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American Ingenuity's Most Common Asked Questions

about obtaining a building permit on an Ai Dome

Q:  Explain how to work with my building department.

A: Keep in mind that building departments are concerned with strength and safety. American Ingenuity Domes excel in these areas. Building departments and building codes are not concerned with appearance; although a plans examiner may be unfamiliar with the aspects of dome construction.

When working with building departments, Ai recommends the following:

  • Start by asking your building department a few questions such as: “What are the requirements for a residential building permit? Are there any additional requirements to build a geodesic dome? Is an Architect’s or Engineer’s seal required on the plans?"  If a seal is required it can be purchased through Ai. The cost is $600 for one dome built on a concrete slab for all states other than Florida or California.  Two domes each built on a concrete slab is $900.  Basement plans seal is $500.
  • Building departments are unpredictable. No nationwide standard exists for what is required to receive a building permit and as such what is required in the building plans. Each individual building department adopts and implements their individual policies. Since each department will ask for different items, expect that your first visit may only garner a list of what is required as to the building plans and further documentation (e.g. deed, survey, septic tank location, permits.)

Q: How do I know what my building department will require in order to give me a building permit?

A: Ask your building department to provide you with a list of what is required to obtain a residential building permit.  In Florida the American Ingenuity Dome will give you a high score on your Wind Mitigation Form which will cause the hurricane insurance part of your homeowner's policy to be quite low in cost.  Your windows and exterior doors need to be shuttered to receive the discount.

Q: Will my American Ingenuity dome be acceptable to my building department?
A: Building plans for American Ingenuity domes comply with all building codes worldwide including the Universal Building Code, the Standard Building Code, and the B.O.C.A. Code. If required, your plans can be certified by a registered engineering firm.  Please call Ai's office for pricing.....321-639-8777.

In California, some building departments require building kits be certified that they comply with California's building kit requirements. Due to the high cost of this certification, it is not economical for American Ingenuity to purchase the certification.  So if your CA building department requires that the Kit be certified, then you will not be able to build the American Ingenuity Dome in California.

American Ingenuity's dome building complies with the new 2010 Florida Building Code.  However, Ai has been informed that Dade, Broward, West Palm Beach, Orange and Seminole Counties in Florida require product approval.  As of February 2013 Ai is researching obtaining product approval and hopes to have approval within six months.  Check with your Florida building department and see if they will accept a Florida registered engineer’s sealed letter stating the Ai panel meets the intent of Florida Building Code and Fl engineer sealed building plans to issue a building permit.  If so those items can be provided at a reasonable fee.

Q: Have you shipped domes into UBC building code areas?

A: Yes, we have shipped domes into the Universal Building Code (UBC) territory before. If the UBC will not let you have any floor area (except bedrooms) that has less than seven feet of head room, then the knee wall would have to be moved inward to put that unallowed space out of the room.

Q: Will your Building Plans comply with my area's building codes?

A: Ai has sold dome building kits into 47 USA states and thirteen foreign areas. Ai's blueprints have been accepted by building departments which use many different Building Codes including the Universal Building Code, the Standard Building Code and the B.O.C.A. Code. Our personal service may include communication with your area building officials to assure the acceptance of your blueprints for issuance of a permit.

Q: Do your Building Plans come with an Engineer Seal on them?

A: No because most of our clients do not need engineered sealed building plans to obtain a building permit. Ai's philosophy is that each client pay for only what they need.  About 50% of Ai's clients building departments require engineer sealed building plans to issue a building permit. As a result only those clients that need a seal purchase a seal. 

Ai's dome design has proved itself by withstanding hurricane Andrew's 200 mph winds, sub zero temperatures and heavy snow loads of Canada and the Northwest Territory, a large tree impact, a double wide horse trailer impact and many other conditions since 1976.

Although our Building Plans have been reviewed by over 30 different engineers, the plans do not come with an engineer's seal for the following reasons.

  • Less than half of our dome owners needed engineer sealed Building Plans to obtain a building permit and rather than adding the cost to all plans it is more economical to have the plans sealed as needed.
  • As the designer and manufacturer we would not hesitate to guarantee the structural integrity of our dome and we do just that with our guarantee.
  • Each state only accepts a seal from an engineer who is registered in that state which prevents us from applying any seal that would be universally accepted.
  • When an engineer seals a set of plans he is taking responsibility for the structural design for a single dome in the location intended and the seal would not apply to other projects.

Q: Please explain what the engineer does in reviewing my plans.

A: The engineer reviews the Building Plans to assure that they comply with your state's building codes. He will let us know if anything needs to be changed.

  • Ai will make the changes at no cost to you and send the revised plans to the engineer who then crimps them with his seal and signs his name.
  • This seal and his signature means that he certifies that the plans comply with your state's building codes.
  • Then either the engineer or we mail the signed plans to you. You take them to your building department.
  • Because each city, county within a state can have varying requirements, your city or county building department may request some changes.
  • Ai will work with your building department to make those changes at no cost to you. But if the engineer has to get reinvolved, he may charge an additional fee.

Q: What process do engineers or architects have to go through to be registered in each state and how do they maintain their certification year to year?

A: Engineer's have to pay for and pass a test in each state they are registered. Plus each year they pay an annual fee to each state to maintain their registrations.

Q: In Florida what is commonly required to obtain a building permit?

A: To obtain a Florida Building permit engineer sealed building plans and Florida Energy Report are required. These items can be purchased through Ai.

  • The Building Plans are purchased through American Ingenuity.
  • Please call our office, 321-639-8777 for the cost of the Florida Energy Report.
  • Ai utilizes an engineer outside our office to seal the building plans which is a separate fee. The Florida engineer seal cost for one 36' or smaller dome is $400; for two smaller domes the cost is $500, For a 40' to 48' dome the seal cost is $500.  Two larger 40'-48' domes is $600.  An attached screen dome is $200. A 60’ dome's engineer seal ranges from $800 to $1,000.

Q: What will the engineer seal cost for California and other states?

A: For California: we can only quote you the cost of the building plans because the price of the seal comes from a California licensed Engineer. California building departments are extremely difficult to deal with and that makes it also difficult for any engineer to provide a fixed cost when they don't know exactly what the building department will require. A rough estimate for engineering to get through a typical California building department is $600 - $1,000 for a dome built on a concrete slab. 

The seal cost for one dome built on a concrete slab for all states other than Florida or California is $600. If it is a two dome plan the seal is $900.  Basement plans seal is $500.

Besides assuring that your property has no deed restrictions or homeowners association regulating it, contact your building department and find out what they require to issue you a residential building permit.

Building departments are basically concerned about safety and structure, not appearance.

In California, some building departments require building kits be certified that they comply with California's building kit requirements. Due to the high cost of this certification, it is not economical for American Ingenuity to purchase the certification. San Bernadino County does not require kit certification; only requires engineer sealed plans with structural calculations.  

Q: Can I find my own engineer to seal my Building Plans?

A: Yes, you could try to find some other structural engineer to seal the plans, but they will probably charge you this much or more. They tend to charge more because they have not sealed our dome plans before. Therefore, they would have to start from scratch and research everything about the A.I. dome.

Q: Does a site plan come with the Building Plans?

A: No it is not included in the Building Plans and is usually designed from a survey. It is best to hire a local firm to complete your site plan.

Begin by drawing a building site plan (plot plan) to the same scale as the Stock Plans and Floor Planner Kit (1/10 inch = 1 foot). A handy scale ruler is included in the back of the Stock Floor Plan Booklet on tan colored paper. Show everything that will affect your dome on your property:

  • North, south, east and west setbacks
  • Driveway, adjacent roads, rights of way, easements
  • Utilities: well, septic and septic drainfield
  • Views
  • Prevailing winds
  • Trees, ponds and existing structures
  • Once you have your building site plan, you can place cut out copies of floor plans on it to select the best size, location and orientation for your dome. If you are designing a dome complex, you will find it simple to combine the cut outs since they are all the same scale.

Q: Have any of your clients ever been denied a building permit?

A: Yes. In 2006 American Ingenuity had its first client denied a building permit who wanted to build his dome in Redding California. The building department required that the Ai dome building kit be certified that it complied with the State of California’s building kit regulations. Due to the cost and complexity of the tests, Ai concluded it was not economical for us pay for this test. If the California building department will accept a California registered engineer’s assertion that our buildings pass this test, this documentation can be provided at a reasonable fee.

Ai has had three clients assemble dome kits in California without the building kit needing to be certified. These areas were remote rural areas. If you would be building within a city limits, please check with your building department to see if the actual building kit needs to be certified before you purchase the building plans. 

San Bernadino County will accept engineer sealed plans with structural calcualtions and does not require the dome kit to be certified.

Q: Through out the United States are there any counties where the Ai dome cannot be built?

A: Yes. Ai has been informed that Dade, Broward, West Palm Beach, Orange and Seminole Counties in Florida require product approval testing.  As of February 2013 Ai is researching Florida Product Approval.

Q: What do the American Ingenuity Dome Building Plans contain?

A: Building plans include the basic drawings for the dome that are needed when acquiring a building permit. They 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. Ai has found if the layouts are included, then the inspectors require the subcontractors to follow the diagrams when usually the subs like to design their own layouts.


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