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Dome Homes

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ANSWERS TO OUR MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
 

An American Ingenuity geodesic dome home kit is purchased in kit form, do-it-yourselfers (DIY) without prior construction experience can assemble their dome house building kit. We will assist you in building DIY dome home. 

By simply placing the component panels, interconnecting the steel mesh, and concreting the seams you complete the structural framework, the exterior finish, the insulation and most of the interior shell wall board for your home's shell.

Our geodesic home kit construction process consists of placing a row of preconcreted panels, overlapping the steel mesh from adjacent panels and filling the exterior seams with concrete will produce a concrete house.  To complete the dome shell interior of our concrete house, use joint compound and tape to finish the wall board seams and then paint the wall board.

This advanced building system makes it easier (even for a beginner) to construct an American Ingenuity dome than a conventional house or a wooden dome. No exterior walls to frame, No roof trusses to set, No sheathing, tarpaper, or shingles to apply, No soffits, exterior trim, insulation or siding to install. Any building experience you have will be helpful when building our dome, but it is not necessary.

If you do not have the time or do not want to perform the geodesic dome construction, we know of a working consultant that will supervise your or your contractor’s laborers and assemble the shell.  Click on Kit Assembly Consultant to learn more about this service.   Click on Hoisting Mechanisms to see how the panels are lifted into place.

ASSEMBLY and CONSTRUCTION

Click on the question to read the answer

Can I assemble the Dome Kit myself?
How do I select a builder for my dome?
What support is used to hold up the component panels until the dome kit is assembled?
What will it cost per square foot for a completed dome home in my area?
How long will it take to complete the shell of my dome?
How long will it take to completely build my dome home?
What basic items will I need to erect my building kit?
What type of hoisting mechanism or crane
will I need and for how long?

What kind of vapor barrier will my dome have?
How will the concrete in my dome withstand the effects of freezing temperatures?
What do I apply to the interior of the dome shell after I assemble the kit? Can I purchase an interior board on the component panels?
How much weight will the second floor support?
How is the second floor attached to the dome shell?
Can I use steel studs in my American Ingenuity Dome?
Can I install conventional doors and windows in the dome exterior? And where are they installed?
How is the exterior wall within an entryway or dormer built?
How are the electric and plumbing lines installed in the dome shell?
How are plumbing vent pipes installed in the wall of the dome shell?
Can the dome have a fireplace and how is a fireplace installed?
How are domes connected together?

Can I have balconies off the second floor?
What is the Link between the domes made of, etc.?

What type of paint should I use on the exterior of my dome?
In most of the photographs the domes are painted white, how can I make the dome exterior more conventional?
Would you explain briefly what is involved in the assembly of my dome kit?

ASSEMBLY and CONSTRUCTION

Q: Can I assemble the Dome Kit myself?
A: Over 80% of our clients assemble their own dome kit shell themselves, many with no prior construction experience. The Kit panels come marked with numbers and letters to match the Assembly Manual that goes with the Building Kit. The Building Plans also have elevation views with numbers and letters. Our best kit assembly success stories are Owner/Builders who read and follow the Assembly Manual and the Building Plans and call us when they have any questions, no matter how small. If you are mechanically inclined and if you understand the info in the Planning Kit you can probably assemble the dome shell. (We leave that decision up to you).

It only takes one person to be familiar with the Building Plans and Assembly Manual and that person can direct laborers (family and friends) who assist in lifting the panels and filling the seams with concrete.

If you do not have the time or desire to assemble the shell, we know of independent working consultants that travel around the country supervising the owner builder's workers or contractor' workers. Or you may want to assemble the shell and fill the seams with one coat of concrete and hire a concrete professional to add the second coat and finish your seams. The wall board on the shell interior is finished by applying joint compound and tape to the seam areas.  The dome interior can be completed by any conventional subs, i.e. plumbers, framers, electricians, etc.

As of March 2005, the working consultant’s daily cost is $275 plus room and travel expenses.   Using four good laborers and depending upon the size dome and type of hoisting mechanism you use, shell assembly can take from 10 to 20 days.     Once you decide on your floor plan, we can tell you the number of days needed to assemble the shell (entryways and dormers take longer to install than triangles)   You or your contractor would hire conventional subcontractors to do the normal jobs like forming and pouring the slab, plumbing, electrical, framing, etc.  We figure you should not pay some one to come in from out of state to do work that your local subs can perform.

 A few years ago prior to us knowing of the shell consultant who would supervise the shell assembly, some of our dome owners had to hire contractors or individuals that had never assembled one of our dome shell kits.  As a result they 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.

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

If you do not have the time or do not want to assemble the dome shell it, it is to your advantage to hire a local contractor that knows your area, have him use the working consultant to supervise the dome shell kit assembly and have him hire conventional local subs to do the conventional jobs; i.e. slab, plumbing, electrical, framing, etc.  

The working consultant travels around the country assembling the dome shell using the Owner/Builder's laborers or your contractor's local laborers. It is most cost effective to hire this consultant to supervise the shell assembly versus hiring a local subcontractor who has never assembled an American Ingenuity dome kit. The local sub usually tends to overcharge for the kit assembly as they are used to linear construction.  Click on Kit Assembly Consultant for more info.

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

CHOOSING A CONTRACTOR OR SUB-CONTRACTOR

Making a choice:

Ø       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.

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

Ø       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.

Ø       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.

Ø       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.

Ø       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.

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

What to look for: 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.

Ø       Research the experience of the contractor and talk to previous customers.

Ø       Visit his job sites. 

What to look out for:

Ø       A contractor who promises too much, too quick, for too little.

Ø       A contractor who says, “Just trust me…..”

Ø       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

Ø       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.

Ø       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:

Ø       Scan through the yellow pages and their ads, making lots of calls.

Ø       Approach friends, family, business contacts, and people you work with for recommendations.

Ø       Question the building materials suppliers, eg. concrete delivery companies know of reliable subs for foundations.

Ø       Inquire of your building official if he has any suggestions.

Ø       Check with your Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau.

Ø       Contact local chapters of trade organizations such as the National Association of Home Builders.

Ø       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.

Click on Builders to see a list of Builders by State.

Q: What support is used to hold up the component panels until the dome kit is assembled?
A: Our Dome Building Kits are generally erected using a system to temporarily hold the panels in place until the all the seam concrete and options' concrete has cured. The systems (Radial or Rib) are dismantled upon completion of the dome and the 2x4’s are recycled as part of the interior framing.

The Radial System is most suitable for a small construction crew and is usually used on our smaller domes, 22', 27’, 30’ and 34’ because the panels weight less and the center height is less. As each panel is placed, a measurement is taken from the panel point to the center of the dome to assure correct positioning. The panel is then held by 2x4’s braced against the floor while the seams are concreted. The advantages to this system over using the Rib System Option are: Panels can be raised using a rolling scaffold and a winch rather than having to rent a crane. The radial System saves the time of preparing ribs, erecting and dismantling the Rib System. It also uses fewer materials.

The Rib System is most suitable for a large crew and a fast paced construction. The Rib System is preferable on the larger domes 40’, 45’, 48’ and 60'. The Rib System consists of using your own 2x4’s and steel hubs on loan from America Ingenuity to erect a free standing framework matching the geometry of the dome. With a Rib System in place, a crane or hoisting mechanism can be used to set as many as 2 rows of panels in one day. Since the Rib System reflects the dome geometry, a panel cannot be inadvertently positioned incorrectly.

Once all the concrete cures in the seams and on the entryways, dormers, link, cupola, etc. the rib system is disassembled, the hubs are returned to American Ingenuity and the 2x4’s are recycled as interior framing. The rental charge is a $500 deposit for the hubs to be kept for 4 months. After that the rental fee is $10 per month. If the hubs/bolts are returned to us intact within the four month period the complete $500 deposit is returned. Thereafter, we subtract $10 for each additional month the hubs are kept and return the deposit difference to the client.

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

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

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

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

What are builders charging per square foot to finish a conventional house in your neighborhood?  For example a 48' dome can have as much as 3,141 sq ft. The building kit with options is approx. $30,000.  Here locally in central Florida a conventional house can be built for around $100 to $125 per sq.ft.  So 3,141 sq.ft home would cost about $314,100 to $392,625 to finish here in east central Florida without the land and utility hookups.  Lenders typically want 20% to 30% down of the finished price of the dome.  That means $$63,000 to $$120,000 down.  Lenders will accept the equity you have in the land towards the down payment amount.  How does that fit in with your budget? 

For example a 40' dome can have as much as 2,000 sq ft. The building kit with options is approx. $26,000.  Here locally in east central Florida a conventional house can be built for around $100 to $125 per sq.ft.  So 2,000 sq.ft home would cost about $200,000 to $250,000 to finish here in central Florida not including the cost of building plans, engineer seal, site preparation, land and utility hookups.  Lenders typically want 20% to 30% down of the finished price of the dome.  That means $40,000 to $80,000 down.  Lenders will accept the equity you have in the land towards the down payment amount. 

Q: How long will it take to complete the shell of my dome?
A: After the concrete slab or flooring is finished, it will take approximately 250 man hours to complete our 30' dome shell. With another 100 man hours you could expect to frame the entryways and dormers and install your locally purchased windows and doors. Time would not be required to install insulation, roofing or completing the exterior trim like soffits and gutters as in other homes. Our 48' dome will require about twice that amount of time to reach the same stage of completion as the 30'. Weather, experience, and available equipment will certainly affect the construction time required.  Click on Kit Assembly Consultant for more info on the labor estimate to assemble the shell.

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

Q: What basic items will I need to erect my building kit?
A: Depending on the size dome, to set the panels in place and concrete the seams you will need:  Cement mixer (4-8 cubic foot capacity, a mortar mixer is OK), cement trowels, sand (4 to 10 cubic yards), Portland cement Type 1 (35 to 90 bags), shovel, 5 gallon buckets, wheelbarrow, 3/8” polypropylene rope 50’-100’, 25’ Tape Measure, ladders 16’ & 32’, 16d common nails, extra 2x4’s, scaffolding, possibly rental of a boom crane, labor to install the cement in the seams.  

Q: What type of hoisting mechanism or crane will I need and for how long?
A: The panels of our smaller domes, can be placed using a steel scaffold on rollers. The panel is then held in place with a prop support until the seam concrete hardens. The panels for the larger domes may be best placed using a crane that is capable of lifting 300-400 pounds, 25 feet up and 25 feet out. Rentals on transverse lifts also called Boom Lifts, Horizontal Boom Fork Lifts, Roofing Lifts, Shooters are available from national rental chains. The rental companies can be found in your local telephone book.  Click on Hoisting to learn more.

With a four person work crew and proper bracing of the panels, two rows of panels of a 45' dome can be placed in a day, or 5-8 hours of crane time. In most cases, total crane operating time will vary from about 10 hours for a smaller dome to 14 hours for a 48' dome.

Click on the Specifications for the panel weights for each dome size.

Q: What kind of vapor barrier will my dome have?
A: Approximately one quarter of the energy consumed by an air conditioner is used to extract water vapor from inside the house. Water vapor easily passes through most building materials and is readily swept into homes through joints, seams and through the attic. Our E.P.S. insulation provides a good vapor barrier and our building method provides a tight, leak proof home.

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

So that the concrete you mix on-site has the same properties as the panel concrete, we ship those same concrete ingredients with the Building Kit....synthetic fibers, liquid admixtures and a bonding agent. The concrete recipe using Portland Cement, sand, and ingredients is in the Assembly Manual.  These ingredients improve the concrete’s characteristics, create super toughness, extend durability, make concrete impervious to water, give higher tensile & compressive strength, provide elasticity for expansion, and improve freeze protection. 

The following is why we ship synthetic fibers with our Building Kit.  Fibers in concrete work to reduce the formation of shrinkage and cracks in concrete’s plastic state while helping to improve shatter resistance and reduce water migration.  The result: tougher concrete.

The concrete in your dome out performs other exteriors because of its specially developed formula.  Because of its exceptional composition, it actually gains strength over the years.  The exterior concrete adheres directly to the steel mesh and EPS without the need of a bonding agent.  The concrete is in excess of 3500 psi which is stronger than it needs to be.  

 To apply concrete in the seams the temperature should be above freezing, preferably at least 40 degrees.   Do not allow the newly mixed concrete to freeze for two to three days.  If you use a concrete accelerator do not allow the concrete to freeze for 1 ½ to 2 days.

The following is why we ship a Bonding Agent with our Building Kit.  Concrete, or a cement mixture, will not bond to a dry absorbent surface such as dry concrete.  The reason is easy to understand when you examine the curing process of cement.  When new concrete is applied over old, dry concrete the moisture from the new concrete will be absorbed by the dry concrete especially at the surface where they meet.  When the new concrete is robbed of its moisture at the joining surface it will not cure properly and therefore will not bond.

Bonding agents are designed to improve the adhesion between layers of concrete by acting as a glue and coating and sealing the dry concrete to prevent it from robbing the moisture.  The bonding agent that is provided with your kit, when mixed with concrete, also increases its strength.

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

1.   Wet the panels with water and allow them to soak up all the water they will. 

2.   Apply bonding agent on the concrete at the edge of the panel and on any concrete that has been placed in the seam.

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

1.   The panels have a ledge molded into the edge of the concrete where the seam concrete is most needed to bond.  This ledge increases the bonding surface, thereby increasing the ultimate strength of the joint.

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

The weather and the mix of the concrete (amount of water, etc) will effect the curing time of the concrete. Usually by the time you place a complete row of panels and are ready to start the next row, the concrete has cured enough.  If you place a panel above another panel and cracks start to form in the first coat of concrete, then the concrete has not cured enough.  You have to stop placing panels until the concrete has cured more. 

Q: What type of interior finish is on the triangle and riser panels?
A:
It consists of Georgia Pacific ¼” Dens-Deck Roof Board adhered to the E.P.S. insulation with a nonsolvent latex adhesive.  It employs fiberglass mat facing instead of paper on both sides of the board.  The core is silicon treated gypsum providing excellent moisture resistance,  Fire resistance and adhesion properties.  It doesn’t provide fuel for an accidental fire.  It isn’t even damaged by multiple immersions in water.  It won’t harbor spores that create sick homes.

One square inch of this adhesive will support 10 pounds.  A square foot (144 square inches) of the board weighs less than 2 pounds.  In other words there is much more holding power than needed to keep the wall board adhered to the E.P.S. insulation. 

The glass mats embedded into the core on both faces, results in dimensional stability and prevents warping.  The glass mat is encapsulated with a coating which reduces skin irritation from exposed glass fibers.  The moisture-resistant inorganic core has superior mold, mildew and fire resistance.   The 1/4" Dens-Dec showed no mold or mildew growth when tested per ASTM D 3273.

The Dens-Deck Board which is a roofing board was used on The New Orleans Sports Arena in New Orleans Louisiana.  The following info was taken from Georgia Pacific’s ¼” Dens-Deck roof board data sheets:

Dens-Deck roof board features an inorganic glass mat embedded into a water-resistant treated gypsum core.  The combination of glass mat surfacing and a treated core renders Dens-Deck roof board more resistant to delamination from water than paper-faced gypsum products.  Comparative testing has demonstrated Dens-Deck roof board’s supremacy over such alternatives as perlite and fiberboard. Its engineered features make Dens-Deck roof board the obvious substrate for roofing membranes.  Resists delamination, deterioration and warping, puncturing and other job site damage and resists rot.

Fire Protection:  Because of its noncombustible core and surface, Dens-Deck roof board offers greater fire protection than other conventional products.  Dens-Deck roof board, when tested to ASTM E 84, has achieved a rating of 0 flame spread and 0 smoke developed.  Noncombustible when tested in accordance with ASTN E 136.

Properties of Dens-Deck: Noncombustible, Water Resistance, Dimensional Stability, Decay Resistance, Resistant to Warping, Rodent and Fungus Resistance, Torch Safe, High Compressive Strength.

Fire Classification:  UL Class A, ULC S-102; UL 1256, ULC S-126; UL 790; ULC S-107.

Flame Spread/Smoke Developed per ASTM E 84: 0

R-Value as tested in accordance with ASTM C 518 (heat flow meter):  .28

Surface Water Absorption, grams per ASTM C 473:  2.5

Mold & Mildew Resistance per ASTM D 3273:  No growth

The wallboard finishing includes applying joint compound and tape on the seams and painting the wall board.  To blend the seams, mix some vermiculite into your paint.

You can purchase the building kit without the interior wall board. If you do not purchase the optional interior wall board, on site you can trowell either plaster or stucco directly to the E.P.S. 

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

Q: How is the second floor attached to the dome shell?
A: Most often the second floor joists are set on top of the first floor walls, the same as in conventional framing. In areas where additional support is needed, or where there are no first floor walls, the floor may be hung from the dome shell by anchoring a 5/8" threaded rod vertically into the concrete of a seam. One rod can hold 3,000 lbs.  Because of the incredible strength of our dome we are able to use the shell to support the second floor.

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

Q: Can I install conventional doors and windows in the dome exterior? And where are they installed?
A: Yes conventional doors and windows can be used in the dome. The doors and windows are installed under the entryways and dormers within 2x4 walls that you build on-site.  Click on Window and Door Rough Opening Sizes and Building Options for more info.

Q: How is the exterior wall within an entryway or dormer built?
A: It is constructed on-site using typical 2x4 wood framing techniques allowing you to personalize an important part of your dome, including your choice of locally purchased standard doors and windows. Using your own custom design the entryway wall exterior finish may be stucco, siding, brick, rock, or any material you choose. Conventional windows and doors are purchased locally to please your taste and budget. Be sure to use energy efficient windows with double glass and insulated doors.

Q: How are the electric and plumbing lines installed in the wall of the dome shell?
A: Almost all of the electrical and plumbing will be contained in the interior frame walls, in the same manner as conventional housing. To install electrical wiring in the exterior dome walls: simply cut a groove in the E.P.S. insulation and wall board and insert the wire. Fill the groove with spray foam and finish the area with joint compound and tape.  To install electrical boxes, conduit, or plumbing pipes: cut the E.P.S. insulation and wall board slightly larger than needed, insert the box or pipe and fill in the opening with spray expanding foam. The spray foam will harden in about half an hour, holding the box or pipe secure.

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

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

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

Q: What is the link between the domes made of, etc.?
A: Domes are connected together with a link made of the same materials as the dome panels. The link connects to the adjacent dome in the same locations as an entryway or sometimes a door dormer. The thickness of the E.P.S. in a link is usually 7" when it takes the place of an entryway and 3 1/2" when it connects like a door dormer. The width of the link depends on the size of the domes and whether they are connected like an entryway or door dormer. The length of the link varies from 2 ft. to 19 ft. Because the riser wall is a standard 4' high, all domes will match each other despite a difference in diameters.

You do not use or order an entryway or dormer at the locations where a link connects to either dome. When two domes are purchased, we provide the material needed to make a standard Link at no additional charge.

The first 10 feet is free with the purchase of two domes. If you purchase the first dome with the Link and add the second dome later, a cost will be added to the first dome to cover the complete Link and credited when the second dome is purchased.

Link panels are not concreted or wrapped with steel mesh. The 7" E.P.S. Link panels are precut but they will require some trimming where they connect to the domes. After the E.P.S. panels are in place they get covered with steel mesh and then concrete is applied to the specified thickness.

Q: Can I have balconies off the second floor?
A:
  Yes, in a 34’ or larger dome can have up to five second door dormers.  If a door dormer is installed above a standard entryway and a railing built, a balcony results.    In a 34’ dome, the second floor door dormer will only accept a 6’ door that is 24” wide.  This size door is a special order at Home Depot, etc.  The 40’ or larger domes can accept a standard 6’8” door. 

 

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

 

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

Q: What type of paint should I use on the exterior of my dome?
A: We recommend a good quality concrete primer coat followed by an acrylic latex house paint. Because of the reduced surface area and lack of trim, most domes can be painted in just one day. Your dome can be painted in any of color, avoid darker shades. You can purchase the paint locally or it can be ordered from us and shipped with your building kit. 

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

Dome Size:     22'          25'      27'      30'        34'        40'        45'         48'         60'

Surface         1,036    1,189  1,484  1,611    1,994    2,645   3,255    3,652    4,898

Gallons of paint 7          8         10        11        14          18        22         25         33

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

Typically the dome is repainted every 4-5 years, it depends on your personal preference.  The sides of the dome can be painted using an extension ladder and paint roller on a pole.  Yes you can walk on any of the domes.  If you do not have a cupola you would want to install an eye bolt in the top of the dome to tie a rope through.  To paint the top of the dome you can stand on the dome with the rope tied to you. 

Q: In most of the photographs the domes are painted white, how can I make the dome exterior more conventional?
A: The following are some exterior appearance possibilities.
· Install stone, cedar, or wood on the vertical walls around the doors and windows

         in the entryways and dormers.
· Install a wooden deck off a second floor balcony. Or you could connect two second floor balconies

        by a continuous wood deck.
· Paint the dome a warm tan or soft moss green color.
· Landscape with trees around the dome. Or install trellis with roses, vines, etc. that can climb

        up to the second floor deck concealing the first floor of the dome.
· Build a porch or deck off the first floor.
· Install canopies off the top of the entryways and doors.

Q: Would you explain briefly what is involved in the assembly of my dome kit?
A: By simply placing the component panels, interconnecting the steel mesh, and concreting the seams you complete the structural framework, the exterior finish, the insulation and most of the interior shell wall board for your home's shell.
· Foundation: Once you've chosen a home site, you may build your dome on a slab, raised wood floor, or basement foundation - or even on pilings or stilts, if necessary.
· Temporary Support System: During the kit assembly process, the panels of larger domes are held in place by a wooden support system. It is disassembled after the seam and option concrete cures. Much of the lumber can be reused as interior wall framing. The system is erected with your 2x4's and our steel hub kit, which is returned to us upon completion. On our smallest domes, a simpler radial support system can be used, in which each panel is braced by temporary supports.
· Panels: Following the detailed instructions in the "Assembly Manual", four foot high riser panels are anchored to rebars extending out of your prepared foundation. The riser walls are interconnected with subsequent rows of triangular panels. The steel mesh of adjacent panels is overlapped and hooked with C-rings (commonly called hog rings) The upper panels of larger domes need to be placed using an elementary hoisting system or small crane.
· SEAMS: As the rows of panels are positioned; the seams are first half filled with the special fiber concrete mixed at the job site. Additives (synthetic fibers and liquid admixtures) supplied with your kit render the same formulation as the panel concrete. Once all the seams are half filled: you start at the top of the dome and come down the dome using the bonding agent and concrete and fill the seams; you finish the seam tops by
sponge rubbing them to match the sand texture of the prefinished panels. To vary the exterior appearance to your taste, the seam concrete can be shaped flat, rounded, or accentuated.
· OPENINGS: The many openings for doors and windows are created by structural entryway and dormer panels. They are set in place, connected to the other panels, then finish stuccoed with a layer of our special formula concrete.  The six panels that make up one entryway consist of 3 1/2" EPS wrapped in steel mesh and are concreted on the bottom side.  On site you cement their seams, lip edge and the top sides.  The window and door dormer panels consist of 3 1/2" EPS wrapped in steel mesh and are not concreted.  On site you concrete the dormers.
· PAINTING: After the final coat of seam concrete, additional sealing with a concrete primer and two coats of good quality exterior latex paint are applied.
· COMPLETION: After your kit is assembled; you have the freedom to finish your home as you desire. Your choice of standard windows and doors are installed within the dormers and entryways in a stud wall which can be finished in concrete, stone, or wood. To finish the shell interior wall board, fill the wall board seams with joint compound and tape.  Then paint the shell wall board with textured paint. Interior walls are attached to the dome as they are framed, then finished to taste. The second floor joist rests on loading bearing first floor walls and or are suspended from the dome shell.
· SIMPLICITY: This advanced building system makes it easier (even for a beginner) to construct an American Ingenuity dome than a conventional house or a wooden dome. No exterior walls to frame, No roof trusses to set, No sheathing, tarpaper, or shingles to apply, No soffits, exterior trim, insulation or siding to install. Any building experience you have will be helpful when building our dome, but it is not necessary.

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