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

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

Where can I see one of your finished domes? We only have facilities here in Florida where we manufacture the kits. Ai has sold domes into 47 USA states and thirteen foreign areas. We would like to have model homes throughout the country but it is not economically possible. There are over 700 American Ingenuity Domes throughout the country but they don’t belong to us and we can’t extend invitations to see them.

Only a few of our dome owners allow us to give out their name and telephone number and it is likely that the closest one to you will be four to six states away from you. We promise the dome owner that we will not take advantage of their courtesy and we will only give out their name to those who are serious and knowledgeable of the information in our planning kit. That way they are not answering basic questions that we can answer or are contained in the literature. Ai has also promised not to give out the dome owner’s address to assure that they will not have surprise visitors.  Click on Florida Office Domes to learn more.

Dome Finished Costs: The finished costs on the domes depends so much on where you live, what the labor costs are in your area and what price points you select for your windows, doors, cabinetry, flooring, lighting fixtures, etc. You can ask at your local hardware store or ask a local contractor what the finished price per square foot is running for a conventional house. That is 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.  Click on Finished Costs to learn more.

About 40% of Ai's clients assembly their kit, many with no construction experience. The Component Panels, Building Plans and Assembly Manual come marked with numbers and letters. If you do not have the time or do not want to assemble the dome kit, we know of an independent working consultant that travels around the country assembling the dome shell using your laborers or your contractor's laborers.

The working consultant’s charges a daily rate and travel expenses. Using three to four good laborers and depending upon the size dome and type of hoisting mechanism, shell assembly (kit with two entryways and four dormers) can take from 9 to 16 days. Once you decide on your floor plan, we can estimate the number of days needed for your shell assembly (cupola, entryways and dormers take longer to install than triangles). To learn more about this service click on Kit Assembly Consultant.

You or your contractor hires conventional subcontractors to do the conventional 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 the working consultants supervising 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 the contractor had to overcharge the dome owner because they did not know what problems they would run in to. Many times the contractor would charge as much as the cost of the building kit for the labor cost to assemble the kit.

Sorry Ai does not give out the name of the assembly consultant. He is on a job site and cannot be disturbed.  If you are interested in utilizing the Consultant, call our office at 321-639-8777. 

Contact your local Home Builder's Association for the names of contractors and subcontractors in your area. Click on Builders to see a list of individuals that have either assembled American Ingenuity Domes or that want to.

A helpful web site is rsmeans.com They provide construction manuals, construction estimating CD's, etc. Another helpful web site that sells Home Building Software for Owner Builders is EZ Home Build. Their web site www.ezhomebuild.com.

The following is a quick overview of our kit contents and our building process to give you an idea of what is is required and how time-wise building an American Ingenuity dome can be prior to the purchase of your personal dome. When you purchase a dome shell kit from us, the full "Assembly Manual" is included and is much more extensive and precise.

The American Ingenuity dome building kit includes one entryway and all the panels to assemble the dome shell. The panels are pre-concreted, insulated and have wall board. The dome shell kit package includes Triangular Panels, four foot tall Riser Wall Panels, Entryway Panels, Galvanized Steel Mesh, Concrete Fibers, Two Concrete Admixtures, Reinforcing Tension Wire, Concrete Bonding Agent, Connecting C-Rings, C-Ring Pliers, Assembly Manual, Accessory Package. Click on Building Options to learn more about entryways, dormers, cupola, etc.

The interior wall board on the riser and triangle panels consists of Georgia Pacific ¼” DensDeck Roof Board adhered to the E.P.S. with cement and perlite. 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. DensDeck roof board is a patented nonstructural glass mat-faced, noncombustible, water-resistant, treated gypsum core panel. To learn more about this board click on www.georgiapacfic.com then select gp products, then select gypsum, then select DensDeck Roof Board.

For freedom and flexibility of design, you can select additional building kit options which are determined by your choice of floor plan. The options include: additional Entryway Panels (garage, high profile, or standard), Window Dormer Panels (first floor and or second floor), Door Dormer Panels (first floor and or second floor), Skylight Panels, Cupola Panels, Link Panels and R-36 Insulation.Within the entryways and dormers, on site you build a 2x4 wall to install your doors and windows. No interior items are included in the kit. We believe you should not pay shipping on items you can purchase locally such as; plumbing, electrical, framing, flooring, kitchen cabinets, bathroom fixtures, stairs, fireplaces, windows, doors, etc. Click on Interior Finishing for more info.

The basic building process consists of placing the preconcreted insulated panels, overlapping and locking the steel mesh and concreting the seams and options with two layers of concrete. You do not need to concrete over the entire dome exterior. Only the panel seams and the building kit options are concreted on site.

To complete the shell interior use joint compound and tape to finish the wall board seams or use a mixture of cement and perlite to finish the wallboard seams and skip trowel a texture over the wallboard.

Standard Entryway panels for the 30'- 48' domes utilize 3 1/2" E.P.S. wrapped in steel mesh, are preconcreted on the underside surface and have a precast trough on the outer edge. You place rebar into the trough, fill the trough with concrete and concrete the outside surface. The openings under the entryways is framed in on the site to fit your choice of standard windows and doors that you purchase locally. Click on Options to learn more.

Garage entryways for the 22' and 27' dome consist of 3 1/2" EPS with steel mesh ready for on site stucco.

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

Non-opening skylights are preinstalled in triangular component panels. A skylight consists of two pieces of ¼" thick tempered safety glass (like car side window glass) about 46"h x 50"w with ½" air space. Desican is installed between the two pieces of glass to keep "sweating" down. Gas between pieces of glass does not stop sweating. The skylight provides over 8 square feet of glass. We put together the glass panels at our factory. A triangular hole is cast in the component panel where the skylight sits on a ledge. Aluminum strips, stainless steel screws and black weather stripping are used to install the skylight. Skylight panels are factory installed but are shipped unseated unless specifically requested by the owner. The skylights can be removed by removing the aluminum strips, screws, etc. The skylights are available in Clear and Reflective.

Link: Link panels consist of E.P.S. insulation and are not concreted or wrapped with steel mesh and require on site custom fitting.

Domes are connected together with a Link. The Link connects to the adjacent domes in the same locations as an entryway or sometimes a door dormer. The thickness of the EPS in a Link is usually 7" when it takes the place of an Entryway and 3 1/2" when it connects like a door dormer. The width of the links depends on the size of domes and whether they are connected like an entryway or door dormer. The length of the Link varies from 2 ft. to 10 ft. Because the riser wall is a standard 4’ high, all domes will match each other despite a difference in diameters.

Cupola: The topside exterior of the five panels of the cupola and the underside exterior of the overhang (eave) are prefinished steel reinforced concrete, while the topside & edges of the eave are stuccoed onsite. Click on Cupola to learn more.

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

Hot air and moisture will rise to the top of the dome. If you build your dome without a cupola, we recommend installing a vent at the peak of your dome for ventilation. The electric fan vent has the added advantage of being easily controlled with a switch or timer. You can purchase vents used in sailboats that are quiet. The vent fan is installed in an interior wall near the top of the dome to exhaust the moisture and or hot air. The ducting for the vent fan runs through the interior walls and if need be in the floor joist to exit under a first floor entryway. That way there is no hole in the top of the dome to protect from leaking.  Due to the tightness of the dome, moisture from breathing, doing dishes, laundry, etc. can stay in the dome so in cold climates install a heat recovery ventilator to remove the moisture. 

Does a copula change the structural integrity of the geodesic dome? In hurricane areas you would want to have shutters over the cupola windows. The cupola does not weaken the rest of the dome, but the cupola is more vulnerable to wind loads because it sticks up at the top. In high winds the overhang panels could come off. They are nonstructural and would simply be replaced after the storm.

Once your kit is assembled, the wall board on the interior of the dome shell is ready to be finished almost identically to the method drywall board seams are finished. There will be a 1/2" gap between the panels that allows you to insert electrical wiring without cutting the interior board. This 1/2" gap is filled with a nonshrinking joint compound like "Gold Bond Pro Form". Then those seams and the other interior shell seams are finished with typical joint compound and fiberglass joint tape. Applying a textured paint will likely hide the board seams and complete the dome shell interior.

The interior framing of the dome is built much like conventional housing and can be either wood or metal. Some of the second floor can be hung from the dome concreted seams by suspension rods allowing for very "open" first floor plan designs. The American Ingenuity dome is capable of supporting a large amount of weight, including the 2nd floor, from the concrete dome shell. This weight is suspended by threaded steel rods which anchor into the concrete seams and extend vertically down into the dome. Over 3,000 lbs. can be supported by a 5/8" threaded rod suspended in one of the concrete seams. The location of the suspension rods is determined by your floor plan selection. The Building Plans will show the suspension rod's positioning. The suspension rod with nut sets on a 3"x 7" steel plate, which is embedded in the concrete seam. The seam is reinforced with #4 rebar & two layers of galvanized steel mesh. The second floor can support at least 40 pounds per square foot, the same as other houses. We can easily design for a more demanding second floor load such as for waterbeds, whirlpool tubs, spas, libraries, etc. (The suspension rods and plates are purchased from American Ingenuity).

Almost all of the electrical and plumbing will be contained in the interior frame walls and installed in the same manner as conventional housing. To install electrical wiring in the exterior dome walls: simply cut a groove in the E.P.S insulation and wall board and insert the wire. 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.

AC/Heating Ducts: Ai leaves the AC ducting diagram to your subcontractor, but generally the ducts run through interior walls, in the second floor joists and or behind the second floor knee wall. The vents are either in the interior walls or in the floor of the second floor.

"It is a terrific thing to get a building built that has the qualities of greatness in it."

-Frank Lloyd Wright

 
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