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Is the American Ingenuity Dome Shell Kit

Less Expensive than the Materials Cost

for the Exterior Walls and Roof of a Conventional House?

Yes.   American Ingenuity's dome shell kit price is about one half less in cost than what the materials cost for the exterior walls and roof of a wood dome, monolithic dome or conventional house (exterior walls, roof trusses, plywood, tar paper, shingles, 3 1/2" thick insulation, siding, soffits, gutters, drywall for exterior walls & the ceiling, etc.).

This above statement does not mean that the Ai Dome can be finished for one half the cost of a conventional house.  This is because:

  • The interior of the dome is finished just like a conventional house using your local framers, plumbers, electricians, dry wall finishers, etc. These subcontractors follow the dome builiding plans which show the room arrangement and complete the interior.
  • The inside materials cost is the same whether you build a dome or a conventional house.  Locally you purchase the flooring, framing, kitchen cabinets, windows, doors, lighting fixtures, bathroom fixtures, kitchen appliances, etc. that you or your subs install.
If you desire a 2,000 sq.ft. house then the American Ingenuity 40' dome might be the right size for you.   The Ai 40' Dome Kit with entryways and dormers (places where your locally purchased doors and windows are installed) is about $34,000. 
The exact pricing of the 40' dome shell kit is determined by your floor plan selection.  Your floor plan determines the number of entryways and dormers that will be included with your Building Kit.  To learn more about entryways, click on Building Options. Once you choose your stock floor plan, refer to this file for the Stock Plan & Stock Kit Prices
A 2,000 sq.ft. conventional house shell's materials cost (exterior walls, trusses, plywood, roofing, siding, insulation, shell & ceiling wall board, soffits, gutters, etc.) could be about $51,000. The savings on the American Ingenuity 40' dome shell (cost of about $34,000) versus the shell materials cost for a conventional house is about $17,000 and you receive a super-insulated, super-strong dome home.  To be more precise, you could ask a builder in your neighborhood what the shell materials cost is for a conventional 2,000 sq.ft. house and compare that cost to the American Ingenuity shell kit cost.

All the money you save by purchasing the Ai Dome Shell Kit can go towards the costs for shipping, fork lift rental to unload the truck, temporary supports to hold the panels during assembly, the renting of a hoisting mechanism to lift the panels into place, etc. 

Why do you not see hundreds of Ai domes in your area?  Financing is the single biggest hurdle to owning a dome.  Lenders want 25% to 40% down based on the finished price of the house.  If the square foot cost to build a conventional house in your neighborhood is $85 and you want to build a 36' dome (two bedroom, two bath) with about 1,500 sq.ft. then your finished cost is $127,500.  (This price does not include the land or utilities hook ups.)  The lender will want $32,000 to $51,000 down.  They will accept some of the equity you have in your land towards the down payment....but they want a large cash down payment. 

As a result of this financing problem, many of Ai's clients purchase a smaller piece of land and build a small 22' or 27' dome and live on their property in a super energy efficient, super strong home...saving money and later add on a larger dome and convert the smaller dome to a garage or bedroom suite or study or work area.

To learn more click on:

Financing Booklet

Financing Overview


Rib Support System

Hoisting Mechanisms

Construction Overview

Kit Assembly Consultant  

Materials Cost-Finished Cost

Total Materials Cost:  If you select standard items to finish the interior of your dome, the materials cost for your dome might be $50 or more per square foot. So the minimum materials cost for a 40' dome of 2,000 sq.ft. could be $100,000 (this includes the kit cost of $34,000).

Finished Cost of the house:  This price is more than the materials cost because it includes the labor costs plus the materials cost. So how does dome finishing costs compare to conventional house finishing costs?  If the finished price per square foot to build a conventional house in your area is $100 per square foot and you desire a 2,000 square foot house then the finished price for the conventional house would be about $200,000, if you do no labor yourself.  The finished price of the dome would be the same about $200,000 less the savings on the dome shell materials..... But you end up with more with the American Ingenuity dome. You receive a super-insulated, hurricane, earthquake, tornado proof home. 

Your interior materials cost varies depending on your selection of locally purchased interior items such as:

  • Formica counter tops versus granite
  • Oak kitchen cabinets versus cherry or mahogany
  • Vinyl flooring versus ceramic tile versus hard wood floors
  • Ceramic tile versus marble
  • Plastic shower stalls versus tiled showers
  • Plastic tubs versus Jacuzzi tubs
  • Vinyl clad windows versus Pella or Anderson windows
  • Standard light fixtures versus speciality
  • Standard kitchen appliances versus Thermador or Dacor appliances
  • Standard bathroom fixtures versus Aquaware or Boffi
EZ Home Build sells Construction Management and Home Building Software for Owner Builders and Contractors.  This software can be used to estimate the cost to build your dome home.  Their phone number is 864-834-1660 and their web site is

Estimating Costs

The following information came from the book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Building Your Own Home by Dan Ramsey.  

Can you afford to build the house you want? In Chapter 9 it states:  I'll help you get a comprehensive estimate of your construction costs. For now, though, let's make a rough estimate.  First, understand that whatever house you build will probably cost as much or more than that of your neighbors -- unless you plan to do it all yourself. Based on this fact, let's look at your neighbor's houses.

As mentioned in Chapter 1, the typical house built today is about 2,300 square feet in size, and sells for around $225,000 depending on where you live. The actual price in your area may be half of that or 10 times that amount.

So, how can you get a good rule-of-thumb for your area? Of course, you can talk with contractors who will throw out numbers like $100 or $200 per square foot. That's a wide range. What does it include? House only? House and land? Landscaping, too?

It's smarter for you to get your own local building costs. Here's how. Talk with a local real estate agent about new construction. It's best if you can compare apples to apples, so ask about new homes and lots in the area you want to build. The agent should be able to tell you the lot cost, the asking price, and the square foot size of a few comparable homes. You can figure things from there.

For example, a $250,000 new home (comparable to what you want) on a lot costing $60,000 means the house is valued at $190,000. It's a 2,200 sq.ft. home, so you calculate the value at just over $86 sq.ft. You do calculations on a few other comparable new homes and come up with a local rule of thumb of $90 sq.ft.

You now have a base from which to guesstimate the approximate cost of your new house. Then you can factor in the following:

  • If you want a nicer view lot, add to the land costs.

  • If you will be your own general contractor, reduce the total by 10 to 20 percent.

  • If you will be a subcontractor, reduce the total by the sub's fees.

  • If you want to enhance the design, tack on the additional costs or get a square-footage cost for better quality homes.

  • If you will be building the house yourself, reduce the total by about half if you're not paying yourself.

  • If you already own your land, factor that in to your total construction costs.

In Summary, Price for A Turn Key Dome


So what about the finished price of a conventional house compared to the costs to finish a dome? If the finished price per square foot to build a conventional house in your area is $100 per square foot and you want a 2,000 square foot house then the finished price for the conventional house would be about $200,000, if you do no labor yourself. The finished price of the dome would be the same about $200,000 less the savings on the dome shell materials.... But you end up with more with the American Ingenuity dome. You end up with a super-insulated, super-strong house.

Ai's standard 7" thick insulation is comparable to 11 inches of fiberglass batting. So if you really want to compare apples to apples, ask a conventional house builder how much more it will cost to have 11 inch thick fiberglass batting in the exterior walls and in the roof of a conventional house. And then ask the builder how much more it will cost to construct the conventional house with a hurricane, earthquake, tornado guarantee. This analysis will really give you a true pricing comparison of the American Ingenuity dome kit to a conventional house shell.

The Ai Dome Shell Kit consists of triangular and riser panels that contain a core of seven inch thick expanded bead polystyrene insulation (E.P.S.) with steel reinforced concrete on the exterior of the insulation and wall board on the interior of the insulation and all the panels for one entryway.  Your floor plan selection determines how many more entryways, dormers, etc. you will need to complete the shell for that floor plan.

By simply placing the component panels, interconnecting the steel mesh, and concreting the seams you complete the structural framework, the exterior finish, the insulation and most of the interior shell wall board for your home's shell.

Normally most people do not know how to set roof trusses, install shingles, etc. the American Ingenuity Dome Shell Kit was specifically designed for the do-it-yourselfer to assemble; thus, if you assemble the shell you save additional money.

Once the dome kit is assembled, your local framers, plumbers, electricians, etc. finish the interior of the dome per the building plans which show your room arrangements.

The following are some general appearance and construction questions with their answers.

I am interested in the dome house concept but also want to know if you provide one in wood as in the Timberline Product series in California? Sorry our dome kits do not contain any wood or shingles, the exterior of the American Ingenuity Dome Home is concrete that you paint on site. To make the exterior of the dome appear more warm and friendly you can:
  • Install stone, cedar, or wood on the vertical walls around the doors and windows in the entryways and dormers.
  • Install a wooden deck off a second floor balcony. Or you could connect two balconies in the 36' or larger domes by a continuous deck.

  • Paint the dome a warm tan or soft moss green color.

  • Landscape with trees around the dome. Or install trellis with roses, vines, etc that can climb up to the second floor deck concealing the first floor of the dome.

  • Build a porch or deck off the first floor.

  • Install canopies off the top of the entryways and dormers.

What are the advantages with the concrete style over the wood style? The American Ingenuity Dome Shell Kit contains no wood to burn and no wood for termites to eat. There are no shingles to blow off in high winds. The American Ingenuity dome kit was also designed for owner builder assembly.  The exterior concrete gets painted with latex paint every four to five years.  Click on Low Exterior Maintenance to learn more.

Can someone like myself with general construction experience, build the kit with the assistance of a contractor? Yes, but if you feel uncomfortable supervising the assembly of your kit instead of hiring a contractor, you can hire the Kit Assembly Consultant. He will supervise your laborers and get the shell assembled. Then you hire local typical subs to do the plumbing, electrical, heating/airconditioning, framing, etc.  To learn more about hiring subcontractors and contractors, click on Choosing a Contractor.

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