Dome Homes


Click on the question to read the answer


How long has American Ingenuity been designing and manufacturing domes?
Can I view an American Ingenuity dome?
Why don't you have an 800 toll free number?

Does your customer service staff work on commission?
What does frequency mean in relation to domes?
What is the largest American Ingenuity dome available?
What is the shipping cost?
How does the weight of these domes compare to other houses?
Are American Ingenuity domes manufactured in any other location?
Why are the kit prices on the Construction Cost Estimate page different from the kit prices on the Prices page?
What are the advantages of the dome shape?
Do you have any pricing comparisons?
What do the panels weight?

What size land do I need?

What should I consider before purchasing land?


Q: How long has American Ingenuity been designing and manufacturing domes?
A: Since 1976, all with the same ownership. We now have domes in 46 states and seven foreign areas; including such southeastern states as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, etc.; such northeastern states as Maine, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont; such central states as Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin, etc.; such western states as Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, etc.

 As of March 2005 the only states we do not have domes in are: Delaware, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and North Dakota.

Our domes have been exported outside the continental USA to:  Bahrain, Canada, Hawaii, Israel, Puerto Rico, Nieves West Indies, and St. Kitts Virgin Islands.

The first American Ingenuity dome was built in 1976 after two years of design research. Founder Michael Busick employed the talents of the Director of the Florida Solar Energy Center, University engineering students and an architectural professor to design the very first Expanded Bead Polystyrene (E.P.S.), concrete and steel geodesic dome.

Normally we do not assemble the dome kits but because this was our prototype, we built the dome shell by propping up the E.P.S. precut insulation panels, hand tying steel mesh to the exterior of the insulation and spraying concrete over the entire dome exterior. This first dome became the office and model of American Ingenuity and by our standards was a primitive design. There were no riser walls or performed entryways or dormers at that time.

Countless designs and construction techniques were analyzed in the early years as we developed a new generation in housing and designed our special component panel. We received a patent on our panel in the early 80's. These preconcreted panels produce a better quality home and eliminate the need for costly concrete pumping equipment.

We have progressed from a prototype structure to a home that has received a design competition award and three energy awards along with exposure through numerous articles in national magazines, on Inside Edition, on Film and Garden and other media. We have outgrown two previous locations as we progressed to our current five dome complex. Our Building Plans have progressed from simple hand drawings to a detailed computer designed set of blueprints and our Assembly Manual has grown to over 80 informative pages. We were the first to offer utility domes, dog domes and screen dome kits.

Q: Can I view an American Ingenuity dome?
A: Our offices are in a 45' dome connected to a 34' dome with a 40' screen dome. With a prior appointment you can visit our facility here in Florida.  The earliest tour is 10 am and the latest tour starts at 3:30 pm.   Although the domes are set up as offices you still can learn alot and get a good feel for the dome's spaciousness. Sorry due to insurance reasons, our factory domes cannot be toured.  About once a month Saturday appointments are available where we not only tour the offices but we also tour a 34' dome home (fully furnished two bedroom & two bath) connected to a 22' one car garage.

We are really thankful, some of our dome owners allow us to give out their name and telephone number. As we have sold almost 500 dome kits nationwide; this means it is not likely that there will be a dome close to you to view. You may need to drive to a distant dome.

We promise the dome owners we will not give out their name until the interested person has gained the knowledge in our Planning Kit. That way the dome owner is not answering hours of basic questions that our literature or we can answer.  Sorry we cannot give out dome addresses.

The owners of American Ingenuity are offering their personal 34' vacation dome to a limited group of people so they can experience dome living first hand. The cabin dome is located in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains just a mile off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway 40 miles northeast of Asheville, North Carolina. Rental reservations are handled through American Ingenuity. The owners would prefer each renter to have gained the knowledge in the Planning Kit before they rent their vacation dome.

Q: Why don't you have an 800 toll free number?
A: One of the reasons our company has been in business for over 29 years and is very reputable, is that we treat all our customers the same. Our business philosophy and product is unique to the housing industry. We believe that each person should pay for only what they need. As a result, our dome kit's pricing is usually one third to one half less than other housing kits. We do not have an 800 number because we hear from 400 to 600 interested people a month depending upon the time of the year. Each person who wants to research our kit further can do so by purchasing the Planning Kit and or Video. If we had an 800 number our clients who purchase the dome building kit would be paying for everyone's telephone expenses. And if we gave out a Planning Kit and Video to 400-600 people a month, that cost would also be paid by the Building Kit client.

Q: Does your customer service staff work on commission?
A:  No.  What we have found best is to just offer good customer service by not twisting anyone's arm to purchase a dome.  Just call or email your questions.  We stay in contact with our clients with an annual mailing that typically goes out in November.  It usually contains a newsletter, Christmas Card (with a dome pictured) and coupons.  If you would like to receive the annual mailing or if you want to continue to receive the annual mailing, call or email at least once each year and ask us to update your database code to keep your name active.

Q: What does frequency mean in relation to domes?
A: Frequency is simply the number of segments between the centers of pentagons in a geodesic dome. To best visualize this, first note the five panels that make a pentagon at the top of the dome. Follow any of the seams that radiate from this pentagon center to the center of another pentagon. There will be three segments in a three frequency dome; in a four frequency it will be four; in a two frequency, two. A soccer ball exemplifies a three frequency icosahedron. A typical golf ball utilizes dimples in a six frequency design. If you are a contestant on a quiz show, or become a proud dome owner, this bit of trivia may be of help to you.

Our 22' and 27' domes are two frequency, 1/2 sphere on a 4' vertical riser wall. Our 30', 34', 40', 45' and 48' domes are three frequency, 3/8 spheres on a 4' vertical riser wall. Our 60' dome is a 4 frequency, 3/8 sphere on a 4' vertical riser wall.

Q: What is the largest American Ingenuity dome available?
A: Prompted by requests for a large, single dome for commercial uses, we developed a 60' dome in 1988. Although it can be used to create a grand home of more than 5,000 square feet, we do not recommend first time owner-builders to take on a project of such proportions. A complex of two or more domes offers advantages and may be more practical than a single large dome. All the 60' building plans are custom plans.  The 60' dome requires two trucks for delivery.

Our largest size dome is 60’ in diameter with an interior center height of 26’.  It has 2,552 sq.ft. on the first floor.  If you max out the second floor, the second floor can have 1,910.  If you purchase the cupola and install a third floor loft there can be a loft area of 620 sq.ft. for a total of 5,180 sq.ft.  If you need a larger dome than this, contact Monolithic Dome in Italy Texas.

Q: What is the shipping cost?
A: Since our Building Kits are reasonably priced, even with the addition of the shipping cost, your dome home kit will be more affordable than you think. Having our manufacturing plant located in Florida is advantageous for shipping since more is shipped into than out of the state, leaving many trucks headed out empty.

Using an independent trucking agency, we contract to have these trucks carry our building kits for a low cost of approximately $1.30 to $1.40 per mile or a minimum of $450 for shipping inside Florida. This is less than we could do with our own trucks. Each flatbed truck can carry one large building kit or three 22's or two 27's or possibly two 30' kits. A 60' dome building kit requires two trucks for delivery. You do not have to pay Florida sales tax for items shipped out of the state.

Each trucking company has cargo insurance. We communicate with you and give you the name of the shipping company so you can also communicate with them. You pay the truck driver after he delivers. You unload the dome kit with an all terrain forklift that you rent.

Two of the main reasons our Dome Building Kits are reasonable in price are first: labor costs are less in Florida than out west or up north where most housing kits are manufactured. Second: because of our component panel design your building kit contains all the R-28 insulation already installed and about 80% of the finished concrete exterior is already installed and all the wall board is installed on the triangles and riser panels. In comparison with other building kits you need to purchase the building kit, then purchase the insulation separate, install the insulation; purchase the roofing separate and install all the roofing; purchase the wall board and install the wall board. As a result of our panel's contents, normally our Building Kit is considerably less in price than other housing kits. So even when you add the shipping cost to the American Ingenuity Kit pricing, the total is still less than other housing kit's pricing.

Q: How does the weight of these domes compare to other houses?
A: Because of the reduced surface area of a dome and its thin shell construction, our domes weigh less than the average house, but are remarkably stronger than other types of structures. Domes are considerably lighter than a concrete block house.

Our 30' dome kit weights about 26,000 lbs.  You do not have to build the dome on a certain type soil.  If your neighbors needed a soil sample before they could build their conventional house then you may need it too.  Or unless you feel something abnormal, ask your Builder or neighbors if need be.  Domes require no more than a conventional house. 

Because we cannot evaluate your soil suitability from here, you would need to consult with someone locally about the suitability of your topsoil.  Possibly a building department, or soils engineer.  Our 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.

Q: Are American Ingenuity domes manufactured in any other location?
A: No.  Our manufacturing costs here in Florida are well below the national average, which offsets any long distance shipping expense. We can actually manufacture a kit here in Florida and ship it to most states cheaper than we could manufacture it there.

Q: Why are the kit prices on the Construction Cost Estimate page different from the kit prices on the Prices page? 
A: The kit pricing on the Dome Price page includes the dome shell kit plus one entryway. The kit prices on the Construction Cost Estimate page equal the combined pricing of the building kit plus the options based on the floor plans 30' Alpha 11, 34' Delta 11, 40' Alpha 11, 45' Alpha 22 and the 48' Delta 33. For example the 40' Alpha 11 floor plan consists of the 40' kit with one entryway and plus the following additional building kit options: two entryways, two window dormers, one second floor door dormer and four clear skylights.

Q: What are the advantages of the dome shape?
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 dome home building concept 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 any pricing comparisons?
A: When you research other dome kit pricing and contents, generally you will find that our pricing is about one third to one half less. The reason our kits have a better price is not magic. The primary reason is the design concept. It is far more practical to build a dome with concrete than wood. Applying the concrete to rigid foam insulation produces a component panel that provides structure, exterior finish and the insulation. Our philosophy of each person paying for only what they need results in a lower kit price as we do not have an 800 number, our literature prices are based on their printing costs, only our clients who need an engineering seal pay for one, etc. Also we maintain a lower advertising cost and concentrate more on improving the design than pushing sales. Due to lower labor costs in Florida, we can manufacture in Florida and ship to almost any other location cheaper than it would cost to manufacture there.

Remember to compare apples to apples when pricing each company's kit. Our panel includes most of the steel reinforced concrete exterior, R-28 insulation and wall board.  In wooden domes you will likely have to purchase the insulation, wall board, exterior finish and roofing at extra costs.

Q: What do the panels weight?
A: On the bottom of each of our web pages is the listing Specifications. If you click on this page you will find a category, Panel Weights. Depending upon the size dome, the panel's weight from 115 lbs to 300 lbs.

Q: What size land do I need?
  The size property you would need for a dome depends upon the following items:

1.   What are the front, back and side set backs for your area.  Meaning how many feet does your building department require you to leave along the  front, back and sides of your property line?

2.   Do you want to drive a vehicle around each side of your house?  When you know these answers you can add them up to determine the minimum width (dome diameter plus side set backs and any other space needed to drive a vehicle around the sides of your dome).  The minimum length of land needed would equal front and back set backs, lawn plus diameter of dome(s).

Q: What should I consider before purchasing land?
  Some of the biggest concerns are 1)does muck have to be removed and truck loads of fill brought in; 2) are there wetlands or running water on the site to cause environmental concerns; 3) would you have to build your house on concrete pilings; 4)are there any deed restrictions or homeowner associations governing what can be built on the land; 5) if you use a septic tank, will the soil perk; 6) if you do not have access to city water, can you drill a well; 7) if there is no electricity to the site, will your neighbors sign easements so you can get electric lines to your site, 8) are there front, back and side set back requirements which limit your building area, etc.