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Planning Process Print E-mail

 PLANNING PROCESS

Prior to purchasing Building Plans and an American Ingenuity Dome Building Kit, 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 Owners Association governing your land, you will need to check with them and make sure you can build a dome.  Click on Association to learn more. 
  3. What is required from your building department to obtain a building permit….engineer seal, energy calculations?
  4. Do you have your financing secured? Click on Financing Overview to learn more.
  5. Review the different pictures in our Picture Gallery.   Click on Pictures to find several photograph links.

The building department may require that the Building Plans be sealed by an engineer who is licensed in your state. We know of some engineers that have sealed our plans in various states throughout the country. To learn more about this click on Building Permit.

Owner builders can acquire their own building permit and do any of the work that they are capable of.  To learn more about assembly click on Construction Overview.

SIX MONTHS TO ONE YEAR OUT, DETERMINE DOME SIZE AND PURCHASE LAND:

1. Determine Dome Size(s): because American Ingenuity's dome kit is so reasonable in price, sometimes our clients forget that the major costs involved in building a home is the site preparation, utilitiy hookups, permits and the interior finishing costs.

To determine the dome size, you need to estimate what it will cost to finish the dome. Use the to-scale ruler in the back of the Stock Floor Plan Booklet to review the length and width of rooms in the various plans. The Stock Floor Plan Booklet is in our Planning Kit. To order the Planning Kit click on Our Dome Store.

This will help you determine which size dome is the best size for you. Then multiply that dome’s square footage times your area’s square footage construction cost.

  • If you do not know what a finished house costs per square foot to build in your area, contact a local builder or local real estate agent and ask them. To learn more about square footage costs click on Is the A.I. Dome Home cheaper to build than a regular stick built house?
  • For example if you chose a 2,000 sq.ft. dome and if the square footage cost is $80 for your area, then the estimated finished cost for your dome will be $160,000. Lenders tend to want a 25% to 30% down payment based on the finished price of the dome. So for a $160,000 house they will want $40,000 to $48,000 down. The lender will accept some of the equity you have in your land towards this down payment. If you cannot afford this down payment, then we recommend you build a smaller dome first and later add a larger dome when you can afford it.  This way you are living on your property in a super-energy efficient Ai dome saving money monthly on your heating and cooling costs.
  • Figure Finances. Use American Ingenuity’s Financing Booklet for a financing overview.
  • Estimate Building Costs. The web site EZ Home Build sells Home Building Software for Owner Builders that assists in estimating your building costs.  For those who have never built a house we want to clarify that it is quite easy to make a mistake that will cost you $300 or more. The purchasing of Home Building Software can really help you get a handle on all your building costs and hopefully help eliminate estimating problems.
  • Decide on a floor plan. If you do not find a stock plan that fits your needs, American Ingenuity can modify a stock plan or design a custom plan from your sketches for a reasonable price.  Modified stock plans can take five weeks and custom designed plans can take 8 weeks to design from the date you place your plan order. To view and print out some of Ai's stock plans, click on Stock Plans and scroll down the page to click on the hyperlinks. To receive other stock plans via email, please call our office at 321-639-8777.
  • Call the Building Department and ask what is required to obtain a building permit for a Residential House….Engineer Sealed Building Plans? Energy Report? or just Building Plans?  Are there impact fees?
  • Order building plans by returning the Plans Quote Form signed with a check in full for the building plans and the Energy Report and the Engineer seal if these two items are required by your building department.

2. Prior to purchasing your land: call the building department and find out what the front, back and side set backs are. Decide if you want to drive around your dome to access the back yard. Determine the largest size dome(s) that you want to build on the property; this will determine the width of the property that you will need. For example if you decide you want a 40’ dome home linked to a 27’ two car garage you will need at least 77’ plus the side sets and drive around space. {40 + 27 + 10 (Link); + side set backs + drive around space}.

Prior to purchasing your land check out these items to assure you can build your dome:

  • Assure there is no Home Owner’s Association governing the land and restricting what can be built on it.
  • Please contact your building department and see if there is a minimum size new house requirement.  Ask if they require a garage be built with the house. If so is there a minimum size garage requirement? 
  • Assure there are no Deed Restrictions stopping you from building a dome.
  • Assure there are no environmental or rare animal species concerns for the property.
  • Ask if your area has impact fees...fees to pay for new roads, schools, fire stations.  In Florida the impact fees to obtain a building permit can be as much as $10,000 or more depending on the area.
  • Ask the building department if you would have to build your home on pilings and a platform. This can drive up your costs up $30,000 to $80,000.
  • Determine if the ground contains rock that has to be blasted out before your foundation can be built. This would drive up your excavation costs.
  • Ask the building department if any fill has to be brought in before you can form your foundation. Or whether you have to build on pilings and a platform.  Usually the foundation has to be so many inches above the crown of the nearest road. For protection from flooding, the building department knows what height the ground needs to be under your foundation. If it is low lying ground, you might have to bring in four feet of fill or more. This could amount to several truck loads of fill. You want to know about this possible expense before you purchase the property.  Click  on the following to learn more:
    • Concrete Slab 
    • Pilings
    • Basements

Purchase your land under the following conditions:

  • If you do not have city sewer, assure the soil will perk for your septic drain field.
  • If you do not have city water, assure that water can be found on the property. If you have to drill a well, how many feet did your neighbors have to go before they found water.....100 feet, 200 feet, 300 feet. How much does it cost per foot in your area to drill a well?
  • Electricity is accessible to your property. Sometimes your neighbors have to sign easements to get electricity brought to your property.
  • There are no environmental concerns...endangered plants or animals.
  • Side setbacks and front and back setbacks do not stop you from building the size dome(s) you want.  Your zoning department knows what these set back distances are.
  • That you can build on it. If there is a spring or flowing water sometimes building departments determine how close you can build to water. This might cause the property to not have enough buildable space left on it.  Check with your building department to find out how close you can build next to water.
3. Building Plan Items:
  • Decide on a floor plan. If you do not find a stock plan that fits your needs, American Ingenuity can modify a stock plan or design a custom plan from your sketches for a reasonable price. Allow 5 weeks for modified plans and 8 weeks for custom plans.
  • Call the Building Department and ask what is required to obtain a building permit for a Residential House….Engineer Sealed Building Plans? Energy Audit? or just Building Plans?
  • Order building plans by returning the Plans Quote Form signed with a check in full for the building plans and the Energy Report and the Engineer seal if these two items are required by your building department.
FIVE TO SIX MONTHS OUT:
  • Obtain a survey of the site if required by your building department.
  • Obtain contractor bids (see two months out). Remember if your contractor has never assembled an Ai Dome Kit Shell, have your builder hire the Kit Assembly Specialist who will supervise the builder's workers to get the shell erected with the first layer of concrete between the panel seams and on the entryways and dormers. The Contractor selects and coordinates the foundation, plumbing, electrical, framining, interior finishing subcontractors.
  • Layout building location and driveway on your site.
  • Obtain a site map if required by your building department (ask at the building department for names of companies that perform this function)
  • Apply for financing. Click on Financing Overview to learn more.
  • Obtain an appraisal. Click on Financing Booklet to learn more.

    Mortgage lenders require an appraisal to help them determine how much your property will be worth once your new home is completed. The appraiser will make a judgement as to the value of your completed dome based on many factors including:

  • Market value of the homesite based on zoning and sales value of comparable properties in the neighborhood
  • Improvements to the property such as fencing, ponds, docks, outbuildings, or extensive landscaping
  • Advancements available to the homesite such as sidewalks, drainage, streetlights, or fire hydrants
  • Type of construction
  • Square footage of living and utility areas
  • Luxury fixtures included in construction
  • Quality of construction
  • Marketability and sales price of the completed home and property if the lender must take possession

If possible obtain one appraisal that is acceptable to all the lenders you are considering. A single appraisal will save you time and the extra expense of duplicate appraisals. An appraisal from a designated professional appraiser, such as an SRA or MAI, will be the most comprehensive and most widely accepted, but may also be the most expensive.

It is also very important that you select the appraiser and spend whatever time it takes until you get someone who has a positive attitude about domes. After you have paid your money, you don't want to find out that they are as resourceful as a square house. A pessimistic appraiser can kill the whole deal. Ask what they will do about comparables and assist them in locating unique houses in your area.

Many appraisers find it difficult to establish a market value on a dome house. They may also believe that it is necessary to have a "comparable" sale of another dome in your area. Fannie Mae (see Secondary Mortgage Market" page 22), the nation's largest source of home mortgage funds, gives special consideration to unique housing.

Be sure your appraiser is aware of the Fannie Mae "Selling Guide" manual concerning unique housing. Chapter 4, Section 401.01, pages 755 and 756 explains this.

Geodesic domes, etc. are eligible if both the appraiser and the underwriter (lender) determine there is sufficient information to develop a reliable estimate of market value. It is not necessary to have comparable sales of other domes if the appraiser is able to determine sound adjustments for the difference in the homes used for comparison; he can demonstrate the marketability of the dome based on older sales. Sales in competing neighborhoods or the existence (without a sale) of similar homes in the area, or any other reliable data. 

THREE TO FOUR MONTHS OUT:

  • Obtain septic tank permit or sewer hookup
  • Obtain building permit. Click on Building Permit to learn more.
  • Order your Dome Building Kit by returning the Building Kit Order Form signed and include a personal check to equal a 30% deposit based on the building kit amount. Click on Kit Pricing to learn more.
  • Determine which two months you want delivery of your building kit and allow American Ingenuity to select the week of delivery (within the two months) to receive a delivery savings. 

TWO TO THREE MONTHS OUT:

Find Subs by asking your neighbors, asking your local home building association or looking in the yellow pages under subcontractor listings:

  • For site clearing, look under the sub listing: grading, hauling, site preparation.
  • If you are drilling a well, look under the sub listing: drinking water, pump and tank sales/service
  • To find slab or basement construction sub, look under the sub listing: slab on grade, carpentry formwork, foundations, patios. (If you are in Florida we know of a slab sub that will travel any where in Florida forming up and getting the slab poured).
  • If you are installing a septic tank and system, look under the sub listing: tank, drain fields and filter beds new installation.
  • For an electrical subcontractor look under: residential, new construction
  • For a plumbing subcontractor look under: residential, new construction
  • For obtaining temporary electric hookup, find out who sets posts, installs fusible switch and meter can. Ask an electrical contractor, a neighbor or the power company. Be prepared to act as soon as you receive your building permit.
  • If you are using the Kit Assembly Specialist, start talking with American Ingenuity about approximate dates for his arrival at your site. Research where the Specialist will stay.
  • Hire the laborers who will assist the Kit Assembly Specialist with the dome shell assembly.
  • For interior framing of walls, steps and floors look for a building contractor or a framing subcontractor. Click on Choosing a Contractor and Subcontractors to learn more.

ONE TO TWO MONTHS OUT:

  • Construct foundation.
  • Coordinate the rental of a fork lift to unload the dome kit from the semi truck. Depending upon the size building kit you order, you will need two to three people to assist the fork lift driver in the unloading of the truck. Assure that the semi-truck has enough space to drive to your site and exit from the site. If there is not enough space at your site for the semi-truck to turn around, you will have to figure out where you can off load the kit and then transport the panels to the site using a trailer or "bob cat".
  • Research which type of hoisting mechanism you will use when erecting the dome shell. Coordinate the rental of the hoisting mechanism.
  • Determine where the building kit will sit on your site. If the kit is going to sit outside for 2 to 3 months before assembly, tarp the kit. Items in cardboard boxes must be stored inside. Admixtures and some items should not freeze.
  • Sketch out a map to your construction site and send to American Ingenuity
  • Take delivery of your Building Kit. (Before the kit shipment, pay the balance due on your kit in the form of a cashiers check.)

THREE WEEKS OUT:

  • If you are using the Kit Assembly Specialist, coordinate his arrival with American Ingenuity
  • Confirm that the Kit Assembly Specialist has a place to stay
  • Confirm the laborers are available to assist the Specialist
  • Order supplies for the shell assembly: bags of Portland cement, sand, cement mixer, wheel barrows, hoisting mechanism. For a complete list of what is not included in the Building Kit, click on Items Not In The Kit.
 

Planning Overview

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 and contractors or subcontractors. Optimists should triple their expectations. Blueprints are usually the first step once your land has been acquired.

If you intend to begin building next summer start the process before the end of this year. Other expectant homeowners will be clogging the system next spring, so if you are the early bird they will be waiting behind you instead of vice versa.

Items to be aware of:

  • Some Building Departments require that blueprints be sealed or approved by one of their state architects or engineers prior to giving permits, which takes more time.
  • The completion of the Energy Report depends on each dome buyer submitting specific techical information about the exterior doors and windows that will be installed in their dome.  Also required in the report is your AC/furnace and water heater type and direction your front entryway faces.  Ai will email the list of technical data needed.
  • A survey and site map take time.
  • Mortgage lenders can take more time.
  • Remember to allow having 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.
  • Review our Stock Floor Plan Booklet in the Planning Kit and decide what size dome is the best for you and your budget.
  • Purchase your land, so you can determine which direction you want your dome to face, etc.
  • Choose a stock floor plan for the size dome you prefer or have us modify a stock plan or design a custom plan based on your sketches.
  • Take your building plans and obtain your building permit, septic permit, etc.

Conventional mortgage lenders tend to be ultra conservative when considering a dome. Mortgage brokers or indirect sources for financing may be more flexible and quicker for you. Refinancing other property or acquiring loans for other sources may be easier while avoiding the restrictions and requirements of conventional construction loans. Another popular option is the pay-as-you-go method. Combined with partial financing, this can get you into your new dome. For a helpful, in depth look at financing read our Financing Your Dome booklet.

If you obtain financing through a bank, etc. they may require you to have a contractor whom will sign a contract as to what he will charge to totally finish your dome. We know of some independent subs, which can work for the contractor and assemble the dome kit. The contractor can best provide local laborers to work on the dome shell. The contractor can also hire conventional subs to do the interior framing, plumbing, electrical, flooring, etc.

Construction Loans are difficult to acquire. An appraiser takes the Building Plans and determines a value for the finished house and will also appraise your land.

 
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