preconcreted | AiDomes

 

Click on the photo to enlarge it.  Please scroll down to view the Questions with their Answers. 

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Q: What makes your panel concrete so crack resistant?

A: The panel concrete is a special formulation containing synthetic fibers and liquid admixtures. These ingredients improve the concrete’s characteristics, create super toughness, extend durability, make concrete impervious to water, give higher tensile and compressive strength, provide elasticity for expansion, and improve freeze protection. The concrete in your dome out performs other exteriors because of its specially developed formula. Because of its exceptional composition, it actually gains strength over the years. The exterior panel concrete adheres directly to the steel mesh and the E.P.S. insulation without the need of a bonding agent.

Q: I understand when I mix concrete on site to fill the panel seams; the recipe includes the same liquid admixtures and fibers that American Ingenuity used in the panel concrete. Is this true?

A: Yes, Ai ships the same liquid admixtures and synthetic fibers with the Building Kit so the seam concrete that is mixed on site in a mortar mixer not a cement mixer will have the same properties as the panel concrete that was applied at the Ai plant.  Fibers in concrete work to reduce the formation of shrinkage, (cracks in concrete’s plastic state) while helping to improve shatter resistance and reduce water migration. The result: tougher concrete.

The liquid admixtures shipped with your dome kit are marked A and B.  One is an air entrainment and the other is a water reducer.

The Concrete Mix recipe includes water, 1 bag Portland Cement (type 1 or 111), Admixture A, Admixture B, ¼ large bag fibers, Sand (called masonry or stucco sand….no rocks). The Assembly Manual includes the precise amounts for each of these items, and when to apply the admixtures.  During the assembly of the dome kit, the seam areas between the panels are filled with the special concrete in two applications.  In between the two applications of bonding agent, that is shipped with your kit, is applied on the first coat of concrete and onto the bonding ledge of each panel before the second coat of concrete is applied. Prior to the second layer of concrete being applied, decide the seam appearance, flat or curved.  The second layer is sponged so that its appearance is a “sponged sand finish” to match the sand finish, which is the finish on Ai’s prefabricated component panels. Prior to priming and painting the concrete allow the concrete to be rained on for one month to remove efflorescence. 

Prior to the application of concrete into the seams, all the prefabricated panel concrete or cured concrete around the area to receive the new concrete is watered down.  The “Old” concrete is kept wet while the new concrete is curing. Ai’s Assembly Manual explains step by step how to apply concrete in the seams and onto the entryway and dormer panels. 

Q: After all the seams between the component panels and building options are concreted, what is used to seal the concrete?

A:  Ai does not depend on the concrete to make the dome watertight. The dome is sealed with a concrete primer and two coats of good quality exterior concrete paint purchased locally.  Ai dome owners recommend the following paints:

  • Richards Paint: Rich Flex 245; use Rich Flex Alkali Resistant 100% Acrylic Masonry Coating for the primer.
  • Behr’s top of the line exterior latex paint is Marque. Seabrook Texas dome owner loves this paint. He uses semi-gloss. Marque has the most titanium in the Behr’s line.  – Home Depot
  • Sherwin Williams: Loxon XP Paint, Loxon Primer and Conditioner
  • Behr’s Premium Elastomeric Masonry, Stucco & Brick Paint –Home Depot
  • Seal Krete Paint (pigmented) –Home Depot
  • Ames Research Labs: Maximum – Stretch, at participating ACE & True Value Stores or can be purchased directly from Ames at 888-345-0809 (if using Ames paint, specific type sealants and primer need to be used.  TT3 sealant cannot be used.)

Q: I am considering applying elastomeric paint over the entire dome, should I do this?

A: Yes if the concrete was primed with concrete primer, if the paint is breathable and if interior water vapor is removed from the interior with Broan Bathroom Exhaust Fans, Top of dome exhaust fan, stove/microwave exhaust fans and use of Heat Recovery Ventilator or Energy Recovery Ventilator if needed in your area.  Water vapor accumulates in the dome from breathing, doing laundry and dishes, showering and should be removed from the dome. 

In northern climates, install a Heat Recovery Ventilator to remove moisture or check with your local HVAC subcontractor for latest solutions.  To read about Heat Recovery Ventilators click on HRV.

For an existing dome that has elastomeric paint applied to it, please do not remove the elastomeric paint.  Please call our office for the most current painting info for previously painted domes.  Phone 321-639-8777 Mon – Fri 9-5 eastern.

Q: What if I get a leak in the dome shell?

A:  Generally, it is easier to repair a leak in our concrete dome than it is to make a repair in a shingled roof. Applying EternaBond Tape (has MicroSealant) and textured knife grade patching compound is all it takes to seal the area if the concrete is bonded.  Call Ai’s office for more info (321-639-8777). 

Q: Where am I most likely to get a leak?

A: Where a passageway connects two domes, what Ai calls a link. A leak most likely will occur where the long flat roof of the link butts up to the curved surface of the dome shell. The expansion and the contraction associated with temperature changes produce the flex or separation at the link. The fall is the most likely problem time. Seal the area where the link meets the dome with the EternaBond Tape and textured knife grade patching compound and elastomeric paint.

Q: Explain why the use of a bonding agent helps prevent leaks.

A: Technology has developed now to prevent cold joints. The Assembly Manual that comes with the American Ingenuity Dome Kit explains how to utilize bonding agent and other techniques to join the concrete in the seams. Concrete, or a cement mixture, will not bond to a dry absorbent surface such as dry concrete. The reason is easy to understand when you examine the curing process of cement. When new concrete is applied over old, dry concrete, the moisture from the new concrete will be absorbed by the dry concrete especially at the surface where they meet. When the new concrete is robbed of its moisture at the joining surface it will not cure properly and therefore will not bond.

Bonding agents are designed to improve the adhesion between layers of concrete by acting as a glue and coating and sealing the dry concrete to prevent it from robbing the moisture.

Q: What else do I do during the seam concreting to assure that the second layer of concrete bonds to the concrete of the panels and to the first layer of the seam concrete?

A: This is discussed in detail in the Assembly Manual,  basically, wet the adjacent panels with water and allow them to soak up all the water they will before applying concrete into the seam areas. Plus apply bonding agent on the concrete ledge at the edge of the panel and on any concrete that has been placed in the seam before the second layer of concrete is applied.

Q: What other special features are designed into the panels of your kit to improve the bond and strength of your dome?

A: The pre-concreted panels have a ledge molded into the edge of the concrete where the seam concrete is most needed to bond. This ledge increases the bonding surface, thereby increasing the ultimate strength of the joint. The steel mesh, which extends from the old concrete to the new concrete is a small mesh which compliments the effect of the fibers in securing the joint.

Q: Can I spray concrete into the seams instead of hand applying it?

A: No. Ai does not recommend pumping or spraying the concrete into the dome seams because the equipment usually pumps faster than the seams can be finished. The over spray gets on the panels and unless it is washed off ASAP, it will harden and be difficult to remove.

Q: Why is it more beneficial to have pre-concreted panels instead of spraying concrete all over the dome on site?

A: A continuous sprayed concrete structure will cause the concrete to cure all at once.  Pre-concreted panels allow for the panel concrete to cure prior to the seam concrete being applied.

In 1976 American Ingenuity manufactured and then built its first geodesic dome prototype by utilizing reinforced concrete over E.P.S. insulation. Steel mesh was hand tied onto the propped up E.P.S. insulation, concrete was then gunited and troweled over the propped up E.P.S. insulation. Countless designs and manufacturing construction techniques were analyzed in the early years as American Ingenuity developed a new generation in dome housing. Ai has outgrown two previous models as we progressed to a five dome complex.

Ai does not recommend sprayed concrete structures because spraying concrete causes a waste of labor and concrete. The concrete ends up being 2″ thick in one place and 3″ to 4″ thick in other places. The concrete on the dome needs to be thick only in the seams and thin on the panels.  It is a waste of labor because it is difficult for the concrete finishers to stand in the concrete and try to finish the concrete as it cures.

Q: What is the curing time for the seam concrete?

A: The weather and the mix of the concrete (amount of water, etc.) will effect the curing time of the concrete. Usually by the time a complete row of panels is placed the next row can be assembled. If  a panel is placed above another panel and cracks start to form in the first coat of concrete, then the concrete has not cured long enough.  Stop placing panels until the concrete has cured and passes the “scratch test”.  Take a nail or screw driver and scratch the concrete if no indentation place the next row of panels.


Dome Consultant link from Video

How Does The American Ingenuity Geodesic Dome COMPARE TO THE MONOLITHIC DOME?

Are Aidomes as sturdy as Monolithic domes? Yes, our domes are as sturdy as Monolithic domes and Ai’s has a rigid noncombustible  concrete exterior vs Monolithic Dome has an outer membrane.   To view video of monolithic dome and a fire and info about Ai dome’s fire resistant concrete exterior, click on Ai Concrete Exterior.  The Aidome exterior comes with a 225 mph wind and EF4 Tornado Warranty.  One of Aidomes withstood the impact of a 30″ in diameter hickory tree impact with no damage.  An Aidome withstood Hurricane Andrew and a tornado at the same time with no structural damage – only a hairline crack and small piece of concrete broken when the tornado slammed a two wide steel horse trailer on the dome.  To view  strength info about Aidomes, click on Acts of Nature.   Why did Ai stop guniting concrete on to the exterior of its dome – too labor intensive and a waste of concrete.

The Ai dome exterior walls cost 1/3 to 1/2 less than a Monolithic dome exterior.  Although you have not asked, Aidomes are equally if not more energy efficient. Ai’s dome kit contains seven inch thick insulation which is comparable to eleven inches of fiberglass batting.

The assembly of the monolithic dome requires expensive concrete spraying equipment and is not a do-it-yourself project. The American Ingenuity Dome Kits were specifically designed for the owner builder. All of the panels are premarked with numbers and letters which are described in the Assembly Manual and on the Nomenclature Blueprint in the Building Plans.  Ai’s dome kits can be assembled using a mortar mixer, conventional cranes, man lift or hoisting mechanisms with no need to spray concrete over the entire dome surface. The Ai component panels already have 80% of the exterior prefinished concrete reinforced with galvanized steel mesh and fibers on the exterior. The Aidome kit requires less on site concrete work because it is only the seam areas between the component panels and the entryways and dormers which require concreting. The seam area between the panels is about 5” wide and 3” deep with the on site seam concrete application averaging two inches thick.  To view info about being an owner builder, click on DIY.

In 1976 American Ingenuity built its first geodesic dome utilizing reinforced concrete over expanded bead polystyrene (E.P.S.) insulation. Road mesh was hand tied onto propped up E.P.S. panels, the concrete was then gunited or pumped over the propped up E.P.S. insulation. Each time Ai built a dome this way, we knew there had to be a better way resulting in a prefabricated component panel being invented and receiving a patent.  Countless designs and manufacturing construction techniques were analyzed in the early years as Ai developed a new generation in dome housing. Ai has outgrown two previous models as we progressed to a five dome office and factory complex.

Spraying concrete on a structure causes a waste of labor and concrete. The concrete ends up being 2″ thick in one place and 3″ to 4″ thick in other places. The concrete on the Ai geodesic dome needs to be thick only in the seams and thin on the panels.  It is a waste of labor because it is difficult for the concrete finishers to finish the concrete as it is curing. Also a continuous sprayed concrete structure will cause the concrete to cure all at once.  Preconcreted panels allow for the panel concrete to cure prior to the seam concrete being applied.  For those homeowners who do not want to assemble the American Ingenuity dome kit themselves, the homeowner can hire a local builder who hires the independent kit assembly consultant to supervise the builder’s workers during the kit assembly.  To view our web site info about the Specialist/Consultant, please click on Specialist.

THERMAL MASS IN RELATION  TO MONOLITHIC DOMES

Generally speaking, in a home, thermal mass is the amount of stuff inside the house that retains heat. Although thermal mass accounts for the fact that some things have a greater “thermal capacity” to store heat than others, to understand its effect you can think of it as the total weight of everything contained in the house. With more thermal mass (heavy stuff) inside your house more heat will have to be added or removed to change the temperature. Expressed another way, if heat is not being added the temperature will be slower to change. Does Thermal Mass affect the energy efficiency of the house? NO.  As heat in the house is lost through walls, windows etc, the temperature drops.

The thermal mass releases (loans) heat into the house slowing down the temperature change. When the heating system turns on it must replace heat lost to the outside and it must also replace (pay back) the heat given off by the thermal mass. There is no long-term gain or loss; all of the heat given off by the thermal mass must be replaced. The amount of heat required to maintain the temperature inside a house is solely dependent on the amount of heat that escapes to the outside. All houses have walls, floors, and usually fixtures, appliances and stuff that will retain heat. A large amount of thermal mass can cause long on/off cycles of the heating system when shorter cycles would stir the air more frequently providing more comfort and uniform temperatures inside.

The recent generation of thermostats are a proven money saver by lowering the inside temperature (which lowers the heat loss to the outside) during those hours you are away at work, etc.  A large thermal mass makes it much harder to change the temperature; therefore reducing the savings.

Why is the Ai dome so energy efficient?  

Ai’s kit has standard 7″ thick EPS R28 insulation. The cost to build one of our kits runs about the same to build as a traditional home but our home has insulation comparable to 11” of fiberglass batting!  (using the 7″ EPS).  A traditional house would require 2×10 to come close to our dome….but it would have wood interrupting the insulation.  The thick insulation, reduced exterior surface area (30% less surface area than conventional shaped home) and uninterrupted insulation causes low cooling and low heating bills.

As far as functioning in cold, snowy environment, American Ingenuity domes have been built in such cold climates as Canada, at 7,500 feet elevation in Utah, 3,400 feet elevation in North Carolina, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin, Vermont, New York and all cold states in the USA except for New Hampshire, Rhode Island and North Dakota.  It is easier to heat an Ai dome that to cool one. To heat the furnace does not need to overcome heat generated from sunlight, clothes dryer, dish washer, body heat, light fixtures.

Below are examples of heating and cooling info on Aidomes.

  1. To view Glenda’s 1,075 sq. ft. dome home’s electric bill please view 34′ Dome Home Energy Recap   (total electric house with solar hot water panel – has actual copies of the electric bills).  I can cool my 1,075 sq.ft house for less than $27 a month in the hot Florida summer months.  (76 degrees when home and 79 degrees when not). As we discussed the Ai dome is even easier to heat than to cool.  To Heat you do not have to overcome sunlight, heat generated by the clothes dryer, dishwasher, computer, etc. This generated heat is utilized.
  2. Ai’s dome offices of 3,700 sq.ft. can be cooled for less than $85 a month (you can view actual electric bills at this link) in the hot Florida summer months to 74 degrees during the day Mon-Sat and 77 degrees at night and on Sunday.
  3. One of our domes built in South Carolina received the Energy Star  It has geothermal pipes.  Home Energy Partners certified his home used 61% less energy than in comparably-size housing.   The dome owner installed a geothermal cooling & heating system. To view pictures & info about his geothermal system, click on System.  Klaus’s total monthly average energy bill was $49. This includes the electricity and propane costs for his entire 1,600 sq.ft. – 40 ft. dome.
  4. Here is a quote from the Charles family about their PA 40 dome on full basement with Geothermal and radiant floor heating:  Mr. & Mrs. Charles: ““We live in the mountains of PA. The winters up here can be brutal. Our Ai Dome is a 40ft with Link on a 9″ thick livable basement. {Den, Office/Computer room, Kitchenette} The entire interior, to include the mechanical room, is heated and cooled by a Geothermal, Water furnace, Radiant floor system. Our zone controllers are set on 74 degrees winter and summer. Our sole power source, at present, is the grid. Our costs per month range from $99 to a high of $120. We were amazed that our cost now are less than when we lived in a 14 by 73 ft. mobile home while building the Dome. Our decision to build an American Ingenuity Dome home was the best decision we have ever made.”
  5. Jim Collar’s Utah Ai concrete dome buildings (45 linked to a 30’) operate off the grid by using photovoltaics’, masonry heater fireplace and passive solar water tubes. To learn more, click on  Off The Grid.
  6. Per Eric Brindley, “Our 2,600 sq.ft. 48’ dome located in Edgewater Florida is very efficient and strong. It has been hit by several hurricanes and tropical storms with no damage at all. My neighbor’s conventional house was severely damaged by the storms. I keep the house at 72 degrees in the summer and warmer in winter. My electric bill is around $100 a month with no water/sewer bill because I’m on well/septic.”
  7. If a person does not need to air condition their home, then if window dormers or windows within entryways are placed opposite each other cross ventilation can occur and cool the dome.  Our factory has three Ai domes which are not air conditioned.  In the heat of the Florida summers, you can walk in the domes and they are cooler than the outside air.  Floor fans circulate the air.  The super insulated dome is cooler inside with no air conditioning than a conventional house.
  8. Glenda owned a 34’ dome built at 3,400 feet elevation that could reach -8 degrees in the winter. Its south facing high profile entryway allowed sunlight to come in the dome.  When we wanted to carry wood and burn the fireplace, the fireplace and the sunlight from the entryway was enough to heat the dome.  At night we utilized a kerosene feed heater set at 68 degrees and the fire place for heat. During the winter we would use around 100 gallons of kerosene.
  9. Yes a fireplace can be installed in the dome.  Just let us know about where you want it located and our CAD department with use its 3D elevation view to locate the flue pipe’s exit from the dome.  It needs to be 8” from the center of a seam. On site a hole can be cut in the prefab panel.  Instructions on how to cut the hole are in the Assembly Manual.

dome display

3domes

 (Click Drawing to See Larger View)

Building Options – entryways, dormers.  Why do I need entryways and dormers to install windows and doors? At specific locations around the perimeter of the dome, triangles and riser panels can be left out to provide openings where you or your framer installs your locally purchased doors and windows. To structurally compensate for the triangle and riser panels being left out, these “structural awnings” – entryways, dormers or cupola have to be installed. 

Bay window off dining room over looking deck.

45′ dome utilizing standard entryway to incorporate bay window

To view the Building Option Listing and Pricing, please scroll down the page.   To view Ai’s discount on the dome kit with one entryway pricing, Please click on Save.  To view regular and sale pricing on the Tiny Dome Kits (172 sq.ft.-1,278 sq.ft.) click on Tiny Homes.

The Ai dome kit consists of all the triangular panels, four foot tall riser panels for the dome shell and panels for one entryway.  The exterior of each triangle or riser panel is 3/4″ fiber concrete reinforced with galvanized steel mesh with a center of  7″ Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) with interior 1/2″ Georgia Pacific DensArmor (moisture resistant/mold resistant gypsum wallboard) adhered to each riser and triangle panel.  Your floor plan selection determines how many more entryways (standard, garage or high profile), window dormers, door dormers, cupola, link, etc. will be ordered. The link is used to connect two domes together. The building kit does not include any doors or windows and does not contain any interior items (except for the interior shell wall board).  American Ingenuity believes that you should not pay shipping on items that can be purchased locally.

Dome Building Options

The Building Options for the American Ingenuity dome include: Entryways, Cupola, Window Dormers, Door Dormers,Garage Domes, Links, 5′ riser panels for 22′ & 27′ domes, 2′ additional riser panels for 30′-48′ domes and 9″ thick insulation. These options (except for the links and insulation) allow for openings where your locally purchased standard doors, garage doors and windows are installed within a 2×4 or 2×6 framed wall that is built on site.

To view floor planners, elevation views of each dome size and print out Ai’s stock floor plans showing the placement of entryways, window dormers, door dormers, cupola, etc., click on the following link, Stock Floor Plans, scroll down the page and click on the hyperlinks.   

The floor planners show the possible locations for first floor entryways, window dormers and door dormers and show the possible locations for second floor window dormers, door dormers or cupolas. 

Call us at 321-639-8777  Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 eastern time, and Ai staff will answer your questions as to which domes can have which building options.

Due to spam filters, sometimes emails are not received by us and vice a versa – sometimes we do not receive your emails. So if you email and do not get a reply, please call us.

To view American Ingenuity’s Stock Dome Floor Plan regular pricing for some of the stock plans & the kit regular pricing, click on this link Stock Kit and Stock Plan Regular Pricing.

The 15′, 18′, 22′ and 27′ domes are two frequency domes. The 30′, 34′, 36′, 40′, 45′ and 48′ domes are three frequency geometry.  The 60′ dome is a four frequency dome. The frequency and dome size determines the size and number of the panels.  Sometimes second floor triangle shaped panels are too small to accept window dormers or door dormers.  As a result each dome diameter has specific locations where entryways, window dormers and door dormers can be installed.  The following description of possible locations can be confusing so just call us at 321-639-8777 for clarification.  To view dome kit regular pricing and sale pricing, please click on Sale.

(15′ & 18′ Pricing)

*Because the 27′ dome is a two frequency dome, its panels are about the size of 40′ panels.  As a result the 27′ cupola pricing is the same as the 40′ cupola.

To view floor planners and elevation views for each dome size that show where entryways and dormers can be installed, please click on Planners.  Scroll down the page to find the blue hyperlinks to click on.  After the stock plans for each size dome you will find the floor planner and the elevation view.  The following is a summary of which size domes can have which building options.

    1. There can be up to five standard entryways on the first floor of Ai’s 30’, 34’, 36′, 40’, 45’, and 48’ domes.  Instead of using entryways, install first floor window dormers and door dormers in specific locations.
    2. The 30′, 34′, 36′, 40′, 45′, and 48′  domes can have standard entryways and high profile entryways. High profile entryways can be installed where there is no second floor.
    3. The 22′, 27′, 30′, 34′, 36′, and 40′ domes can have two garage entryways. When the domes are designed for a home, the entryway is called G type entryway.
    4. The 15′ & 18′ can have one or two G type entryways.  To view plans and info, click on Tiny Domes.
    5. There can be up to five window dormers on the second floor of the 27′, 34′, 36′, 40′, 45′ & 48′ domes.  A window dormer can be installed above a high profile entryway.
    6. American Ingenuity is the only geodesic dome kit manufactured that has designed second floor door dormers that utilize the top of the standard entryway as a balcony.  Railing is custom built on site.  There can be five second floor door dormers in specific locations in the 34′, 36′, 40’, 45’ and 48’ domes. Second floor door dormers have to be installed above first floor standard entryways. Door in 34′ second floor door dormer is 2’x6′ – door has to be custom cut on site.  Door in 36′ second floor door dormer is 2′ x 6’8″ – has to be custom ordered.  Door in 40′ & 45′ second floor dormer is 2’6″x6’8″.  Door in 48′ second floor door dormer is 3’x6’8″.  2nd floor bedrooms in 34′ dome require a fire egress window be installed in a second floor door dormer.
    7. The 15′, 18′, 22′ and 30’ domes can have first floor window and door dormers but cannot have second floor door dormers or second floor window dormers.  See elevation views on Tiny Kit link.
    8. Cupola can be installed on top the 22′-48′ domes.
    9. The 27’ can have first floor window and second floor window dormers but no second floor door dormers.  The second floor window dormers on the 27′ dome can accept fire egress windows.
    10. On the second floor of the 36′, 40′, 45′ and 48′ domes there can be a combination of up to five second floor door dormers and or window dormers.
    11. The 22’ and 27’ domes are typically garage domes.  On the first floor of a  22′ dome there can be one garage entryway (that can contain a 9′ wide garage door), one door dormer and up to five window dormers.  On the first floor of the 27′ dome there can be two garage entryways (which can contain a 16′ wide garage door), one door dormer and up to four window dormers.  If you connect a link to a 22′ dome, the link is about 5.5′ to 6′ wide with a standard length of 5′.  If you connect a link to a 27′ dome, the link is about 6.75′ wide and has a standard length of 5′.  

What types of windows and doors are possible? Standard windows and doors can be installed within the entryways, window dormers, door dormers and cupola of most of Ai’s domes.  However for second floor window dormers in a bedroom in specific domes, the fire egress casement window is ordered with egress hardware. If a fiberglass door is desired for second floor door of 36′ dome then a custom 2′ x 6’8″ door is ordered from Therma Tru. 

The Ai building kit contains all the panels to assemble the dome shell and the panels for one entryway. The Kit does not include doors and windows. There is such a variety and varying price points, Ai leaves the selection up to each client to purchase and order locally. The floor plan selected will determine where you or your builder will install your locally purchased doors and windows.

Where do windows and doors get installed in the Ai building kit? Under the entryways, dormers or cupola. These are structural “awnings” that extend out from the dome. Within the open area under the “awning” a vertical 2×4 or 2×6  framed wall with appropriate headers is constructed on site to fit your choice of doors or windows. Ai has designed the entryways and dormers in a manner to allow the owner to select from the wide variety of windows and doors that are locally available. Click on Window Sizes to learn more.

Entryways

Entryways in the 3-frequency domes (30′, 34′, 36′, 40′, 45′ & 48′) can be standard, high profile or garage.  A standard entryway is 8′ tall and provides an opening where standard 6′ 8″ doors can be installed.  High profile entryway allow enough height that 8′ tall doors can be installed or glass can be installed above standard 6’8″ doors.  Garage entryways are used in garage domes and are the type entryway used in the 22′ & 27′ domes.  To view the widths and heights of all the domes entryways, click on Specifications.

Only garage entryways are available in the two frequency domes (15′, 18′, 22′ and 27′). Entryway panels for the 15′, 18′, 22′ and 27′ dome consist of 3 1/2″ thick E.P.S wrapped in galvanized steel mesh.  There is no concrete on the 15′, 18′, 22′ or 27′ entryway panels.  

Entryway panels for the 30′, 34′, 36, 40′, 45′ and 48′ domes utilize 3 1/2″ thick E.P.S. wrapped in steel mesh, are preconcreted on the underside surface and have a precast trough on the outer edge. On site form up the back side of the trough, place rebar in the trough, fill the trough with concrete and concrete the outside surface per your building plans.. The openings under the entryways are framed in on the site to fit your choice of standard windows and doors that you purchase locally.

Window Dormers

Window dormer panels consist of 3 1/2″ thick E.P.S. wrapped with steel mesh ready for on site stucco. The openings under the dormers are framed in on site to fit standard windows that you purchased locally. Click on Window Sizes to learn more.

If I want to install a single window what option do I use? First Floor Window Dormers or Second Floor Window Dormers.

On the first floor of the dome, window dormers are installed above any riser panel in all of the Ai domes. Install a second floor window dormer in any of five locations in the 27′, 34′, 36′, 40′, 45′, 48′.

Second floor window dormers are not available in the 15′, 18′, 22′ or 30′ domes. To obtain additional light on the second floor of these domes, install solar tubes by cutting a hole in the preconcreted panels & installing the solar tube per the manufacturer’s directions.  In the 30′ dome use a cupola where five standard opening windows can be installed. For indirect light install solar tubes. (When installing do not cut within 8″ of the center of a seam.)

Can a window dormer  be installed above a high profile entryway? Yes.

What do the window dormers consist of? Three panels of precut 3 1/2″ E.P.S. wrapped with steel mesh. After the window dormers are installed in the dome shell and its window framing installed, concrete is applied on site.

To obtain a building permit is a certain size window required in a bedrooms to meet fire egress? Yes. Code requires first floor bedroom windows to be at least 44” from the floor. Second floor windows cannot be more than 44′ above the floor and cannot be less than 24″.  The window has to be 20″ horizontal dimension by 24″ vertical dimension. When the window is open it has to have 5.7 square feet of opening space. The spec sheets for bedroom egress windows have to state Fire Egress.

If your building department requires an Energy Report to be submitted to obtain a building permit, your building plans will include an exterior door and window chart.  During plans design, Ai emails elevation views of the entryways and dormers showing recommended window and exterior door sizes. The homeowner visits window stores (Home Depot, Lowes, etc.) and selects windows and exterior doors providing Ai specific energy info which will be included in the energy report.  In Florida and other states the building department wants spec sheets submitted on the doors and windows and doors when submitting for a building permit.  The spec sheets show the window and door manufacturer, model numbers, product approval numbers and provide the manufacturer’s spec sheet that shows the windows and doors comply with that area’s wind speed requirements. Florida and some states require impact resistant glass or shutters in certain wind speed areas.

Door Dormers

Where can door dormers be installed? On the first floor of the all the Ai domes and on the second floor of the 34′, 36′, 40′, 45′ and 48′ domes.

First Floor Door Dormers: are a way to install a single door. The first floor door dormer can replace most riser wall panels on the ground floor of all the domes. Utilize first floor door dormers for single exterior doors such as kitchen or garage exits. Like window dormers, the door dormer panels are precut from 3 1/2″ thick E.P.S., wrapped in steel mesh and are stuccoed on site during construction.

Second Floor Door Dormer: Pair a second floor door dormer with a standard entryway for an upstairs balcony in the 34′, 36′, 40′, 45′ and 48′ domes. Structural door dormers may be located in any of five locations on the second floor of the 34′, 36′ thru 48′ domes.  A second floor door dormer cannot be installed above a high profile entryway.

Door in 34′ second floor door dormer is 2’x6′ – door has to be custom cut on site.  Door in 36′ second floor door dormer is 2′ x 6’8″ – has to be custom ordered.  Door in 40′ & 45′ second floor dormer is 2’6″x6’8″.  Door in 48′ second floor door dormer is 3’x6’8″.  2nd floor bedrooms in 34′ dome require a fire egress window be installed in a second floor door dormer.

Second floor door dormers are not available in the 22′, 27 or 30′ domes.

Riser Panels
Q:  Please explain about the Riser Panels that come with each kit.

American Ingenuity includes four foot tall riser panels in the building kit at no extra cost.  The new Tiny Dome kits 15′ and 18′ come with standard four foot risers and additional two foot risers.

The four foot tall riser panels allow for more vertical space near the perimeter of the first floor and greater headroom on the second floor.  Because of the spherical dome shape, 30% to 50% of the first floor is left open so that the living room and dining room are located under high vaulted ceilings.  This allows for a partial second floor to be installed.  The first floor ceiling height in the 22′, 27′, 30′, 34′ & 36′ domes that have a second floor above them is 7 1/2 feet.  The first floor ceiling height in the 40′ and larger domes that have a second floor built above them is 8′.

Q: Can the first floor ceiling height in rooms that have a second floor built above them be taller than 7 1/2′ or 8′?

A:  Yes.  Instead of installing four foot risers in the 22′ & 27′ domes install a five foot riser resulting in 8’6″ ceiling height in rooms on the first floor that have a loft or second floor built above them.   In the 30′ – 48′ domes, purchase taller entryway base panels and custom Two Foot Tall Riser Panels that are installed above the standard four foot tall risers.  This results in the first floor ceiling height of rooms not under high vaulted areas of

  • 9’6″ for 30, 34, 36′ Ai domes
  • 10′ for 36′ dome when there is not a second floor door dormer
  • 10′ for 40′, 45′ and 48′ domes.

Q: Does installing a 5′ riser instead of 4′ risers in the 22′ & 27′ dome or adding 2′ risers above the 4′ risers affect the second floor height?

A:  No.  Taller risers only give additional height on the first floor and increase the over all height of the dome.  The second floor is not affected.  The placement of the second floor window dormers and door dormers has to remain where they are designed to meet second floor fire egress standards and correct second floor door installation.

 Cupola

Ai recommends that you build the cupola only if you want a third floor loft or to have a second floor area to install standard opening windows in the 30′ dome. The cupola is a way to add height to the top center of the dome and another way to have opening second floor windows – but adds costs to construction & increases window budget.  A different way to add light to a second floor is to max out second floor window dormers or install solar tubes.  Install an exhaust fan in top center of the cupola to exhaust hot air and water vapor.   With the installation of a cupola, there is enough headroom in the 40′ and larger domes to have a third floor loft.

Cupolas require three partial days for assembly because the concrete has to have time to cure during each process (this does not include framing  for the windows or the installation of the windows).

    1. First Partial Day of 5 hours: concrete beam around top opening is formed and poured.
    2. Second Partial Day of 5 hours: concrete corner columns are framed and poured.
    3. Third Partial Day of 5 hours: set top five panels, attach overhang panels and apply first coat of concrete in their seams.
    4. During the rest of the partial days, workers can complete window dormers and door dormer installations.

 Interior Shell Finishing

Once the Ai dome building kit is assembled, the 1/2″ Georgia Pacific DensArmor gypsum wall board on the interior of the dome shell is ready to be finished. To install wiring cut a groove in the wallboard & EPS behind where baseboard will be installed and insert wiring.  Where electrical outlets will be installed, cut groove up the wall to the outlet height, insert wiring, use expanding foam to fill the groove and then finish area that is above the baseboard with tape and joint compound. Groove behind the baseboard does not need to be filled with expanding foam.

Applying a textured paint using 50/50 mixture of paint and joint compound will likely hide the board seams.  Or you can apply joint compound to the DensArmor after the wallboard is primed in what is sometimes called a skip trowel finish, apply primer coats and paint. 

On the left hand side of our Home Page is a menu item titled FAQS.  To view files that cover areas like Electrical/Plumbing, Framing, Fireplaces, AC Heating, Kitchens, Interior Finishing, Window & Door Sizes, Update Windows and Sound Reduction, lay your cursor on FAQS, then lay your cursor on Interior Finishing and then click on the file you want to read.

9″ Thick Expanded Polystyrene  (E.P.S.) Insulation

The standard insulation in Ai’s dome building kits consists of seven inch thick, rigid, nontoxic expanded polystyrene (E.P.S.) or R-28 which is comparable to eleven inches of fiberglass batting.  Or purchase thicker 9″ E.P.S.  To learn more about E.P.S. as a vapor barrier click on Vapor Barrier.

Ai domes with 7″ E.P.S. will easily outperform conventional housing with 11″ thick fiberglass insulation.  Instead of purchasing thicker EPS, purchase triple panned windows and insulated doors.   Windows and doors are where your cooled or heated air will escape.

The cost of the 9″ E.P.S. is the cost to upgrade the 7″ E.P.S. to 9″ E.P.S. for the entire component panel kit. Dormer and Entryway panels utilize 3 1/2″ EPS as a rigid form.

 Link

Domes are connected together with a Link which consists of E.P.S. insulation with steel mesh attached on site (mesh can be purchased from Ai) and concrete applied on site.  The Link panels consist of precut 3 1/2″ or 7″ thick E.P.S.  The Link EPS panels can be purchased with wallboard adhered.  On site assemble the Link E.P.S. panels, cover them with steel mesh and coat them with the fiber concrete.

The Link connects to the adjacent domes in the same locations as an entryway or a door dormer. This connection is a custom fitting on site. The thickness of the E.P.S. in a Link is usually 7″ when it takes the place of an Entryway and 3 1/2″ when it connects at where a door dormer would have been located. The width of the links depends on the size of the domes and whether the domes are connected at an entryway or door dormer. The length of the Link is usually 5 ft.  Because the riser wall is a standard 4’ high, all domes will match each other despite a difference in diameters.

The width of the link that connects to the 22′ dome is about 5’5″ to 6′ wide.  The width of a link that connects to a 27′ dome is about 6.75′ wide.  If the link connects onto domes 30′ or larger the width of the length where it connects to the larger dome varies depending upon whether the link connects to the larger dome at a door dormer or a standard entryway. For example, if the link is connected to a 45′ dome at an entryway (taking up two risers) the width of the link where it connects to the 45′ dome might be 13′.  These are approximations, the Plan’s Supervisor will give you a more accurate number, once he sees your plans sketches.

Ai does not recommend extensions to entryways for the following reasons.  Extensions add exposed surface area faster than they add floor space therefore reducing the energy efficiency. Extensions add to the cost of construction faster than they add floor space therefore increasing the cost per square foot.  The long flat roof of the link or extension connects to the curved dome…the link/extension and the dome expand and contract at different rates…a crack will occur where they meet.  Ai recommends applying elastomeric patching compound & elastomeric paint where the link panels abutt the dome panels.

American Ingenuity’s Assembly Manual does not include extensions although they are assembled much like entryways or links.  In general, domes have inherent advantages because of their shape and deviations away form the dome shape lessons the advantages.  However if you desire, extensions Ai can design and manufacture them.

The E.P.S. link panels range in price depending on the length of the link and the size domes the link connects to.  Once your plans are finished Ai will know the length and width of your link and can calculate the link’s EPS panel’s pricing, steel mesh pricing and and wallboard pricing.

Garage Dome Kits

Do you have separate garage dome kits available? Yes.To view the garage stock plans, garage floor planners & garage elevation views for the 22′, 27′, 30′, 34′, 36′ and 40′ domes, please click on Planners and scroll down the page to find the Garage Dome heading.

Ai has developed two garage dome sizes, 22′ and 27′. These garage domes are two frequency icosahedron geometry. This geometry differs from Ai’s other domes in that it utilizes fewer but larger panels. By having larger panels Ai can create a wider opening that is needed for a garage door. You can install a 9′ wide garage door in the 22′.  The 22′ dome can have a storage loft of 148 sq.ft.  The 27′ garage dome can have a 16′ garage door and the 27′ dome can have a second floor of 231 sq.ft.

Previously a 34′ dome was needed to park two cars. Now a two car garage in a 27′ dome is available which is more cost effective. The 22′ dome provides an economical one car garage. Either of these garage domes can be connected to another dome or built independently from the house.

The 27′ or 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.  The second floor of the 34′ dome can have 427 sq.ft.

You can find the pricing for the garage kits on the bottom of the Stock Floor Plan Price List that is in the Stock Floor Plan Booklet. Or click on Stock Plans & Stock Kit Prices and scroll to the bottom of the chart. To view sale pricing on the larger dome kits and the dome building plans, please click on Sale.  To view regular and sale pricing on the Tiny Domes, click on Tiny Home Kits.

To return to American Ingenuity’s Home Page, click on Home.

The following contains a photo gallery showing
the American Ingenuity’s Panelized Home Kit Assembly process.

(use arrows on right and left side of main picture to view other photos in the gallery.)

To view other pictures of panel assembly, go to  Construction Overview  and to Kaufman pics. To view the DVD for free, go to Free DVD.   To view engineering statement about American Ingenuity dome, go to Engineering.

An American Ingenuity geodesic dome panelized home kit is purchased in kit form. About 40% of Ai’s clients are owner builders while others hire a Contractor who hires the Kit Assembly Consultant.  The Component Panels, Building Plans and Assembly Manual come marked with panel nomenclature. If you do not want to manage the assemble of the dome kit, Ai knows of independent working consultants that travel around the country assembling the dome shell using your concrete workers or your contractor’s concrete workers. If you are on the east coast Ai knows of a Virginia builder who can be hired with his crew to construct an ICF basement and assemble the dome kit.  To view info on the independent Kit Assembly Consultant/Specialist, click on Consultant.

Due to spam filters your email requests may not make it to American Ingenuity and our email replies may not make it back to you.  If you email Ai and do not receive a reply in one to two days, please call us – 321-639-8777.  While you are on the phone, we will send you a test email and have you send your email to us.

First step after your foundation is in place is to install the first row of component panels, then assemble a temporary wooden rib system to install the rest of the panels on. Some form of lifting device is used to place the panels. By placing the component panels, locking the steel mesh from adjacent panels, concreting the seams and concreting the entryways, dormers, link, cupola, the structural framework, the exterior finish, the insulation and interior shell wall board are installed.

Once all the panels are in place, seam areas & entryways/dormers with two layers of fiber concrete,  the dome is self supporting & the wooden rib system is disassembled. Some of the wood from the rib system can be utilized for interior framing or for second floor perimeter knee wall.  There is no wood in or on the dome shell to rot, no wood to be eaten by termites, no wood to burn. No shingles to blow off in high winds.

The Consultant supervises the rib system assembly, panel placement and application of the first layer of concrete into the panel seams and onto the entryways and dormers. Fibers and liquid admixtures are shipped with each dome kit. In a mortar mixer fibers, liquid admixtures,Portland Cement, masonry sand and water are mixed to produce special mortar mix which is hand trowelled into the seam areas between panels and on to the entryway and dormer panels. 

Then either your workers or your builder’s workers complete the second layer of concrete in the seams & on the entryways and dormers. To learn more about selecting a builder, view Builders, Contractor & Determining Contractor Pricing.  For interior finishing complete yourself or hire local subcontractors to complete the plumbing, electrical, framing, window/door installation, wall board finishing, cabinetry, etc.

For waterproofing the concrete exterior, Ai dome owners recommend Ames Research Laboratories primer, tape and paint which can be purchased from ACE, True Value Hardware, Build-Rite Do It Center, etc/  Or call Ames at 888-345-0809 to purchase directly from them. For info on dealers in your area and their Super-Primer, Peel & Stick Contouring Tape and Maximum Stretch Paint click on  Ames.

The interior shell wall board is finished similar to conventional drywall. Or you can apply joint compound to the DensArmor Plus gypsum wallboard in what is sometimes called a skip trowel finish, apply primer and then paint. Or to cover any wall board imperfections and blend the wall board to the sanded joint compounded seams, mix a 50/50 batch of paint and dry powder joint compound.  Apply the mixture with a paint roller.

To view Ai’s new dome video, view on Dome Video.  The standard foundation for the Ai dome is an on grade concrete slab.  However the dome can be built on columns or pilings or a basement. Click on Foundation for more info. Call Ai for more foundation info, 321-639-8777.

To view assembly and finished pictures of a 45′ Ai dome built on a basement, view Stroupe Dome.  To view info about the rib system, click on Rib System.  To view a video showing panel assembly, click on Ulm 40′ Dome on Superior Wall Precast Concrete basement.

Electrical wiring is installed within interior framed walls, within some of the 1/2″ grooves between the interior shell wallboard and within grooves cut through the shell wallboard and EPS.  When wiring is inserted in the grooves, the grooves are filled with expanding foam and the area finished with tape and joint compound. Prime the DensArmor drywall and coat with 50/50 mixture of joint compound and paint. 

This advanced building system makes it easier to construct an American Ingenuity dome than a conventional house or a wooden dome.

  • No exterior walls to frame
  • No roof trusses to set
  • No sheathing, tarpaper, or shingles to apply
  • No soffits, exterior trim, insulation or siding to install.

A helpful book that gives you overall insight in building your own home is called The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Building Your Own Home by Dan Ramsey.  We also recommend that you visit your local library and research construction books which cover the concepts on building your own own.  A helpful web site is rsmeans.com.  It has construction manuals, construction estimating CD’s, etc.

Once you decide on your floor plan, use the info from the Kit Assembly Consultant to estimate number of days needed for that plans’ assembly.