Ai Concrete Dome vs Shipping Container Home

After reviewing several sites regarding converting a shipping container into a home and what the American Ingenuity (Ai) Dome Building Kit offers, we have the following comparison to share.  When comparing companies housing products, please compare apples to apples, not just the container cost.  

  1. Do the other companies back up their product against Hurricanes and Tornadoes?  American Ingenuity offers a warranty up to a 225 mile an hour winds and or F4 tornado. Click on, Aidomes & Acts of Nature to learn more.
  2. To reach the 780 sq. ft. of living space (average 27′ dome)  will require two to three 40 ft. containers, at an average price for used containers (in good shape, another issue posted) of $2,000. New containers run between $4,500 and $6,000 that is $13,500 (for 3) minimum before shipping. The closest shipping (for this Florida example) for a container would be Miami.  Current shipping costs are about $800 per truck within Florida ($2,400).  So your investment before your retrofit would be over $15,900!   Adding the retrofit, insulation and drywall will add another $10,000 or more. (not including custom windows, doors, electric, plumbing etc.) For an estimated total of $25,900 (before sales tax). Remember material costs to finish a home is over 50% of construction costs. Prior to Florida Sales Tax, the American Ingenuity dome kit w’ shipping cost to a Florida site based on the 27’ Kappa 11 plan is $26,152, a difference of only $252 and you receive a home with greater strength - 225 mph wind & F4 tornado warranty on the dome exterior walls.   Please see Ai Pricing Chart below.
  3. When looking at  container conversion, how is the interior of the home finished?  Do you have to cut and solder the units for windows, entryways and multiple units?  Do you need to tear the flooring out due to possible contamination (another potential problem)?  Attach the insulation and wallboard? Ai’s kit’s triangle and riser panels come with the R28 insulation and ½” thick DensArmor gypsum wallboard (by Georgia Pacific) already adhered with wallboard adhesive. After the kit panels are assembled, the drywall seams are taped with adhesive mesh tap and joint compound.  To blend the drywall seams and the drywall surface, skip trowel joint compound over the dome shell drywall.
  4. Does the product or kit contain insulation? What type, and what is the overall R-Value for energy efficiency? Our kits have standard 7″ thick rigid, nontoxic EPS giving the structure an overall R-Value of 28. From what we have read container homes have major insulation problems with both keeping the home warm in winter and cool in summer, which may present a problem in your area.
  5. Does the companies product have a finished exterior? If using a container then will you need to seal the container with nontoxic paint adding siding or stucco (many containers have lead based paint that needs to be properly sealed so not to contaminate you). The American Ingenuity (Ai) dome’s exterior is 3/4″ concrete reinforced with galvanized steel mesh & fibers with the seams between the panels & the entryways & dormers concreted on site. You do not concrete over the entire shell. After kit erection the concrete gets primed and painted.
  6. Like a container conversion, Ai’s dome panels contain no wood in them.  They are steel reinforced concrete, as opposed to solid metal which will/ can rust.
  7. Will the companies that do the retrofitting call your building department and verify the structure can be built on your site?  At no cost to our Buyers, we call their building department, email a generic set of building plans and talk to the Plans Examiner to assure the dome kit can be built.
  8. Do companies that specialize in shipping container retrofits, provide you with building plans (Ai’s current sale price for 27 Kappa 11 building plans is $851), engineer seal for your state (Seal for one dome on a slab is $600) and energy report  (Ai price to complete the report for one dome on a slab is $190)?  If so what do they charge? If they don’t provide these services, please be aware you will need to hire an architect, and an engineer to seal your building plans.  Just last week, a Florida Resident visited our dome offices and said that engineer sealed building plans for a four container home built in Florida would cost $8,000.

Please keep in mind that the cost to build a finished moderately priced home varies from state to state. As an example in Central Florida (based upon figures from the average cost to build is about $138.00 per square foot for a home that is 750 sq. ft.  This is not including the cost of land, land preparations, permitting/impact fees, and utilities. It would include all your interior finishing including kitchen,  HVAC systems and appliances and monolithic foundation (slab). So a home that is 750 sq. ft. would run about $103,000 to build (this would include the cost of our dome kit). The cost to build one of our kits runs about the same to build as a traditional home but our home has insulation comparable to  11” of fiberglass and has super-strength.  A traditional house would require 2×10 framing (see Finished Cost) to come close to our dome….but it would have wood interrupting the insulation while the Ai dome has no wood in or on the shell to interrupt the insulation, or to burn or to rot or for termites to eat.

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27′ Kappa 11 plan
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27′ Kappa 11 plan

container chart