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answers to our

most frequently asked General questions

Q: How long has American Ingenuity been designing and manufacturing domes?

A: Since 1976, all with the same ownership. A.I. has domes in 46 states and twelve 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.

A.I. does not have domes in: Delaware, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and North Dakota.

Our domes have been exported outside the continental USA to: Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands-St. Kitts and St. Crois, the British Virgin Islands-Tortola, West Indies-Nieves, Canada, Israel, Jamaica, Bahrain and the Faroe Islands (between Iceland/Scotland/Norway).

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 American Ingenuity does not assemble the dome kits but because this was our prototype, we built the dome shell by propping up the precut E.P.S. 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 dog domes, screen dome kits and second floor door dormers/balconies.

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.

  • You can visit our facility here in Florida Monday through Friday. The earliest tour is 10 am and the latest tour starts at 3 pm eastern time. Our office number is 321-639-8777 or click on Contact Us.
  • 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.
  • Once a month A.I. has a Saturday Office Tour starting at 11 am for those individuals who cannot make it during the week. On the Saturday tours, we not only tour the office domes, but we tour a 34' dome home with 22' dome garage. Click on Office Domes to learn more and get directions. 

The owners of American Ingenuity are offering their personal 34' vacation dome to a interested dome individuals 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. To learn more click on Cabin Dome.  Three miles from the rental cabin, a dome community is being developed.  The first phase is on 80 acres of the 160 acre piece of property.  To learn about the Busick's dome community, click on North Carolina Dome Community.

Q: Does your customer service staff work on commission?
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 a newsletter. If you would like to receive the newsletter go to our web site's home page and enter your name and email address under Newsletter.

Q: What does frequency mean in relation to domes?
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.

American Ingenuity has developed a dome that is approximately a one half sphere with a four foot tall riser wall. All of A.I.'s building plans and manufacturing specifications are for 3/8 domes on a four foot riser.

American Ingenuity developed a dome that is approximately a one half sphere with a four foot tall riser wall. All of A.I.'s building plans and manufacturing specifications are for 3/8 domes on a four foot riser.

5/8 Domes:
  • A.I. finds it more practical to use a vertical 4' riser wall on all of its domes instead of designing its domes with the 5/8 geometry.
  • A.I.'s 30' dome turns out to be almost the same height as a 5/8 dome.
  • Also the 4' riser wall makes for a better shaped entryway and allows the dome to link with all of our other size domes.
  • A.I. can manufacture a 5/8 dome but none of our predesigned entryways will fit. And the location of the second floor will be different and difficult for us to design because our predetermined supports will no longer work. As a result the framing design will cost more than we normally charge. The best thing to do is to call our office at 321-639-8777 and talk to Michael Busick. He is generally in the the office Monday through Friday 10 to 5 eastern time.

Q: What is the largest American Ingenuity dome available?
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. Click on 60' to learn more.

Q: What is the shipping cost?
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 $2.00 to $2.50 per mile or around $800 for shipping inside Florida. This is less than we could do with our own trucks. Most of the time each flatbed truck can carry one large building kit or three 22's or two 27's or possibly two 30' kits.  Per mile shipping costs can vary at any time due to fuel costs, fuel surcharges and travel distances.

The number of multiple kits that one truck can carry may vary depending upon the number of entryways, dormers, etc. with each kit. The entryways and dormers take up more room than triangles or riser panels. Once your floor plan has been finalized we can estimate the number of trucks that will be needed for your shipment. 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 of Florida.

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 from the truck using an all terrain forklift (2,000 to 3,000 pound lift capacity) that you rent locally. Please have an experienced fork lift driver and at least two people to assist the fork lift driver. Click on Shipping to learn detailed information on the unloading of the semi-truck.

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, about 80% of the finished concrete exterior is installed and all the wall board is installed on the triangles and riser panels. In comparison with other building kits besides purchasing the building kit, you usually 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. Click on Panel Composition to learn more.

As a result of our panel's contents, normally our Building Kit is about one half the cost of 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?
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.

A 30’ weights about 31,000 lbs, 34’ about 33,000 lbs, 40’ about 39,000 lbs, a 45’ about 44,000 lbs, a 48’ about 46,000 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. 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?
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: 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. To learn more:

Q: Do you have any pricing comparisons?
No. We leave that up to you. At least once a month perspective clients visit our office domes and inform us that our kit is at least one half less in cost than the shell materials cost for a conventional house or wooden dome or gunited concrete dome.  We believe when you do your own research that you will agree with our visitors conclusion.

The reasons why 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.
  • A.I. does not make a profit on building plans.  We provide plans as a service to our clients.
  • None of our staff is on commission.
  • 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. A.I.'s component panel includes most of the steel reinforced concrete exterior, all the shell's seven inch thick R-28 insulation and all of the interior shell's wall board. In wooden domes you will likely have to purchase the insulation, wall board, exterior finish and roofing at extra costs. Click on Stick Built to read more.

Q: What do the panels weight?
On the left side of our Home Page click on Dome Kit Sizes and Prices, then click on Specifications. Scroll down the page and 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 vacant along the front, back and sides of your property lines?
  2. Do you want to drive a vehicle around each side of your house? When you know these answers you can add the distances 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).
  3. To learn more click on Planning Process.

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, what is the average number of feet your neighbors had to drill down to find water. What is the cost per foot to 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.

Q: Explain about painting the American Ingenuity Dome
The component panels do not come with any paint on them. A.I. does not add any color to the concrete. On site you concrete the seams so if we painted the panels or added color to the concrete it would not match your painted seam concrete. The concrete shell is painted after the entire kit is assembled.

  • Stain is not used because stain will not seal the concrete.
  • The painting of the dome includes a concrete primer and two coats of good quality latex paint.
  • Use a latex paint that has a satin finish; which is a finish in between flat and semi gloss. Any porous area that water will penetrate; paint will also soak into and seal.
  • The dome can be painted any color, tan, green, blue, etc. preferably a light to medium color to reflect the sunlight.

Around 1948 Latex paints became the first water-based alternative to oil-based paints. Many improvements have been made but perhaps the most significant is the introduction of Acrylic Resins. Paint of 100% Acrylic is more resistant to ultraviolet rays, retains its color longer, is less prone to chalking, retains its elasticity, is more alkaline resistant and can be cleaned up with water.

It is not difficult to paint the dome….there are no soffits or gutters to have to deal with. You know when to repaint the dome when you rub your hand on the paint and it chalks. The dome is either spray painted or the paint is rolled on.

Typically the American Ingenuity dome is repainted every 4-5 years, it depends on your personal preference.
  • The sides of the dome can be painted using an extension ladder and paint roller on a pole or sprayed.
  • Yes you can walk on any of the domes. If you do not have a cupola you would want to install an eye bolt in the top of the dome to tie a rope through.
  • To paint the top of the dome you can stand on the dome with the rope tied to you.
  • To access the top of the dome you either climb out a cupola window or put an extension ladder to the top of a second floor dormer and then walk onto the top of the dome.
The main reasons American Ingenuity selected latex paint are because it is readily available, economical and easy for the beginner. Specialty paints like epoxy are unable to stretch and the epoxy paint can "in some areas" crack and allow water to pass through. Also any paint that would have a high gloss would highlight flaws in the seam finish. A paint that would withstand UV light or last longer would be advantageous but keep in mind that it is much easier to paint a dome than a conventional house.

Does the dome's steel mesh ground out electrical line waves?
Yes. The entire dome except for the widows and nonmetalic doors is completely wrapped with steel. The steel mesh that is in the concrete has one inch square openings. That steel mesh would block or ground electromagnetic radiation with the exception of high frequency in the order of what cell phones use. Radio and TV will possibly be blocked and the 60 cycle of power lines being very low frequency would definitely be grounded.

How resistant is A.I.'s dome shell to termites? Based upon a FHA test, E.P.S. will not support bacterial growth or fungus growth. It also contains no food value to any living organism. Its lack of food value means that although termites, ants and rodents can tunnel through it, there is no other attraction.

Prior to when the slab is poured, the foundation area is treated for termites. After the dome is assembled you will want to treat an area around the slab to stop the termites. Here in USA, we use termite stacks, etc. Plus we have learned to keep mulch away from the sides of the foundation as mulch holds moisture for the termites. Also install rain gutters to take the water away from the foundation edges.

There are no openings or cracks in the dome shell that would provide a path for insects. The windows, doors etc. could provide a path. Ask the window and door supplier how to seal them from bugs and termites. The concrete slab floor would have to be carefully sealed to the riser concrete panels and if cracks occurred in the slab they would have to be sealed.


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