responsibility | AiDomes
Ai Warranty Against Dome Structural Damage
Exterior pilings2 Mowery platform
40′ Concrete Dome Withstood Hurricane Andrew With No Damage.
Your dome home is designed to withstand the powerful forces of nature. American Ingenuity’s warranty or  guarantee assures against any structural storm damage as a result of up to category 4 tornadoes and up to 225 mph hurricane winds on the triangle and riser panels.  This warranty does not apply to a Cupola, link, exterior doors, windows or exterior framed wall areas. Such a warranty has been unheard of in the construction industry until now.

Q: What are the advantages of the dome shape?
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.

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 accept the challenge to build and live in their own dome.

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.

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American Ingenuity warrants only the structure and is not liable for the loss of personal property, life, or limb. In the event of natural disasters, the occupants should evacuate when advised to do so by local authorities.  To read about a load test which proves the strength of the Ai component panel, click on Load Test.  Prior to hurricanes, glass doors and windows should be protected with code approved shutters.

The founder of American Ingenuity, Michael Busick, manufactured and built his first concrete dome in 1976. Since then no American Ingenuity Dome has suffered any structural damage due to hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes. As a matter of fact, only one of our domes has suffered any damage during this time due to a hurricane, earthquake or tornado. And that was in 1992 during Hurricane Andrew when a tornado slammed a two wide metal horse trailer against a 45′ American Ingenuity Dome. Minor damage occurred, a hairline crack and small chunk of concrete was broken loose. The dome owner caulked the crack and mixed up the special fiber concrete, filled the chunk and painted over the area.

In 2008, Hurricane Ike destroyed the Texas coast.  The Seabrook, Texas dome owners slept through the hurricane and had no damage to their dome while their neighbor’s homes suffered damage and the families could not sleep during the howling winds.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. One Ai dome owner could have moved back into her dome but the neighborhood did not have water or electricity.  Another family called and told us that  their conventional house was destroyed so they moved in to their dome while it was under construction.  The shell kit was assembled but the interior had not finished.

In 2004, Florida had four hurricanes, none of American Ingenuity’s concrete domes had any damage.
 
In 1992, Hurricane Andrew destroyed parts of South Florida and Homestead Florida.  An Ai dome not only survived Andrew but it survived a tornado and had no structural damage.   To read a recap of the hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquake, tree impact and lighting strike the American Ingenuity domes have survived without any structural damage, click on Hurricane Recap.

The following is taken directly from the American Ingenuity Conditions of Sale:

  • American Ingenuity warrants to the original Buyer that their triangle & riser panels will remain free from structural damage directly attributable to hurricane winds of up to 225 mph and category 4 tornadoes, when completely assembled and installed in accordance with: American Ingenuity’s specifications, Professional building practice, Applicable building codes.  This warranty does not apply to a Cupola, link, exterior doors, windows or exterior framed wall areas.
  • In the event such structural damage occurs: The Buyer shall notify American Ingenuity promptly of such damage. After receipt of notification, American Ingenuity shall repair or, at American Ingenuity’s option, provide the necessary replacement components at no charge to the Buyer. The buyer shall be responsible for freight charges and/or reasonable travel and living expense of American Ingenuity personnel for travel to the site, if necessary.
  • Disassembly and reassemble of any damaged component shall be the sole responsibility of the Buyer.
  • This structural warranty shall not apply if the products or components have been subjected to abuse, abnormal wear, corrosive environmental conditions, or improper maintenance by the Buyer.
  • This structural warranty shall not apply to any glass, utility domes, or related components, exterior doors, framed walls under entryways and dormers, cupola or link. 
  • American Ingenuity warrants only the structure and is no way liable for the loss of personal property, life, or limb. In the event of natural disasters, the occupants should evacuate when advised to do so by local authorities.
  • In no event shall American Ingenuity’s liability arising out of this agreement or use of the products or components provided by American Ingenuity exceed the amount paid by the buyer.  American Ingenuity shall not be liable for any special, incidental, or consequential damages.

Hurricane Ratings

The following information came from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes – FLASH, Inc. is a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization dedicated to promoting disaster safety and property loss mitigation. Their web site is http://www.flash.org

What is a Hurricane? A hurricane is a powerful tropical storm that measures several hundred miles in diameter. Hurricanes have two main parts. The first is the eye of the the hurricane, which is a calm area in the center of the storm. Usually, the eye of a hurricane measures about 20 miles in diameter and has very few clouds. The second part is the wall of clouds that surrounds the calm eye. This is where the hurricane’s strongest winds and heaviest rain occur.

How Hurricanes Form: Hurricanes need warm tropical oceans, moisture and light winds above them. If the right conditions last long enough, a hurricane can produce violent winds, incredible waves, torrential rains and floods. Hurricanes rotate in a counter clockwise direction around an “eye.” Hurricanes have winds of at least 74 miles per hour. There are on average six Atlantic hurricanes each year; over a three-year period, approximately five hurricanes strike the United States coastline from Texas to Maine.

Tropical Depression: A tropical depression is an organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 38 mph.

Tropical Storm: A tropical storm is an organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39-73 mph.

When a Hurricane Strikes: When hurricanes move onto land, the heavy rain, strong winds and heavy waves can damage buildings, trees and cars. The heavy waves are called a storm surge. Storm surge is very dangerous and a major reason why you MUST stay away from the ocean during a hurricane warning or hurricane.

The Saffir-Sinpson Hurricane Scale is used to rate a hurricane’s present intensity. The scale ranges from one to five and uses sustained wind speed to estimate the potential property damage and flooding from a hurricane landfall.

  • Category One — Wind Speed 74-95 mph. Damage: No real damage to building structures. Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery and trees; also some coast flooding and minor pier damage. Examples: Irene 1999, Allison 1995.
  • Category Two — Wind Speed 96-110 mph. Damage: Some roofing material, door and window damage to buildings; considerable damage to vegetation, mobile homes and piers. Coastal and low-lying escape routes flood in two to four hours before arrival of the center of the storm. Small craft in unprotected anchorages break moorings. Examples: Bonnie 1998, Georges 1998 and Gloria 1985.
  • Category Three — Wind Speed 111-130 mph. Damage: Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with a minor amount of curtain wall failures. Mobile homes are destroyed. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with large structures damaged by floating debris. Terrain continuously lower than five feet above sea level may be flooded inland eight miles or more. Examples: Keith 2000, Fran 1996, Opal 1995, Alicia 1983 and Betsy 1965.
  • Category Four — Wind Speed 131-155 mph. Damage: More extensive curtain wall failures with some complete roof structure failure on small residences; major erosion of beaches. Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore. Terrain continuously lower than ten feet above seal level may be flooded requiring massive evacuation of residential areas as far as six miles. Examples: Katrina 2005?Andrew 1992, Hugo 1989, Donna 1960.
  • Category Five — Wind Speed 155 ++++ Damage: Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located 15 feet above seal level and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within five to ten miles of the shoreline may be required. Examples: Mitch and Gilbert in 1988.

Exterior Hurricane Andrew Dome 6

American Ingenuity Dome went through Hurricane Andrew & Tornado with no structural damage.

Tornado picked up two wide steel horse trailer & slammed it against the dome. Only damage was hairline crack & small chunk of concrete missing. If the trailer had impelled conventional house, typically the trailer would cause a hole in the house to let wind in to lift the roof off the house.  The Ai dome stood strong.

Tornadoes

What is a Tornado? Tornadoes are the most sudden, unpredictable and violent storms on earth. Tornadoes aren’t like hurricanes that are born over open waters and can take days to reach land. Tornadoes are spawned from thunderstorms that form when warm humid air meets a mass of cool, dry air. Only one in a hundred thunderstorms produce a tornado. They can happen quickly and often stay on the ground for only a few minutes. While Florida gets the most tornadoes of any state, a strip of land that extends from northeast Texas through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri has more tornadoes than any other place in the United States. That area is called “Tornado Alley.”

The dangers of tornadoes: During the last century, more than 10,000 Americans died in tornadoes. About 1,000 tornadoes are recorded each year in the U.S. — over 10 times more than in any other country. Tornadoes can happen in any state, at any time — on the plains, in cities or forests, early in the morning or late in the evening. They can start in an empty field, or in a busy city, picking up homes, cars and businesses, leaving nothing but destruction in their path.

Ranking a Tornadoes Strength

The Fujita Scale: The Fujita Scale is used to measure tornado wind speeds and damage.

  • F0 Gale Tornado: Light damage, winds less than 72 mph. Some damage to chimneys, branches broken off trees, shallow-rooted trees uprooted, signboards damaged.
  • F1 Moderate Tornado: Moderate damage, winds 73-112 mph. Surface peeled off roofs, mobile homes pushed off foundations or overturned, moving autos blown off road.
  • F2 Significant Tornado: Considerable damage, winds 113-157 mph. Roofs torn off frame houses, mobile homes demolished, large trees snapped or uprooted, light objects become missiles.
  • F3 Severe Tornado: Severe Damage, winds 158-206 mph. Roofs and some walls torn off well-constructed houses, trains overturned, most trees uprooted, heavy cars lifted off the ground and thrown.
  • F4 Devastating Tornado: Devastating damage, winds 207-260 mph. Well-constructed houses leveled, structures with weak foundations blown-off some distance, cars thrown.
  • F5 Incredible Tornado: Incredible damage, wind 261-318 mph. Strong frame houses lifted off foundations and swept away, automobile-sized missiles fly through the air more than 100 yards, trees debarked.

American Ingenuity can design custom or modified basement plans for a reasonable fee. The Ai prefabricated panelized home kit can be built on a basement.

(Click left and right arrows in picture)

To view floor plans by dome size, some of which have a basement designed, click on Stock Plans. If you do not see a stock plan to fit your lifestyle, Ai can modify or customize a plan based on your notes or sketches.  Please email your sketch or notes by clicking on Contact Us. The Plans Coordinator will review your sketches and contact you to clarify your needs and email a Plans Quote.  During the basement plans design, Ai will email a basement questionnaire.  When you want Ai to start the design of your plans, pay in full for your plans, engineering and agree to the Plans Quote.

To complete an foundation other than concrete slab, Ai hires a local PE engineer.  He requires a soil report or Geotechnical Report where a soil engineer makes recommendations on the type foundations which can be built on that type soil. Talk with a foundation subcontractor and determine which type foundation fits your budget.  The engineer reviews your soil report and the type foundation you want designed, calculates the load of the dome and its interior floors to determine joist size and spacing and wall design.  Ai then incorporates his designs into your basement building plans.  Depending on the type foundation to be designed, his fee is $200 to $500.

This is not the fee for a engineer licensed for your state to seal your building plans and basement plans. The Engineer’s Seal fee is $900 for one dome on a basement.  FYI prior to utilizing the independent engineer to seal the plans, Ai had to hire engineering firms and architectural firms. Their fee was minimum $2,000 to $3,000 to seal plans for one dome on a basement. The seal fee varied depending on the square footage in the dome.

Ai can provide plans for basement wall systems from poured on site concrete walls or concrete block walls or insulated concrete forms (ICF) or precast basement wall panels.

Soil, soil, soil.  The dome’s standard footing size is 20″ tall by 16″ wide with slab 4″. Foundation should be built on undisturbed native soil or fill – with soil compacted to 98% density for a minimum of 2,000 psf of bearing pressure. If your bearing capacity is less, then the engineer can increase your footer size and slab thickness. For example the soil for a dome being built in California was 1,500 psf. Its footer was increased to  20″x20″ and slab was increased to 6″.  In some instances the footer may need to be an augured footing three feet down to hit cap rock.  In other instances your footings may need to rest on wood pilings driven 40’ into the ground in order to get to solid soil.  Ai does not determine the type foundation you need for your dome.  You tell us what type footing and basement you desire based on your soil report.  Generally a foundation cannot be built on clay and  basement walls cannot be back filled with clay.

We are a manufacturer of dome housing kits and do not manufacture basement walls, please contact your local basement subcontractors for basement construction costs.

Full basements are the same size and shape as the dome first floor. The multiple sided foundation for the Ai dome can cost 15% to 25% more than a rectangle basement.

Basement walls are usually 8″ thick when made of poured concrete but will likely increase depending on the height of the basement wall and the height of the back fill.

The plans show  rebars coming out of the basement walls to connect into the seams between the dome prefab riser panels and into the front and back of each entryway base panel and each first floor door dormer base panel, etc.  Vertical rebars come out of the footings thru the buttress walls into the dome panels. Buttress walls support the entryway and first floor door dormer panels.  The horizontal rebars in the buttress walls connect the buttress wall to the basement walls.   After the basement is poured while the concrete is still malleable, insert in the top of the basement walls per the foundation plan the tie down hook rebars that go into the horizontal riser seams.

When the dome is built on a basement, the first floor framing of the dome is typically built with wood 2×10’s which are hung on the inside of the concrete basement walls.

Should I build a second dome for a garage or build a basement under the dome to use for my garage?  The main determining factor on which kind of garage is built is whether your land is flat or sloped and your budget.

If your land is flat, we recommend a dome garage or conventional garage because building a dome on an above ground basement  causes the access of the dome first floor via basement stairs or exterior stairs.  Ai can design a lift if sufficient room in the basement or a rail chair on the stairs to access the dome from the basement.

If your land is sloped and the dome is built on a basement, parts of the first floor of the dome can be accessed at ground level or a few steps from ground level. Then building your dome on a basement is the better choice.  When this is done, some parts of the basement will be open so cars can be driven into the basement.  Other parts will be back filled with dirt so you can walk out the first floor of the dome to access your land.

For a complete summary of all types of foundations that can be used with the American Ingenuity Domes, click on Foundation Summary.

Ai DOMES BUILT ON BASEMENTS

8″ thick solid concrete basement walls for 34′ Dome
 
34′ Dome Home on poured concrete basement walls
Back view of the above 34′ dome; this  side of the basement is bermed with dirt and French drain installed
Front view of the same dome with basement entrance.
Photo looking down into basement from second floor of 45′ Dome
Basement under 45′ Dome House
34′ Dome Home on basement

Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) Basement Walls being built for 40′ Aidome 

 

40′ Basement ICF Walls with French Drain installed and footers back filled. 

Q: Does American Ingenuity modify or design custom basement plans?
A:
Yes, Ai can design custom or modified basement plans for a reasonable cost. Fax or email your sketch to us and we will call back with questions and complete a Plans Quote with fees for Ai to design your dome building plans and basement building plans.

Q: Can Ai design basement plans using concrete block, poured walls or insulated concrete forms?
A:
Yes, we can provide plans for most types of basement wall systems utilizing poured on site concrete or blocks or insulated concrete forms or precast basement wall panels.

Q: What materials can be used to build the basement walls?
A:
A company named Superior Walls supplies precast insulated concrete wall panels. Their number is 800-452-9255 or go to their web site www.superiorwalls.com

The following came directly from their site: The Superior Walls system consists of wall panels built with steel-reinforced concrete studs, 1″ rigid Dow® insulation, a reinforced top and bottom bond (footer) beams, along with a concrete facing approximately 2″ thick. The bond beams and concrete facing are cast in one continuous pour. Studs are connected by encapsulating vertical rebars and galvanized hooks and pins which protrude from the top, bottom, and back of each stud. Pressure-treated furring strips are pre-attached to the inner face of each stud. This provides the base for the owner/builder to finish the basement without having to add any additional studding. Holes are cast into each stud to accommodate wiring and small-diameter plumbing. The top bond beam is perforated to allow for bolting of the pressure-treated sill plates.

INSTALLATIONThe SUPERIOR WALLS System:  The panels are set on a bed of compacted stone which serves as a bearing layer as well as a drainage control system under the foundation. Once in place, the panels are bolted together at the top and bottom and sealed with a gun-applied adhesive-sealant. The owner/builder or builder then pours the floor slab inside the wall system.

Foam Blocks filled with Concrete are referred to as ICF for Insulated Concrete Forms. These blocks are easy to use and provide insulation. Their high cost is offset by labor savings in the assembly. Some of the many manufacturers are listed below. Call and ask them for the nearest supplier to you.  One of the engineers utilized by Ai to engineer seal its building plans, prefers ARXX ICF wall to building a basement wall with concrete blocks.  The ARXX ICF panel is 16″ by 4′ long which makes for quicker basement wall construction.

Reward Wall System, 800-468-6344, www.rewardwalls.com

Poly Steel, Albuquerque NM, 800-977-3676, www.polysteel.com

Insul Deck, Florence KY, 800-475-6720, www.insul-deck.org

Arxx, Alexandria Bay NY, 315-482-5253, www.arxx.net

Q: How is the below ground basement built and how is the dome attached to the basement walls?
A:
The below ground basement can have the slab poured first with the exterior basement walls built on top of the slab or the footings can be poured separate with the exterior basement wall built on top of the footings and then the slab poured inside the basement wall. Basement walls are usually 8″ thick when made of poured concrete but will likely increase depending on the height of the basement wall and the height of the backfill.

Ai has basement plans available that explain how the dome is attached to the basement, etc. for example rebars need to come out of the basement wall to connect into the seams between the dome riser panels and into the front and back of each entryway base panel and each first floor door dormer base panel.  Vertical rebars come out of the footings thru the buttress walls into the dome panels. Buttress walls support the entryway and first floor door dormers.  The horizontal rebars in the buttress walls connect the buttress wall to the basement walls.  After the basement is poured while the concrete is still malleable, insert in the top of the basement walls per the foundation plan the tie down hook rebars that go into the bottom horizontal riser seams.

When the dome is built on a basement, the first floor framing of the dome is typically built with wood 2×10’s, hung on the side of the basement walls and are supported by any interior basement walls or designed posts. The riser panels rests on the basement wall.  When the riser panels bottom seam is concreted, the concrete continues down the side of the basement wall six inches.

Q: How thick are the basement walls?
A:
Basement walls are usually 8″ thick when made of poured concrete but will likely increase depending on the height of the basement wall and the height of the back fill.

Q: If I build my dome on a basement, will I need to install a French drain?
A:
Yes. Included in the basement building plans will be a French drain sheet. The steps to install the French drain are:

  1. Cover any part of the basement wall that will be in touch with soil with a tar emulsion (designed for this purpose). This waterproof coat should extend down to (and if possible, under) the polyethylene vapor barrier.
  2. If you wish, you may add additional waterproofing. Apply roofing felt over the tar emulsion, overlapping the edges 6” and sealing the felt with more tar. Place the roofing paper over the outside of the vapor barrier to shed water. Then, give the whole wall one more coat of tar. This extra investment will provide a superior measure of protection against moisture. Please, don’t cut corners.
  3. Place a perforated drainpipe (at least 3” in diameter to 4” in diameter. For long lengths), holes down, into the gravel bed. The pipe should be below the floor level and drop 1” for every 8’ of length. This discharges water into an area lower than the dome itself and allows quick drainage away from the building. Lay pipe in the gravel bed and cover gravel with two layers of roofing felt to prevent dirt from penetrating into the gravel.
  4. Backfill the entire area.

Foundations for Ai Domes can be built utilizing the same foundation choices as conventional housing. The standard foundation that comes with Ai’s building plans is a concrete slab; however Ai can design basements, stem walls, pilings, concrete block columns with assistance of local engineer.

Poured slab for 34' dome linked to 45' dome.

Concrete slabs poured for 45′ dome linked to 34′ dome

8.18 rebar in footing Kaufman picture assembly 051

Forms in place, footers being poured.  45′ dome.

8.19 rebar in finished slab Kaufman picture assembly 095

Finishing slab for 45′ Dome.

8.20 rebars in finished slab Kaufman picture assembly 096

Finishing slab for 45′ dome.
Vertical Rebars at corners to extend between two risers
or where riser meets entryway or door dormer base panel

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Due to three foot frost level, stem wall is built above footer to keep footer below frost line. 

Aidome owner used Fox Blocks for their Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) for their stem wall.

40′ Aidome linked to 34′ dome showing slab & stem wall ready to be poured – Colorado

40′ Aidome linked to 34′ dome showing slab & stem wall ready to be poured – Colorado

40′ Aidome linked to 34′ dome showing poured slab on ICF Stem Wall – Colorado

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Stroupe basment wall

Concrete Block Basement Wall for 45′ dome.
Ai can design poured on site basement walls,
Superior Wall Concrete Poured Walls
or Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) basement walls.

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40′ Basement Walls being built from Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF)

 

American Ingenuity domes can be built utilizing the same foundation choices as conventional housing.

The foundation types that Ai designs are:

  1. A monolithic concrete slab
  2. Poured footing with a stem wall and then a poured slab on fill
  3. Poured footing with a stem wall and then a raised wood floor
  4. Basement – concrete block, ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms), poured on site concrete basement walls or poured concrete walls brought in and assembled on site.
  5. Pilings and a platform or columns and a platform.  Or pilings under columns with grade level concrete beam tying pilings together with platform.

The type of foundation that is built for your new home depends on which is more advantageous for your area, what your building department requires and what is required for your type soil.

The standard foundation that comes with Ai’s building plans is a concrete slab. For Ai to design any other foundation other than concrete slab, a local engineer is hired.  He requires a soil’s report where the soil engineer recommends what type foundation be built for that type soil. Take the soil engineer’s recommendations and ask local builder of foundation subcontractor about installation costs for those type foundations.  Let us know what type foundation fits your budget and your soil and we will pass your soil report and type foundation you want designed to the local engineer.  The local PE engineer then quotes a fee of $200 to $500 to give Ai details for your foundation design.  He calculates the load of the dome and its interior floors to determine wall or column or piling design.  Ai then incorporates the engineer’s designs into your building plans.  

The dome’s standard footing size is 20″ tall by 16″ wide with slab 4″. Foundation should be built on undisturbed native soil or fill – with soil compacted to 98% density for a minimum of 2,000 psf of bearing pressure. If your bearing capacity is less, then the engineer can increase your footer size and slab thickness. For example the soil for a dome being built in California was 1,500 psf. Its footer was increased to  20’x20″ and slab was increased to 6″.

For stock plan pricing and plan information, view Stock Plan Pricing, and Building Plans. For sale pricing on the building plans, click on Sale and scroll down the page to see the plans sale pricing.  For raised wood floor designs or other designs call or email for a quote.

American Ingenuity’s stock building plan pricing is for two sets of Building Plans that contain all blueprints typically provided with any type of housing and include floor plans, exterior elevations and dome shell section view, top view showing panel placement, floor joist framing plans, structural details, and locations of plumbing and electrical fixtures. Plumbing, electrical and HVAC diagrams are not provided because Ai has found that the sub-contractors performing those functions know how they want to layout your electrical, plumbing and HVAC and should be the ones completing these diagrams. 

Feel Free to call Ai with your questions. Contact us at 321-639-8777 Monday through Friday 9 to 5 eastern time.

The following are some of our most asked foundation items

  • Ai can replace a concrete slab foundation with a raised wood floor and design the first floor joist. 
  • All foundations are designed and laid out with hook tie down rebar in the bottom riser horizontal seams, rebar into each of the riser wall seams and a rebar extends up in the front and back of each entryway riser panel, first floor door dormer and other areas.  The building plans are specific about rebar locations and size.  The riser seams are filled with concrete as the dome kit is assembled. Once the riser wall seams (horizontal and vertical) are filled with concrete the dome is secure to the slab. The riser panel placement is based on an radii dimension that is taken from the center of the floor to the inside surface of the riser panels. When the riser panel’s bottom seam areas are filled, the concrete continues along the side of the foundation. If your dome is built on a basement or pilings or columns, rebars are designed to come up into each riser wall seam from the basement walls, pilings or columns.
  • Ai’s dome is lighter than most other buildings; as a result it has less loading on the foundation.
  • The multiple sided foundation of the Ai dome causes its cost to be 15% to 25% more than a conventional slab.
  • The concrete slab perimeter can be insulated if code allows.  For example in some areas in Florida perimeter insulation is not permitted due to termites.  

I think I need to build my foundation off the ground.

First of all, how high off the ground does the first floor need to be?  If you do not know.  Call the building department who governs your property, give property tax ID number and ask if there is a finished floor height requirement for that site.

If your dome has to be elevated eight to ten feet off the ground: Due to a wave of water, then the dome can be built on concrete columns and a concrete platform or wood platform with concrete columns or wood pilings.  If you desire enclosed rooms or a garage under the platform, then break-a-way basement walls can be installed or basement walls with Fema vents

If your dome has to be raised two to three feet  construct a concrete slab onto the fill.

If your dome has to be raised four to five feet,  consider building a stem wall:

  • Bring in fill dirt to fill within the stem wall and pour a concrete slab onto the fill and build a stem wall. (most economical and energy efficient)
  • If you desire a crawl space, install a wood floor that sets on piers and beams. You would have a crawl space. (This is more expensive.)

BASEMENTS

If your terrain is hilly, basement walls can be built under the dome.   Email your sketch and we will call with questions and provide a plans quote for Ai to design that type basement and layout. 

Ai can provide building  plans for most types of basement wall systems utilizing concrete or block including insulated concrete forms or precast concrete basement wall panels. To complete the basement designs, a local engineer is hired to review your soil report, calculate the load of the dome and its interior floors to determine footer size, basement load bearing wall location or basement post location and post size to support the load of the interior dome floors, etc.  Ai provides proofs showing various options for where basement load bearing walls or posts could be located, beam size, etc. so you can determine what design is best for you. Ai then incorporates these items into your building plans.  Depending on the type foundation to be designed the local engineer fee is $200 to $500.  Please call our office at 321-639-8777 for more info and engineer pricing.

Ai is a manufacturer of dome housing kits, Ai does not manufacture basement walls. To obtain installation bids, at no cost to you, Ai will email sample blueprints for that type foundation so you can show your local subcontractors. 

Full basements are the same size and shape as the dome first floor. The multiple sided foundation for the dome can cost 15% to 25% more to construct than a conventional slab.

Basement walls are usually 8″ thick when made of poured concrete but will likely increase depending on the height of the basement wall and the height of the back fill.  Prior to back filling, seal the basement walls and install French Drain above the footers to remove water..

When the dome is built on a basement, the first floor framing of the dome is typically built with wood 2×10’s which are hung on the side of the basement walls with Simpson hangers.  You can use wood joists or manufactured trusses for the floor joists. 

PILINGS AND PLATFORM

Have you checked with your local building department to see what type foundation they require your house to be built on? If you live near the ocean or water, the building department may require concrete or wood pilings driven into the ground versus concrete columns on a grade level beam with footers under each column.   When there is a potential for waves of water washing soil out from under your house, the local building department usually requires pilings.  If your property is near the ocean or gulf then the federal government, Fema could decide what foundation type your house will have.  

Whether you use concrete pilings or concrete columns, Ai can design a wood or concrete platform under the dome and a deck made out of composite or pressure treated wood with the assistance of a local engineer.  Your building department will require the piling and platform plans and the dome plans to be engineer sealed. These seals can be purchased through Ai.
45′ Aidome built on elevated concrete platform
w’ basement parking, concrete columns, decks & stairs.

CONCRETE SLAB

Slabs poured for Dome   Dome House on Slab Same Dome  


CONCRETE PILINGS AND CONCRETE PLATFORM

Pilings with oval Concrete Platform

for 40′ Dome Home

 

Ai Concrete Dome Home with Cupola Built in Mid 80’s. Cupolas look different now…not so tall with overhang panels extending out from the top panels.
Ai does not recommend raised seams, install flat or rounded seams.

DOMES BUILT ON BASEMENTS

8″ thick solid concrete
basement walls for 34′ Dome
First Floor wood joists

 

34′ Dome Home
on Poured Concrete basement wall

Back view of same dome Front view of same dome with basement entrance.

 

 Interior View looking down into basement from second floor of 45′ Dome.

Exterior View of the same  basement
showing 45′ Dome House

34′ Dome Home on Basement

The following info answers some of American Ingenuity’s most commonly asked Dome Plans FAQ – frequently asked questions.

Bay window off dining room over looking deck.

Bay window off dining room over looking deck in 45′ dome dining room.

American Ingenuity (Ai) has a plans design department that can customize any floor plan to fit your lifestyle. The Oliver’s wanted a bay window to overlook their deck.   As a result an entryway was installed with this beautiful window.  To view plans sale pricing and kit sale pricing for each specific stock plan, click on Stock Plans & Kit Sale Pricing.   Please scroll down the page to find the chart.

Q: How do I view your stock floor plans for the prefab home dome kit?

A:  Click on Stock Plans to view stock plans for each of Ai’s ten size dome kits.  Once you are on the page scroll down to see the hyperlinks to click on. To view plans & pictures for Tiny Home, click on Tiny Domes.    If you do not see a stock plan to fit your lifestyle, Ai can modify or customize a plan or Ai can design a custom plan from your sketches and notes.  If you want stock plan layouts mailed, call Ai at  321-639-8777 for printing cost and mailing cost.

Q: How do we determine what size dome is best for my family?

A: First check the 10 Steps to Building Ai Dome and second review stock plans on our website to see how the area within a dome is utilized

  • To view info to assist in custom plan design, click on these four links: Getting Started, Floor Planner Guidelines, Revising Stock Plans and Things to Consider.
  • Then compare these sample floor plans with the rooms and square footages of houses you are familiar with by using the to-scale ruler in the back of the booklet or on the emailed plan.
  • Compare your finances and construction costs to avoid designing a project that is beyond a realistic budget. On our home page, download our Financing Booklet.  FYI, a smaller dome could be built first with a link where a second dome can be added later. 
  • Think about the future will you need to increase or downsize your home size?
  • If you had to move what size home would sell best?

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

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

Q: What size dome do I build if I do not want a second floor?
A:
The 15′, 18′, 22′, 27′, 30′, 34, 36′ and 40′ domes would be suitable for homes with only a first floor. However any of the domes can be built without a second floor.

Because of the shape of the dome, a second floor is a natural. If you choose to construct a larger dome and include the second floor, you can install an elevator, chair rail on your stairs or a lift to access the second floor. Click on Rail Chairs to learn more.

You could design all your living space and master bedroom and bath on the first floor, and put a guest bedroom and bath on the second floor and use the second floor rooms for guests or for storage.

Q: Can the dome be made handicap accessible?
A: Yes. All of the dome floor plans can be modified to be handicap accessible. The cost to do this depends upon the complexity of the plan. Contact us for a price quote. Click on Accessible to learn more.

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Ai’s philosophy is that each person pay for only what they need.  Ai does not burden the price of the building kit with plan’s pricing, engineer seal cost or energy report cost. Building plans are purchased  three months to 1 1/2 years prior to kit shipment.  About 50% of the building departments require engineer sealed plans and an energy report to issue a permit. As a result each customer pays for their plans separately from the building kit and pays for a seal and energy report only if their building department requires them.

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Q: What items should I consider when planning to build an American Ingenuity geodesic dome?
A:
The building industry is not only behind the times, it moves slowly! We cannot stress enough the importance of starting your preparations early for all aspects of building. What you think may take two months can easily consume four or five months or more. To have any hope of beginning the actual construction on time you must at least double the time you think it will take to acquire blueprints, financing, building permits, contractors or subcontractors. Optimists should triple their expectations.

Once your land has been acquired, blueprints are usually the first step.

  • Some Building Departments require that blueprints be sealed or approved by one of their state architects or engineers prior to giving permits, which takes additional time. Click on Building Permit to learn more.
  • Mortgage lenders move slower than you may anticipate. Click on Financing Overview to lean more.
  • Remember to allow time to have the land cleared, prepped and ready for the foundation. All permits pertaining to electrical, telephone, water, septic tanks, sewer hookups, driveway and building….will take time. Click on Planning Process to learn more.
  • Also increased demand for American Ingenuity Dome Kits has forced us to assign shipping dates as much as 8-12 weeks in advance. If you intend to begin building in the summer start the process one to two years before. Other expectant homeowners will be clogging the system by spring, so if you are the early bird they will be waiting behind you instead of vice versa.

Q: How do I plan for expansion -building an additional dome at a future date?
A:
When designing your first dome, you can prepare for future expansion by placing an entryway or link at the location where you will later connect another dome. If we are providing you with customized plans, we can design them for the future expansion. When you order your first dome, we can provide instructions and materials that will make the connection easier.

Q: Can the domes have basements or be built upon stilts or pilings?
A:
Yes. To complete these designs, a local engineer is hired to calculate the load of the dome and its interior floors to determine joist size and spacing and wall/column/piling design.  Ai then incorporates his designs into your building plans.  Call for engineer pricing.  Any of our domes can be built upon a basement, stilts or pilings. You determine how many openings you want in the basement walls for garage doors or for windows and doors, and you determine if and how many of the basement sides you want bermed with dirt. Full basements are the same size and shape as the dome first floor. Click on Foundations to learn more.

Also what do you use for floor joists? Wood, steel, manufactured trusses, whatever you prefer. How thick of a basement wall is required for the domes? Basement walls are usually 8″ thick when made of poured concrete but will likely increase depending on the height of the basement wall and the height of the backfill.

Ai can provide a design, which places the dome on concrete pilings. Sometimes Ai recommends an above ground basement with breakaway walls instead of pilings.

Bear in mind that building any structure upon pilings will increase the cost significantly and require you to climb a flight of stairs each time you go in the house. If in your location, it is a requirement then you have no other choice.

Q: Do you sell basement wall kits?
A:
No. Ai manufacturers dome housing kits. We do not manufacture or build basement walls. Although we do design the basement building plans using premade wall panels, ICFs or concrete blocks. You would need to contact a local subcontractor for basement construction costs and to find out what type basements are best built in your area.

Q: What is the standard foundation included with the stock plans?

A: Concrete slab. For Ai to design a basement or concrete columns or stem wall or pilings, etc. an engineer fee is added to your Plans Quote. This is to cover the cost for a structural engineer to calculate the load of the dome and the load of the two floors within the dome and give joist/edge beam size/spacing and foundation design to our CAD department to incorporate within the plans. Call for engineer pricing.

Q: Can I have windows above doors in an entryway?
A:
Yes. By using high profile entryways in your building plans, you can include glass or standard windows over a door, set of doors, or bank of conventional windows. The glass above the doors or windows could be half-moon shaped or be stained glass, etc. Any room with a cathedral ceiling, such as a foyer or living room, can benefit from this striking architectural feature. Click on Window Sizes to learn more.

Q: Will l feel closed in, in the dome?
A:
No. In our domes you can install an abundant number of windows and doors. Your budget and your floor plan selection determine the number of doors or windows you will have. There can be up to five entryways on the first floor of the 30’ through 48’ domes and you can have up to five window dormers or door dormers on the second floor of the 27’ or 34’ through 48’ domes.  (No second floor window or door dormers are available in 22’ or 30’ domes.  If there is a first floor standard entryway, there can be a second floor door dormer above it.  Instead of installing a door, install a tall window (2’x5’) to let light in a room or to let light into a high vaulted ceiling area.

 Q: Do your Building Plans come with an Engineer’s seal?
A:
No. Although over 30 different engineers have reviewed our Building Plans, the plans do not come with an engineer’s seal for the following reasons.
 

Less than half of our dome owners need engineer sealed Building Plans to obtain a building permit and rather than adding the engineer cost to all plans or burden the price of the building kit, it is more economical to have the plans sealed as needed.

  •  As the designer and manufacturer, we would not hesitate to guarantee the structural integrity of our dome and we do just that with our guarantee.
  • Each state only accepts a seal from an engineer who is registered in that state which prevents us from applying any seal that would be universally accepted.
  • When an engineer seals a set of plans he is taking responsibility for the structural design for a single dome in the location intended and the seal would not apply to other projects.

Q: What format do I email floor plan drawings to you?
A:
jpeg format or bmp format (windows bit map). Alternatively, if you are using AutoCAD, we can accept the documents in dxf format or dwg format saved in 2013 or older program. Please include your name, telephone number and the best time(s) to contact you.  

Q: What programs can I use to read dxf format?
A:
You can read and edit the dxf files if you have AutoCAD program, any other computer aided drafting program, a photo editor program like adobe or paint shop. You can read the dxf files but not edit them using Microsoft word and power point. The web site http://www.deltacad.com has a computer aided drafting program that can be downloaded and used  free for 30 days.

You can use computer programs to draw your floor plans; although, we can use a hand drawn sketch that is faxed to us just as easily as a CAD drawing. We have to reenter all of your information into our system and we will likely agree upon some changes for your benefit.

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

The topside exterior of the five panels of the cupola and the underside exterior of the eave are prefinished, while the topside and edges of the eave are stuccoed onsite.

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

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

For an observatory on top of the dome, you would not need a cupola. The top or any part of the dome will easily support the weight of people. All that would be needed would be a railing around the top and some way to access the top of the dome, i.e. sculptured concrete steps. Click on Building Options to learn more. 

Q: Why do the square footages on the Specifications Page differ from the square footages listed on the stock floor plans?
A:
On the Specifications Page the first floor and second floor square footage listed is the maximum amount of square footage possible. The first floor square footage is maxed out because only one entryway is considered. The second floor square feet (sq.ft.) listed is what is possible if you built in the second floor leaving only one fifth open to the first floor. The first floor ceiling height would then be 7 1/2′ in the 30’ and 34′ domes and 8′ tall in the larger domes.

The first floor square footages on the stock floor plans vary from the Specification Page because:

  • More than one entryway was designed in each of these plans. Every additional entryway on the first floor of the dome will reduce the first floor square footage.
  • In the stock floor plans, the second floor square footage varies from the Specifications Page because some stock plans have one third of the second floor left open while others can have up to half of the second floor left open. Providing you with a dramatic high-vaulted ceiling over your first floor living and dining rooms.
  • The second floor square footage on stock plans consists of all the illustrated second floor space to the knee wall. On site the second floor knee wall is built along the dome perimeter out 2×4’s and covered with drywall to a height of two to three feet. AC ducting and second floor suspension rods can be hidden behind the knee wall. Electrical outlets can be placed on the knee wall.

Residential Building Plan sets contain all the blueprints typically provided with any type of housing and include floor plans, exterior elevations, dome shell section view, top view showing panel nomenclature, floor joist framing plans, structural details, and locations for plumbing and electrical fixtures.  To view stock plans for each of our ten different size dome kits, click on Stock Plans.  If you do not see a plan to fit your lifestyle, Ai can modify its stock plans or design custom plans for a reasonable fee. 

If you do not have the time or do not want to assemble the dome shell kit, American Ingenuity knows of a Kit Assembly Consultant that will come to your site, and supervise your laborers or your contractor’s laborers and get the dome shell kit assembled with one layer of concrete in the seams and on the entryways and dormers.

Q: Prior to purchasing Residential Building Plans, what do I need to consider?

A: You need to assure you have answers to the following questions:

  1. Does the deed for your land have any restrictions on domes?
  2. Are you within 1-2 years of building?
  3. If there is a Home Owners Association governing your land, you will need to check with them and make sure you can build a dome.
  4. What is required from your building department to obtain a building permit?
  5. Do you have your financing secured?
  6. If the answers to the above questions are positive then you can fax or email us your modified sketch.

Click on Planning Process to learn more.

Q: If I purchase Building Plans for one size dome and later change my mind, can I get a refund?

A: No Ai cannot issue a refund.

Q: When should we purchase our dome building plans?

A: Ai recommends that our clients design their floor plan when they are one to two years from building their dome. If you design your plan before then, you may see model homes or get ideas from other plans that may cause you to want to change your original floor plan ideas.

Q: When can I move into my dome?

A: If you have to obtain a building permit before you can build, then you have to submit a set of Building Plans. If you do not have to obtain a building permit then you can move into the dome once the shell is weather tight. But typically the building department will not allow you to live in the dome until the interior and exterior are finished per the building plans.

Q What are the contents of your Residential Building Plans? A: Stock sets generally have 13-17 pages per each set. Building plans include the basic drawings for the dome that are needed when acquiring a building permit. They are composed on our computer aided drafting system as stock plans, or based on your individual requirements and design. Some of the pages are a 3-D elevation and a 3-D perspective view.

American Ingenuity’s Building Plans contain all of the typical drawings and details – usually 13-17 sheets. The blueprints included in your plans are based on the type of entryways, dormers and foundation that are designed in your plans. Some of the Blueprint names are:
• Cover Sheet
• Legend Sheet
• First Floor Plan
• Second Floor Plan
• Dome Panel Nomenclature
• Exterior Elevations
• 1st Floor Electrical Plan (shows location of electrical outlets, lighting fixtures, smoke detectors)
• 2nd Floor Electrical Plan (shows location of electrical outlets, lighting fixtures, smoke detectors)
• Foundation Plan
• Foundation Details
• 2nd Floor Framing Plan
• Typical Dome Section
• Standard Entryway Details
• High Profile Entryway Details
• 1st Floor Window Dormer & Door Dormer Details
• 2nd Floor Dormer Details
• Stair Details
• Cupola Blueprint if ordered
• Link Blueprint if ordered

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 the subs like to design their own layouts.

Q: Do your Building Plans include the electrical, plumbing and HVAC diagrams?

A: No. Ai has found if these layouts are included, then the inspectors require the subcontractors to follow the diagrams when the subs like to design their own layouts based on their installation method. Ask you building department if these layouts are required for you to obtain a building permit. Ai will email finished floor plan layouts in pdf so your subcontractors can design the layouts.

Q: Why do you charge extra to modify your stock Building Plans?

A: If there is no change to load bearing walls, there will be no extra fee.  However quite often our clients send us sketches that require the load bearing walls to change. This change then affects the foundation sheet, the second floor framing sheet and other sheets.  Some of the footer locations in the concrete slab foundation are based upon the location of the first floor load bearing walls, which help support the second floor. Plus the dome riser panels set on a perimeter footer in the slab. Also parts of the second floor are suspended by rods into the dome shell. These rods are inserted and buried in the seam concrete during the shell assembly. So we need to design your floor plan per your sketch and then design the structural sheets that the slab subcontractor, shell assembler, framer, etc. need to follow. So yes you would pay us a fee for us to modify our stock plans per your sketch and produce sets of building plans.

Q: I understand that you can suspend parts of the second floor from the dome shell so we can have an open first floor plan. Is this true?

A: Yes, the second floor can be suspended from the dome shell and allow you to have as open a first floor as you desire. Keep in mind that it is more economical to use some of the first floor walls as supports. Long spans with floor joists will require more expensive materials to provide the strength for suspension rods that pass through the second floor.  The suspension rods and plates are purchased from American Ingenuity.

Q: How is the square footage determined in the Dome Plans?

A: Remember in a conventional house you have an attic that cannot normally be used. Because of the dome shape a second floor can be installed that is useable. So even if some square footage around the second floor perimeter cannot be used there is still more useable square footage in a dome than a conventional house with attic under truss roof.  Building Plans second floor square footage includes the area starting at five feet to the top of the dome. For example in 27′ dome the center of the 2nd floor is 9’1″ tall; the center of the second floor in 36′ dome 10 feet tall; the center of the second floor in 45′ dome is 13 feet 7 inches tall.  The second floor square footage is calculated from the top of the dome down to where the exterior dome walls slope to five feet.  Around the perimeter of the second floor at the five feet of height, bed headboard, or night stands, or desk or dresser can be placed.  The Tax Assessor uses these numbers, so your taxes will be less.

Click on Square Footage to learn more.

Q: I am concerned about having a second floor and using the stairs. What do you recommend?

A:  Ai can design a dome floor plan layout without a second floor.  Because of the spherical shape of the dome a second floor is a natural. To access the second and third floors instead of an elevator, install an electric winch powered lift in a 4’x4’ area or an elevator to get to the second floor, or you could use a stair railing chair. You could design all your living space and master bedroom and bath on the first floor, and design a guest bedroom and bath on the second floor and use the rooms for guests or for storage.  Click on Lifts and Elevators to learn more.

Q: I understand that very few of your clients ever sell their dome. As a result, the dome ends up becoming a retirement home, should I make it handicap accessible?

A: Yes. It is a easy modification to the plans to make the entire downstairs area wheelchair accessible, (32″ or 36″ doorways, handicap accessible shower stall, bathroom, etc.).

Q: How are two domes joined together and should I plan extensions onto my Entryways?

A: If you are planning a complex of domes, the plans are joined at entryways or door dormers to form a link. The link will vary in width according to the size of the domes’ entryways and can vary in length from 2 feet to 10 feet.

While many companies offer the alternatives of large links and room extensions to the dome, American Ingenuity feels they are not in your best interest. Among the reasons:

  • When floor space is increased using an extension or link, the exposed surface area is greater than for the square footage within a dome. This results in less energy efficiency and a higher cost per square foot.
  • Construction is more involved and time consuming
  • The overall scale, relationship between elements and proportion of the home are adversely affected.
  • The visual impact of the design is lessened.
  • Good chance of leaking where the extension long flat roof butts into the dome shell. The expansion and the contraction associated with temperature changes produces the flex or separation at the link. We have considered expansion joints but they are not trouble free either. We have concluded the adding of elastomeric patching compound with exterior paint where the link panels touch the dome panels is the best solution.  
  • Ai recommends simply moving up to the next larger size dome or arranging your space differently to increase the efficiency of your design. It will save time, energy and money.

Q: What do your building plan names mean?

A: The first two numbers are the dome diameter in feet, the next word is a Greek word (Omega, Alpha, Delta) and then we use two numbers (21, 22, etc) to complete the name.

Q:  Explain how to work with my building department.

A: Keep in mind that building departments are concerned with strength and safety. American Ingenuity Domes excel in these areas. Building departments and building codes are not concerned with appearance; although a plans examiner may be unfamiliar with the aspects of dome construction.  At no cost to you, if you give Ai your site TAX ID number and building department name, Ai will call the plans examiner, email generic plans and inquire what is required to issue a building permit on the dome.

When working with building departments, Ai recommends the following:

  • Start by asking your building department a few questions such as: “What are the requirements for a residential building permit? Are there any additional requirements to build a geodesic dome? Is an Architect’s or Engineer’s seal required on the plans?”  If a seal is required it can be purchased through Ai. The cost is $600 for one dome built on a concrete slab for all states other than Florida or California.  Two domes each built on a concrete slab is $900.  Basement plans seal is $300.
  • Building departments are unpredictable. No nationwide standard exists for what is required to receive a building permit and as such what is required in the building plans. Each individual building department adopts and implements their individual policies. Since each department will ask for different items, expect that your first visit may only garner a list of what is required as to the building plans and further documentation (e.g. deed, survey, septic tank location, permits.)

Q: How do I know what my building department will require in order to give me a building permit?

A: Ask your building department to provide a list of what is required to obtain a residential building permit.

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

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

Q: Will my American Ingenuity dome be acceptable to my building department?
A: Give us your property’s address or tax ID number & building department name and at no cost to you we will call the plans examiner, email generic plans and ask what is required to obtain a building permit on the Ai dome. Building plans for American Ingenuity domes comply with all building codes worldwide including the Universal Building Code, 2009 International Residential Building Code and 2015 International Residential Building Code.  If required, your plans can be certified by a registered engineer licensed for your state. Please call Ai’s office for pricing…..321-639-8777.

In California, some building departments require building kits be certified that they comply with California’s building kit requirements. Due to the high cost of this certification, it is not economical for American Ingenuity to purchase the certification.  So if your CA building department requires that the Kit be certified, then you will not be able to build the American Ingenuity Dome  in that area. As of 2014 Ai has since learned that the Ai dome kit can be built in the counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Trinity, Solona, Shasta and Riverside. If planning on building in California, Ai will be happy to contact your building department. Ai will discuss Ai’s building kit, and email generic plans. We will speak with them and find out if you submit California Engineer Sealed Plans, California engineer sealed snow, seismic and wind structural calculations, a passing Title 24 Energy Report along with all other required paperwork whether a building permit can be issued on the Ai dome.

American Ingenuity’s dome and building plans comply with the new 5th Edition 2014 Florida Building Code Residential.  However, Ai has been informed that Dade, Broward, Orange, Indian River and St Johns in Florida require product approval.   As a result the American Ingenuity dome kit cannot be built in these counties.  Prior to purchasing property in these areas, call Ai and give us your property tax ID number and we will call the building department, show them our web site, email generic plans and ask if you submit engineer sealed building plans, engineer sealed letter stating the Ai panel meets the intent of Florida Building Code 104.11 for Alternative, Materials and Methods of construction, passing Energy Report, Florida Engineer Sealed Structural Calculations and other required paperwork can you obtain a building permit on the Ai dome.

Q: Have you shipped domes into UBC building code areas?

A: Yes, we have shipped domes into the Universal Building Code (UBC) territory before. If the UBC will not let you have any floor area (except bedrooms) that has less than seven feet of head room, then the second floor perimeter knee wall would be moved inward to put that unallowed space out of the room.

Q: Will your Building Plans comply with my area’s building codes?

A: Ai has sold dome building kits into 47 USA states and fifteen foreign areas. Ai’s blueprints have been accepted by building departments which use many different Building Codes including the Universal Building Code, 2015 International Residential Building Code,  Florida 2014 5th Edition Residential Building Code and California Residential Building Code.

Q: Do your Building Plans come with an Engineer Seal on them?

A: No there is no engineer seal on the plans. It is Ai’s philosophy is that each client pays for only what they need.  About 60% of Ai’s client’s building departments require engineer sealed building plans to issue a building permit. As a result only those clients that need an engineer seal pay for a seal. Ai does not burden the price of the building plans or the building kit with the costs for engineer seals, engineer load calculations or energy reports or any other paperwork required by your building department.

Ai’s dome design has proved itself by withstanding hurricane Andrew’s 212 mph winds, sub zero temperatures and heavy snow loads of Canada, a 30″ in diameter hickory tree impact, a double wide horse trailer impact and many other conditions since 1976.

Although our Building Plans have been reviewed by over 30 different engineers, the plans do not come with an engineer’s seal for the following reasons.

  • Less than half of our dome owners needed engineer sealed Building Plans to obtain a building permit and rather than adding the cost to all plans or the building kit it is more economical for the customer to have the plans sealed as required by their building department.
  • As the designer and manufacturer we would not hesitate to guarantee the structural integrity of our dome and we do just that with our guarantee.
  • Each state only accepts a seal from an engineer who is registered in that state which prevents us from applying any seal that would be universally accepted.
  • When an engineer seals a set of plans he is taking responsibility for the structural design for a single dome in the location intended and the seal would not apply to other projects.

Q: Please explain what the engineer does in reviewing my plans.

A: The engineer reviews the Building Plans to assure that they comply with your state’s building codes. He will let us know if anything needs to be changed.

  • Ai will make the changes at no cost to you and send the revised plans to the engineer who then crimps them with his seal and signs his name.
  • This seal and his signature means that he certifies that the plans comply with your state’s building codes.
  • Then either the engineer or we ship the signed plans to you. You take them to your building department.
  • Because each city, county within a state can have varying requirements, your city or county building department may request some changes.
  • Ai will work with your building department to make the changes; however if extensive changes, call Ai for revision costs. If the engineer has to get reinvolved, there may be an additional engineering fee.

Q: What process do engineers or architects have to go through to be registered in each state and how do they maintain their certification year to year?

A: Engineer’s have to pay for and pass a test in each state they are registered. Plus each year they pay an annual fee to each state to maintain their registrations.

Q: In Florida what is commonly required to obtain a building permit?

A: To obtain a Florida Residential Building permit engineer sealed building plans and Florida Energy Report are required. These items can be purchased through Ai.

  • The Building Plans are purchased through American Ingenuity.
  • Please call our office, 321-639-8777 for the cost of the Florida Energy Report.
  • Ai utilizes an engineer outside our office to seal the building plans which is a separate fee. The Florida engineer seal cost for one 36′ or smaller dome is $400; for two smaller domes the cost is $500, For a 40′ to 48′ dome the seal cost is $500.  Two larger 40′-48′ domes is $600. 

Q: What will the engineer seal cost for California and other states?

A: For California: we can only quote the cost of the building plans because the price of the seal comes from a California licensed Engineer. California building departments are extremely difficult to deal with and that makes it also difficult for any engineer to provide a fixed cost when they don’t know exactly what the building department will require. A rough estimate for engineering to get through a typical California building department is $600 – $1,000 for a dome built on a concrete slab. 

The seal cost for one dome built on a concrete slab for all states other than Florida or California is $600. If it is a two dome plan the seal is $900.  Basement plans seal is $300.  Ai’s standard foundation is a monolithic slab.  Any other foundation requires Ai to hire a local engineer to calculate the load of the dome, the two floors within the dome and give Ai design foundation details that are incorporated within your custom building plans.  The custom foundation is designed based your soil report recommendations and the loads determined by the engineer.

Besides assuring that your property has no deed restrictions or homeowners association regulating it, contact your building department and find out what they require to issue you a residential building permit.

Building departments are basically concerned about safety and structure, not appearance.

In California, some building departments require building kits be certified that they comply with California’s building kit requirements. Due to the high cost of this certification, it is not economical for American Ingenuity to purchase the certification.  In 2014 Ai has learned that the counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Trinity, Solona, Shasta and Riverside have given preliminary approval and allow the Ai dome kit to be built if CA sealed plans are submitted along with CA sealed wind, snow and seismic structural calculations, passing Title 24 Energy Report and other required paperwork and reports with appropriate fees paid.   

Q: Can I find my own engineer to seal my Building Plans?

A: Yes, you could try to find some other structural engineer to seal the plans, but they will probably charge you this much or more. They tend to charge more because they have not sealed our dome plans before. Therefore, they would have to start from scratch and research everything about the Aidome.

Q: Does a site plan come with the Building Plans?

A: No it is not included in the Building Plans and is usually designed from a survey. It is best to hire a local firm to complete your site plan.

Begin by drawing a building site plan (plot plan) to the same scale as the Stock Plans and Floor Planner Kit (1/10 inch = 1 foot). A handy scale ruler is included in the back of the Stock Floor Plan Booklet on tan colored paper. Show everything that will affect your dome on your property:

  • North, south, east and west setbacks
  • Driveway, adjacent roads, rights of way, easements
  • Utilities: well, septic and septic drainfield
  • Views
  • Prevailing winds
  • Trees, ponds and existing structures
  • Once you have your building site plan, you can place cut out copies of floor plans on it to select the best size, location and orientation for your dome. If you are designing a dome complex, you will find it simple to combine the cut outs since they are all the same scale.

Q: Have any of your clients ever been denied a building permit?

A: Yes. In 2006 American Ingenuity had its first client denied a building permit who wanted to build his dome in Redding California. The building department required that the Ai dome building kit be certified that it complied with the State of California’s building kit regulations. Due to the cost and complexity of the tests, Ai concluded it was not economical for us pay for this test. If the California building department will accept a California registered engineer’s assertion that our buildings pass this test, this documentation can be provided at a reasonable fee.

Ai has had three clients assemble dome kits in California without the building kit needing to be certified. These areas were remote rural areas. If you would be building within a city limits, please check with your building department to see if the actual building kit needs to be certified before you purchase the building plans. 

San Diego, Trinity, Solona, Riverside and Shasta will accept engineer sealed plans with structural calculations and do not require the dome kit to be certified.

 

Q: What do the American Ingenuity Dome Building Plans contain?

A: Building plans include the basic drawings for the dome that are needed when acquiring a building permit. They 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, floor plan layouts, show the placement of the electrical outlets, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures; however, they do not have the electrical, plumbing, HVAC layouts. Ai has found if the layouts are included, then the inspectors require the subcontractors to follow the diagrams when the subs like to design their own layouts.  A set of building plans can contain from 15-23 different blueprint sheets depending on the type foundation.

Engineer Sealed Dome Building Plans can be purchased from American Ingenuity.

45' dome on full basement by pond in summer time. The pictures in this grouping are for this dome.

45′ dome on full basement by pond in summer time.

Pictured above is 40′ dome on full basement in Missouri. 

Standard entryways, second floor balcony, cupola.

It is American Ingenuity’s philosophy that each customer pay for only what they need. Ai does not burden the price of the building kit with plan’s pricing, engineer seal cost or energy report cost. Building plans are purchased three months to 1 1/2 years prior to kit shipment.  About 50% of the building departments require engineer sealed plans and an energy report to issue a permit. As a result each customer pays for their plans separately from the building kit and pays for a seal and energy report only if their building department requires them.  Commercial building plans and their engineer seal can cost 2-3 times the price of residential dome plans due to the complexity of the plan design.  To view sale pricing on the dome plans and the dome building kit, please click on Sale.  Dome Kit Assembly photos can be viewed at Kit Assembly.  Engineering statement can be viewed at Statement.  To view examples of stock floor plans for each diameter of dome, click on Tiny Domes and  Geodesic Dome Home Plans. Once on the page, scroll down to find the hyperlinks to click on.

If you give us your property tax ID number or property address and your building department name  at no cost to you, American Ingenuity can call your building department, show them our web site, drop box generic plans to the official and ask them the following questions.  Is an Engineer’s seal required on the building plans?  Is an Energy Report required? If required the Engineer Seal and the Energy Report can be purchased from Ai.

What are building departments concerned with? They are concerned with strength and safety and domes excel in these areas. Building departments and building codes are not concerned with appearance; although a plans examiner may be unfamiliar with the aspects of dome construction.  They are also concerned with environmental issues and endangered plants and animals.  Ai can email you a document that lists the items to watch out for prior to purchasing land and the questions to ask if you already own your property.

Do some building departments require engineer sealed building plans to obtain a building permit? About 50% of Ai’s client’s building departments require engineer sealed building plans to issue a building permit.  Call your building department and find out what they require to issue a permit.  If they require engineer sealed plans, this means that a licensed engineer for your state will need to review American Ingenuity’s building plans to assure that they comply with your state’s building requirements. Ai has a list of engineers certified for all USA states who have sealed Ai plans.  Ai calls the engineer and obtains a seal cost which is included on your Plans Quote. When you agree with the Plans Quote and make payment in full for the plans and the engineer seal, Ai starts your plans design and emails the pdfs to the engineer for his review. He tells us of any changes, we make those changes, plot out your plans and mail them to the engineer for his stamp and signature.  He then mails them on to you. His signature and stamp means he takes responsibility for the dome design not your building department. 

Does all new construction in Florida and California require engineer sealed plans & energy report to obtain a building permit? Yes. 

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

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

What is the standard foundation included with the stock plans? Concrete slab. For Ai to design a basement or concrete columns or stem wall or pilings, etc. an engineer fee is added to the Plans Quote to cover the cost for a structural engineer to calculate the load of the dome and the load of the two floors within the dome and give joist/edge beam size/spacing and foundation design to our CAD department to incorporate within the plans. Please call for engineer fee.

Florida Engineer Seal info:

  • A Florida engineer seal for 36′ or smaller dome built on a slab is $400. The seal cost for a 40′ – 48′ dome on a slab is $500.

Florida building departments also require a Florida Energy Report to be submitted at the same time the Florida sealed building plans are submitted.  This report is quite detailed and specific – Ai no longer completes this report but provides the dome info to the company completing the energy report for $100. Please call Ai at 321-639-8777 for specifics.

Building in California:  A California engineer seal for one dome (22′ – 48′) on a slab is $600. Plus California requires Energy Calculations. Ai. can put you in contact with a firm that performs the California Energy Calculations. 

The following building departments in California will allow the Ai dome to be built – California Counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Trinity, Solona, Shasta and Riverside. The building department will accept CA engineer sealed plans, CA sealed structural calculations, CA sealed engineering statement that includes the following: “panel composition of the geodesic dome buildings is designed in accordance with and conforms to the intent of California Building Code that allows for alternative materials and methods of construction”.  If you are thinking of building near a large California city, the building department could require that the building kit be certified by the state of California. It is not cost effective for American Ingenuity to pay for this certification.  As a result if this is required, the Ai dome cannot be built.

At no cost to you, Ai can contact your building department –  show them our web site and email generic plans, engineering statement, sample of structural calculations.  When calling Ai will ask if California engineer sealed plans, California Energy Report, California sealed engineering statement and wind/seismic/snow/bracing calculations and all their other required paperwork and reports are submitted can a residential building permit be obtained on the Ai dome kit.  Ai is happy to talk to your building officials to answer their questions.

What does the engineer do? He reviews the American Ingenuity Dome Building Plans to assure that they comply with your state’s building codes. The engineer will let us know if anything needs to be changed. We make the changes to the plans and we send the revised plans to the engineer who then crimps them with his seal and signs his name to the structural sheets. This seal and his signature mean that he certifies that the plans comply with your state’s building codes. Either we or the engineer mails the signed plans to you. You take them along with the other required paperwork to your building department to obtain your building permit. Because each city and county within each state can have varying requirements, your city or county building department may request some changes to the sealed plans. Ai will work with your building department to make those changes at no cost to you. However if the engineer has to get reinvolved with design work, there may be an engineering fee. If your building department will not accept the changes via electronic sealed document and require the revised sheets to be printed or new sets of sealed plans submitted, the buyer will incur a plotting and shipping cost on the required blueprints.

When an engineer seals a set of plans he is taking responsibility for the structural design for a single dome in the location intended and the seal would not apply to other projects.

Can Building Departments be hard to work with? Not normally.  American Ingenuity is used to working with building departments and is happy to answer any and all of their questions. For example we had two clients in Palatka Florida who were going for building permits around the same time. Their building department approved their plans (with no changes) within a couple of weeks. Similar plans with similar information were submitted to counties south of us and the building officials wanted changes and took a couple of months to give the client a building permit. Ai never knows how each building official will interpret the Building Codes for their state.

Tell me about the strength of the Ai dome. The code design criteria requires that Ai show the American Ingenuity Dome Building can with stand wind, snow and seismic loading.  Our standard design will accommodate forces in excess of up to 225 mph winds, F4 tornado and 50 lbs. snow load.  Click on Strength to learn more.

To view pictures about the kit assembly, click on Dome Kit Assembly.

Our dome design has proved itself by withstanding hurricane Andrew’s 200 mph winds, sub-zero temperatures and heavy snow loads of Canada and the Northwest Territory, a 30″ in diameter tree impact, four Florida hurricanes in 2004 and many other conditions since 1976. Click on Hurricane Recap to learn more.  Although our Building Plans have been reviewed by over 30 different engineers, the plans do not come with an engineer’s seal for the following reasons.  About half of our dome owners needed engineer sealed Building Plans to obtain a building permit and rather than adding the engineer seal cost to all plans it is more economical to have the plans sealed as needed. As the designer and manufacturer American Ingenuity would not hesitate to guarantee the structural integrity of our dome and we do just that with our guarantee. Each state only accepts a seal from an engineer who is registered in that state which prevents us from applying any seal that would be universally accepted.

Does the Ai Dome comply with the new  Florida Building Code? Yes, although we have been informed that Dade and Broward Counties in South Florida require product approval on the wall segments. Due to the cost and complexity of the tests, Ai has concluded it is not economical for us to pursue product approval. Ai has found that most all other Florida building departments will accept Florida engineer sealed plans, Florida Engineer Sealed Structural Calculations and Florida engineer sealed engineering statement that says “panel composition of the geodesic dome buildings is designed in accordance with and conforms to the intent of 2014 Florida Building Code 5th Edition, Residential and referenced provisions of the 2014 Florida Building Code, Building that allows for alternative materials and methods of construction.”

 

Plans & Building Permit FAQ on the American Ingenuity concrete dome home.

40' dome dining room with kitchen.

40′ dome dining room with kitchen. Any of American Ingenuity’s stock floor plan layouts can be revised to show your personal room arrangement desires.

 

Q: What is your Residential Dome Building Plan regular pricing?

A: All stock and custom residential dome plans are discounted 25% off the following regular plans pricing.  To view a chart listing the 25% discounted pricing for each stock plan and the kit sale pricing specific to each plan, click on Stock Plans & Kit Sale Pricing.   Ai designs plans as a service so that each client receives the exact floor plan arrangement to fit their lifestyle.  Your order includes two sets of plans.  Plans for one dome are plotted on 18″x24″ “C” size paper. Plans for two dome complex or dome on a basement with a deck are plotted on 24″x36″ “D” size paper.  Ai emails your finished building plans pdfs to you so that additional sets of blueprints can be plotted locally.

Regular Pricing for Residential Dome Building Plans

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American Ingenuity’s Building Plans are new & improved and contain 13-22 blueprints depending on type of entryways, foundation, etc.  Building Plan sets contain all the blueprints typically provided with any type of housing and include floor plans, concrete slab foundation with radius & angles, foundation details, two exterior elevation blueprints (dome shell section view, top view showing panel placement), floor joist framing plans, structural details, locations of plumbing and electrical fixtures, interior wall dimensions and second floor wood joist & edge beam dimensions.  See below for  listing of possible sheets within the set of Building Plans.

Electrical Diagram, Plumbing Diagram and HVAC Diagram are not included—Ai has found the electrical, plumbing and HVAC subcontractors prefer to design their own diagrams.   Please call our offices for commercial dome plans pricing – 321-639-8777.

Ai’s philosophy is that each Buyerr pays for only what they need.  Ai does not burden the price of the building kit with plan’s pricing, engineer seal cost or energy report cost. Building plans are purchased three months to -1 1/2 years prior to kit shipment.  About 50% of the building departments require engineer sealed plans and an energy report to issue a permit. As a result, each customer pays for their plans separately from the building kit and pays for a seal and energy report only if their building department requires them.

Due to the complexity of the Florida Energy Gauge Report, Ai no longer completes the report, but provides the dome info the company needs to complete the report for $100.   all other states, except for California and Washington, can require a Rescheck enegy report. Ai an complete the REScheck Energy Report.  Call for pricing.

If your building department requires the following, please hire your local HVAC subcontractor to complete your Manual S (Equipment Sizing Certification); Manual D (Duct Design & Layout Drawing); or Manual J (Residential Heat Load Calculation) for the Florida Energy Report and the  REScheck Energy Report.

Q: What is the standard foundation included with the stock plans?

A: Concrete slab. For Ai to design a basement or concrete columns or stem wall or pilings, etc.; an engineer fee is added to the Plans Quote to cover the cost for an independent local engineer to calculate the load of the dome and the load of the two floors within the dome and give joist/edge beam size/spacing and foundation design to our CAD department to incorporate within your plans. Please call for engineer pricing.

All of American Ingenuity’s stock plans are now on our web site.  To view the plans by dome diameter, click on Tiny Homes and  Larger Dome Stock Plans

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

If you want stock plans mailed, call Ai at 321-639-8777 for printing cost and mailing cost.

Building plans may be purchased with Master Card, Visa, Discover, check or money order.  Shipping cost and plotting cost are not included in the Plans Pricing. Stock plans are shipped in 2 weeks. Allow at least 5 weeks for modified stock plans and 8 weeks for modified and custom plans.

If you do not have the time or do not want to assemble the dome shell kit, click on Kit Assembly Consultant to learn about this service. He will supervise your laborers or your contractor’s laborers to assemble the dome shell with the first layer of concrete in the seams and on the entryways and dormers.  To view photo gallery showing dome kit assembly, click on Kit Assembly.

Q: How do I know what my Building Department will require to issue a building permit on the American Ingenuity concrete dome building kit? Will your Building Plans comply with my areas building codes?

A: Ai has sold dome kits into 47 USA states and fourteen foreign areas. Our blueprints have been accepted by building departments, which use many different Building Codes including the 2009 & 2012 & 2015 International Residential Building Code, 2014 Florida Building Code 5th Edition, California Building Code and Universal Building Code.

At no cost to you, if you give Ai your construction site address or parcel ID number & your building department name, we will call and speak to your plan’s examiner. Ai will email him or her a drop box invitation which includes a description of the dome kit, history of Ai, sample of Ai’s building plans and sample of an engineering statement. Ai will call the official, explain the dome prefabricated panel, review specific pages on our web site & discuss the drop box info. Ai will ask if engineer sealed building plans and an energy report are required to issue a permit.

If required in your area, your dome building plans can be sealed/certified by a PE engineer licensed for your state. The cost for an engineer seal for one dome built on a concrete slab is $600, $900 for two domes each built on a concrete slab, basement plans seal add $300 per dome for all states other than Florida.

The cost for an Energy Report for states other than FL, WA & CA is $190 for one dome on a slab. Energy Reports for FL Washington and California are completed by your local FL, Wa or CA companies. Other paperwork such as a site map, exterior door & window spec sheets, etc. will probably be required prior to the issuance of the permit. Sometimes your building department will have a web site that lists the other paperwork that is required.

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

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

Q: Explain how to work with my building department.

A: Keep in mind that building departments are concerned with strength and safety. Domes excel in these areas. Building departments and building codes are not concerned with appearance although a plan examiner may be unfamiliar with the aspects of dome construction.

If you are building in Florida, your building department will require engineer sealed Building Plans and a Florida Energy Report.   These items can be purchased through Ai.  To obtain a building permit in Florida, give us your exact window and exterior door sizes, frame type, double pane, U factor, SHGC number, etc.  When you submit the paperwork to obtain your permit, you will be required to give the actual model number and manufacturer, along with a Florida Product Approval spec sheet for each exterior door and window.

When working with building departments, Ai recommends the following:

  • Start by asking your building department a few questions such as: “What are the requirements for a residential building permit? Are there any additional requirements to build a geodesic dome? Is an Engineer’s seal required on the plans?
  • Building departments are unpredictable. No nationwide standard exists for what is required to receive a building permit and as such what is required in the building plans. Each individual building department adopts and implements their individual policies. Since each department will ask for different items, expect that your first visit may only garner a list of what is required as to the building plans and further documentation (e.g. deed, site map, survey, septic tank location, permits.)
  • Prior to purchasing property, call Ai and ask for our Buying Land document that lists items to check before land purchase. If you own your property or have narrowed your property searches down to two parcels, please provide Ai the property address or tax ID number and the name and telephone number of the building plans department and Ai will call the department and show them our web site. We will confirm that they will accept American Ingenuity’s prefabricated panel as is, and what additional information and requirements are needed for a permit (i.e. engineer seal, energy report). Each state, county and city building departments have specific requirements and requests.

Q: Can I purchase my Dome Building Plans for a lower cost than you publish?

A: To view the discounted plans pricing, click on Discount. Our business philosophy is to treat our clients equally. As a result we do not offer lower prices to one person and not another. Our building plans are very reasonable in price. As far as the building plans, if you went to a Florida engineer or architectural firm and asked them to design you building plans for a 2,000 sq.ft. house; they could charge $1.50 to $2.00 per sq.ft. So that would be $3,000 to $4,000 for a 2,000 sq.ft. house.  Currently the regular price for 40′ dome (2,000 sq.ft. house) is $1,333. Click on Sale to view current sale pricing on plans. Please scroll down the page to find the plans sale pricing.

Ai designs plans as a service to our clients so that each obtain the correct floor plan to fit your lifestyle.

Q: Prior to purchasing Building Plans, what do I need to consider?

A: You need to assure you have answers to the following questions:

  1. Does the deed for your land have any restrictions on domes?
  2. If there is a Home Owner’s Association governing your land, you will need to check with them and make sure you can build a dome as home owner associations restrict the size and shape of homes.
  3. What is required from your building department to obtain a building permit?
  4. Will you be building within one to two years?
  5. If your building site is in California, does your building department require the Building Kit be certified?  At no cost to you Ai will call your California building department to see what is required to obtain a building permit on the American Ingenuity dome.  Ai will show him or her our web site and email drop box invitation containing a set of generic dome building plans, example of engineering statement and structural calculations. Ai dome home kits can now be built in the California Counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Trinity, Solona, Shasta and Riverside if all the building department requirements are followed. Ai domes have been built in the following California areas: Banning, Forest Ranch, Crestline, Borrego Springs, Lake Elsinore, Summerset, Herlong and Hanford. If you own property in another California location, Please call us at 321-639-8777 with the tax ID number, building department name and phone number and Ai will call the plans examiner.
  6. If you are building in Florida, be aware that the counties of Dade, Broward, Orange, Indian River and St Johns County may require product approval. It is not economical for Ai to go through this process; therefore the Ai dome may not be able to be built in these counties if they will not accept Florida engineer sealed structural calculations, building plans and engineering statement.  In Florida 2014 Building Code there is a section that allows for “Alternative materials and methods for residential home construction.”  As a result of this section 99% of the Florida Counties will issue a permit accepting Fl engineer sealed plans, Fl engineer sealed Equivalency Report, passing Fl Energy Report (and other required paperwork) and do not require product approval.   It makes no sense why some Florida counties require product approval and others don’t. For example one of Ai’s domes in Miami Dade County went thru Hurricane Andrew & a tornado at the same time with no structural damage, but yet Miami Dade Building Department requires product approval.  Marathon in the Florida Keys, south of Miami Dade,did not require product approval and issued a building permit on an Ai dome in 2014 under the required wind speed of 180 mph. This wind speed is greater than the required 175 mph wind speed for Miami Dade.  As of Jan 2014, Palm Beach County will allow the Ai dome to be built under “Site Specific Review” with the home owner paying for an inspector. Please call Ai for details……321-639-8777.
  7. At no cost to you, Ai will call your building department, speak to a plans examiner to see what is required to obtain a building permit on the American Ingenuity dome.  Ai will show him or her our web site and email drop box invitation containing a set of generic dome building plans, example of engineering statement and structural calculations.
  8. Do you have your financing secured?
  9. Are there minimum house square footage requirements or a garage requirement on your property?

If the answers to the above questions are positive then purchase building plans for your dome.

Q: Can my zoning department stop me from building a dome?

A: Yes. Zoning can ask for roof conformity where all the roofs look the same in that area.   Besides zoning ordinances controlling the use of the land, they determine setbacks from property lines, minimum size new home requirements and height limits and similar things. Deed restrictions and homeowner associations can limit the type structure that can be built.

Q: Where can I build a dome?

A: Almost any place. Although, there are a few exceptions, some developments or communities control the size, cost and appearance of the homes. Before you buy the land, ask if there are any Deed restrictions or Homeowner Associations or zoning, to learn more about this click on Planning Process. If there is a Homeowners Association, meet with the board and show them information about the dome. If they say you can build the dome, we recommend that you get a notarized statement from them stating this. Over time, members of the Board can change and the bylaws of the Association can change.

Besides assuring that your property has no deed restrictions or homeowners association regulating it, contact your building department and find out what they require to issue you a residential building permit. Building departments are basically concerned about safety and structure, not appearance.

To obtain a new house building permit in California and Florida, the building plans have to be sealed by a licensed engineer certified for that state.

In California, some building departments require building kits be certified that they comply with California’s building kit requirements. Due to the high cost of this certification, it is not economical for American Ingenuity to purchase the certification.  However some California building departments will issue a building permit when CA engineer sealed plans, California engineer sealed snow, seismic, wind & bracing calculations, CA Title 24 energy report, and other required paperwork is submitted.  Please Call Ai at 321-639-8777 and give us your building department name and phone number and we will inquire about their requirements.

Q: Do your Building Plans come with an Engineer Seal on them?

A: Ai’s dome design has proved itself by withstanding hurricane Andrew’s 200 mph winds, sub zero temperatures and heavy snow loads of Canada and the Northwest Territory, a large tree impact and many other conditions since 1976.

Although our Building Plans have been reviewed by over 30 different engineers the plans do not come with an engineer’s seal for the following reasons. Less than half of our dome owners needed engineer sealed Building Plans to obtain a building permit and rather than adding the cost to all plans it is more economical to have the plans sealed as needed. As the designer and manufacturer, we would not hesitate to guarantee the structural integrity of our dome and we do just that with our guarantee. Each state only accepts a seal from an engineer who is registered in that state which prevents us from applying any seal that would be universally accepted. When an engineer seals a set of plans he is taking responsibility for the structural design for a single dome in the location intended and the seal would not apply to other projects.

Q: When should we purchase our dome building plans?

A: Plans are purchased 3 months to two years prior to dome construction.

Q: When can I move into my dome?

A: If a building permit is needed to build, generally the building departments will not let you move in until they issue a Certificate of Occupancy – meaning the home is finished per the blueprints.  If there is no building permit is required,  a person could stay in the dome once the shell is weather tight.

 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.

 

Another view of panel being installed in third row of panels.

Another view of panel being installed in third row of panels.

By clearly defining the level of participation you wish to have in the construction process, and you select a contractor with a suitable program, chances are you will have an enjoyable building experience.

If you choose to not be an owner builder, then you may want to hire a contractor to coordinate all the phases of your dome construction. To learn about choosing a contractor, click on Contractor.

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

To review the planning phases to own a dome home click on Planning Process. Remember you can hire a Kit Assembly Consultant who will supervise your workers or your contractor’s concrete workers to assemble the dome shell with first layer of concrete in the seams and on the entryways and dormers. That way your contractor will feel more comfortable bidding the dome and its finishing costs.

When contracting the construction of your new steel reinforced concrete dome, you will most likely use a residential building contractor who will work with you in one of four ways:

1. Bid or Estimated Price: Your contractor takes the set of plans, bids out all phases of the project to subcontractors, and provides you with a total cost to build your home (gross dollar total or total cost per square foot). In this case, you place all responsibility for the project in your contractor’s hands.

2. Cost Plus Flat Fee: Contractor does the same as described in the first version, but adds a flat fee dollar amount to cover for his/her involvement in the project. This allows you more participation in the building process, and covers your contractor for their time.

3. Cost Plus Percentage Fee (Cost Plus Contract): If you anticipate a good deal of participation in the building process, including changing and/or upgrading as you proceed through construction, many contractors will bill you a percentage fee based on the completed cost of the home. It is a way to cover you and the contractor when you make changes not anticipated during planning and bidding phases.

4. Fee Percentage Contract: When you wish to be extremely active in all aspects of construction and material selection, your contractor will offer you a fee percentage contract, or a percent of the total cost of building your home, no matter what you decide throughout the process.

 

Foundations For American Ingenuity’s
Geodesic Dome Building Kits

American Ingenuity domes can be built utilizing the same foundation choices as conventional housing. To view a file that summarizes foundation types, click on Foundation Summary.

The foundation types that Ai designs are:

  1. A monolithic concrete slab
  2. Poured footing with a stem wall and then a poured slab on fill
  3. Poured footing with a stem wall and then a raised wood floor
  4. Basement – concrete block, ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms), poured on site or poured walls brought in
  5. Plings and a platform or columns and a platform

The type of foundation you build depends on which is more advantageous for your area and what your building department requires.

The standard foundation that comes with Ai’s building plans is a concrete slab. For Ai to design any other foundation other than concrete slab, a local engineer is hired to calculate the load of the dome and its interior floors to determine joist size and spacing and wall design.  Ai then incorporates his designs into your building plans.  Call our office at 321-639-8777 for engineer pricing.

If you have any question about your soil’s suitability, consult with someone locally possibly your building department or soil’s engineer. Our dome’s foundation does not require anything more than 2000 lbs. per sq.ft. soil bearing capacity. Basically if you can build a regular house on your soil, you can certainly build a dome.

Stock building plans sold by American Ingenuity utilize a concrete slab foundation. For stock plan pricing and plan information, click on Stock Plan Pricing, Building Options and Building Plans. For raised wood floor designs or other designs call or email for a quote.

American Ingenuity’s stock building plan pricing is for two sets of Building Plans that contain all blueprints typically provided with any type of housing and include floor plans, exterior elevations and dome shell section view, top view showing panel placement, floor joist framing plans, structural details, and locations of plumbing and electrical fixtures. Plumbing, electrical and HVAC diagrams are not provided.  Contact us at 321-639-8777 Monday through Friday 9 to 5 eastern time.

The following are some of our most asked foundation items:

  • Ai can replace a concrete slab foundation with a raised wood floor and design the first floor joist. 
  • The Foundation Building Plan sheet states footer depth and is determined by your type soil or if there is a frost line. Ai’s standard footer is 20″ tall by 16″ wide with 4″ concrete slab.  However if your soil does not test to 2,000 psf, Ai can design your footer larger with a thicker slab based on your soil report’s recommendations.
  • All foundations are designed and laid out with hook tie down rebar in the bottom riser horizontal seams, rebar into each of the riser wall seams and a rebar extends up in the front and back of each entryway riser panel, first floor door dormer and other areas.  The building plans are specific about rebar locations and size.  The riser seams are filled with concrete as the dome kit is assembled. Once the riser wall seams (horizontal and vertical) are filled with concrete the dome is secure to the slab. The riser panel placement is based on an radii dimension that is taken from the center of the floor to the inside surface of the riser panels. When the riser panel’s bottom seam areas are filled, the concrete continues along the side of the foundation. If your dome is built on a basement or pilings or columns, rebars are designed to come up into each riser wall seam from the basement walls, pilings or columns.
  • Ai’s dome is lighter than most other buildings; as a result it has less loading on the foundation.
  • Basement Plans are available. 
  • The multiple sided foundation of the Ai dome causes its cost to be 15% to 25% more than a conventional slab.
  • The concrete slab perimeter can be insulated if code allows.  For example in some areas in Florida perimeter insulation is not permitted due to termites.  

I think I need to build my foundation off the ground.

First of all, how high off the ground does the first floor have to be? If you do not know this answer, call your building department and ask them.

If your dome has to be eight feet to ten feet off the ground:

  • Due to a wave of water not rising water, then the dome can be built on concrete columns and a concrete patform. If you want enclosed rooms or a garage under the platform, then break-a-way walls can be installed.
  • Due to rising water, build the dome on an above ground basement or build concrete block columns under the corners of the platform.

If your dome has to be raised two to three feet, may be best to bring in fill, compact the fill and construct the concrete slab onto the fill.

If your dome has to be raised two to three feet, build a stem wall:

  • Bring in fill dirt to fill within the stem wall and pour a concrete slab onto the fill and build a stem wall. (most economical and energy efficient)
  • Install a wood floor that sets on piers and beams. You would have a crawl space. (This is more expensive.)

BASEMENTS

Fax or email your sketch to us and we will call with questions and a price quote. Ai can provide plans for most types of basement wall systems utilizing concrete or block including insulated concrete forms or precast basement wall panels. To complete the basement designs, a local engineer is hired to calculate the load of the dome and its interior floors to determine joist size and spacing and wall design.  Ai then incorporates his designs into your building plans.  Call our office at 321-639-8777 for engineer pricing.

Since we are a manufacturer of dome housing kits, Ai does not manufacture or build basement walls.  Contact a local basement wall subcontractor for construction estimates on the various types of basements to determine which type wall to have Ai design.

Full basements are the same size and shape as the dome first floor. The multiple sided foundation for the dome can cost 15% to 25% more to construct than a conventional slab.

The below ground basement can have the slab poured first with the exterior basement walls built on top of the slab or the footings can be poured separately with the exterior basement wall built on top of the footings and then the slab poured inside the basement wall. Basement walls are usually 8″ thick when made of poured concrete but will likely increase depending on the height of the basement wall and the height of the back fill.

When the dome is built on a basement, the first floor framing of the dome is typically built with wood 2×10’s which are hung on the side of the basement walls.

PILINGS AND PLATFORM

Have you checked with your local building department to see what they require your house be built on? If you live near the ocean or water, the building department may require concrete pilings which are usually driven 10′ to 15′ down into the ground versus concrete columns that only go down about 3′ into the ground. When there is a potential for waves of water washing dirt out from under your house, the local building department usually requires pilings. If your property is within a few hundred feet of the ocean or gulf then it is the federal government that decides what foundation type your house will have.

Whether you use concrete pilings or concrete columns, Ai can design a wood platform under the dome and a deck made out of composite materials, plastic wood or pressure treated wood with the assistance of a local engineer.  Call for engineer pricing. Or Ai can design for a concrete platform. Remember your building department will require the piling and platform plans and the dome plans to be engineer sealed. These seals can be purchased through Ai.

CONCRETE SLAB

Slabs poured for Dome   Dome House on Slab Same Dome  


CONCRETE PILINGS AND CONCRETE PLATFORM

Pilings with oval Concrete Platform

for 40′ Dome Home

 

Concrete Dome House with Cupola Built in Mid 80’sCupola’s look different now…not so tall and there are now overhangs that extend out from the top panels.
Also these raised seams collect water. Install
flat or rounded seams; not raised.

 

DOMES BUILT ON BASEMENTS

8″ thick solid concrete
basement walls for 34′ Dome
First Floor wood joists
set on top basement walls

 

34′ Dome Home
on Poured Concrete basement wall

Back view of same dome Front view of same dome with basement entrance.

 

 Interior View looking down into basement from
second floor of 45′ Dome.

Exterior View of the same  basement
showing 45′ Dome House

34′ Dome Home on Basement