The following info covers various hoisting mechanisms (Lull,
Front end loader, self-built Gantry) to lift the American Ingenuity prefab panels into place

Another view of panel being installed in third row of panels.

Lull being used to place panel in third row of 34′ dome.  First  layer of fiber concrete being applied to exterior of entryway panels. 

Wooden rib system is temporary. Once all panels are placed with entryways/dormers framed in and two layers of concrete in the seams & on entryways and dormers, the dome is self supporting. The rib system is removed.

The panels are best placed using a Lull or Man Lift. The Man Lift is great to use because you can not only lift panels but workers can stand in the bucket with buckets of concrete to apply concrete in the seams.  If you use a  crane & are installing 45′ or 48′ dome, it needs to be capable of lifting 400-500 pounds, 25 feet up & 25 feet out.  A chain is put through the steel mesh at each of the three points and ties back on itself and is secured to lifting spikes.  Lifting spike is inserted between the concrete and the rigid EPS insulation.  Once the panel is in place, the chains are unhooked and the lifting spikes are removed. Continue using the same process to lift the other panels into place. 

22' panels assembled with back hoe

Front end loader utilized to lift 22′ dome kit panels into place. 


Mr. Shalla built his own Steel Gantry System to lift his 48′ dome panels into place.
With his Gantry he is installing the panels with no workers. 

With a four-person work crew, use of a temporary wooden rib system & proper bracing of the panels, one row of panels of a 48’ dome can be placed in about a day of crane time.  In most cases, total crane rental time will vary from about 9 days for a smaller dome to approximately 16 days for a 48’ dome. This estimate is for a dome with two entryways, four dormers and no cupola that is built on a concrete slab utilizing the independent consultant.  This link, Rib, explains the temporary wooden rib system assembly method for the domes.

On this link, Kit Assembly Specialist, Ai gives a recap on the equipment needed to assemble the building kit and an estimate on the Specialist’s hours and worker hours to erect the kit.  The specialist is independent from American Ingenuity. He can supply dome assembly references for your review and calling.  To view the labor and equipment recaps, scroll down Consultant article to the yellow and blue boxes. 

For those owner builders who do not have a deadline for kit assembly, the prefab panels can be installed without hiring the consultant. The kit is assembled as a Do It Yourself (DIY) project following the Assembly Manual and the building plans.

These links, Kit AssemblyConstruction Overview and California Assembly Pics show assembly steps to erect the American Ingenuity dome building kit.

Monthly rentals on transverse lifts also called Boom Lifts, Horizontal Boom Fork Lifts, Roofing Lifts, Shooters are available from National Rental Chains like US Rentals, Hertz Equipment Rentals, United Rentals, etc.  The companies can be found in the telephone book.

Ai’s web site has over 150 pages of detailed information including an extensive frequently asked questions and their answers located on left hand side menu bar.  We look forward to answering your questions as you research which housing kit is best for you and your family.  Just to clarify, none of our staff is on commission….we are simply here to answer your questions as you analyze Ai’s dome housing kit which is the latest evolution in housing technology.


To make the lifting of the panels easier, four lifting spikes are purchased for $100 and shipped with your kit.   They are used to lift the triangular dome panels and the riser panels. 

The following information is in Ai’s Assembly Manual and includes sketches.

When preparing a panel for lifting, first bend the reinforcing wire mesh up almost in a vertical position to make the insertion of the lifting spikes easier.  Also having the mesh bent up will allow the panel to be placed without entanglement of the adjacent panel mesh. 

The lifting spikes are to be inserted at the midway locations along the panel’s edges. 

Push or hammered them into the EPS foam just under the concrete layer.  They should be parallel to the outer surface of the concrete. 

For safety reasons it is important that the lifting spikes are placed within 6″ of the center of the panel side. 

The spikes should be inserted so that the attached chain links can most easily to be threaded through the reinforcing wire mesh. 

Enlarge the opening in the reinforcing wire mesh so that the attached chain can go toward the center of the concrete side without obstruction.

Connected chains that will support 3 times the weight of the panel to the spike chain.  We recommend that you use a closed loop connector that can not release if there is no tension on the chain. 

Connect the 3 chains together so that the convergence point will be at a distance from the panel concrete surface equal to half the distance (length) of a panel side.  The chains should converge with about 90 degrees (square) between the two chains when viewed perpendicular.

Adjustments to the length of the 3 chains will allow you to tilt a panel to be better aligned with the location where it will be placed.

Some deviation in the spike placement and the convergence point height is allowable if you take in consideration how the forces are affected and follow all cautions listed below.

If the chains converge close to the panel the chains will be pulling more against each other and less in the direction intended for lifting the panel.  Reducing the convergence height to ¼ of the distance between spikes doubles the chain tension. 

Increasing the convergence height causes the panel to hang lower, reducing the height you can lift the panel.  Also when any chain is near perpendicular to the panel there is a serious risk of the spike being pulled out while lifting.  


Because there are numerous things that could allow the panel to fall while lifting.  In addition to the chains and their connection, a sudden jerk from the lifting device, slack in the lifting cable and human errors and other things can cause the panel to fall.

The only way to assure safety is to assume that the panel can fall at any time.  Anytime a panel is lifted Never allow anyone under the panel or within range of its possible impact.

Even after a panel is set in place and supported movement of other panels or supports could cause it to fall. 

Don’t consider a panel secure until it has been C-ringed and concreted on two sides to adjacent secure panels and all of the concrete had time to adequately harden.

Not being full time safety conscious could result in fatality consequences.

Once a panel has been placed into its position at the dome shell, the lifting spikes can easily be pulled out of the panel’s edge with a couple of strong outward jerks to the 3-link chain tail at the end of the lifting irons.