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Heating & Air Conditioning an Ai dome.  Ai dome winner of Energy Star Award.

snow Kolb beautiful

American Ingenuity 40′ dome home linked to 27′ garage earned Energy Star rating.

Typical AC Ductwork Design:  The following info pertains to the chart below:

An air handler is the inside unit that forces cool air into the house. An air handler needs to have a plenum if installing two or more intakes.  A Plenum is a foam box made of special materials that are flame retardant designed for connecting ductwork at the bottom or top of the air handler also for splitting ductwork.  Cut a hole in the plenum to accept ductwork.  It could be done for an air intake grate or exhaust vents.  When installing an air intake in the second floor (Intake is where you put your Air Filter.  It is easier to put the air intake grate in a second floor knee wall.  Knee walls are usually large enough to support multiple duct work.  The grate size will be determined by the size air filter you want to install. Intake ductworks are about 10 to 12 inches large. Exhaust ductworks are usually 6 inches. (Exhaust is where the air comes out of vents in your walls, ceilings and even floors).  Ductwork can be run in interior walls or drop ceilings between floor joists and in knee walls.  If running ductwork in interior framed walls, the walls may need to be wider than normal to support the ductwork.  It is recommended that you install two Intakes one in the upper floor of your house and one in the lower floor of your home. The upper Intake will remove humidity and hot air and dust from the upper floors. The closer you have the Intake to a room, the cooler that room will be. The lower intake is doing the same job as the upper intake removing dust, moisture and hot air. Air needs to exit out of each room, your HVAC subcontractor may have you put a grill above a door or have a space below your door for air to exit rooms.   Mini-split ductless heat pumps can be installed in the dome.

 

AC 2

 

Where are the AC and Heating Ducts installed in the dome? The ducts can be run in the interior walls, second floor joists, and behind the second floor perimeter knee wall.  Above is a HVAC diagram showing typical way system works.  Contact your local HVAC subcontractor for specific needs and air flow to rooms in your dome home.  Or ductless AC/heating units are available.

Ai does not specify which heating and cooling units to use within its domes because the needs vary by regions of the country. Heating and cooling systems that are practical or common in your area can be used in the dome. We have had clients use radiant heat in the floor. We have also had clients’ incorporate large spans of glass to let in the passive heat; usually this is not practical, as the dome is so energy efficient. The large amount of glass just lets in hot or cold air. Our clients have had great success with solar hot water heaters.

For a system that is best for your area, consult a local air-conditioning contractor. All types of systems will work but it would be important to consider what type of fuel is readily available, what type of units can be serviced locally and your own preferences. However, keep in mind that because of the superb energy efficiency of the dome, you can reduce the required size of your air-conditioning and heating system by about one third. Also the cost of heating and air conditioning will also be about half that of typical houses in your area and therefore the savings provided by super efficient units will be less. It is economical to select efficient systems but not very expensive systems.

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

A: Yes due to the tightness of the dome, water vapor from cooking, showering, doing laundry, breathing, etc. needs to be removed from the dome. Electric exhaust vents are installed in a vertical wall near the top of the dome, in top center of the dome, in bathrooms, in laundry room and above stove/microwave to exhaust water vapor.  In interior walls, use galvanized metal ducting that extends down the interior wall, through the floor joist and vents out under an entryway or door dormer framed wall or a hole can be cut in the concrete panel. Instructions in the Dome Kit Assembly Manual.  A heat recovery ventilator or energy recovery ventilator will probably need to be installed to remove excess water vapor. To view our web site info on heat recovery ventilators, click on HRV.

Can the smaller American Ingenuity domes be cooled or heated without central air conditioning or furnaces? Yes. The smaller sized American Ingenuity domes have such small heating and air-conditioning demands; it could be practical for you to use only a window air-conditioner and a space heater.  Please check your local building code, some building departments require a permanent heat source to be installed which does not allow a wood stove or fireplace as the permanent source.

What air conditioner size do you recommend for your domes?

34’ Dome: 1 ½ Ton

40’ Dome: 2 Ton

45’ Dome: 2 ½ Ton

48’ Dome: 3 Ton

Tell me about a ground water heat pump. A ground water (or water-to-air) heat pump is extremely efficient as it uses the constant moderate temperature of underground water to both heat and cool, instead of using outside air, it uses water from a well or underground loop to transfer heat through a concentric copper coil located inside your home. Besides being more efficient than air-to-air unit, it can produce heat when the outside temperature is below freezing.  Mini-split ductless heat pumps are available. Ask your local HVAC subcontractor what units he prefers.

Can Ai’s Domes be cooled without an air conditioner? Yes. Because the Ai dome is so super insulated, our clients who do not prefer air conditioning, have found the interior of the dome to be cooler than a conventional house.

  • Of course you would want to install windows and doors opposite of each other so that air will flow through the dome.
  • In the hot summer months, you may want to install a window AC to cool some areas and draw out moisture.
  • Standing fans can be used to move the air.
  • Install awnings out from the dormers and entryways to keep the sun from beaming into the dome.
  • To help maintain a cooler interior temperature you may want to consider installing underground cooling pipes which will bring air into the dome that has been cooled by the earth. To learn more about this read about Energy Efficiency under advantages.
  • Plus you can install pipes in the slab to run cold water through. A 45’ dome needs about 2 ½” in diameter cooling pipes that are buried 5’ deep and go out about 20’. You angle the tubes where condensation can be pumped out.

Does the HVAC diagram come with the Building Plans? No. The installation and routing of the heating and cooling ducts, electrical wiring and plumbing pipes can best be determined on site by the person making the installation. Ai has 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.

Do American Ingenuity’s building plans meet the new building codes requiring air exchangers? We are not sure what your code requires, if there is a minimal air exchange from the outside to inside, that requirement would best be fulfilled with an air to air heat exchanger sometimes called a heat recovery unit or energy recovery ventilator. These ventilation systems bring in fresh air and minimize the loss of heating and air conditioning. Please check with your local HVAC subcontractor.

What types of Ducts does your company recommend? Collapsible plastic inner and outer liners have insulating material between the inner and outer liners and a spiral wire that holds them round. Because the dome is all one cooled or heated space (no attic), the ducting does not need to be insulated. Sometimes building departments require insulated ducts.

How do you move hot air from the second floor to the first floor? In a vertical wall near the top of the dome install a bathroom exhaust fan that can be turned on to move hot air to the first floor. Use dryer ducting for the exhaust fan ducting. It extends down the interior wall, through the floor joist and vents out on the first floor. See above description describing possible  HVAC ductwork diagram.

How can I calculate the BTU requirements for Ai Domes? You can calculate the approximate amount of heat required for the different size Ai domes by:

  • Determine the difference in temperature from outside to inside. Say inside is 70 outside is -30, T= 100
  • Look up the Exterior surface of the dome you want to calculate (on back side of Price list) 40’ dome =2,645
  • On the bottom of same Specifications sheet get the K value for the insulation. 9″ K=0.0278
  • Multiply all of these numbers together. 100 x 2,645 x 0.0278 = 7,351 is the BTU’s required to make up what escapes through the dome surface.
  • Do the same thing with the windows. T= same, Add up the areas. For a double pane use K=0.3 or what ever the mfg. specifies.
  • Do the same thing with the floor and its insulation.
  • Add the three BTU values together and that is the approx. heat loss.

Heat & Cool Smartly: Save Energy, Save Money

Replacing old cooling and heating equipment with more efficient, ENERGY STAR qualified equipment is one way to save energy and money. However, your home’s heating and cooling equipment is part of a larger system. Heating and cooling your home smartly can include properly maintaining your existing equipment, using a programmable thermostat, finding and sealing air leaks, tightening up your ducts, and more. To view governments Energy Star web site, click on Energy Star.

Repair or Replace?
Changing out old cooling and heating equipment with ENERGY STAR qualified models can cut your annual energy costs by 20 percent.  Learn more about each cooling and heating product from links in the left column.

Finding the right contractor: 10 tips

10 Tips for Hiring a Heating and Cooling Contractor

1. Study up – Find out about license and insurance requirements for contractors in your state. And before you call a contractor, know the model of your current system and its maintenance history. Also make note of any uncomfortable rooms. This will help potential contractors better understand your heating needs.

2. Ask for referrals – Ask friends, neighbors, and co-workers for contractor referrals. You can also contact local trade organizations for names of members in your area.

3. Call references – Ask contractors for customer references and call them. Ask about the contractor’s installation or service performance, and if the job was completed on time and within budget.

4. Find special offers – A heating and cooling system is one of the largest purchases you’ll make as a homeowner. Keep your costs down by checking around for available rebates on energy-efficient ENERGY STAR qualified heating and cooling equipment. Begin your search at www.energystar.gov.

5. Look for ENERGY STAR – ENERGY STAR qualified products meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and offer significant long-term energy savings. Contractors should be able to show you calculations of savings for ENERGY STAR heating and cooling equipment.

6. Expect a home evaluation – The contractor should spend significant time inspecting your current system and home to assess your needs. A bigger system isn’t always better; a contractor should size the heating and cooling system based on the size of your house, level of insulation, and windows. A good contractor will inspect your duct system (if applicable) for air leaks and insulation and measure airflow to make sure it meets manufacturers specifications.

7. Get written, itemized estimates – When comparing contractors’ proposals (bids), be sure to compare cost, energy efficiency and warranties. A lowest price may not be the best deal if it’s not the most efficient because your energy costs will be higher.

8. Get it in ink – Sign a written proposal with a contractor before work gets started. It’ll protect you by specifying project costs, model numbers, job schedule and warranty information.

9. Pass it on – Tell friends and family about ENERGY STAR. Almost one-quarter of households knowingly purchased at least one qualified product last year, and 71% of those consumers say they would recommend ENERGY STAR to a friend. Spread the word, and we can all make a big difference.

10. Get the ENERGY STAR Guide – For complete information on keeping your home comfortable year-round, get the ENERGY STAR   1-888-STAR-YES (1-888-782-7937).

Maintain your Equipment: A Checklist
Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort.

Use a Programmable Thermostat
Use an ENERGY STAR qualified model to adjust the temperature of your home when you are home or away. With proper use of the four pre-programmed temperature settings, you can save about $100 each year in energy costs.

Duct Sealing
It’s common to find gaps between duct joints, whether a home is new or old. Seal and insulate ducts that are exposed in areas such as your attic or crawlspace to improve your system’s efficiency and your own comfort.

Seal Air Leaks and Add Insulation (Home Sealing)
Air leaks in your home and a poorly insulated attic can lead to significant home comfort problems and high energy bills. By properly sealing those air leaks and adding insulation, you can improve comfort and cut your energy bills by up to 10 percent.

Consider a More Efficient Ceiling Fan
Upgrade to a more energy-efficient ceiling fan. ENERGY STAR qualified models are up to 50% more energy-efficient than conventional fans, with the most potential energy savings coming from those that include lighting. In the winter, set your fan to turn in the clockwise direction to help efficiently distribute warm air throughout your room.

Help Protect the Environment
Individual actions at home can add up to a lot of pollution prevention. If just one in ten households bought ENERGY STAR heating and cooling products, the change would keep over 17 billion pounds of pollution out of the air.

The following is a recap of American Ingenuity Domes and Acts of Nature like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tree impact, snow load and hail.  Since 1976,  American Ingenuity’s dome design and prefabricated concrete panel has proved itself by withstanding the following acts of nature with no structural damage: Hurricane Andrew’s 165-212 mph winds, a tornado that rolled up a steel horse trailer and slammed it against the Miami Florida dome, four hurricanes in 2004, Hurricane Katrina, 6.6 earthquake in 2006, sub-zero temperatures and heavy snow loads of the Northwest Territory of Canada, a 30″ in diameter 115 foot tall hickory tree impact, a lighting strike, Colorado hail storm and many other conditions.  To view engineering statement that Ai domes comply with 2009 & 2012 International Building Code, California Building Code and 2014 Florida Building Code 5th Edition, please click on Strong Concrete Home.  The dome kit when assembled comes with a 225 mph and F4 Tornado warranty. This warranty does not apply to exterior doors, windows or exterior framed wall areas.

Exterior hurricane Jeanne Dumpster Domes

Domes built in 2000 suffered no damage from Hurricane Frances & Hurricane Jeanne

34′ (two bedroom and two bathroom) connected to a 22′ one car garage dome. A conventional house across the street lost its roof in Hurricane Jeanne. In the dumpster is house’s shingles and on the ground is its carpet.  The interior of the house was destroyed.  Roof and interior had to be rebuilt.

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

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

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Hurricane Andrew 1992-sustained winds of 165 mph-with bursts of 212 mph-Category 5

 

8.18 Exterior pilings2 Mowery platform-edited2

Above 40′ Key Largo Dome Built in 1987 – Suffered No Damage in Hurricane Andrew

 

Menendez -exterior

Above 45′ in diameter dome (built in 1989)

was in direct path of Hurricane Andrew and Tornado

& Suffered No Structural Damage – Minor Damage Due to Horse Trailer Impact

In August 1992 American Ingenuity domes were put to the ultimate test of strength when they faced the wrath of Hurricane Andrew as it slammed into south Florida. Winds at the nearby Tamiami airport were clocked at 212 mph, spawning over 100 tornadoes within the storm and leaving practically everything in its wake leveled. Nearly 200,000 people become homeless overnight. Even a tower at the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant, designed to withstand 200-mph winds, was irrevocably damaged by this fierce storm. We were not surprised, however, when we learned that our domes survived – in great contrast to the thousands of conventionally built houses of their neighbors. On Key Largo, just 20 miles south of the eye of the storm, an Ai 40′ dome faced the brunt of the storm. Built on pilings near the Atlantic Ocean, it was exposed to relentless high winds and driving rain. Unlike houses and commercial buildings in the surrounding area, it sustained absolutely no damage.

Above is picture of a 45′ American Ingenuity dome home built in 1989 that was in the direct path of the devastating storm, bearing the worst Andrew could deliver; yet it suffered no structural damage. A two wide metal horse trailer was impelled against the dome leaving a paint skid marking on the dome where the trailer slide around the dome to the other side. The horse trailer caused a crack in the riser wall and a chunk of concrete to break loose. The dome owner, caulked the crack and mixed up fiber concrete and filled the chunk and then painted the area.

Due to the type and direction of the debris scattered around the dome’s neighborhood, an engineer from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (F.E.M.A.) surmised that a tornado had struck the area. The engineer’s own Alabama home had been hit by a tornado a few years ago, so he was impressed by the integrity of the dome on an emotional as well as a professional level. The dome structure had withstood not only the force of a hurricane but a tornado as well. The incredibly intense winds ripped open double entry doors and 12′ sliding glass doors, which had been covered with protective plywood sheathing. Even though the wood and glass doors of the entryways succumbed to the wind and allowed interior water damage from the rain, the dome itself stood strong.

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Hurricane Katrina…category 4 wind speed 140 mph  

Hurricane Katrina caused many deaths and over $34 Billion dollars in damages making it one of the worst American Catastrophe. Ai had domes in its direct path.  The domes suffered no structural damage. To learn more about American Ingenuity’s warranty against 225 mph winds and F4 Tornadoes,  view Warranty.

According to information from the Insurance Information Institute, the 2004 Florida Hurricanes (Charley, Frances, Jeanne and Ivan) are among the 10 costliest U.S. catastrophes when measured by insured damages. At the time of the 2004 hurricanes over 123 Ai domes were built in Florida, not one of them suffered any damage due to these hurricanes. Ai had domes in the direct path of Charley in the cities of Port Charlotte and Fort Meyers. News reports stated that in 2004 one out of every five residences in Florida suffered damage due to the hurricanes. The following was taken from the Insurance Information Institute’s web site www.iii.org.

Florida allows a wind mitigation form to be filled out by a certified engineer.  Ai domes that have had this form submitted to their insurance companies have paid greatly reduced prices for the hurricane part of their insurance.  One client’s hurricane premium went from $850 to $90.

 

Core Dome 02

 

40′ American Ingenuity Dome built from kit in 1987

Survived Hurricane Katrina with no damage to the dome. (cupola is built differently now)

 

Core Dome 01

40′ American Ingenuity Dome built from kit in 1987. 

The dome is built on wood pilings with the storage room below the dome built with break-away- walls.   This dome owner chose to build her platform with pressure treated wood joists. Or the elevated platform can be designed to be built from concrete.  During Hurricane Katrina, there was no damage to the dome but when the water level rose under her dome, debris damaged a joist.  Depending on your area and soil report, pilings can be wood or concrete with the above ground columns designed from concrete block.  To see latest design of concrete platform, with concrete columns, concrete deck & stairs, ask Ai for photos.

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American Ingenuity’s Concrete Dome Homes Have Exceptional Strength

A dome shape has inherent strength that exceeds all other home designs as proven by Buckminster Fuller. Ai’s steel reinforced concrete dome home’s shell is able to withstand large wind and snow loads.

As home manufacturers American Ingenuity is confident of its housing kits and Ai offers a structural guarantee the dome shell will withstand 225 mph winds and F4 tornadoes. To read about Ai’s warranty, view Guarantee.

During the 2004 Hurricane system, Florida experienced four hurricanes. None of our concrete domes suffered any damage, even though some were in the direct path of Charley, Ivan, Frances and Jeanne.  Scroll down the page to view a recap hurricanes and other Ai dome strength info.

American Ingenuity has had its domes go through Hurricane Andrew (165 mph winds with burst of 212 mph winds…category 5) and a tornado spawned by Andrew and Hurricane Katrina (140 mph winds…category 4) with no structural damage. Hurricane Sandy had 90 mph winds and water surges.  Ai did not have any of its domes in Sandy’s path.  If  building near coastal areas, build your Ai dome on pilings and concrete platform to allow water surge to go under the dome.

Q: What wind and snow loads will the Ai dome withstand?
A:
A triangle is the strongest shape known to man.  To view a video that explains this view Triangle.  Most of the American Ingenuity geodesic dome consists of triangle shaped panels which combined with the steel reinforced concrete exterior, makes the dome incredibly strong and easily enhanced to accommodate unusual requirements. The dome design will accommodate 225 mph. winds and 50 lb. snow loads.  To view load test on Ai panel, click on load test.

Two of Ai’s domes in Hawaii went through a 6.6 earthquake in 2006 and suffered no structural damage. To learn more about the earthquake, view ABC News Link and on MSNBC News Link.

Since 1976,  American Ingenuity’s dome design has proved itself by withstanding the following acts of nature with no structural damage: Hurricane Andrew’s 165-212 mph winds, a tornado that rolled up a steel horse trailer and slammed it against the Menendez dome, four hurricanes in 2004, Hurricane Katrina, 6.6 earthquake in 2006, sub-zero temperatures and heavy snow loads of the Northwest Territory of Canada, a 30″ in diameter 115 foot tall hickory tree impact, a lighting strike and many other conditions.

More about steel horse trailer impact: American Ingenuity warranties their concrete domes against 225 mph hurricanes and #4 tornadoes. Since our dome kit manufacturing business started, Ai has sold kits into 47 states and 14 foreign areas. Since then Ai does not know of any of our client’s domes suffering any damage due to hurricanes, earthquakes or tornadoes except for one dome during Hurricane Andrew. During Andrew a tornado slammed a two wide metal horse trailer against a 45’ Ai Dome.  A riser wall of the dome ended up with a hairline crack and a missing chunk of concrete. The dome owner caulked the crack, mixed up some fiber concrete to fill the chunk and then painted over the area.

More about the tree impact: There was no damage to the Brack’s 48′ Ai dome or its basement after winds in excess of 75 mph hit North Carolina in July of 1996. The real test came when a 115′ high, 30″ in diameter hickory tree was blown over and fell on their dome. The impact broke a 10″ diameter branch. The tree slid off the dome and landed on a deck post driving it and it’s 16″ square concrete footer 6″ further into the ground. The insurance agent who inspected the damage to the deck conveyed his amazement about the dome’s strength with this comment, “If that had been a frame house the tree would have ended up in the basement!”  Why the American Ingenuity dome could handle the tree impact is because the steel mesh from panel to panel is overlapped, locked & covered with fiber concrete. As a result the continuous mesh transfers the stress throughout the dome. In a conventional house the stress is confined to one area resulting in the tree probably coming through the roof of the conventional house.

More about the lightning strike: American Ingenuity’s 45′ office dome withstood another one of nature’s most powerful forces, a LIGHTNING STRIKE. The lightning hit the outer edge of an entryway and the only damage it did to the dome was to knock off a handful of concrete at the point of impact! A couple of our computers have not been the same since, but the cost to repair the dome did not exceed $30 in materials and labor.

More about heavy snow loads: In 1995 Mr. and Mrs. Carroll visited Robens and Tom Napolitan’s dome.  Robens was enthusiastic, but Tom was not. Tom explained to the Carroll’s, “its all HER idea, I didn’t want a dome.” Mary Carroll phoned the Napolitans in 1996.  Mrs. Carroll said you couldn’t keep Tom quiet this time.  He had nothing but wonderful things to say about the dome and had completely turned around about the wonders of living in an American Ingenuity dome…..ROOFS HAD COLLAPSED in their area under several feet of snow, but NOT HIS DOME!   Tom’s turnaround sold Mary and her husband on an Ai dome.

More about hail: 34′ Dome on full basement in Colorado that is 15 years old:  Toni told us: “I built the American Ingenuity dome for my retirement home and now that I am retired I am so glad that did. I love my dome.  In 2014 we experienced a hail storm that beat the paint off part of their dome & damaged a vent. There was no damage to the concreted panels. To warm the dome in the winter I designed the windows to face south to let the sun in, I installed baseboard heaters that are heated with hot water and I use propane to heat the water in the boiler.  For back up I have a small gas stove.”

This recap starts with the most current hurricane, Ike.

HURRICANE IKE, September 2008

third most destructive hurricane

to ever make landfall in the United States

Mr. & Mrs. Evans of Seabrook, Texas went through Hurricane Ike in an American Ingenuity dome home (48’ and 34’ dome).  Vicki states, “Our domes had no damage although we had significant tree damage on our one acre lot.  We slept through Hurricane Ike and only the next day realized how violent the hurricane had been.  Whole communities two miles away in the Galveston Bay area  were destroyed.  Our neighbors could not believe that we slept through the storm….they told us that they had been up all night due to the violent winds and noise. We did not have to replace or repair our roof. YEA!  Many of our neighbors have spent the last several months replacing their roofs.   Because of the aerodynamic shape of the dome, its steel reinforced concrete construction and its thick insulation, the hurricane sounds were not absorbed through the walls of the dome and our domes had no damage.  We are really glad that we built our domes back in 1991.”

The following info about Ike came from the Wikipedia dictionary.

Hurricane Ike was the third most destructive hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States. It was the ninth named storm, fifth hurricane and third major hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. It was a Cape Verde-type hurricane, as it started as a tropical disturbance off the coast of Africa near the end of August, then tracked south of Cape Verde and slowly developed. On September 1, 2008, it became a tropical storm west of the Cape Verde islands.  Ike made its final landfall in Baytown, Texas, United States as a Category 2 hurricane.

Ike was blamed for at least 195 deaths. Of these, 74 were in Haiti, which was already trying to recover from the impact of three storms earlier that year: Fay, Gustav, and Hanna. In the United States, 112 people were killed, and 34 are still missing. Damages from Ike in US coastal and inland areas are estimated at $24 billion (2008 USD), with additional damage of up to $4 billion in Cuba, $200 million in the Bahamas, and $60 million in the Turks and Caicos, amounting to a total of $28.26 billion in damages. Ike was the third costliest U.S. hurricane of all time, behind Hurricane Andrew of 1992 and Hurricane Katrina of 2005.

 

Catastrophe (year) Inflation adjusted losses*
1
Hurricane Katrina (2005)
$40.4 billion
2
Hurricane Andrew (1992)
$20.86 billion
3
Sept. 11 Attacks (2001)
$20.05 billion
4
Northridge, CA Earthquake (1994)
$15.93 billion
5
Hurricane Charley (2004)
$7.47 billion
6
Hurricane Ivan (2004)
$7.11 billion
7

Hurricane Hugo (1989)

$6.39 billion
8
Hurricane Frances (2004)
$4.59 billion
9
Hurricane Jeanne (2004)
$3.65 billion
10
Hurricane Georges (1998)
$3.36 billion
11
Tropical Storm Allison (2001)
$3.09 billion
12
Hurricane Opal (1995)
$2.60 billion
13
Hurricane Floyd (1999)
$2.22 billion

*Note: Adjusted to 2004 dollars by the Insurance Information Institute.

 Hurricanes & The American Ingenuity Dome

Hurricane Katrina August 29, 2005…140 mph…category 4

American Ingenuity Dome Homes are located in:

  • The Louisiana cities of St Bernard, Baton Rouge and Slidell
  • The Mississippi cities of Purvis, Magee, Byhalia, Saucier, Pattison and Pulaski
  • The Alabama cities of Rainsville, Scottsboro, Enterprize, Dora and Madison

On September 5th, 2005 the Murphy’s in Purvis Mississippi called and said their 48′ dome shell was erected but the inside was not finished. Hurricane Katrina destroyed their conventional house so they moved into their unfinished dome. They had water but no electricity or gasoline for their generator.

On October 11, 2005 Ai heard from our dome owner in Slidell Louisiana. She purchased a 40’ dome in December 1987. She told us the following: “At first we evacuated to a hotel whose roof was blown off by the hurricane. So we had to move to another location. My 40’ American Ingenuity dome sits 8’ above sea level and was built on 10’ tall wood stilts with break-a-way basement walls. There was no damage to my dome structure. The water surge was 18’. Water splashed under a door but there was no water damage in my house other than a skylight leaked.” (Ai-no longer manufactures skylights…instead customer installs solar tubes or maxes out second floor dormers for additional light.)

Her dome was the only livable house in the area. Down the street the only thing left of her sister’s house was a concrete slab.

The water surge pushed a big object under her dome bending a beam under the platform and cracking one wood stilt. The surge of water washed away the break-a-way basement walls and all her electrical and plumbing from under the dome. All she needed to move back into her dome was to get the plumbing and electric reconnected.

The first time she visited her dome after Hurricane Katrina, a man was standing looking at her dome. This person had visited her dome during its construction back in 1988. He reminded her about the “Nay Sayers that told her she was building the wrong type of house.” She wondered, “What those same people would think now.”

Hurricane Ivan 2004

Florida Today’s headline for September 17th was titled “Pensacola in Pieces.” Part of the story read, on September 15, 2004 Hurricane Ivan came on shore at Gulf Shores Alabama but the northeast winds caused the most damage to cities in the nearby Florida Panhandle of Pensacola, Milton, Santa Rosa, ……….

A Client in Milton Florida purchased a 45’ and 30’ dome  March 1995. They were in the direct path of Hurricane Ivan. On Sept 16th John said, “We were in the middle of the eye and had the full blast of the winds plus there was a tornado in our area. The area looks like a war zone. Our concrete domes were wonderful and suffered no damage.” He told us, “Firefighters came by our dome and told us ‘You have the right house for hurricanes.’” He had not received any reports on the wind speed but it was probably 135 to 145 mph or more plus there was a tornado. Pine trees in his yard were stripped of their needles and their bark. Many of his pine trees were laying on a 45 degree angle. A 2×6 board hit the dome and ricocheted onto their screen dome breaking a rib causing the screen dome to collapse. (American Ingenuity does not warranty the screen domes against wind damage, and no longer manufactures screen domes.) Interstate 10’s Bridge over Pensacola Bay is missing a precast concrete segment on each end…whole electrical substations were blown up. Casinos in Biloxi were destroyed.

A client in Santa Rosa Beach Florida purchased a 48’ and 34’ domes in July 1996. Gary told us, “They had over 135 mph winds and their domes suffered no damage.” Their domes sit higher, at 56′ above sea level, than the surrounding houses.

Hurricane Charley

came on land at Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda August 13, 2004

A client in Punta Gorda purchased 40’ and 27’ domes in December 2002. They were in the direct path of Hurricane Charley coming on land in Florida. On September 8th, Trudy called to thank us for their dome. They had winds greater than 145 mph and their dome had no problem….one window got a crack from debris. She said that most of town was destroyed and all three area hospital’s roofs were blown off. Their domes are in Charlotte County near Lee County.

A client in North Ft Meyers purchased a 34’ dome home, and a 27’ two car garage in January 2003. Amy called us August 17, 2004 and said that they were 15 miles from the direct hit of the hurricane and had 117 mph sustained winds. Their domes stood strong, the only vulnerable part was their garage door that wanted to blow in. So they used 2×4’s, plywood and sandbags to hold it in place. The first thing Amy said to us was, “Thank you for our domes.” Their Domes are located in southern Charlotte County near Lee County.

A client in Geneva Florida (near Orlando and Sanford) purchased 40’ and 27’ domes in March 1999. His domes were in the path of Charley and Frances and suffered no damage. Charley’s winds were over 100 mph and Frances winds were 70 to 80 mph.

A client in Bunnell (near New Smyrna Beach) purchased a 40’ dome in February 1992. They were in the exit path of Charley and had 90 mph gusts. Their dome stood strong while houses in their neighborhood lost their roofs.

A client in Flagler Beach purchased 34’ and 27’ domes in January 1999. Their domes were 15 miles from Charley’s exit path. They had 70 mph sustained winds with gusts of 80 mph. During the hurricane they could hear stuff hitting their domes. In the morning they walked around their yard, picked up shingles and soffits from their neighbor’s houses and washed off their driveway resulting in their property and dome looking like no hurricane had occurred.

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Hurricane Frances 2004

On September 5, 2004 Hurricane Frances came on land at Fort Pierce and Vero Beach with the north east winds slamming Ai’s County of Brevard.

A client in Ft. Pierce purchased a 45’ concrete dome  in June 1993. Frances’s eye wall sat on area for two hours so the category 2 hurricane did category 3 damage. Cecelia said they experienced 120 to 130 mph winds with no dome damage while the house across the street lost most of its shingles.

Exterior Office lots of green

American Ingenuity Dome offices (pictured above), dome factory and all of our concrete dome residences in Brevard County went through 100 mph winds of Hurricane Frances and suffered no damage. Many conventional buildings lost roofs or had roof problems.

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A client in Flagler Beach purchased 34’ and 27’ domes in January 1999. Their domes not only went through Frances but went through the exit winds of Charley (70 mph) with no structural damage.

34 ft dome home linked to 22' one car garage dome.

Flagler Beach 34′ dome with 27′ two car garage domes

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Hurricane Jeanne 2004

On September 26, 2004 Hurricane Jeanne came on land at Stuart Florida just below Vero Beach with the north east winds hitting Indian River County and our County of Brevard.

American Ingenuity Dome offices, dome factory and all of our concrete dome residences in Brevard County went through about 10 hours of 105 mph winds of Hurricane Jeanne and suffered no damage. Many conventional buildings lost roofs or had roof problems. None of our thirteen dome clients in Brevard County suffered any damage to their domes. One 34’ dome home and 22’ dome garage in Melbourne is separated from the Indian River on the east only by a street (Pineapple). The domes suffered no damage while a house to the south directly across from the dome lost its roofing. The picture on this page illustrates rolls of their carpet at the street and their shingles in a dumpster. Unfortunately, the house contents got wet and were destroyed.

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Earthquakes and the American Ingenuity Dome

Ai. has shipped its domes into California. New construction in California requires CA engineer sealed building plans and structural calculations that include wind, snow and seismic loads for that construction site areas.

Two of Ai’s domes in Hawaii went through a 6.6 earthquake in 2006 and suffered no structural damage. To learn more about the earthquake, view ABC News  and view NBC News.   

Tree Impact and the American Ingenuity Dome

There was no damage to the Brack’s 48’ dome after winds in excess of 75 mph hit North Carolina in July 1996. The real test came when a 115 foot tall, 30 inch in diameter hickory tree was blown over and fell on their dome. The impact broke one of the tree’s 10” diameter branches. The tree slid off and landed on a deck post driving it and its 16” square concrete footer 6” further into the ground. The insurance agent who inspected the damage to the deck conveyed his amazement about the dome’s strength with this comment, “If that had been a frame house the tree would have ended up in the basement.”

Lighting Strike and the American Ingenuity Dome

American Ingenuity’s 45’ Office Dome withstood another one of nature’s most powerful forces, a lightning strike. The lightning hit the outer edge of an entryway and the only damage it did to the dome was to knock off a handful of concrete at the point of impact. A couple of our computers have not been the same since, but the cost to repair the dome did not exceed $30 in materials and labor.

 The following covers Choosing a Contractor to assemble the prefabricated dome kit.
Starting Second Row of Panel Assembly

Starting Second Row of Panel Assembly- 45′ Dome

Over 40% of our clients are owner builders and assemble their own concrete shell themselves. The Prefab Kit panels come marked with numbers and letters to match the Assembly Manual that goes with the building kit. The building plans also have a nomenclature sheet showing all panels with all panels numbered and lettered.  If you do not have the time or do not want to assemble the dome shell kit, Ai knows of an independent specialist that will supervise your workers or your contractor’s workers and assemble the shell. By using a shell sub, this will greatly take the heat off your contractor to estimate the shell assembly  costs as he has not assembled one of our kits before. To learn more about this service click on Kit Assembly Consultant.

 

Using three to five good laborers and depending upon the size dome and type of hoisting mechanism utilized, shell assembly (kit with two entryways and four dormers) can take from 9-16 days. Once you decide on your floor plan, the number of entryways and dormers will be known allowing the use of the info on the consultant page to estimate kit assembly time.To view pictures of the kit assembly, click on Dome Kit Assembly and Construction Overview.

You or your contractor hire conventional subcontractors to do the normal jobs like forming and pouring the slab, plumbing, electrical, framing, etc.

 

A few years ago prior to knowing of a consultant who would supervise the shell assembly, some of our dome owners had to hire contractors or individuals that had never assembled an Ai dome kit. As a result the contractor had to overcharge the dome owner because they did not know what problems they would run in to. Many times they would charge as much as the cost of the building kit for the labor cost to assemble the kit.

 
The Kit Assembly Specialist works directly for you as an independent subcontractor and can provide you with references for previous Ai domes built.  Using this consultant will assure that your panels are assembled in the correct location and in a timely fashion.

 

If you are interested in utilizing the Specialist, call our office at 321-639-8777 Monday through Friday 9-5 eastern time. 
Please visit your local library to read books that cover building your own home. A helpful web site is rsmeans.com They sell construction manuals, construction estimating CD’s, etc.

 

The methods used for lifting the panels include:

 

Man lifts or small cranes that can lift 400 – 500 lbs; 25 ft up and 25 ft out, Highlifts (all terrain scissors forklifts often used by roofers).

 

Monthly rentals on transverse lifts also called Boom Lifts, Horizontal Boom Fork Lifts, Roofing Lifts, Shooters are available from National Rental Chains like US Rentals, Hertz Equipment Rentals, United Rentals, etc. The companies can be found in the telephone book.  To learn more click on Hoisting Mechanisms.

Choosing a Contractor or Sub-Contractor

Making a choice: 

There are many considerations when selecting the contracting firm to build your new dome home. To help you make this important choice, find out all you can about contractors in your area.

 

The more you know, good or bad, the better prepared you will be for a project of this scale and complexity.

 

If you are building your dome yourself as an Owner-Builder, you will be operating as the contractor and accepting all those responsibilities. This will include making the choice of all the subcontractors who will be working on your dome, such as the electrician, carpenter, and plumber.

 

If you are building with a construction loan, your lender may require a written contract between you and a licensed contractor, binding both of you until the completion of the job.

 

Just like people, there are contractors of every type out there – honest and dishonest, good and not so good. If you take the time to be selective you can find one of the great.

 

While each contractor is reviewing your plans to arrive at an estimate for his work, you will be able to evaluate his nature and characteristics.

 

With a good and trustworthy contractor, building your home can be one of your most exciting and rewarding accomplishments.

 

What to look for:

  1. Search the experience of the contractor and talk to previous customers.

  2. Visit his job sites.

  3. A Contractor who:

o Shows an interest in doing something unique.

o Has a positive attitude.

o Is a creative thinker – he looks for solutions rather than complaining about problems.

o Exhibits professionalism in his business.

o Is organized in his work.

o Displays neatness on his job sites.

o Has a good credit history.

What to look out for:

  1. A contractor who promises too much, too quick, for too little. A contractor who says, “Just trust me…..”
  2. A contractor who can’t supply you with names of previous satisfied customers, copies of insurance forms, a permanent business address, or occupational license numbers.
  3. If a contractor is a poor manager and about to go out of business, his credit with suppliers is one of the first places it will show up. Ask where he has credit accounts and call to see if he is in good standing with his suppliers.
  4. If someone gets injured on your property during construction, you will most likely be held responsible for all expenses unless your contractor has Workman’s Compensation Insurance. Check to be sure that he does.

Where to look:

  1. Scan through the yellow pages and their ads, making lots of calls. Approach friends, family, business contacts, and people you work with for recommendations.
  2. Question the building materials suppliers, eg. concrete delivery companies know of reliable subs for foundations.
  3. Inquire of your building official if he has any suggestions.
  4. Check with your Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau.
  5. Contact local chapters of trade organizations such as the National Association of Home Builders. 

By reviewing as many prospects as you can over the phone, and through a process of elimination, you will be able to narrow the list to a few contractors to review your plans for a quote.

Agreeing on payment:

Because of the uniqueness of this project compared to most projects a contractor has, it will be very difficult for him to determine the exact cost to build your dome. Any experienced contractor has, at one time or another, lost money by bidding a job too low. So if he is not confident of what his costs will be, he will tend to overbid. If he does underbid, once construction begins he will see he is losing money and will start to cut corners, do poor quality work, and try to get out of the job before completion.

 

He may wish to bid your project on a “cost-plus” contract, in which the contractor charges for the expense of his materials and labor plus a percentage for profit. This is detrimental to you because the more he spends, the more he makes. We recommend a modified “cost-plus” arrangement in which the contractor is paid for his cost plus a predetermined dollar amount for profit. To learn more about determining how to pay your Contractor click on Paying Contractor.

When to pay:

Financial institutions never pay a contractor until each particular phase of work is completed. If you have the responsibility, and not your mortgage company, to pay the contractor, do the same and only pay the contractor in prearranged installments called draws. For example: 10% or $xxx after the foundation is complete, 10% or $xxx after the shell is complete, etc. If he does not have enough capital or credit to see him through a phase of construction, he is not an established businessman.

 

Never pay ahead for work that has not been done yet. And always withhold final payment until the entire job is finished and you are happy with the results. That is the best insurance you have to make sure he will return and complete the project.

 

Make yourself familiar with the lien laws for your state. If your contractor or subcontractor does not pay for the materials used in your house, even if you have paid him for those materials, the supplier may be able to place a Mechanic’s Lien upon your property, requiring you to pay them also. To learn more click on Mechanic’s Lien.

 

Contracts:

  1. Be sure everything that is important to you and everything you expect is written into a contract.
  2. We recommend you have a detailed, written understanding of the contractor’s responsibilities, what he is to do, and the items that are to be included. This can be done in an informal manner and can simply be an itemized list of what the contractor agrees to do and when, what you agree to do and when, and how much he will be paid and when.
  3. Include a general statement that all work will be done in a professional manner.
  4. If you have the option, we recommend an agreement which will allow either party some opportunity to back out or renegotiate the remainder of the jobs to be completed. If your contractor really wants out of the job, it is in your best interest to let him go. If you are dissatisfied, this will also provide you with an escape clause. It is not uncommon to change contractors during construction of any home.
  5. To encourage the contractor to complete the project in a timely and cost effective manner, include rewards for finishing early and below the estimated cost.
  6. Include a provision to reduce his profits for significant overruns and delays.
  7. A contract that rewards the contractor for good and productive service is the objective.
  8. Be sure both of you sign and date the contract. Keep a signed copy for yourself in a safe place where it is accessible when you need to refer to it.