prefabricated component panel | AiDomes

 

American Ingenuity is happy to have a detailed Dome Video giving information
about Ai’s prefabricated  component panel system.

The dome kit can be a Do It Yourself project built by owner builders
or hire a contractor that hires the independent Kit Assembly Consultant
to supervise the kit assembly.  To view video, click arrow in the middle.

 

 

The following info gives a construction overview of the American Ingenuity Panelized Dome Kit

finishing seams

Workers sponge finishing final second layer in the seams between the panels.
Sponging produces a “sponge sand finish” which blends the seam fiber concrete to the prefabricated panel fiber concrete.
45′ dome home on the left linked to 34′ garage dome.

To view assembly pictures of 45′ dome home & 34′ dome garage, view Dome Kit Assembly.

Q: Do you 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.

The American Ingenuity geodesic dome shell kit is designed with unique and practical materials. Ai developed simplified, effective construction techniques, invented a component panel and created a home which offers the ultimate in energy efficiency, strength and practicality. Ai has been in business, with the same owners, since 1976 and has domes in 47 states and thirteen foreign areas.

Whatever size floor plan you seek, whether for a modest starter home or a grand estate, American Ingenuity domes are flexible enough to adapt to your conditions.  The dome kit can be a Do It Yourself project with panels assembled by owner builders or the home owner can hire a contractor who hires the independent kit assembly consultant. To view info about DIY, click on owner builder.

To view stock plans for each diameter dome, click on Stock Plans Pdf.  If you do not see a stock plan to fit your lifestyle, Ai can design modified or customized plans per your sketches and descriptions.

American Ingenuity’s new DVD is $7 includes mailing costs.  To order please call our office at 321-639-8777 – Mon – Fri 9-5 eastern time.  To view at no cost, click on Free DVD.

Building plans include the basic drawings for the dome that are needed when you acquire a building permit. The plans are composed on our computer aided drafting system as stock plans, or custom plans based on your individual requirements and design. Some of the pages are a 3-D elevation and a 3-D perspective view. These plans include all the structural drawings, show the placement of the electrical outlets, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures; however, they do not have the electrical, plumbing, HVAC layouts. We have found if the layouts are included, then the inspectors require the subcontractors to follow the diagrams when usually the subs like to do their own layouts.

Where can I see one of your finished domes? Ai has facilities in Florida where it manufactures the kits. Ai has sold domes into 47 USA states and thirteen foreign areas. We would like to have model homes throughout the country but it is not economically possible. If we had models throughout the country, Ai would need to triple the price of its building kit.  There are over 800 American Ingenuity Domes throughout the country.  We are thankful a few dome owners allow us to give out their name and number after we have answered the callers basic questions.   To learn more view Visit our Dome Offices.

Exterior community pic dome on stilts in woods

Dome Built on Basement w’ perimeter deck

Only a few of our dome owners allow us to give out their name and telephone number.  Ai promises the dome owner that we will not take advantage of their courtesy and we will only give out their name to those who are serious and knowledgeable of the information on our web site. That way the dome owner is not answering basic questions that we can answer or is answered on our web site. After Ai answers your basic questions, we will review our dome referral listing for the dome owner closest to you who allows us to give out their name & phone number.  Ai has also promised to not give out the dome owner’s address to assure that they will not have surprise visitors.

Dome Finished Costs:

The finished costs on the domes depends so much on where you live, what the labor costs are in your area and what price points you select for your windows, doors, cabinetry, flooring, bathroom fixtures, kitchen appliances, lighting fixtures, etc. You can ask at your local hardware store or ask a local contractor what the finished price per square foot is running for a conventional house. That is approximately what it will cost to finish the domes (if you do no labor yourselves), because everything in the interior is standard whether it is a conventional house or a dome house….plumbing, electrical, lighting fixtures, bathroom fixtures, flooring, kitchen cabinets, windows and doors, etc. are the same. Basically you end up with a super-energy efficient, super-strong home for about the same price as a conventional house. To learn more view Ai Dome versus Stick Built.

About 40% of our clients assembly their kit while others hire a Builder who hires the independent kit assembly Consultant.  The Component Panels and Building Plans  come marked with panel nomenclature. If you do not want to manage the assemble of the dome kit, Ai knows of independent working consultants which travel around the country assembling the dome shell using your concrete workers or your contractor’s concrete workers. To view a list of possible Builders, click on builders.

Using three to five good concrete workers and depending upon the size dome and type of hoisting mechanism used, shell assembly of  22′ – 48′ domes to the stage of having one layer of concrete in the seams and on the building options (Kit with one entryways and two dormers) can take from 14 to 26 days. To learn more about hiring the Specialist view Kit Assembly Specialist/Consultant.

You or your contractor hires local conventional subcontractors to perform the conventional jobs like forming and pouring the slab, plumbing, electrical, framing, etc. Ai believes you should not pay some one to come in from out of state to do work that your local subs can perform.

Prior to the Kit Assembly Consultant supervising the dome kit assembly, our clients had to hire a contractor who generally had never assembled an American Ingenuity Dome before.  As a result the contractor would need to over-charge because he did not know how long it would take or what problems would arise.  The Kit Assembly Consultant 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 the temporary wooden rib system and your building kit is assembled correctly and in a timely fashion.  You or your builder hires concrete workers who mix the concrete to the special recipe and trowel the concrete into the panel seams and onto the entryways and dormers.  The Consultant/Specialist does not apply concrete, he is there to supervise the job site workers.

Hiring the consultant for one week can save you two to three weeks or more of shell assembly time.

The consultant works for around $295 a day plus travel costs, motel, and car rental costs while at the job site. These costs include travel from his home base to the job site and a return to his home base at the completion of the job.

If you are interested in utilizing the Consultant, please call our office at 321-639-8777.

Contact your local Home Builder’s Association for the names of contractors and subcontractors in your area. American Ingenuity maintains a list of dome owners, contractors or subcontractors who have assembled Ai dome shell kits. To view this list view Builders & Assemblers.

A helpful web site is rsmeans.com They provide construction manuals, construction estimating CD’s, etc.

The following is a quick overview of Ai’s panelized kit contents and our building process to give you an idea of what is is required in building an American Ingenuity dome prior to the purchase of your personal dome. When you purchase a dome shell kit from us, the full “Assembly Manual” is included and is much more extensive and precise.

The American Ingenuity dome building kit includes one entryway and all the panels to assemble the dome shell. The triangular and riser panels are preconcreted, insulated and have wall board. The dome shell kit package includes: Triangular Panels, four foot tall Riser Wall Panels, Entryway Panels, Galvanized Steel Mesh, Concrete Fibers, Two Concrete Admixtures, Reinforcing Tension Wire, Concrete Bonding Agent, Connecting C-Rings, C-Ring Pliers, Cans of Expanding Foam, Metal Dispensing Gun for the expanding foam and the Assembly Manual. To learn more about the Kit Contents view Contents. To learn what is not included in the Kit view Not Included.

The interior wall board on the riser and triangle panels consists of Georgia Pacific 1/2″ DensArmor Plus Gypsum Wallboard adhered to the E.P.S. with wallboard adhesive. It employs fiberglass mat facing instead of paper on both sides of the board. The core is silicon treated gypsum providing excellent moisture resistance, fire resistance and adhesion properties.  It won’t harbor spores that create sick homes. To learn more about this board view Panel Composition.and scroll down the page to the wallboard section or go to Georgia Pacific’s web site DensArmor and click on the its product specs.

For freedom and flexibility of design, you can select additional building kit options which are determined by your choice of floor plan. The options include: additional Entryway Panels (garage, high profile, or standard), Window Dormer Panels (first floor and or second floor), Door Dormer Panels (first floor and or second floor), Cupola Panels, Link Panels and R-36 Insulation. Within the entryways and dormers, on site a 2×4 or 2×6 PT wall is built and your locally purchased doors and windows are installed. To learn more about the Building Options view Options.

No interior items are included in the kit except for the interior shell wall board. Ai believes you should not pay shipping on items you can purchase locally such as; plumbing, electrical, framing, flooring, kitchen cabinets, bathroom fixtures, stairs, fireplaces, windows, doors, etc.

The basic building process consists of 1) placing the preconcreted insulated panels, entryway, door dormer and window dormer panels onto a temporary wooden rib system; 2) overlapping and locking the steel mesh with “C” rings and 3) concreting the seams and options. There is no need to concrete over the entire dome exterior. Only the panel seams and the building kit options are concreted on site. Prior to installing entryway, door dormer and window dormer panels, review your plans for any stud that needs to extend thru the EPS and for any anchoring hardware that needs to be installed; i.e. J bolts (top plate in door dormer & entryway framed wall), power studs (into sill plates), bolts,nuts, washers (into base entryway panels).  The entryway, door dormer and window dormer panels are installed in the row of panels that they are in and receive a first layer of concrete when you apply the first layer of concrete in the seams.  Prior to applying the scratch coat of concrete, the anchoring hardware or stud that extends thru the eps of the entryway or door dormer has to be installed. The next row of panels cannot be installed until the concrete on the entryways, dormers and seams has passed the scratch test.

The temporary wooden rib system and its bracing cannot be removed until 1) all panels (entryways, dormers, risers, triangles, link, cupola) are installed with two layers of concrete; 2) all framing is installed within the entryways and dormers and concrete has cured for two weeks.

Prior to priming and painting the concrete, tap on all seams to see if any sound hollow or the concrete shifts or vibrates.  If this occurs then this concrete needs to be removed and new fiber concrete installed in that seam.  Also  allow the concrete to be rained on for one month to remove efflorescence. Examples of Paint which Aidome owners have had success with are:  

  • 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.  – Home Depot
  • Ames Research Labs: Maximum – Stretch, at participating ACE & True Value Stores 
  • Sherwin Williams: Loxon XP Paint, Loxon Primer and Conditioner
  • Richards Paint: Rich Flex 245; use Rich Flex Alkali Resistant 100% Acrylic Masonry Primer
  • Behr’s Premium Elastomeric Masonry, Stucco & Brick Paint –Home Depot
  • Seal Krete Paint (pigmented) –Home Depot

Once your kit is assembled, install framing and electrical.  Then the wall board on the interior of the dome shell is ready to be finished similar to the method drywall board seams are finished. To accommodate some electrical wiring, grooves are cut through the wallboard and the EPS to allow for the insertion of electrical wiring.  Grooves can be cut where baseboard will be installed to hide the grooves.   To blend the taped electrical areas to the DensArmor finish, skip trowel joint compound over the DensArmor drywall. Call Ai at 321-639-8777 for further info.

A Brief Description of Ai’s Building Options and other items

Standard and High Profile Entryway panels for the 30-48 domes, utilize 3 1/2″ E.P.S. wrapped in steel mesh, are preconcreted on the underside surface and have a precast trough on the outer edge. You place rebar into the trough, fill the trough with concrete and concrete the outside surface and apply a second layer of concrete to the underside. The openings under the entryways are framed in on the site to fit your choice of locally purchased standard windows and doors.

G Type Entryways for the 15′, 18′, 22′ and 27′ domes, utilize 3 1/2″ EPS, but are not wrapped in steel mesh or concreted. You can purchase the steel mesh from Ai and at no cost to you Ai will install the mesh on the garage entryway panels.

Window and door dormer panels consist of 3 1/2″ E.P.S. wrapped with steel mesh ready for on site stucco. The openings under the dormers are framed in on site to fit your choice of standard windows and doors that you purchased locally.

To learn which domes come with which building options; i.e. second floor single opening window dormers or door dormers, standard entryways versus high profile entryways versus garage entryways, please view Building Options or call us or email us.

Link: Link panels consist of E.P.S. insulation and are not concreted or wrapped with steel mesh. Link panels are custom fit to the dome panels on site.  Link prices vary depending upon the width and length of the link and whether you order the link panels with wallboard.

Domes are connected together with a Link made of the same materials as the dome panels; E.P.S. insulation. The Link connects to the adjacent domes in the same locations as an entryway or sometimes a door dormer. The thickness of the EPS in a Link is usually 7″ when it takes the place of an Entryway and 3 1/2″ when it connects like a door dormer. The width of the links depends on the size of domes and whether they are connected like an entryway or door dormer. The length of the Link varies from 2 ft. to 10 ft. Because the riser wall is a standard 4’ high, all domes will match each other despite a difference in diameters.  Steel mesh can be purchased from Ai and on site the mesh is attached and then the link panels are concreted.

Cupola: Is the “cap like” item that can be installed on the top of the dome.  Ai does not recommend a cupola due to the cost of installation and need to purchase five windows.  The windows allow for hot or cold air to come in the dome, thus increasing your heating and AC costs.

Its purpose is to give additional headroom for a third floor loft in the 40′ or larger domes. The topside exterior of the five panels of the cupola and the underside exterior of the overhang (eave) are prefinished steel reinforced concrete, while the topside & edges of the eave are stuccoed onsite.

The top five insulated panels of the dome make up the cupola top with our overhang panels added on site. We recommend that you build the cupola only if you want a third floor loft. The cupola is a way to add height to the top center of the dome and another way to have opening windows. With the installation of a cupola, there is enough headroom in the 40′ and larger domes to have a third floor loft.

Hot air and moisture will rise to the top of the dome. If you build your dome without a cupola, we recommend installing a vent at the peak of your dome in within an interior second floor wall for ventilation. The electric fan vent has the added advantage of being easily controlled with a switch or timer. You can purchase vents used in sailboats that are quiet. The vent fan is installed in an interior wall near the top of the dome to exhaust the moisture and or hot air. The ducting for the vent fan runs through the interior walls and if need be in the floor joist to exit under a first floor entryway. That way there is no hole in the top of the dome to protect from leaking. Or you can install a Heat Recovery Ventilator  in colder climates.

Does a copula change the structural integrity of the geodesic dome? In hurricane areas you would want to have shutters over the cupola windows. The cupola does not weaken the rest of the dome, but the cupola is more vulnerable to wind loads because it sticks up at the top. In high winds the overhang panels could come off; although in 30 years the eaves or overhang panels have never come off any of the Ai domes. Because the overhang panels are nonstructural if they did come off, they would simply be replaced after the storm.

Interior Framing: The interior framing of the dome is built much like conventional housing and can be either wood or metal. Some of the second floor can be hung from the dome concreted seams by suspension rods allowing for very “open” first floor plan designs. The American Ingenuity dome is capable of supporting a large amount of weight, including the 2nd floor, from the concrete dome shell. This weight is suspended by threaded steel rods which anchor into the concrete seams and extend vertically down into the dome. 3,000 lbs. can be supported by a 5/8″ threaded rod suspended in one of the concrete seams. To learn more view Interior Finishing and Framing.

Suspension Rods: The location of the suspension rods is determined by your floor plan selection. The Building Plans will show the suspension rod’s positioning. The suspension rod with nut sets on a 3″x 7″ steel plate, which is embedded in the concrete seam. The seam is reinforced with #4 rebar & two layers of galvanized steel mesh. The second floor can support at least 40 pounds per square foot, the same as other houses. We can easily design for a more demanding second floor load such as for waterbeds, whirlpool tubs, spas, libraries, etc.

Electrical and Plumbing: Almost all of the electrical and plumbing will be contained in the interior frame walls and installed in the same manner as conventional housing. To install electrical wiring in the exterior dome walls: simply cut a groove in the E.P.S insulation and wall board, insert the wire, use spray foam in a can to fill the groove and finish the wall like you would do conventional sheet rock with joint compound and tape. To install electrical boxes, conduit or plumbing pipes: cut the E.P.S. insulation and wall board slightly larger than needed, insert the box or pipe and fill in the opening with spray expanding foam. The spray foam will harden in about half an hour, holding the box or pipe secure. To learn more view Electrical and Plumbing.

AC/Heating Ducts: We leave the AC ducting diagram to your subcontractor, but generally the ducts run through interior walls, in the second floor joists and or behind the second floor knee wall. The vents are either in the interior walls or in the floor of the second floor. To learn more view AC/Heating and Fireplaces.

Click on picture below for a full size view

Foundation with Road Mesh and 6 mil Vapor Barrier
Pouring the Foundation

 

Foundations: Your dome can be built on your choice of foundation including: concrete slab, raised wood floor, stem wall or pier foundation, full or partial basement, stilts or pilings. To learn view Foundations.

Because of the reduced surface area of a dome and its thin shell construction, our domes weigh less than the average house, but are remarkably stronger. American Ingenuity domes are considerably lighter than a concrete block house. A finished 27′ dome shell weights about 25,000 lbs.; a finished 48′ in diameter dome weights about 42,000 lbs.  Besides the weight of the dome, the load of your first floor and second floor will be calculated with load bearing walls designed into your foundation to support this load.

Prior to ordering building plans, determine your soil type and what type footing & foundation you need. Will it be normal footings under a concrete slab or will there need to be augured footings down to cap rock or wood pilings driven 40’ into the ground prior to the footing installation, etc.?  To determine what type footing you need, you may need to hire a Soil’s Engineer and have a soil bore test.  The soil under the footing and slab has to be compacted to 98% density for a minimum of 2,000 psf of bearing pressure. You cannot build on clay and you cannot back fill your basement walls with clay.  Basically if you can build a regular house on your soil, you can certainly build a dome.

If three to five feet of fill needs to be brought in to reach the correct finished floor height, your foundation may need to be a stem wall with concrete slab or wood floor.  If your property is in a flood zone, the building plans have to show the finished floor height. Contact your government department that handles Fema or flood zone info to find out if your property is in a flood zone.  If you are in a flood zone, you will need to submit to Ai a letter stating the government official name that gave you the height and their phone number.  Ai does not determine this height.  If your home is not built at the correct finish floor height and you are in a flood zone, you will not be able to obtain insurance.  And without insurance you cannot obtain a mortgage.

What is unusual about the foundation is the shape and rebars are designed to come out of the foundation and are concreted into the dome riser wall seams, into the front and back of entryway and first floor door dormer base panels and certain places under first floor window dormers.  There are rebar hooks installed in the perimeter footing to come up under the horizontal riser wall seams. Check your entryway, door dormer and window dormer, link, cupola plans for anchoring hardware, etc.  Always use a vapor barrier with your slab of 6 mil. plastic sheeting and 6″ x 6″ steel mesh or fibers.

Truck Departing with Kit
Rib System Being Assembled

Shipping: The above photo shows a building kit loaded onto a semi truck ready for shipment to the client. The domes behind the truck are two of our factory domes, a 48′ and a 45′ with the 60′ dome not pictured. For more info view Shipping.

Support Systems: Ai recommends the installation of a temporary wooden rib system to support the panels during the kit assembly. The rib system is illustrated by the photo on the right. The rib system consists of your own 2×4’s (cut and drilled to our specs), bolts/nuts/washers purchased from Ai and steel hubs on loan from American Ingenuity to erect a free standing geodesic framework. A deposit is placed on the hubs and is refunded to you when you mail or UPS the hubs back to Ai. The bolts/nuts/washers are not returned to Ai.  Ai can purchase the 2×4’s, cut, drill and paint them and ship them on the truck with your dome kit.  Pricing varies depending upon the 2×4 cost.  Please call our office, 321-639-8777 Monday through Friday 9-5 eastern time for pricing.

During Assembly additional supports are used to brace the steel hubs, to brace panels, to brace both sides of the riser panels and to brace the entryway and door dormer panels.  The “Rib System” dictates the exact panel placement. For more info view Rib.

Once all the seams and building options have been concreted with two layers of concrete, openings framed in with concrete curing two weeks, the “Rib System” is removed and recycled into the interior framing or second floor knee wall framing and the hubs returned to us.

5.10 Construction Sabin two rows assembled

Panel Assembly: The panel assembly process begins positioning of the four foot high riser panels on the floor and then assembling the rib system. Apply expanding foam under the riser panels to seal them to your foundation. Plumb the risers and fill any gaps between them with E.P.S. insulation wedges or expanding foam.

Then overlap the steel mesh from adjoining riser panels, lock the mesh with C-rings every 2″, apply the first layer of special formulated concrete following the concrete guidelines for watering down all the premade concrete around where you are working.  Do not get concrete on the panel’s flat bonding ledges or the sloping bonding ledges…only partially cover the steel mesh.  Your first layer of concrete is thrown through the steel mesh and fills the seam area behind the mesh. Two different tension cables are inserted on the locked mesh in two locations.

Once you apply one layer of concrete into the seams and onto the entryways, dormers, cupola, link, etc., you or your workers come down the dome from the top and apply a second layer into each of the seams using a bonding agent between the coats of concrete and on the flat bonding ledges and the sloping bonding ledges. (bonding agent comes with your Ai dome kit). The new concrete must be kept moist to allow for the concrete hydration. The Assembly Manual that is shipped with each kit gives specific guidelines for concrete application and mixing.

Panel Concrete: The panel concrete is a special formulation containing synthetic fibers and liquid admixtures. Ai ships these same fibers and admixtures with your building kit. 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, 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. Locally, you purchase bags of Portland Cement (type 1 or 111) and sand (masonry or stucco sand) and add in the fibers and admixtures per the recipe in the Assembly Manual. The concrete is mixed with a mortar mixer NOT a cement mixer.  Do not use a cement mixer because it does not have paddles.  Paddles are required to get a thorough mixing of the cement, sand, fibers and admixtures.

2.51 seam area lifting panel Kaufman picture assembly 209

Hoisting Mechanisms: The typical method for lifting the panels is by a man lift or crane or transverse forklift. Monthly rentals on man lifts, transverse lifts also called Boom Lifts, Horizontal Boom Fork Lifts, Roofing Lifts, Shooters are available from National Rental Chains.

If you want to speed up the kit assembly, considering renting a scissor lift for inside personnel movement (instead of using ladders and scaffolding) and a Straight boom lift – man lift or cherry picker- for outside personnel work (instead of ladders, planks and scaffolding).   

Rolling Scaffold
Rolling Scaffold

 

These photos illustrate the use of planks on the exterior for filling and finishing seams and concreting the options. You install the panels and trowel concrete into the seams. The first layer of concrete fills the seams up to the steel mesh. After all the seams are half filled with concrete, then a second layer of cement is troweled into the seams after bonding agent is applied.  Seam concreting is done one row of panels at a time.

Most of fourth row of panels installed.

Most of fourth row of panels installed.

Seam Finish: The concreted seams are usually finished in one of two styles:

Start at the top of the dome and work down. This will allow you to practice on easier seams and ones that are less visible and any spills will not be on finished work. The concrete seams are usually finished in 1 of 2 styles:

1. Flat: The quickest, highlights the geometry, the least cost and least labor intensive. The concrete fills the seam up to the edges of the prefinished concrete of each panel and is troweled to a flat surface between those panel edges. When complete there will be two concrete edges along each seam where the panel concrete meets the concrete that fills the seam. The edges of the concrete panels can be used to screed the flat surface making this the quickest method of finish, the lowest cost with the least labor.

2. Rounded: requires the most skill to be consistent but like the flat seam it can be completed with two coats. The concrete is mounded in the seams and shaped to create a rounded transition between adjacent panels. This method should be used when a rounded appearance is desired.

 

Interior Scaffold
Beginning Framing

Additional supports under the steel hubs are required to hold the weight until all the seams and options are concreted and framing is installed in the entryways and dormers. Then the extra supports and temporary wooden rib system are removed. The dome shell is self supporting. Interior walls and second floor joists are conventionally built.   

Interior Showing a Suspension Rod

The left photo illustrates a conventional interior wall covered with drywall.  The photo on the right illustrates how the opening under the entryway was 2×4 framed and insulated with E.P.S.(waiting for plywood sheathing & either 1/4’x1/4″ or  1/2″ x 1/2″ steel mesh & stucco to be applied).  Above the standard entryway is a door dormer.

Past Ai clients have found it difficult and expensive to purchase steel mesh locally; as a result the steel mesh used to frame in the entryways and dormers can be purchased from Ai and added to your Parts List.  A Parts List is a page within American Ingenuity’s official Dome Building Kit Order Form…that lists the items that come with the Ai kit at no cost and lists items you can purchase from us….for example the suspension rods and top and bottom plates that help support the second floor, extra cans of expanding foam (20 ozs), steel mesh, Simpson joist hangers, additional Admixture A and B, additional C -rings, C- ring pliers, additional bonding agent, 1″ EPS in 4’x8′ sheets, 2×4’s cut, drilled and painted for the temporary wooden rib system, etc.

Ai’s building kits come with the interior wall board (Georgia Pacific 1/2″ DensArmor Plus gypsum wallboard that is moisture resistant and mold resistant) already adhered to the triangles and riser panels with drywall adhesive. On site apply joint compound and tape to finish the seams between the wall board. On site the wall board is primed with two coats of primer.

In summary, there is now no need to plaster or apply dry wall board to the shell interior because the triangular and riser panels come with 1/2″ DensArmor Plus drywall.

 
Concrete Finish Being Textured
Complete and Ready for Cleaning Prior to Painting

 

An owner/builder is finishing her concreted seams with a sponge. The seam sponge finish matches the panel texture.
A finished dome prior to painting. This is a 34′ dome home connected to a 22′ dome one car garage.

 

Unpainted Concrete Dome
Paint Being Applied

 

A 40′ dome before painting.
Apply concrete primer and two coats of paint.  Ai dome owners prefer Ames Research Laboratories primer & paint. 

 

The Finished Product!
Some finished Concrete Domes

 

The above dome is a 34′ in diameter built on a full basement. Behind the deck railing is a standard entryway that was framed in on site to accept a door and window. This dome was painted a blue grey; however, you can paint your dome any color tan or moss green, etc.
Another finished American Ingenuity dome. The dome on the left has a standard entryway framed in to accept six small windows. The wall under the second floor dormer contains two small windows. And the cupola on top was framed in to accept five opening windows.

 

Dome with two standard entryways on basement

Dome with two standard entryways on basement

45' dome on full basement

45′ dome on full basement

27' exterior side view with 40' dome

27′ dome garage linked to 40′ dome home.

  pic_schoon4linkdoorgar0288-250

40′ dome home linked to 34 garage dome.

 

45' dome living room.

45′ dome living room

Painting the American Ingenuity Dome:

The component panels do not come with any paint on them.  Ai. does not add any color to the concrete.  On site you concrete the seams so if we painted the panels or added color to the concrete it would not match your painted seam concrete.  The concrete shell is painted with two coats of good quality exterior concrete paint after the entire kit is assembled.

  • Stain is not used because stain will not seal the concrete.
  • The painting of the dome includes a concrete primer and two coats of good quality exterior concrete paint.
  • The dome can be painted any color, tan, green, blue, etc. preferably a light to medium color to reflect the sunlight.

Around 1948 Latex paints became the first water-based alternative to oil-based paints.  Many improvements have been made but perhaps the most significant is the introduction of Acrylic Resins.  Paint of 100% Acrylic is more resistant to ultraviolet rays, retains its color longer, is less prone to chalking, retains its elasticity, is more alkaline resistant and can be cleaned up with water.

It is not difficult to paint the dome….there are no soffits or gutters to have to deal with.  You know when to repaint the dome when you rub your hand on the paint and it chalks.  Best to roll the paint on to get a good mill thickness.

Typically the American Ingenuity dome is repainted every 4-5 -6 years, it depends on your personal preference.

  • Clean the dome prior to painting killing algae with bleach/water mixture or oxygen bleach and water and then pressure washing.
  • The sides of the dome can be painted using an extension ladder and paint roller on a pole.
  • Yes you can walk on any of the domes.  If you do not have a cupola, install an eye bolt in the top of the dome to tie a rope through to attach to harness.
  • To paint the top of the dome stand on the dome with the rope tied to your harness.
  • To access the top of the dome either climb out a cupola window or put an extension ladder to the top of a second floor dormer and then walk onto the top of the dome.

Ai dome owners recommend the following primer and paints:    (In the Dome Kit Assembly Manual is a section on waterproofing the dome.)

  • Ames Research Labs: Maximum – Stretch, at participating ACE & True Value Stores (if using Ames see separate Ames doc because specific type sealants and primer need to be used….NOT TT3)
  • Sherwin Williams: Loxon XP Paint, Loxon Primer and Conditioner
  • Richards Paint: Rich Flex 245; use Rich Flex Alkali Resistant 100% Acrylic Masonry Primer
  • Behr’s Premium Elastomeric Masonry, Stucco & Brick Paint –Home Depot
  • Seal Krete Paint (pigmented) –Home Depot

Exhaust fans and energy recovery ventilator or heat recovery ventilator are installed in the dome to exhaust water vapor from showering, laundry, cooking, etc.

Specialty paints like epoxy are unable to stretch and the epoxy paint can “in some areas” crack and allow water to pass through.  Also any paint that would have a high gloss would highlight flaws in the seam finish.  A paint that would withstand UV light or last longer would be advantageous but keep in mind that it is much easier to paint a dome than a conventional house.

As a leader in the prefab building kit industry, American Ingenuity’s mission statement is to continue manufacturing prefab concrete dome building kits that are affordable, strong and energy efficient by continually:

  • Manufacturing the Ai prefabricated panels utilizing the latest cutting edge materials.
  • Offering Names of Independent Kit Assembly Consultants to supervise the assembly of the concrete dome kit.

Exterior Office lots of green

Above is photo of Ai’s dome offices – 45′ dome linked to 34′ dome with 3,700 sq.ft.  The office domes can be cooled for less than $55 a month in the hot Florida summer months.  To view office electric bills, click on Super Energy Efficient.  Never fear if you live up north, the Ai dome is even easier to heat than to cool.  To cool, the air conditioner has to overcome heat generated by computers, refrigerator, clothes dryer, dish washer, sun light, etc.  To heat the heat generated is utilized.  The AC or furnace will be one third smaller than would have been needed for the same square footage conventional house.

Exterior factory dome 60 P4250117

American Ingenuity manufactures the prefabricated component panels for the concrete dome building kits within three domes.  60′ in diameter dome pictured above and 48′ dome and 45′ dome shown below.

Exterior factory domes P4250122

American Ingenuity’s Factory in Rockledge Florida.
The dome on the far right is a 48′ dome which was built in 1983.
It is the first dome built from American Ingenuity’s patented component panel
.

To learn about South Carolina Dome that won EPA’s Energy Star, click on Energy Star.

To learn more about super-strength, click on Advantage Summary.

To view Ai’s engineering statement, click on Engineering.

The Ai dome kit can be a Do It Yourself Project, to learn more click on Owner Builder.

To learn more about the finished price of an Ai Dome, click on Finished.

To learn more about Ai’s building kit assembly, click on Kit Assembly.

To learn more about Kit Assembly Consultants, click on Assembly Consultant.

To learn more about super-energy efficiency, click on Energy FAQ.

 

American Ingenuity – 8777 Holiday Springs Rd – Rockledge Florida 32955

Phone 321-639-8777 – Mon – Fri 9-5 eastern time

Email: GlendaB.Aidomes@gmail.com

This article covers Ai’s Dome History.

Busicks 8' doors Office DogsMichael & Glenda Busick w’ families’ pets

Brief history of American Ingenuity Domes

The founder of American Ingenuity (Ai) was Michael Busick, an engineer, who was born and raised in North Little Rock, Arkansas graduating from University of Arkansas.  Ai began in 1974 as an electronics manufacturing firm located in Miami, Florida. Its products at that time included a slow acting lamp dimmer and solid state voltage regulator for motorcycles.

In 1976 American Ingenuity moved to Melbourne, Florida. After two years of design research, the first American Ingenuity dome was built in 1976 to house Michael’s electronics business.

Q: Why did Mr. Busick decide on the dome shape for his dome?  What are the advantages of domes?
A: The dome, or partial sphere, is a geometric form that encloses the greatest amount of volume with the least amount of surface area. Historically, massive domes constructed of stones, brick or concrete were common in ancient Greece and Rome. In modern times, Buckminster Fuller was the first to formulate geodesic principles for constructing a spherical surface by triangular subdivision.

Domes are three-dimensional structures using stable triangles approximating spheres to create multiple load carrying paths from point of load to point of support. The triangle is the only arrangement of structural members that is stable within itself without requiring additional connections at the intersection points to prevent warping of the geometry.  In other words, apply pressure to one edge of a triangle, and that force is evenly distributed to the other two sides, which then transmit pressure to adjacent triangles. That cascading distribution of pressure is how geodesic domes efficiently distribute stress along the entire structure, much like the shell of an egg.

During the past decade the home buying public has experienced a substantial increase in the cost of construction, the cost of energy and the cost of borrowing. As a result, there has been increased interest in the use of technology to help address these concerns. In the last decade, many people have discovered that the dome home design offers a viable solution.

As a residential building concept, geodesic dome home construction translates into a highly comfortable and livable home that has a maximum of floor area enclosed by a minimum of materials. These features combine superior strength and cost-effectiveness in a single structure. In short, the building concept of a dome home expands the range of simple and economic housing options.

Manufactured dome homes are constructed using a triangular network to form a spherical shape. This method provides for a free span, self-supporting structure requiring no internal supports such as roof load bearing partition walls. This allows for maximum flexibility of floor plan design and utilization of interior space.

As an architectural form, the dome is one of the strongest structural forms devised and built by man. Domes that were built centuries ago enclose many of the great cathedrals of Europe. Domes are structurally superior to rectilinear enclosures. The partial sphere is an aerodynamic shape that is very stable in high winds and can withstand heavy snow loads. For these reasons, residential domes greatly exceed the structural requirements of the major building codes in the United States.

One of the most exciting architectural environments ever designed, a dome brings its best attributes to your home. It delivers a rewarding living experience filled with warmth, light and open space to those who choose to build and live in their own dome.

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During the design of the first American Ingenuity, Michael employed the talents of the Director of the Florida Solar Energy Center, Engineering students and an architectural professor from the University of Miami to design the very first expanded  polystyrene (E.P.S.) and concrete geodesic dome.  This professor had done preliminary designs for a concrete and steel dome, but he had never constructed a concrete and steel  dome.  The dome went by the name of  “Key Dome”.  American Ingenuity built the first E.P.S., steel and concrete dome.

Ai’s first dome, which was 50′ in diameter, became the office/model of American Ingenuity and by American Ingenuity’s current standards was a primitive design. The dome was constructed by:

  • Erecting and propping up the E.P.S. panels
  • Stretching steel mesh over the E.P.S.
  • Spraying concrete over the entire exterior
  • Troweling the concrete smooth
  • Applying the interior shell finish of plaster to the E.P.S.

This first American Ingenuity dome had no riser walls, no preformed entryways , no  dormers and was not an owner/builder design.

Busick’s dome was located next to US Highway 1 in Melbourne, Florida. People would stop in and ask him to build them domes like his. Thus started his dome business.

In the early years, American Ingenuity was happy to sell one building kit a year. Kits were shipped in the early years into North Carolina and Texas; however, Florida remained the primary location for building.  With each one built, Michael gained valuable information to provide improvements for the next.  Every time a dome was built using the above method, Michael knew there had to be a better way….which resulted in the invention of Ai’s prefabricated component panel.

Ai has sold over 800 dome kits in 47 U.S.A. States and fourteen foreign areas.

In 1980, American Ingenuity was incorporated in the state of Florida.

By 1983, a major improvement in the building method was developed by Michael which provided for the prefabrication of building panels. In 1983 American Ingenuity manufactured and built its first dome (a 48′ in diameter dome) utilizing its prefabricated sandwich panel.  To learn more about the component panel composition click on Panel Composition.

After this concept had been tested and implemented, Busick applied for and received a U.S. patent. This improved building system was labeled “Generation II”. It resulted in a dome design which reduced the time and cost of construction as well as improved the quality of the finished dome.

Also in 1983 Michael married Glenda who besides assisting in the day to day operations of the company, played a major roll in the financial backing for the research and development of the American Ingenuity dome concept. She handled the purchasing and selling of integrated memory chips to office equipment companies through out the United States to fund the component panel’s design.  Glenda was born and raised in Missouri. Even though she graduated with a Biology Degree from Southwest Missouri State, she loves dome sales and coordinating dome building floor plan design with the dome buyer, engineers and American Ingenuity’s Computer Aided Drafting Department.

Construction for American Ingenuity’s second model home (40′ and 30′ garage) began in 1984 using the prefabricated panels.  Sheet rock was adhered to the inside of the polystyrene insulation. But during the building kit assembly the sheet rock naturally got wet. Because the sheet rock would crumble and mold when wet, American Ingenuity decided to stop shipping the prefabricated panels with conventional sheet rock. Back then after the dome kit was assembled, the dome owner or subcontractor would either adhere sheet rock or trowel plaster or stucco directly to the polystyrene insulation….a labor intensive and expensive project.

Also during this time, Michael designed the first geodesic dome second floor door dormer which opened onto the top of a standard entryway to produce a second floor balcony. Another first of its kind.

The energy rating for American Ingenuity’s second model home, as determined by the Florida Model Energy Code calculations, was the lowest known with a rating of -14. 

To learn more about efficiency click on Energy FAQ.  To view info on South Carolina dome that earned EPA’s Energy Star click on Energy Star.

The Model Dome in Melbourne Florida was completed in 1985 and a few months later was entered in the 1986 Aurora Awards competition. In May of 1986, Ai. was notified that the American Ingenuity Model had won the award for the Most Energy Efficient Residences as judged by the Southeast Builders Conference, a division of the National Home Builders Association. In August of that same year, the model also won the Grand Award for all energy efficient categories…beating out a passive solar home designed for one of Florida’s utility companies, Florida Power and Light.

In 1986 a United States patent was granted for the prefabricated component panel consisting of polystyrene and galvanized steel reinforced concrete. 

After receiving the patent and winning of the Aurora Awards, articles were written about the American Ingenuity Dome in such newspapers as Florida Today and the Orlando Sentinel, in the magazines Progressive Builder, Florida Trend and was a feature cover story in the March 1987 issue of Popular Science.

As a result American Ingenuity’s factory needed to be expanded to keep up with the demand for its dome building kits. Additions to Ai’s first 48′ factory dome were a 45′ dome in 1986 and a 60′ dome in 1991.

Ai broke ground for its new dome offices (45′ and 34′) in 1993. The office domes won the Southeast Builders Conference 1994 Aurora Merit Award for Energy Efficiency for a Commercial Project.

In 1998, Michael designed the 22′ and 27′ garage domes using 2 frequency geometry. This geometry differs from American Ingenuity’s residential domes in that the 22′ and 27′ domes utilize fewer but larger panels. By having larger panels Ai can create a wider opening that is needed for a garage door. Previously a 34’ dome was needed to pull two cars in side by side. Now Ai’s clients can have a two-car garage in a 27’ dome, which is more cost effective. The 22’ dome provides an economical one car garage. Either of these can be connected to another dome or built independently from the house.

Typically, American Ingenuity’s clients were owner builders but around 2000, Ai had individuals inquire about wanting a working consultant to supervise their concrete workers or their contractor’s workers during the dome kit assembly. American Ingenuity can now connect clients with independent consultants who will travel to their job site. The consultant supervises the assembly of the dome kit which makes the assembly go faster and reduces costs.  Click on Kit Assembly Consultant to learn more.

In 2003, the staff at American Ingenuity researched materials to cover the interior of the rigid expanded polystyrene insulation. Ai’s staff settled on Georgia Pacific’s 1/4″ Dens-Deck roofing board which was adhered to the E.P.S. with cement and perlite. The Dens-Deck employs fiberglass mat facing instead of paper on both sides of the board. The core is silicon treated gypsum providing excellent moisture resistance, fire resistance and adhesion properties. It won’t harbor spores that create sick homes. Dens-Deck roof board is a patented nonstructural glass mat-faced, noncombustible, water-resistant, treated gypsum core panel. It is water resistant, so if your kit is rained on during construction, it will not be damaged. When allowed to dry out, the gypsum will return to its original state. Due to code changes in November 2013, the wallboard has been upgraded to Georgia Pacific’s 1/2″ DensArmor Plus gypsum. Same moisture resistant/mold resistant gypsum as Dens-Deck just thicker and is adhered to the EPS with wallboard adhesive.

Not only has American Ingenuity’s building kits improved, but American Ingenuity’s building plans have progressed from simple hand drawings to detailed computer designed blueprints. Ai’s once nonexistent Assembly Manual has grown to over 100 informative pages. Ai was the first to offer utility dome kits. American Ingenuity has progressed from a prototype structure to a home that has received a design competition award, three energy awards and numerous articles in national magazines and other media.  To view layouts for each size dome, click on Stock Plans.

In 2015 American Ingenuity designed 15′ and 18′ dome kits for the Tiny Home Market for those wanting to have a smaller home foot print.

Ai’s goal in 1976 was to develop a simplified building kit which when assembled produced an affordable, super-strong, super – energy efficient home.  American Ingenuity’s goals now are: 1) to continue that goal; 2) provide prefab home kits for forward thinking home owners who are willing to think outside the box;  and 3) offer independent kit assembly specialists to supervise the dome kit assembly.