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

A: No. As far as the site plan, it is not included in the Building Plans and is usually designed from a survey. To locate a company that can design a site plan, ask for references from your building department. Some items like locating trees and elevations are best done by a local person or company.

Meantime, gather the following information to give to the site plan designers.

  • Layout of your property: North, south, east and west directions
  • Side, Front and Back Setbacks
  • Road names, road rights of way, easements, and utilities
  • 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 dome size, location and orientation for your dome.

Q: I would like a free set of Building Plans to take to my building department to get preapproval before I purchase the actual Building Plans.

A: Ai has never heard of a set of plans being needed for preapproval. Sometimes we have provided our clients a document that shows the floor plan with the driveway, etc. marked.

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

A: Yes. For the first time in 2006 one of our California clients could not obtain a building permit, because the building officials wanted our dome building kit certified that its design complied with the State of California's building kit regulations. It was not cost effective for our client or American Ingenuity to purchase this certification.

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

A: We suggest you 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?"

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

A: To obtain a Florida Building permit you will need engineer sealed building plans and a Florida Energy Audit/Wind Calculations.

You will want to ask your Building Department if you are in a Wind-Borne Debris Region and ask what the "design wind speed" is for your location.

  • The Building Plans are purchased through American Ingenuity (see our price list for costs).

  • Florida Energy Audit/Wind Calculations are purchased through us for around $120.

  • We use an engineer outside our office to seal the building plans which is a separate fee.

Q: What will the engineer seal cost for California, Florida, North Carolina 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 $1,500 to $2,500 for both domes in the same project.

The Florida engineer seal cost for one dome is $400. A 60’ dome's engineer seal ranges from $600 to $800.

Some of our domes have been constructed in North Carolina that needed engineer sealed plans. We used a local firm for the seal. A North Carolina engineer seal for a single dome not complicated is about $500-$700.

For other state's engineer seal costs, please call us.

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. Engineers that have never sealed a set of Ai building plans tend to charge more because they would have to start from scratch and research everything about our dome before they could seal the plans.

Q: Are there any counties in the United States that will not allow your dome to be built?

A: Yes, Dade and Broward Counties in Florida and some counties in California. For information about California please contact our office Monday thru Friday 9 to 5 eastern time 321-639-8777.

Even though our building complies with the new 2002 Florida Building Code and one of our domes survived Hurricane Andrew with no structural damage, we have been informed that Dade and Broward Counties require additional testing to verify that the wall segments are capable of withstanding missile impact. Due to the cost and complexity of the tests, we have concluded it is not economical for us to perform this test.

If the building departments will accept a Florida registered engineer’s assertion that our buildings pass this test, this documentation can be provided at a reasonable fee.

Q: Tell me 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. They will let us know if anything needs to be changed. We 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 mean that he certifies that the plans comply with your state's building codes. Then we UPS the signed plans to you and 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. We will work with your building department to make those changes at no cost to you. But if the engineer has to get reenrolled, he may charge.

Just to clarify, engineer's have to pass a test in each state they are registered. Plus each year they pay an annual fee to each state to stay registered and attend and pass continuing education classes.

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 7' of head room, then the knee wall would have to be moved inward to put that unallowed space out of the room.

Q: What are the contents of your Building Plans?

A: Stock sets generally have 10-14 pages per each set. 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 based on your individual requirements and design. Some of the pages are a 3-D elevation and a 3-D perspective view. The Plans include:

A foundation plan for a concrete slab on grade

  • The floor plan & electrical fixture identification
  • A full section plan
  • Elevations
  • Top view
  • A framing plan
  • Construction Details
  • Cupola plans if requested

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.

Q: Do your Building Plans include the electrical, plumbing and HVAC layouts?

A: No. We have found if these layouts are included, then the inspectors require the subcontractors to follow the diagrams when usually the subs like to do their own layouts. Ask you building department if these layouts are required for you to obtain a building permit. If they are required, your subcontractors can be hired to design your layouts.

Q: Why do you have to charge extra to modify your stock Building Plans?

A: Quite often our clients send us sketches....we need to convert those sketches to actual building plans for the following reasons. Some of the footer locations in the concrete slab foundation are based upon the location of the first floor load bearing walls which help support the second floor. Plus the dome riser panels set on a perimeter footer in the slab. Also parts of the second floor are suspended by rods into the dome shell. These rods are inserted and buried in the seam concrete during the shell assembly. So we need to design your floor plan per your sketch and then design the structural sheets that the slab person, shell assembler, framer, etc. need to follow. So yes you would pay us a fee for us to modify our stock plans per your sketch and produce sets of building plans.

Q: If I wanted to modify your stock plans or give you a custom sketch, how do I do that?

A: Ai draws the plans using AutoCAD program. You do not need to use that program or any program to draw your plans. See the blank floor planners in the back of the Stock Floor Plan Booklet. Remember you can fax (321-639-8778) the drawings to us or you can email them if they are in jpeg format or bmp format (windows bit map) or if you are using AutoCAD we can accept the documents in dxf format or dwg format.

You can take those planners and paste copies of rooms that you do like or sketch your room arrangements. If you should sketch in something that is either not practical or not cost effective we will let you know.

Email or fax the sketch to us.  Include your name, telephone number and best time(s) to contact you. We will call you back with questions and give you a price quote to convert your ideas into custom plans. When you want us to design your plans, return the Plans Order Form signed along with payment for the Building Plans. During the custom plan design, we send you two rough drafts which you can change. We then take the final draft and design all the structural pages.

On the internet, there is a free 30 day trial of Delta Cad which is compatible with AutoCAD program that we use.  You can order DXF files for each dome diameter.  Click on DXF to learn more.  You can read and edit the dxf files if you have AutoCAD program, any other computer aided drafting program, a photo editor program like adobe or paint shop. You can read the dxf files but not edit them using Microsoft word and power point.

Q: I understand that you can suspend parts of the second floor from the dome shell so we can have an open first floor plan. Is this true?

A: Yes, the second floor can be suspended from the dome shell and allow you to have as open a first floor as you desire. Keep in mind that it is more economical to occasionally use the first floor walls as supports. Long spans with floor joists will require more expensive materials to provide the strength for suspension rods that pass through the second floor.  The suspension rods and plates can be purchased from A.I.

Q: What is the cost to design metal framing in the Building Plans?

A: If the first floor of the dome is concrete then it is $40 for us to design with steel studs and joists for the second floor. If the dome has a basement or raised first floor then it is an additional $40 to design basement studs and first floor joist with steel. The cost of metal framing is slightly higher than wood. You should only use metal framing if your subcontractor has worked with it before. Metal Framing is not more fire proof. In a fire metal will deform quicker than wood.

Q: If I would like more than the two sets of Building Plans, what is the additional cost?

A: If your Building Plans are for one dome then you would need additional sets that are "C" size. If your Building Plans were for two or more domes, then you would need "D" size plans. Please call our office at 321-639-8777 for additional plans pricing.

Q: Your stock Building Plans come with a concrete slab if I wanted to change that to a raised wood floor, is that possible and what is the cost?

A: Yes we can do that.  Price varies depending upon the complexity of the design. Please call our office for pricing.



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