each of the five corners.

  • Finally, install the five panels and there C1 extensions on the top of the wall and concrete the seams.

  • At anytime thereafter you may install the windows and finish the interior.

If I do not install a cupola on the dome, how does the hot air and moisture get exhausted from the dome? In a vertical wall near the top of the dome, in bathrooms, at stove, microwave, clothes dryer and at top of the dome install exhaust fans that can be turned on to exhaust hot air and moisture. Use galvanized ducting for the exhaust fan ducting. It extends thru interior walls, through the floor joist and vents out under an entryway or dormer.

Third Floor Loft Heights And Square Footages

Please see the floor planners in the back of the Stock Floor Plan Booklet for loft heights and square footages. The outline of the third floor loft matches that of the cupola. The 22′, 27, 30′, 34, & 36′ domes cannot have a third floor loft.

Dome Size Loft Maximum Sq.Ft. Height in Loft Ceiling Height under Loft
40′ 112 sq.ft. 5′ 6″ 7′ 6″
45′ 142 sq.ft. 6′ 10″ 8′
48′ 170 sq.ft. 8′ 1″ 8′