recommendations | AiDomes

 

Top five Cupola Panels installed after concrete beam and concrete legs poured.  (top of cupola consists of the five top dome panels lifted up to set on concrete legs.)

4th row of panels being installed in 34′ dome.  45′ dome in back ground.

An American Ingenuity geodesic dome home kit is purchased in kit form. If you do not have the time or do not want to perform the geodesic dome construction, Ai knows of an independent Specialist that can be hired to supervise your laborers or your contractor’s laborers for the kit assembly. Click on Kit Assembly Consultant to learn more about this service. Do-it-yourselfers (DIY) can assemble their dome kit by following the Assembly Manual and Building Plans and emailing or calling our office with questions. An Expanded Assembly Manual is now available with each new dome order.  However, those home owners who hire the Specialist say he saves them two to three weeks of labor costs.

To view pictures of the Dome Kit Assembly Process, view Dome Kit Assembly.

To view info giving Construction Overview, view Overview.  Ai’s geodesic home kit construction process consists of:

  • installation of foundation – standard foundation is concrete slab. Dome can be built on a basement, concrete platform/columns, etc. 
  • installing temporary wooden rib system  
  • placing rows of preconcreted panels with a hoisting mechanism
  • overlapping and locking the steel mesh from adjacent panels
  • filling the exterior seams with concrete (hand troweling special on site fiber concrete in two applications using a bonding agent between each layer and watering down all the prefabricated concrete around where you are working)  Specific concreting guidelines & concrete recipe are in the Assembly Manual.
  • concreting the entryways and dormers
  • framing in entryways and dormers, installing your locally purchased doors and windows
  • priming and painting of the dome exterior
  • completing of standard interior finishing phases: plumbing, electrical, framing and finishing of  interior walls, kitchen and bathroom fixtures, etc.
  • finishing the interior shell’s wall board

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, tar paper, or shingles to apply, No soffits, exterior trim, insulation or siding to install.  

Q: Can I assemble the Dome Kit myself?
A:
About 40% of our clients assemble their own dome kit shell themselves. The Kit panels come marked with numbers and letters to match the Assembly Manual that goes with the Building Kit. The Building Plans also have elevation views with numbers and letters. However, those home owners who hire the Specialist say he saves them two to three weeks of labor costs.
 

If you do not have the time or do not want to assemble the dome shell kit, American Ingenuity can refer you to a Specialist.  He will travel to your construction site and supervise the kit assembly.  After the kit is assembled, complete the interior finishing or your contractor hires local conventional subs (plumbers, electricians, drywall finishers, framers, etc.) to complete the interior finishing and the installation of your locally purchased doors and windows.

Prior to the availability of this Kit Assembly Specialist/Consultant to supervise the dome kit assembly, our clients had to hire a contractor who generally had never assembled a dome before.  As a result the contractor would tend to over charge because he did not know how long it would take or what problems would arise.  The Kit Assembly Consultant can provide you with references from previous American Ingenuity Domes he has assembled so you can determine yourself that your building kit will be assembled correctly and in a timely fashion. This Consultant would work directly for you or your general contractor as an Independent Contractor.  The Consultant charges a daily rate plus travel from his home base to your job site and a return to his home base at the completion of the job. 

If you are interested in hiring the Kit Assembly Consultant, call our offices at 321-639-8777.

Using three to four good laborers and depending upon the size dome and type of hoisting mechanism you use, shell assembly to the stage of having one layer of concrete in the seams and on the building options (kit with two entryways and four dormers) can take from 9-16 days. Once you decide on your floor plan, we can estimate the number of days needed for your shell assembly (entryways and dormers take longer to install than triangles).  View Kit Assembly Consultant to learn more.

Q: How do I select a builder for my dome?
A:
Whether you are looking for a contractor to handle all the construction of your dome, or a sub contractor to handle only an individual job, it is best to make many contacts and choose the one with which you are most comfortable. View Builders to see a List of Builders/Subcontractors by State.

If you do not have the time or do not want to assemble the dome shell it, it is to your advantage to hire a local contractor that knows your area, have him use the Kit Assembly Consultant to supervise the dome shell kit assembly and have the local contractor hire conventional local subs to do the jobs; i.e. slab, plumbing, electrical, framing, cabinetry etc. To learn more about finishing, View Interior Finishing.

Based on our experience with building departments and slab subcontractors, no project ever starts on time. As a result at the point when you have the building permit and the slab is formed up and ready to be poured within a few weeks, we will determine which shell consultant is available.

CHOOSING A CONTRACTOR OR SUB-CONTRACTOR

Making a choice:

  • There are many considerations when selecting the contracting firm to build your new dome home. To help you make this important choice, find out all you can about contractors in your area.
  • The more you know, good or bad, the better prepared you will be for a project of this scale and complexity.
  • If you are building your dome yourself as an Owner-Builder, you will be operating as the contractor and accepting all those responsibilities. This will include making the choice of all the subcontractors who will be working on your dome, such as the electrician, carpenter, and plumber.
  • If you are building with a construction loan, your lender may require a written contract between you and a licensed contractor, binding both of you until the completion of the job.
  • Just like people, there are contractors of every type out there – honest and dishonest, good and not so good. If you take the time to be selective you can find one of the great.
  • While each contractor is reviewing your plans to arrive at an estimate for his work, you will be able to evaluate his nature and characteristics.
  • With a good and trustworthy contractor, this can be one of your most exciting and rewarding accomplishments.

What to look for:

A Contractor who:

Shows an interest in doing something unique

  • Has a positive attitude.
  • Is a creative thinker – he looks for solutions rather than complaining about problems.
  • Exhibits professionalism in his business.
  • Is organized in his work.
  • Displays neatness on his job sites.
  • Has a good credit history.
  • Research the experience of the contractor and talk to previous customers.
  • Visit his job sites.

What to look out for:

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

Where to look:

    • Scan through the yellow pages and their ads, making lots of calls.
    • Approach friends, family, business contacts, and people you work with for recommendations.
    • Question the building materials suppliers, eg. concrete delivery companies know of reliable subs for foundations.
    • Inquire of your building official if he has any suggestions.
    • Check with your Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau.
    • Contact local chapters of trade organizations such as the National Association of Home Builders.
    • By reviewing as many prospects as you can over the phone, and through a process of elimination, you will be able to narrow the list to a few contractors to review your plans for a quote.

 

Q: What support is used to hold up the component panels until the dome kit is assembled?
A:
American Ingenuity Dome Building Kits are generally erected using a system to temporarily hold the panels in place until the all the seam concrete and options’ concrete has cured. The rib system is dismantled upon completion of the dome and the 2×4’s are recycled as part of the interior framing. Shorter 2×4’s can be used to frame the second floor perimeter knee wall. To learn more click on Rib.  Due to the complexity of cutting the 2×4’s to precise dimension, the drilling of holes in each end and the painting of the 2×4’s red, white or blue, Ai can do this for you and ship the 2×4’s on the truck with your dome kit. 

The Rib System is the preferable assembly method on all the dome sizes. The Rib System consists of using your own 2×4’s, bolts/nuts/washers purchased from Ai and steel hubs on loan from America Ingenuity to erect a free standing framework matching the geometry of the dome. Additional supports are used to support each hub.  With a Rib System in place, a man lift or crane or hoisting mechanism can be used to set the panels into place. Since the Rib System reflects the dome geometry, a panel cannot be inadvertently positioned incorrectly.

Once the two layers of concrete has cured in the seams, link, cupola and on the entryways and dormers & the entryways and dormers are framed in, the rib system is disassembled, the hubs are returned to American Ingenuity and the 2×4’s are recycled as interior framing. The approximate rental charge is $850 for the hubs to be kept for five months.  If the hubs are returned to us intact within the five month period the complete deposit is returned. Thereafter, we subtract $20 for each additional month the hubs are kept and return the deposit difference to the client.

Q: What will it cost per square foot for a completed dome home in my area?
A:
First of all you save money by buying the American Ingenuity dome shell kit versus buying and installing the materials for a regular stick built house shell (roof trusses, plywood, tarpaper, shingles, insulation, wall board, soffits, gutters, etc.). Our shell kit is typically one half less in cost than the shell cost of a regular stick built house or wood dome or monolithic dome. View Stick Built to learn more.

If you hire all the work done, the finished price per sq.ft. on the American Ingenuity dome home will be about the same price as a conventional house in your area less the shell savings. This is because all the interior items for the dome interior are standard conventional items. The dome interior items are the same as for a conventional house; framing, plumbing, electrical, doors, windows, flooring, stairs, kitchen cabinets, bathroom fixtures, lighting fixtures, fireplaces, elevators, etc.

But you end up with so much more with an American Ingenuity dome….greater energy efficiency, greater strength, no wood in the shell for termites to eat or to burn, no shingles to replace, etc.

The finished costs on the dome 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, 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. This is basically 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 or dome house….plumbing, electrical, lighting fixtures, bathroom fixtures, flooring, kitchen cabinets, windows and doors, etc. is the same. Basically you end up with a super-energy efficient, super-strong home for about the same price as a conventional house less the shell savings. View Building to learn more.

What are builders charging per square foot to finish a conventional house in your neighborhood? For example a 48′ dome can have over 3,000 sq ft. The building kit with options is approx. $60,000. Here locally in central Florida a conventional house can be built for around $100 to $125 per sq.ft. So a 3,000 sq.ft home would cost about $300,000 to $375,000 to finish without the land, land development and utility hookups. Lenders typically want 25% to 35% down of the finished price of the dome. That means $75,000 to $131,000 down. Lenders will accept part of the equity you have in the land towards the down payment amount; but they usually want a large cash down payment.  How does that fit in with your budget?

 

Q: How long will it take to completely build my dome home?
A: If you do no work yourself and hire subcontractors to complete the dome, it will take about the same amount of time to finish the dome as a conventional house. However the result is a super strong, super energy efficient home.

Q: What basic items will I need to erect my building kit?
A:
Depending on the size dome, to set the panels in place and concrete the seams you will need: Mortar mixer (4-8 cubic foot capacity — NOT a cement mixer!), cement trowels, sand (14 to 16 cubic yards), Portland cement Type 1 (40-100 bags) amount varies due to  number of entryways and dormers in your home. shovels, 5 gallon buckets, wheelbarrows, 3/8” polypropylene rope 50’-100’, 25’ Tape Measure, ladders 16’ and 32’, 16d common nails, extra 2×4’s, scaffolding, rental of a boom crane, labor to install the cement in the seams. View Items not in the Kit to learn more.

Q: What type of hoisting mechanism or crane will I need and for how long?
A:
The panels are placed using a man lift or crane that is capable of lifting 300-400 pounds, 25 feet up and 25 feet out.  Rentals on transverse lifts also called Boom Lifts, Horizontal Boom Fork Lifts, Roofing Lifts, Shooters are available from national rental chains. The rental companies can be found in your local telephone book.

With a four to six person work crew (depends on dome size) and proper bracing of the panels, a 45′ dome can be assembled in about 14 days.  In most cases, total crane operating time can be about 7 days for a smaller dome. For larger domes it may be most cost effective to rent a hoisting mechanism for a month. Then you can use the mechanism to not only lift the panels but to lift the buckets of cement that will be used to concrete the seams between the panels and concrete the entryways and dormers.

View Specifications for the panel weights for each dome size. 

 PANEL LIFTING SPIKES

Four lifting spikes are purchased from American Ingenuity for $100.   These are used for lifting of the triangular dome panels and the riser panels. 

The following information is in the Assembly Manual and includes sketches.

When preparing a panel for lifting, first bend the reinforcing wire mesh up almost in a vertical position to make the insertion of the lifting spikes easier.  Also having the mesh bent up will allow the panel to be placed without entanglement of the adjacent panel mesh. 

The lifting spikes are to be inserted at the midway locations along the panel’s edges. 

Push or hammer them into the EPS foam just under the concrete layer.  They should be parallel to the outer surface of the concrete. 

For safety reasons it is important that the lifting spikes are placed within 6″ of the center of the panel side. 

The spikes should be inserted so that the attached chain links can most easily to be threaded through the reinforcing wire mesh. 

Enlarge the opening in the reinforcing wire mesh so that the attached chain can go toward the center of the concrete side without obstruction.

Connected chains that will support 3 times the weight of the panel to the spike chain.  We recommend that you use a closed loop connector that can not release if there is no tension on the chain. 

Connect the 3 chains together so that the convergence point will be at a distance from the panel concrete surface equal to half the distance (length) of a panel side.  The chains should converge with about 90 degrees (square) between the two chains when viewed perpendicular.

Adjustments to the length of the 3 chains will allow you to tilt a panel to be better aligned with the location where it will be placed.

Some deviation in the spike placement and the convergence point height is allowable if you take in consideration how the forces are affected and follow all cautions listed below.

If the chains converge close to the panel the chains will be pulling more against each other and less in the direction intended for lifting the panel.  Reducing the convergence height to ¼ of the distance between spikes doubles the chain tension. 

Increasing the convergence height causes the panel to hang lower, reducing the height you can lift the panel.  Also when any chain is near perpendicular to the panel there is a serious risk of the spike being pulled out while lifting.

CAUTION

Because there are numerous things that could allow the panel to fall while lifting.  In addition to the chains and their connection, a sudden jerk from the lifting device, slack in the lifting cable and human errors and other things can cause the panel to fall.

The only way to assure safety is to assume that the panel can fall at any time.  Anytime a panel is lifted Never allow anyone under the panel or within range of its possible impact.  Even after a panel is set in place and supported movement of other panels or supports could cause it to fall. 

Don’t consider a panel secure until it has been C-ringed and concreted on two sides to adjacent secure panels and all of the concrete had time to adequately harden.

Not being full time safety conscious could result in fatality consequences.

Once a panel has been placed into its position at the dome shell, the lifting irons can be pulled out of the panel’s edge with a couple of strong outward jerks to the 3-link chain tail at the end of the lifting irons.

Q: What kind of vapor barrier will my dome have?
A:
Approximately one quarter of the energy consumed by an air conditioner is used to extract water vapor from inside the house. Water vapor easily passes through most building materials and is readily swept into homes through joints, seams and through the attic. Our E.P.S. insulation provides a good vapor barrier and our building method provides an air tight home.  Due to this tightness, you will run exhaust fans to exhaust moisture or in colder climates use a Heat Recovery Ventilator to remove moistre.  To learve about HRV, please view HRV.  To learn more about E.P.S. as a vapor barrier view Vapor Barrier.

Q: How will the concrete in my dome withstand the effects of freezing temperatures?
A:
Concrete is an excellent and common building material in all temperate zones throughout the world. Concrete is only affected by freezing temperatures when it is porous and absorbs water. The richness and density of our concrete prevents water absorption which spoils the surface when it freezes. Our concrete is also formulated with an air entrainment admixture which further improves the freeze-thaw characteristics. The exterior paint is an additional seal to any water that could freeze inside the concrete.

So that the concrete you mix on-site has the same properties as the panel concrete, we ship those same concrete ingredients with the Building Kit….synthetic fibers, liquid admixtures and a bonding agent. The concrete recipe using Portland Cement, sand, and ingredients is in the Assembly Manual. 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 following is why we ship synthetic fibers with our Building Kit. Fibers in concrete work to reduce the formation of shrinkage and cracks in concrete’s plastic state while helping to improve shatter resistance and reduce water migration. The result: tougher concrete. Synthetic fibers are used in the first layer of concrete but are not needed in the second layer.

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 concrete on the prefabricated panels adheres directly to the steel mesh and EPS without the need of a bonding agent. The concrete is in excess of 3500 psi which is stronger than it needs to be.  Although on site, you apply a bonding agent between the two layers of concrete and onto each panel’s flat bonding ledges and sloping bonding ledges.

To apply concrete in the seams the temperature should be above freezing, preferably at least 60 degrees. Do not allow the newly mixed concrete to freeze for two to three days. If you use a concrete accelerator do not allow the concrete to freeze for 1 ½ to 2 days.

The following is why we ship a Bonding Agent with our Building Kit. 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.

To assure that the 2nd layer of concrete placed in the seams bonds will with the concrete of the panels, you should:

  1. Wet the prefabrciated panels with water and allow them to soak up all the water they will.
  2. Apply bonding agent on the concrete at the edge of the panel and on any concrete that has been placed in the seam. Allow the bonding agent to set for 30 minutes before applying the second layer.
  3. Keep the newly applied concrete moist during the concrete hydration.  Keep the old concrete around the newly applied concrete wet.

There are two special features designed into the panel of your kit to improve the bond and strength of your dome:

  1. The 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.
  2. The steel mesh which extends from the old concrete to the new concrete is a small mesh with compliments the effect of the fibers in securing the joint.

The weather and the mix of the concrete (amount of water, etc) will effect the curing time of the concrete. Usually by the time you place a complete row of panels and are ready to start the next row, the concrete has cured enough. Take a nail and if you can scratch the concrete it has not cured.  Do not apply another row of panels until the concrete has cured in the prior row.

Q: What type of interior finish is on the triangle and riser panels?
A:
It consists of Georgia Pacific 1/2″ DensArmor Plus Gypsum wallboard adhered to the E.P.S. insulation 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 isn’t even damaged by multiple immersions in water. It won’t harbor spores that create sick homes.

The glass mats embedded into the core on both faces, results in dimensional stability and prevents warping. The glass mat is encapsulated with a coating which reduces skin irritation from exposed glass fibers. The moisture-resistant inorganic core has superior mold, mildew and fire resistance. The 1/2 DensArmor showed no mold or mildew growth when tested per ASTM D 3273.  

The wallboard finishing includes applying joint compound and tape on the seams and painting the wall board or finish the seams with a mixture of cement and perlite. The cement recipe is in the Assembly Manual.

Q: How much weight will the second floor support?
A:
At least 40 pounds per square foot, the same as other houses. Ai can easily design for a more demanding load such as waterbeds, libraries, exercise rooms, whirlpool tubs, or spas.

Q: How is the second floor attached to the dome shell?
A:
Most often the second floor joists are set on top of the first floor walls, the same as in conventional framing. In areas where additional support is needed, or where there are no first floor walls, the floor may be hung from the dome shell by anchoring a 5/8″ threaded rod vertically into the concrete of a seam. One rod can hold 3,000 lbs. Because of the incredible strength of our dome we are able to use the shell to support the second floor.  The suspension rods and plates can be purchased from Ai.  These items are listed on a form called a Parts List which is one of the two pages in the American Ingenuity official Building Kit Order Form.

Q: Can I use steel studs and steel second floor joists in my American Ingenuity Dome?
A:
Yes, we can design your dome to utilize steel joist and steel studs by designing them into your Building Plans. There are many benefits in using steel framing over wood framing. Steel joists can span great distances; thus, larger rooms are possible because fewer supports are needed for the floor above. Durability is also a benefit. Unlike wood, steel framing will not rot, shrink, swell, split or warp; and because of its zinc coating, it will not rust. Steel framing is impervious to termites, rodents and is non-combustible. The environment benefits as well. Much of steel framing is made from recycled steel, and what little waste is leftover from construction can be recycled again. Also steel does not require pesticides or other toxic substances used to protect wood. Steel is priced competitively with wood and is easy to install; plywood flooring and wall board are attached with screws. Like our dome, steel studs are fire and termite resistant, affordable and earth friendly. A perfect match.

Ai does not recommend concrete second floors.

 

Ai can design your building plans for steel framing and second floor steel joists. However we do not supply any of these items with the building kit. Go to your yellow pages under Industrial Supplies or Wall Board Suppliers and you should find businesses that sell steel framing and steel joists.

 

Metal Framing:

  • If the first floor of the dome is concrete, there is an additional price for Ai to change the building plans to design with steel studs and joists for the second floor.
  • If the dome has a basement or raised first floor, it is an additional price to design basement studs and first floor joist with steel.
  • The cost of metal framing is slightly higher than wood. You should only use metal framing if your subcontractor has worked with it before.
  • Metal Framing is not more fire proof. In a fire it will deform quicker than wood.

Some of our dome plans are now designed to show the interior wall and floor framing utilizing steel studs and joists. There are many benefits in using steel framing over wood framing. Steel joists can span great distances; thus, larger rooms are possible because fewer supports are needed for the floor above. Durability is also a benefit. Unlike wood, steel framing will not rot, shrink, swell, split, or warp, and because of its zinc coating, it will not rust.

Steel framing is impervious to termites, rodents and is non-combustible. The environment benefits as well. Much of steel framing is made from recycled steel, and what little waste is left over from construction can be recycled again. Also, steel does not require pesticides or other toxic substances used to protect wood.

Steel is priced competitively with wood and is easy to install; plywood flooring and wallboard are attached with screws. Use metal framing only if the subcontractor doing your framing knows how to work with it. Metal framing is not necessarily more fire proof. In a fire the metal framing will deform quicker than wood will.

Please call our office at 321-639-8777 for additional cost for metal framing design in Building Plans:

Q: Can I install conventional doors and windows in the dome exterior? And where are they installed?
A:
Yes conventional doors and windows can be used in the dome. The doors and windows are installed under the entryways and dormers within 2×4 walls that you build on-site. View Window Sizes and Building Options for more info.

Q: How is the exterior wall within an entryway or dormer built?
A:
It is constructed on-site using typical 2×4 wood framing techniques allowing you to personalize an important part of your dome, including your choice of locally purchased standard doors and windows. Using your own custom design the entryway wall exterior finish may be stucco, siding, brick, rock, or any material you choose.  Prior to applying stucco, steel mesh is attached to 1″ thick EPS.  Conventional windows and doors are purchased locally to please your taste and budget. Be sure to use energy efficient windows with double glass and insulated doors. 

Ai’s past clients have told us how difficult and expensive it is to purchase steel mesh locally…small 15′ roll costs $15.  As a result, Ai can calculate how much 1/4″ x1/4″ or 1/2″x1/2″ steel mesh you will need for the exterior framed wall for each entryway and dormer and add the mesh to your Parts List at a reasonable cost per sq.ft.  Ai can also calculate how much 1″ EPS you will need for your entryways and dormers and add 4’x8′ sheets to your Parts List.

Q: How are the electric and plumbing lines installed in the wall of the dome shell?
A:
Almost all of the electrical and plumbing will be contained in the interior frame walls, 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 and insert the wire. Fill the groove with spray foam and finish the area 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.  Ai ships approximately 8 cans of expanding foam (20 ozs) with your kit along with a metal dispensing gun and one can of cleaner at no cost. The dispensing gun makes it so you do not have to use up the can all at once. 

Locally you can purchase small cans of spray foam that are dispensed with a plastic tube…which gets clogged, etc.  Ai’s clients save money by purchasing more cans of expanding foam from us…..this item can be added to your Parts List as well.

Q: How are plumbing vent pipes installed in the dome shell?
A:
The plumbing vent pipes can be routed sideways through the interior framing and can sometimes be joined together before they exit our dome. Where the vent pipe is to exit through the dome shell, all you need do is make a hole through the panel in the appropriate location, extend the pipe through, concrete back up against the pipe, caulk and paint. The plumbing vent pipes are sealed to our concrete dome with caulk, e.g. urethane or butyl rubber. A plumbing boot like the type used on shingled houses is not used. View Vent Pipes to learn more.

Q: Can the dome have a fireplace and how is a fireplace installed?
A:
Yes the dome can have a fireplace. We suggest that dome owners try to locate their fireplace toward the middle of the dome, rather than along the outside edge which would cause the flue to very high on the outside. This puts more of the flue pipe inside the house where it can radiate the heat. As long as the flue pipe is round, you simply bust a hole in the concrete, enlarge the hole in the foam so that you can replace the foam with 2” of fiberglass insulation, then concrete around the vent pipe, caulk and paint. Use a nonsilicon caulk like urethane or latex. A fireplace can be added to any dome. But it may affect the second floor framing, so the stock plan might need to be modified. View Fireplaces to learn more.

Q: How are domes connected together?
A:
Domes are linked at the entryways or door dormers. Our dome kits include a standard 4′ high riser wall allowing them to be linked together despite a difference in diameters. View Links to learn more.

Q: What is the link between the domes made of, etc.?
A:
Domes are connected together with a link. The link connects to the adjacent dome at entryways or door dormers. 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 like a door dormer. The width of the link depends on the size of the 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.

You do not use or order an entryway or dormer at the locations where a link connects to either dome.  The cost of the link varies depending on its width and length. 

Link panels are not concreted or wrapped with steel mesh. The 7″ E.P.S. Link panels are precut but they will require custom trimming and custom fitting where they connect to the domes. After the E.P.S. panels are in place they get covered with steel mesh and then concrete is applied to the specified thickness.  Steel Mesh can be purchased from Ai.  Also you can order the link panels with wallboard adhered.

Q: Can I have balconies off the second floor?
A:
Yes, in a 36′ or larger dome can have up to five second door dormers. A door dormer is installed above a standard entryway and a railing built resulting in a balcony. In a 34’ dome, the second floor door dormer will only accept a 6’ door that is 24” wide. This size door is a special order at Home Depot, etc.  The 36’ or larger domes can accept a standard 6’8” door.

 

In order to walk on top of the entryway, at our factory Ai cuts a four inch deep trough in the top side of two of the entryway panels. On site during the assembly of the entryway, not only is the top of the entryway stuccoed but a rebar is laid in the trough and the trough is filled with concrete.

To install the posts to hold the balcony railings, drill and install concrete anchors into the top of the entryway and install concrete screws into the side of the door dormer. The top railing is bolted to a concrete seam on each side of the door dormer. The Building Plans have details explaining this.

Q: What type of paint should I use on the exterior of my dome?
A:
Ai recommends a two coats of good quality exterior concrete paint.Your dome can be painted in any of color, avoid darker shades. You purchase the paint locally.  The primer must say to be used on masory or concrete.

PAINT, GALLONS REQUIRED Based on 150 sq.ft. per gallon of coverage for each coat applied. The surface area refers to the exterior surface area.

Dome Size
22′ 25′ 27′ 30′ 34′ 40′ 45′ 48′
Surface
1,036 1,189 1,484 1,611 1,994 2,645 3,255 3,652
Gallons of Paint
7 8 10 11 14 18 22 25

Take the Exterior Surface Area and divide by 150 to determine an approximate number of gallons for each coat of paint for each size dome. Yes, the exterior surface is just the cement surface itself, and does not include the dormers or entryways. For each entryway add 220 sq.ft. for each window dormer add 30 sq. ft. for each door dormer add 50 sq.ft.

Typically the dome is repainted every 4-5 years, it depends on your personal preference. 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 you install an eye bolt in the top of the dome to tie a rope through. To paint the top of the dome you can stand on the dome with the rope tied to you.

Q: In most of the photographs the domes are painted white, how can I make the dome exterior more conventional?
A:
The following are some exterior appearance possibilities:

  • Install stone, cedar, or wood on the vertical walls around the doors and windows in the entryways and dormers.
  • Install a wooden deck off a second floor balcony. Or you could connect two second floor balconies by a continuous wood deck.
  • Paint the dome a warm tan or soft moss green color.
  • Landscape with trees around the dome. Or install trellis with roses, vines, etc. that can climb up to the second floor deck concealing the first floor of the dome.
  • Build a porch or deck off the first floor.
  • Install canopies off the top of the entryways and doors.

Q: Would you explain briefly what is involved in the assembly of my dome kit?
A:
By simply placing the component panels, interconnecting the steel mesh, and concreting the seams you complete the structural framework, the exterior finish, the insulation and most of the interior shell wall board for your home’s shell. View Construction Overview to learn more.

  • Foundation: Once you’ve chosen a home site, you may build your dome on a slab, raised wood floor, or basement foundation – or even on pilings if necessary.
  • Temporary Support System: During the kit assembly process, the panels of larger domes are held in place by a wooden support system. It is disassembled after the seam and building optionsare concreted. Much of the 2.4’s can be reused as interior wall framing. The system is erected with your 2×4’s and our steel hub kit, which is returned to us upon completion of the dome. On our smallest domes, a simpler radial support system can be used, in which each panel is braced by temporary supports. View Rib Support or Radial Support to learn more.
  • Panels: Following the detailed instructions in the “Assembly Manual”, four foot tall riser panels are anchored to rebars extending out of your prepared foundation. The riser walls are interconnected with subsequent rows of triangular panels. The steel mesh of adjacent panels is overlapped and hooked with C-rings (commonly called hog rings) The upper panels of larger domes need to be placed using an elementary hoisting system or small crane.
  • Seams: As the rows of panels are positioned; the seams are first half filled with the special fiber concrete mixed at the job site. Additives (synthetic fibers and liquid admixtures) supplied with your kit render the same formulation as the panel concrete. Once all the seams are half filled: you start at the top of the dome and come down the dome using the bonding agent and fiber concrete to fill the seams; you finish the seam tops by sponge rubbing them to match the sand texture of the prefinished panels. To vary the exterior appearance to your taste, the seam concrete can be shaped flat or rounded.
  • Openings: The openings for doors and windows are created by structural entryway and dormer panels. They are set in place, connected to the other panels, then finish stuccoed with a layer of our special formula concrete. The six panels that make up one entryway for a 30′ – 48′ dome, consist of 3 1/2″ EPS wrapped in steel mesh and are concreted on the bottom side. On site you cement the entryway seams, lip top and the top sides. The window and door dormer panels consist of 3 1/2″ EPS wrapped in steel mesh and are not concreted. On site you concrete the dormers.  Due to the width of the 22′ & 27′ garage entryway panels they consist of 3 1/2″ EPS not concreted and not wrapped with steel mesh.
  • Painting: After the final coat of seam concrete, additional sealing with two coats of good quality exterior concrete paint is applied.
  • Completion: After your kit is assembled; you have the freedom to finish your home as you desire. Your choice of standard windows and doors are installed within the dormers and entryways in a stud wall which can be finished in concrete, stone, or wood. To finish the shell interior wall board, fill the wall board seams with joint compound and tape. Then paint the shell wall board with 50/50 mixture of joint compount and paint. Or the wallboard seams can be finished with a mixture of cement and perlite with a jont compound skip trowelled over the wall board and then primed and painted.  Interior walls are constructed then finished to taste. The second floor joist rests on loading bearing first floor walls and or are suspended from the dome shell.
  • Assembly: 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.
 The following covers Choosing a Contractor to assemble the prefabricated dome kit.
Starting Second Row of Panel Assembly

Starting Second Row of Panel Assembly- 45′ Dome

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

The methods used for lifting the panels include:

 

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

 

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

Choosing a Contractor or Sub-Contractor

Making a choice: 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

What to look for:

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

  2. Visit his job sites.

  3. A Contractor who:

o Shows an interest in doing something unique.

o Has a positive attitude.

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

o Exhibits professionalism in his business.

o Is organized in his work.

o Displays neatness on his job sites.

o Has a good credit history.

What to look out for:

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

Where to look:

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

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

Agreeing on payment:

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

 

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

When to pay:

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

 

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

 

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

 

Contracts:

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

 

This page contains listing of builders & assemblers by state and country.  American Ingenuity’s concrete dome homes can be owner built or hire a builder who hires the independent Kit Assembly Consultant for kit assembly.

 

Caribbean

  • Robert Stephens with Pragma Consultants Ltd. at 110 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6, Jamaica purchased an assembled 45′ Aidome linked to a 34′ dome in Runaway Bay Jamaica and finished its interior and exterior.  He will bid the kit assembly and the building of an Aidome in Jamaica and the Caribbean. His contact info is  876-909-6338- Mobile.  Email is  rspragma@yahoo.com

 

COLORADO:

  • If you are looking for a reputable Geothermal Company, contact Major Heating: main office in Wheat Ridge 303-424-1622  and outlet in Steamboat 970-870-0983.

Florida:

  • In Brevard County Florida, Builder Ray Vince with Pistolatun Inc. will bid the building of an Aidome turn key and complete the financing for those who qualify.   He also has land to sell in Palm Bay Florida and the city of Titusville plus knows of our property for sell in the County.  His info is 76 E. Merritt Island Cswy. #205, Merritt Island Fl 32952.  His phone number is 321-284-8116
  • Builder Don Simons says he will bid the dome kit assembly and the finishing of the dome for Texas and surrounding states including all areas of Florida.  He has a superintendent who will travel to your site, interview subs and hire subs for the site clearing, driveway installation, foundation installation, dome kit assembly, electrical, framing, plumbing and finishing of the interior and exterior of the Aidome.  His number is 979-212-6000.
  • For Lee and Collier Counties: Contact Bill Towler with Philip C Lemke Construction Company. His cell is 239-989-8140 email is BillT@PhilipCLemke.com   Their company address is 4290 Sunshine Blvd, Saint James City, Florida 33956. They will be finishing a 27′ Aidome and are interested in bidding the dome kit assembly and finishing of other Aidome projects in Lee and Collier Counties.
  • Andy St. Laurent is licensed builder in the Ft Lauderdale area. He is building a 40′ Aidome on concrete columns, concrete platform in the Florida Keys.   His phone number is 954-789-6544.  During the assembly of the dome kit, the independent kit assembly consultant was hired to supervise Andy’s workers.  He is interested in building other Aidomes.
  • Joe Galloway was the slab sub and assembled a 36′ kit with the assistance of a Specialist in Palaka Florida.  Joe is now a Florida certified builder.  He will travel to job sites outside Palatka. His phone info: W 386-684-4213, cell 386-972-4544.
  • James Randy Dixon with R. Dixon Construction. Inc was the contractor on a 36’ dome in Trenton Florida in 2015. He & his two man crew are interested in bidding for future Ai dome shell assembly and interior construction from central Florida to northern Florida into southern Alabama and southern Georgia. He built the inside of the Walker 40′ & 34′ domes in Bell. FL.   His address is 1549 SW 22nd Court, Bell Fl.  Phone: 352-949-2166  Email: dixonjames444@gmail.com  He will also travel as a Kit Assembly Consultant through out the USA and internationally supervising your workers or your builders workers to get the dome kit assembled.
  • Michael Lanigan with Von Alan in Lutz Florida will travel 60 miles from their area to build Aidomes.  His contact info is MKLBC13@gmail.com   813-898-4363
  • Jay Long with Veteran Garage Solutions &  Lifestyle Screens  has a patented screen to roll up under a garage door. He can be contacted at 407-608-2602 C VGSforyou@gmail.com  14900 E. Orange Lake Blvd. #303  Kissimmee, Fl 34747
  • Hernando County:  Jeff West with Cornerstone Builders will bid the installation of the foundation and the finishing of the dome once the kit is assembled.  His number is 352-279-6855.
  • Polk County:  Barry Shick of Barry Shick Inc in Lake Wales Fl  is a licensed builder who has assembled and finished a 34′ Aidome.  He is willing to travel with two workers few hours to assemble dome kit.  His number is 863-258-2547.
  • Jeff Hoot Bryceville: 32009 904-266-4000, hoot@thequadruped.com Built his own Ai 40’ dome. He is interested in building domes for others. Nassau County. 
  • Charles Lovelace North Ft. Meyers: 33917 N Ft Meyers Fl 33917 239-823-7044. He is a subcontractor, will coordinate all subs for the job and help get the building permit, with client being owner builder.  Lee County.
  • David Jones Midwest Florida: 904-795-3722 Has built Ai domes. He knows of carpenters/cabinet installation, will travel within 40 miles of Citrus County. 
  • Rickey Schrader New Smyrna Beach: Built an Ai dome in New Smyrna Beach FL, 2414 Juniper Dr. Edgewater Fl 32141 Phone (904) 428-5488. Volusia County
  • Liz Davis Live Oak: 32060 386-658-2122, Cell 941-456-5696. She did a good job as owner builder of her own Ai dome. She has good workers to pass on.  Suwanee County

Florida Slab Subcontractors:

  • 36’ slab was installed in the Palatka area for $6,000 a few years back. The man that installed that slab is Joe Galloway.  He is now a licensed Florida contractor.  His number is 386-684-4213.  His email is jgallowayconstruction@yahoo.com
  •  Rockledge is slab subcontractor named Billy Brooks who has installed slabs for a dome owner that had three domes: 36’ screen dome, 40’ dome home and 27’ garage in Lee County.  Billy’s info is 321-863-8911  His email is billybrooks25@yahoo.com
  • Alfred “Billie”  Brinkley is located in Palatka Fl. Has not installed a dome slab but is willing to bid on and install.   386-697-3562
  • Hamilton Masonary –  Gray Hamilton is owner (yes GRAY) address is 2805 Kirby Circle, Palm Bay. Work 321-837-1447  Built stem wall under 40’ dome in Melbourne Beach, Fl. in 2013.

GEORGIA:

  • James Randy Dixon with R. Dixon Construction. Inc was the contractor on a 36’ dome in Trenton Florida in 2015. He & his two man crew are interested in bidding for future Ai dome shell assembly and interior construction from central Florida to northern Florida into southern Alabama and southern Georgia. He built the inside of the Walker 40′ & 34′ domes in Bell. FL.    His address is 1549 SW 22nd Court, Bell Fl.  Phone: 352-949-2166  Email: dixonjames444@gmail.com  He will also travel as a Kit Assembly Consultant through out the USA and internationally supervising your workers or your builders workers to get the dome kit assembled.
  • Bill Moorehead 706-213-0455 built his own 27’ wood dome and has also built an Ai Dome. He is interested in building domes for others. Elberton GA 30635.
  • Peter Kelley W: 404-782-2524, H: 404-782-6300 fax: 1-800-332-3827, PO BOX 167 or Oasis Dr. Lake Mont, GA 30552. Has built many domes including an Ai dome.

IDAHO:

  • Ron Reese Construction. He has built an Ai Dome in Sagle, ID 208-263-6193, 208-265-0702.

 IOWA: 

  • Contact Heather with StoneKing Enterprises. stonekingenterprises@gmail.com  work 319-393-1763; cell 319-521-5465. Builder in Robins and Cedar Rapids and surrounding areas.  Address 100 Front Street, Robins, IA 52328. Will bid Aidome kit assembly and finishing.