instructions | AiDomes

You and Your Classmates Can Make a Geodesic Dome

Out of Newspaper or Cardboard

To view a web site that shows cardboard and transparent plastic domes that kids have built:

The website highlights kid-made domes and shows some of their creations. The students start by constructing paper models (viewers can download models of two domes from the “Domes” page of the site), then construct full-size domes using cardboard or wooden dowels and plastic sheeting. The site leads to a book, Domebook: How to Construct Cardboard Geodesic Play-Domes, that shows how to build the domes.

building a geodesic dome out of newspaper

The following Geodesic Dome info came from the web site:

You can build a giant geodesic dome out of newspaper. First, gather some friends to help you out.

Geodesic Dome

Sent in by:
Ms. Hsu’s 3rd grade class of Brookline, MA
For this ZOOMsci, you da dome!

Materials Needed
  • Newspaper
  • Masking tape
  • Measuring tape
  • Markers for decorating
  1. Geodesic domes are made up of a pattern of connected triangles and are very strong. You can build a giant geodesic dome out of newspaper. First, gather some friends to help you out.
  2. Next, stack three flat sheets of newspaper together. Starting in one corner, roll the sheets up together as tightly as you can to form a tube. When you reach the other corner, tape the tube to keep it from unrolling. Repeat until you have 65 tubes.
  3. Now cut down the tubes to make 35 “longs” and 30 “shorts”.
  4. To make the “longs”, cut off both ends of a tube until it is 71 cm long. Use this tube as a model to create 34 more longs. Be sure to mark all the longs clearly in some way, such as with colored tape, so you can tell them apart from the shorts.
  5. To make the “shorts”, cut off both ends of another tube until it is 66 cm long. Use this tube as a model to create 29 more shorts.
  6. Decorate the tube if you like.
  7. Next, tape 10 longs together to make the base of the dome.
  8. Tape a long and a short to each joint. Arrange them so that there are two longs next to each other, followed by two shorts, and so on.
  9. Tape the tops of two adjacent shorts together to make a triangle. Tape the next two longs together, and so on all the way around.
  10. Connect the tops of these new triangles with a row of shorts. (The dome will start curving inward)
  11. At each joint where four shorts come together, tape another short sticking straight up. Connect this short to the joints on either side with longs, forming new triangles.
  12. Connect the tops of these new triangles with a row of longs.
  13. Finally, add the last five shorts so that they meet at a single point in the center of the dome. (You might need to stand inside the dome to tape them together). To test your dome’ strength, see how many magazines you can load to top.


How strong was your dome? Did the results surprise you? Why or why not? What was the hardest part when you created your dome? How could you have made your dome stronger? Make a prediction, test it out, and then share your thoughts with other ZOOMers by sending them to our special feedback area.

Some of your Results:


Kacey, age 10 of Sunderland, MA wrote:
When I tryed the Geo Dome it was really hard. The directions weren’t that clear so it was really hard to make. When I tryed to see how strong it was it wouldn’t even hold one book!

Kanga, age 9 of S.A., TX wrote:
In my PROMISE class we built 3, 3 foot domes in 3 hours and even decoorated them!!!

Samantha, age 9 of NJ wrote:
Mine turned out really strong because I put a four-sided triangle under it and it supported my brother and my sister!

Sam, age 10 of Longmont, CO wrote:
Well I had a freind who helped me but he didnt read the instructions so the dome was not a big dome it was a 2 foot tall mini dome!

Andrea, age 9 of Bismark, ND wrote:
Making the triangles went pretty well, but when we started putting the triangles together… lets just say it didn’t go the way I expected.

Jael, age 8 of New York City, NY wrote:
It fell over so you need to make it strong.

Florencia & Ana, age 11 of Miami, FL wrote:
When I did the geodesic dome it was a little hard. It took like seven people to do it.

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This page describes the American Ingenuity Prefab Dome Home Kit Contents.

(click arrows to change picture)

What Does The American Ingenuity Prefabricated Component Panel and Dome Kit Consist Of?

The prefab component panels consist of a center core of seven inches of rigid, nontoxic R28 expanded polystyrene (EPS)  insulation NOT styrofoam. On the exterior of the EPS is 3/4 inch concrete reinforced with galvanized steel mesh and fibers. On the interior of the EPS is 1/2 inch Georgia Pacific DensArmor – mold resistant and water resistant gypsum drywall.   The 1/2 inch wallboard is moisture resistant, mold resistant gypsum drywall which contains fiberglass matting instead of paper matting. There is no food source for mold growth in any of the panel’s materials. During kit assembly it could rain.  After the drywall is allowed to dry it goes back to its original consistency.  The wallboard is not conventional sheet rock that will crumble and mold when it gets wet. The seam areas between the panels, once filled with on-site fiber concrete averages two inches thick. Engineers tell us the steel reinforced concreted seams act like steel beams.  To learn about the prefabricated panel’s composition, click on Composition.  The building plans standard foundation is monolithic slab. However Ai can design the dome to be built on basements, pilings, stem wall, etc.  To lean more, click on Foundations.

The Ai Dome Building Kit (22′-48′) consists of all the component panels for the dome’s exterior shell and panels for one entryway. Your floor plan selection determines how many more entryways or dormer panels your kit contains.  Entryways and dormers are structural awnings which extend out from the dome.  Under them a 2×4 or 2×6 framed PT wall is built on site to accept your locally purchased windows and doors.  To learn more about the entryways and dormers, click on Building Options. The kit does not include doors or windows or interior items other than the interior wallboard on each triangle and riser panel. Ai believes you should not pay shipping on another semi-truck for standard items which can purchases locally from Lowes or Home Depot or off Craig’s List, or eBay, etc..  To view items not included in the kit, click on Not Included.

The Domes first row of panels are four foot tall rectangle riser panels and entryway base panels.  The majority of the rest of the prefab panels are triangle in shape with panels to complete the entryways and dormers. The slab is poured on site.  If you desire a nine feet seven inches or ten foot ceiling height in first floor rooms that have a ceiling, then a two foot tall additional riser panel can be purchased from American Ingenuity.

To view the pricing for Ai’s basic dome building kit which includes one entryway, view Basic Kit Prices. To view  info about current discount on the dome kit with one entryway, view Discount.

Your floor plan selection determines the type and number of additional entryways, window dormers, door dormers, cupola and link.  Click on Building Options to learn more. To view the listing of our stock plans which includes the type and number of building options for each plan, click on  Stock Plans & Kit Prices.

The triangle and rectangle shaped component panels consist of:

  • A center core of seven inch rigid block of R-28 expanded polystyrene insulation (EPS)…comparable to 11″ of fiberglass batting.This insulation is not styrofoam.
  • On the exterior of the insulation is a layer of ¾” concrete reinforced with galvanized steel mesh and fibers.
  • On the interior of the insulation is 1/2″ Georgia-Pacific DensArmor Plus High Performance gypsum wallboard adhered to the EPS with wallboard adhesive.  Ai specifically utilizes DensArmor and not conventional sheet rock because during the kit assembly it can rain. Sheet rock when it gets wet crumbles and molds. The DensArmor is moisture resistant and mold resistant. The gypsum contains fiberglass matting on each side. The DensArmor contains no food source for mold growth.
  • To view our web site file that covers panel composition, please view Composition.

After the foundation is installed, the dome shell assembly consists of: 

  • Erecting a temporary wooden rib system with supports under each hub.
  • Using some type of hoisting mechanism place the component panels one row at a time upon the rib system.
  • Overlapping the steel mesh from adjacent panels. Locking the steel mesh with “C” rings and pliers. Depressing the mesh into the seams.
  • Installing rebar, cables, hardware, (headers, king studs for doors and windows)  and suspension rods in appropriate seams per the building plans.
  • Watering down prefab concrete in the areas where new concrete will be applied. Applying one layer of fiber concrete in the seams and on the entryway/dormer panels one row at a time. Depending upon the dome size, there are four to five rows of panels. 
  • Once the last row is installed then the second layer of concrete is applied in the seams between the panels and on the entryways and dormers. Bonding agent is applied between the two layers.  Cured concrete in the seams and around the area where new concrete is being applied is watered down prior to bonding agent and new concrete being installed.
  • Only the seam areas between the panels and the entryways/dormers/cupola/link are concreted. Do not concrete over the finished prefab concrete on each panel.
  • Finishing exterior framed walls and Installing your locally purchased doors and windows.
  • Removing the temporary wooden rib system. Most of the wood can be recycled into interior framing and second floor perimeter knee wall framing.
  • Watering down the concrete exterior 3-4 weeks prior to priming and painting the concrete exterior to let efflorescence escape.
  • Hiring conventional subcontractors: framer, electrician, plumber, drywall finisher, cabinet installer, HVAC, etc. to finish the interior of the dome.
  • Priming and painting the exterior of the dome.
  • Finishing the seams between the interior shell wall board with joint compound, fiberglass tape and applying joint compound in a skip trowel method over all the shell drywall.  Ask Ai for latest interior shell finishing document.
  • Priming and painting the shell wallboard.

Besides the shell component panels and one entryway, the Building Kit includes:

  • Concrete fibers which are mixed with your bags of Portland cement and masonry sand
  • Two concrete liquid admixtures which are mixed with your Portland cement and sand
  • 2 Galvanized Steel Cables which wrap around the dome
  • Concrete bonding agent which is used to bond the two layers of concrete together
  • Connecting C-rings (commonly called hog rings) to lock the galvanized steel mesh
  • C-ring pliers
  • 20 oz. Cans of Expanding Foam
  • Expanding Foam metal dispensing gun
  • Can of cleaner for gun
  • Assembly Manual

To view pictures of Kit Assembly, click on Dome Kit Assembly and  Construction Overview.

To learn what items are not included in the Building Kit, view Not Included.

The American Ingenuity Building Kit Order Form contains two pages.

Each floor plan varies as to the number of entryways, window dormers and door dormers. Once Ai’s CAD department completes the design of all the blueprints within your building plans, Ai will know the items needed for the assembly of your dome kit and can complete an official Building Kit Order Form which lists exact items and pricing.

The following description is to give you a heads up as to what is included within the two pages of the Order Form.

The first page of the Order Form lists:

  • The kit size and its regular pricing (any discount is on the kit with one entryway pricing and is not on the building options)
  • All the individual building options (entryways, window dormers, door dormers, cupola, link, etc), each are listed separately with quantities and pricing
  • Discount is listed
  • Any deposits are listed
  • If purchasing a 22’ or 27’ dome, the garage entryway is not wrapped in steel mesh.  1”x1” steel mesh can be purchased from Ai with Ai wrapping the mesh onto the garage panels at no cost to you.
  • If your floor plan contains a link:
    • a price will be listed for the Expanded Polystyrene panels based on the link size.
    • a price will be listed if wallboard is adhered to the EPS panels with wallboard adhesive.
    • on site after the link panels are custom fitted to the dome panels, rebars are installed per the building plans, 1”x1” galvanized steel mesh is affixed to the link and is locked to the dome steel mesh.  After the steel mesh is affixed to the link, the link panels are concreted on site. The steel mesh can be purchased from Ai and shipped on the truck with your kit.
  • Pricing for the items from the Parts List. See below for a description of the Parts List.
  • Order Form states “Shipping To Be Determined Four Weeks Prior to the Shipment Date”
  • If international order, client pays the freight forwarder directly for shipping.  To complete the required customs paperwork, etc. Ai charges $200.
  • Lifting Spikes: $120 for the purchase of 4 lifting spikes, (items are not returned to Ai). Set good for the assembly of one dome.
  • 255 Bolts, Nuts & Washers to bolt the steel hubs to the 2×4’s. ($128 for three frequency dome)
  • Cut, drilled and painted 2×4’s can be purchased from Ai. 
  • For USA shipments the semi-truck’s flat bed can be loaded from all sides with a fork lift.
  • For international orders, the container cannot be loaded from all sides so Ai has to rent a telescoping forklift to load the container.  A telescopic forklift has forks which extend out so stacks of panels can be placed into the container through the back door.  Approximate rental cost is $800 for one day.  The number of days rental is determined by the number of containers.
  • Date pricing is good through.
  • Place for your signature and for American Ingenuity’s signature

The second page of the Order Form is the Parts List which consists of two parts.

The first part of the Parts List is a listing of items that come with the kit at no additional cost:

  • cans of expanding foam, metal foam dispensing gun and can of cleaner
  • 2 cables that go around the dome
  • admixture A for concrete mix
  • admixture B for concrete mix
  • synthetic fibers for concrete mix
  • bonding agent applied between two layers of concrete
  • C-rings and C-ring pliers

The second part of the Parts Lists is a listing of items not included in the kit that can be purchased from Ai:

  • The second floor edge beams do not attach directly to the dome shell.  The floors are supported by load bearing first floor walls and suspension rods. The rod is installed in the dome seam per the building plans. The rods besides suspending the perimeter edge beams also support areas of the dome’s second floor wood floors where there are no load bearding walls under them. 5/8″ Suspension rods with nut and washer are purchased from Ai. If there are no second floor walls to enclose the rod, the rod is visible and covered on site with PVC or wood.
  • At the top and bottom of the suspension rod there is a top plate (Z plate, Flat plate or modified Z plate) and a bottom plate (U Channel). Ai purchases the steel, cuts the steel, drills it and bends it to specs.
  • If there is a first floor door dormer, a ¼” cable is needed around its lip edge.  Can be 23’ to 50’ depending on dormer size.
  • Concrete Accelerator (needed if mixing concrete in late fall when temperatures could be freezing at night).
  • Simpson hangers (connect the second floor edge beams to the joists). There are three to four different sizes.
  • 1/4” x 1/4” or 1/2″x1/2″ galvanized steel mesh for the entryway and dormer vertical framed walls.
  • Additional metal dispensing gun to dispense expanding foam.
  • Additional cans of cleaner to clean the metal foam dispensing gun.
  • Additional Bonding Agent.
  • Additional Admixture A & B.
  • Additional 1/4″ fibers for the second layer of concrete.
  • Additional C ring pliers.
  • Additional pounds of C rings (Hog rings) that are used to lock the steel mesh together. C rings are easily dropped so clients tend to purchase 6 – 12 additional pounds depending on the size dome.
  • Additional cans of expanding foam.  Grooves are cut in the dome shell wall board & EPS to insert the electrical wiring or conduit for wiring.  After the electrical wiring is installed, the grooves are filled with expanding foam, the expanding foam is cut flush and then the wall is finished with the fiberglass tape and joint compound. The dispensing gun allows your workers to start and stop the foam without having to use the whole can at one time.

Ai can add or remove items from the Parts List upon request.

Click Here for Foot to Meter Conversions

Dome Diameters 22′ 27′ 30′ 34′  36′ 40′ 45′ 48′
1st Floor (sq.ft.)
2nd Floor (sq.ft.max) to 5′ of headroom
3rd Floor (sq.ft.max)
Maximum Area (sq.ft.)

What does sq.ft. max mean?
Max refers to whether you maximize the second floor square footage by enclosing all of the second floor and only leaving an area open above the stairs.  This results in no high vaulted ceilings in any area other than over the stairs. Typically dome owners tend to leave thirty percent to one half of the second floor open; thereby, having high vaulted ceilings over 30% to 50% of their first floor rooms. Leaving 30% to 50% of the second floor open, will lessen the amount of square footage on the second floor versus what is listed above.

How does Ai name its floor plans? Two ways. One way consists of two numbers: Diameter of the dome and a number.  The second way consists of three parts. For example the floor plan named 27 Alpha 11 means; the first two digits are the dome diameter in feet, then the Greek word Alpha and then the two numbers 11. (Call our office to receive via email new stock plans that are identified with numbers not names.)

  • the first part is the dome diameter in feet (22′, 27′, 34′, 36′, 40′, 45′, 48′, 60′)
  • the second part is a Greek word (Alpha, Beta, Delta, Epsilon, Gamma, Kappa, Omega, Omicron, Sigma, Theta, Zeta)
  • the third part is two numbers (11, 21, 22, 32, 33)

What size Ai Domes are best used for garages? The 22’ dome is a one car garage with loft storage. The 27’ dome can be a two car garage with loft storage. You can use other size domes depending upon you parking, storage and work shop needs.

Does American Ingenuity manufacture basement kits? No. But sometimes it is practical for our clients to build their domes on basements. Therefore we have basement plans available. We usually call these basement floor plans “Optional Basement Floor Plan.” It is called Optional because it is up to each client whether they want to build on a basement or not. If they do, then the client purchases the Basement Plans designed for that particular dome floor plan.  Click on Basements to learn more.

How many bedrooms and bathrooms can the different dome sizes have? The number and size of the bedrooms and bathrooms is up to each client.  Click on Stock Plans to view the stock plans for each of the ten different dome kit sizes Ai manufactures.  If you do not find a stock plan that fits your lifestyle, our design team can modify a stock plan or design a custom plan from your sketches and descriptions. The floor plan layout lists the square footage by floor.

The following bedroom and bathroom breakout is typical for each of the size domes after the kit is assembled and locally purchased materials are installed to finish the home.

  • The 15′, 18′, 22′ & 30′ domes are one bedroom, one bath size.
  • The 27’ dome is two bedroom two bath size.
  • The 34’ dome is a two bedroom, two bath size.
  • The 36′ dome is a two bedroom, two bath size (or three bedroom).
  • The 40’ dome is a three bedroom, two bath size.
  • The 45’ dome is a three or four bedroom, three bath size.
  • The 48’ dome can be a four or five bedroom size dome with either three or four bathrooms.

What are some of the ceiling heights within the Aidome?

Dome Diameters
22′ 27′ 30′ 34′  36′ 40′ 45′ 48′
D: Inside without Cupola
E: Inside with Cupola
F: 1st Floor Ceiling
G: 2nd Floor Ceiling (max)
H: Ceiling under Loft
I: 2nd Floor with Cupola
K: 3rd Floor Loft Ceiling

Q: How do we determine what size dome is best for our family?
First review the stock plans to see how the area within a dome is used. Then compare these sample floor plans with the rooms and square footages of houses you are familiar with by printing out the layout and cutting out the to-scale ruler to measure the rooms.

Compare your finances and construction costs to avoid designing a project that is beyond a realistic budget. Think about the future…will you need to increase or decrease your space? If you had to move what size home would sell best?  Click on Financing to print out a Financing Booklet.

Q: Can the dome be made handicap accessible?
A: Yes. All of the dome floor plans can be modified to be handicap accessible. Use a chair rail, lift or elevator to access the second floor. Normally the guest bedroom, guest bathroom and storage are put on the second floor.  Click on Handicap to learn more.

Q: How do I plan for expansion – the addition of another dome at a later date?
When designing your first dome, you can prepare for future expansion by installing a link at the location where you will later connect another dome. If we are providing you with customized plans we can design them for the future expansion.

Q: Do you have separate garage dome kits available?
Yes. We have developed two new garage dome sizes, 22′ and 27′. These garage domes are two frequency icosahedron geometry. This geometry differs from our other domes in that it utilizes fewer but larger panels. By having larger panels we can create a wider opening that is needed for a garage door. You can install a 9′ wide garage door in the 22′. The 27′ garage dome can have a 16′ garage door and it can have a second floor of 398 sq.ft. Previously a 34′ dome was needed to pull two cars in side by side. Now you can have a two car garage in a 27′ dome which is more cost effective. The 22′ dome provides an economical one car garage using 3 1/2″ E.P.S. insulation (R-14). Either of these garage domes can be connected to another dome or built independently from the house.

The 34′ garage dome is utilized when you want more first floor perimeter room around the vehicles or when you want a second floor above the garage for an apartment or study, etc.  Ai has examples of different size domes utilized as garages.  To view the garage plans, click on Stock Plans and scroll down the page to find the garage plans.

You can find the pricing for the plans and the dome kits for each stock plan by clicking on Plans and Kit Sale Pricing.

Q: Will l feel closed in, in the dome?
No. In our dome you can install an abundant number of windows and doors. Your budget and your floor plan selection determines the number of doors or windows you will have. There can be up to five entryways on the first floor of the 30’, 34’, 36′, 40’, 45’, 48’ domes and up to five window dormers or door dormers on the second floor of our larger domes, 36’, 40’, 45’, 48’.

Remember on site  a 2×4 wall is constructed under the entryways and dormers to install standard doors and windows which are purchased locally. For example under a 40′ entryway you could have up to three French doors or a door and a picture window or a large picture window or 12′ of sliding glass doors, etc. In other words on the first floor of a 40′ dome you could have a maximum of five entryways with each one containing 12′ of French doors.

We have a window and door specification sheet on this web site which lists the maximum window sizes that can fit within the entryways and dormers for each size dome. Click on Window Sizes to view this info.  Also during plans design, we email elevation views showing the rough opening size in the entryway and dormers and recommend door and window sizes.

Q: What is a cupola?
A Cupola is “sort of like a hat with windows that sits on top of the dome”. When a person wants to have a third floor loft in the 40′ or larger domes, the cupola adds about 2′ of headroom to the top center of the dome. The top five pentagon panels rest upon 18″ tall concrete “legs” that are built on site. Between the concrete “legs” framing is built to install rectangular windows that you purchase locally. See the floor planners in the Stock Plans for loft heights and square footages.

Cupolas are not necessary for ventilation and extra light. Domes do not need more light than conventional houses. If you build your dome without a cupola, we recommend installing a vent in an interior wall near the peak of your dome for ventilation. The electric fan vent has the added advantage of being easily controlled with a switch or timer.

The outline of the third floor loft matches that of the cupola. In wind areas you do not want the cupola windows to be more than two feet tall. Also taller cupolas just look out of proportion on the dome.

To protect the windows during high winds, the dome owner will either need to purchase windows made from impact resistant glass or have shutters installed.

Q: Why do the square footages on the Specifications Page differ from the square footages listed on the stock floor plans?
On the Specifications Page the first floor and second floor square footage listed is the maximum amount of square footage possible. The first floor square footage is maxed out because only one entryway is considered. The second floor square feet (sq.ft.) listed is what is possible if you only leave open one fifth of the second floor. This means you would only have high vaulted ceilings over one fifth of your first floor rooms. The first floor ceiling height would then be 7 1/2′ in the 30’ and 34′ domes and 8′ tall in the larger domes. You can purchase a five foot riser wall and increase the ceiling height by one foot on the first floor of the 22’ through 48’ domes. This increase in height will not affect the ceiling height on the second floor.

The first floor square footages on the stock floor plans varies from the Specifications Page because more than one entryway is installed. Each time another entryway is utilized on the first floor this will reduce the amount of total first floor square footage. In the stock floor plans the second floor square footage varies from the Specifications Page because some stock plans have one third of the second floor left open while others can have up to half of the second floor not installed. The second floor square footage on stock plans consists of all the illustrated second floor space to five feet of height. On site the second floor knee wall is built along the dome perimeter out 2×4’s and covered with drywall to a height of two to three feet. AC ducting and second floor suspension rods can be hidden behind the knee wall. Electrical outlets can be placed on the knee wall.

Q: What is the dome diameter and square footages converted to meters?

Dome diameter converted from feet to Meters:

15′ = 4.60 M
18′ = 5.49 M
22’= 6.71 M
27= 8.23 M
30′ = 9.14 M
34’ = 10.36 M
36′ = 10.97 M
40’= 12.19 M
45′ = 13.72 M
48’= 14.68 M
60′ = 18.29 M

Maximum Square Footage for each Dome Diameter converted to square meters
15’ – 179 sq. ft. = 16.63 sq. meters
18’ – 272 sq. ft. = 25.27 sq. meters
22’ – 370 sq. ft. = 34.37 sq. meters
27’ – 786 sq. ft. = 73.02 sq. meters
30’ dome with 878 sq. ft. = 81.57 sq. meters
34’ dome with 1,278 sq. ft. = 118.73 sq. meters
36’ dome with 1,418 sq. ft. = 131.73 sq. meters
40’ dome with 1,845 sq. ft. = 171.41 sq. meters
45’ dome with 2,440 sq. ft. = 226.68 sq. meters
48’ dome with 2,830 sq. ft. = 262.92 sq. meters
60’ dome with 4,910 sq. ft. = 446.86 sq. meters

First Floor Square Footage converted to square meters:
15’ – 179 sq. ft. = 16.63 Sq. Meters
18’ – 272 sq. ft. = 25.27 Sq. Meters
22’ – 370 sq. ft. = 34.37 Sq. Meters
27’ 555 sq. ft. = 51.56 Sq. Meters
30’ 665 sq. ft = 61.78 Sq. Meters
34’ 852 sq. ft = 79.15 Sq. Meters
36’ 946 sq. ft. = 87.88 Sq. Meters
40’ 1,178 sq. = 109.44 Sq. Meters
45’ 1,489 sq. ft. = 138.33 Sq. Meters
48’ 1,693 sq. ft. = 157.29 Sq. Meters
60’ 2,552 sq. ft. = 237.90 Sq. Meters

Second Floor sq ft to square meters:
27′ is 231 sq ft – 21.46 sq meters
30′ is 213 sq ft – 19.70 sq meters
34′ is 427 sq ft- 39.67 sq meters
36′ is 470 sq ft- 43.66 sq meters
40′ is 667 sq ft- 61.96 sq. meters
45′ is 951 sq ft. -88.36 sq. meters
48′ is 1137 sq ft. – 105.63 sq. meters
60′ is 1850 sq ft – 171.87 sq. meters

3rd floor sq ft to sq meters
40′ 112 sq ft = 10.41 sq meters
45′ 142 sq ft = 13.19 sq meters
48′ 162 sq ft = 15.05 sq meters
60′ 135 sq ft.= 12.54 sq meters

What is the cost to convert American Ingenuity’s Building Plans to metric dimensions: if it is a stock plan the cost would be the modified price. Typically the conversion price is $200 to $350 depending upon the complexity of the plan. Once we see the plan or your sketch, Ai. will quote a price.

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′