Is construction with aircrete permitted at all in California?

  • Some older sources (2009, 2012) say that California is the only state where Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC) is not permitted. And since Domegaia's "aircrete" is non-autoclaved I imagine it is even less likely to be permitted. Does anyone have any info on this? or leads to where one should research? Would there be regulation variances between counties? (I'm in Nevada County)

  • My California community suffered great losses in a fire last year. We also would like to know the possibility of rebuilding with Aircrete. Do you know of any approved structures already built in California?

  • To Evanflow: I just registered for a workshop in Santa Cruz and realized I should confirm that aircrete is legal in California and in Nevada County, where I also live. If I don't get an answer from the Domegaia folks soon I'm going to check with the county and post their reply here. (If it's not allowed I will need to cancel, and it would be a good idea for Domegaia to update the SC workshop web page to include this important information.)

    To Pronaia: the fire resistance of aircrete is one of the things that attracted me to it as well.

  • Just got word back. That was fast! (Thanks KL)

    "Nothing has changed since this article was published, to our understanding. If you build a structure that is less than 120 square feet, it should meet the California code as an acceptable storage space/shed."

    For many people this is an acceptable size. I am building a space that is about 400 sq ft so I need to switch technologies.

  • Major Contributor

    It's more like sidestepping the code. Cellular concrete is in the building code and legal. However, when you make your own blocks it's doesn't apply. You could buy a pallet of the real thing and get code approval then use your own product...

  • Workshop Instructor

    Unless your going to sell the house, I say the only building inspector you have to worry about is your neighbor...

  • Little Dragon Tamer

    So true @HandyDan. Maintaining healthy positive neighbor relations is extremely important for those of us striding to be less dependent on governments. We force government to step in and make everything "legal" when we can't get along as a community.

  • Major Contributor

    In some locations, you can build a "storage shed" as long as its under a certain size and has not been plumbed in when its inspected.

  • @Pronaia - I have the same question? Have you heard anything yet? I live in Los Angeles but I'm looking to build in the Coachella Valley area. @domegaia - Do you have an update about building codes in CA?

  • @Zander - I'm guessing that you're saying "no"!

  • Little Dragon Tamer

    @Peter Click here -> [Zander's take on the building code situation]
    Here is what Riverside County, CA has to say about "their" building codes:

    State law requires that all cities and counties in California enforce the building codes as mandated by the California Building Standards Commission. The County of Riverside has adopted by ordinance the following model codes as modified by the State of California:

    • California Building Code, 2016 edition
    • California Residential Code, 2016 edition
    • California Mechanical Code, 2016 edition
    • California Plumbing Code, 2016 edition
    • California Electrical Code, 2016 edition
    • California Green Code, 2016 edition

    So apparently California has done away with local building codes altogether. Which is just as well - I mean, since most "local" building authorities simply adopt national or international building codes anyway.

  • Workshop Instructor

    I am sorry to say that building in Cali. is a problem anything over 120 sq/ft. Unless you are ok doing it under the radar, most Counties will not allow aircrete homes as they are using National codes these days as reference based in "traditional building methods". I suggest building in another country that isn't always breathing down your neck with fees and compliance. I understand the necessity and yet it's confining for new, affordable materials to be discovered and explored. There is presidence in California using strawbale, which is lovely but not cost or longevity effective. Unless the material has been fabricated in a certifiable and controlled environment it is hard for consistency to be regulated. I understand this and yet the building paradigm needs desperate change. Powers that be resist change, that's been the point of government unfortunately....

  • Little Dragon Tamer

    Not sure if this show in who forum?
    I am in Northern California, part time in Costa Rica
    ... wondering who has found the proper engineer to
    obtain an "Engineer Stamp" to get air aircrete  dome home plan
    through the local building department approval process ?
    I have friends who intending to build an Aircrete Come Home in Costa Rica.
    I am interested in, and will be watching what they do or not,
    here in Costa land ...for the required local approval process.

    Bouncing off my awareness of various open sourced Internet Projects
    ... Here is a Networking for an Engineer Idea:

    I am wondering what it might take to create a Dome Home Plans
    for Sale Network connected to an able and willing Engineer ...
    to pitch just a few basic aircrete dome home plans with an engineer stamp attached.
    Like doable attractive Basic Plans For Sale"  at a reasonable price; possibly connected
    to deal with the Engineer for better prices on his cut as the sales volume grew.
    The KEY part of that idea would obviously be the Engineer with the proper credentials who
    would be willing to get involved, but the other aspect would be folks lined up behind
    some specific basic dome home plan(s) ... willing to purchase such, to get an idea like that rolling.

    I would think testing of specific aircrete blocks (samplings) used in any specific project would
    very likely be needed to the confirm compressive strengths of various used blocks or pours.
    I really do NOT  know what specifics would be needed by the Engineer
    ... and just wondering about possibilities.

    My Question in this arena: (hope this is not too much)
    Who has already negotiated the building code approval hoop
    process for an "aircrete dome home" netted together with that fabric?
    How much did it cost for what size dome home?  
    Who was the Engineer ?
    What kind of testing or requirements were specified by the Engineer ?

    I did noticed one person in an online workshop referring to their aircrete dome
    building as an agricultural building. That might be a legal route to relaxed
    local code requirements.

    Re: Networking for Engineer Stamp IDEA: Question:
    Does anyone know an Engineer who might be approached to consider
    such a PUSH AIRCRETE DOME HOMES Plan Sales Idea ...  for the cause?
    With Goal of just a few economically priced Basic Plans for Sale connected
    to an Engineering Stamp that would work in California.

    What would take to get there? Maybe a few orders connected to one,
    or a few simple plans that appeals to a number of folks lined up
    for a purchase of such plans with an engineer stamp!

    Food for Thought   ;+)   writing from my Costa Rica Casa, Bill

  • Little Dragon Tamer

    @Capt-Bill Great idea. I think lots of potential dome builders out there are waiting for just such an opportunity. are some more of my thoughts on this subject.

  • Little Dragon Tamer Major Contributor

    @Capt-Bill Ok. I had to really crunch all that Capitan ;) This engineer you speak so fondly of? Who ? How Much. Does He truly matter? I give you back the floor.

  • @Brian-Spooner I have this same question, I live in LA, my father wants to move to LA and I want to build a dome home for him. Now it seems like that wouldn't even be possible. How does the woman in Joshua Tree have her dome? (which is gorgeous!)

  • Little Dragon Tamer

    Bruce, I have no idea who the Engineer would be.
    for such a Network pitching AirCrete Plans for Sale with an Engineer Stamp!

    I would consider asking any Engineer who has successfully ushered
    an Aircrete Dome Home Plan through a local build permit process.
    (Who has achieved that? I do not even know if that has happened!

    While I have intently studied the subject of Aircrete with much interest,
    and set myself up with the Little Dragon and Mixer, I am a just newby
    to aircrete with tool guy background.

    I would think for the kind of idea I just pitched to fly, it would need
    the support of an Engineer with altruistic side, who agrees Aircrete Dome
    Buildings deserve some specially help and attention to make this
    ecological and economical kind of building process available to the masses.
    I think a supportive Engineer connection could help the popularity
    and interest in aircrete dome home possibly exponentially explode into
    an option to go to the bank with for a building loan! Success stories along
    such lines could make such an altruistic Engineer Famous
    along with you guys, for what you are doing.

    I am just sharing this idea here in this forum
    ... and think there is someone out there that could fit.

    On the consumer side, An effort to find that Engineer might be facilitated via
    something like a contest for a couple of basic stater dome home plans that
    would appeal to maybe 6 -10 people committed to paying for a qualified engineer
    stamp (that would work for jumping through the building permit hoop)!
    ... Then search for an Engineer to help including via a group rate. Aim for a couple
    of Basic Plans that could be pitched for Sale with an Engineer Stamp to
    a larger audience connected by contract to that or some other Engineer who will
    back such an idea.

    This is just an idea with potential.

    Personally, I have been attracted to aircrete for initially making and testing
    aircrete panels that I will use on my Northern California property for fire proof fencing
    and possibly fireproof panels over the plywood siding on my house for fire safety purposes.
    I will then see what else I get into. I am attracted to building an Aircrete Dome
    Home, but already have built three other kinds of homes and on my 68th sun orbit already.

    bla bla

    Food for Thoughts

  • Little Dragon Tamer

    I would go with visualizing what you want, and then turning that
    image over to your higher power/ which includes your creative mind
    in your self, that is connected to all the creative minds around you.

    I hope that does not sound too corny.
    I just believe: After you know what you want; Letting Go of what you want
    allows more ideas to come up about how to get to where you want to go.

    I Am also a believer in: "When there is Will, there is a Way!" !!!
    ...and if you hear your fixed mind set voice saying "I CAN'T" ...
    speak back with your creative mind,... and add the word; "YET"

    I believe some folks are building aircrete dome homes with proper engineer
    support and not paying attention to this domegaia forum. I have no specific info.
    about this belief (YET!),... but do have the lead of a conversation about an
    Aircretre Dome Building going up in Willits, California on Commercial St. (in Mendocino County).

    I am scheduled to go back to Mendocino County mid October and will find out more about that.
    I am currently in Delicias Montezuma area of Costa Rica in my Casa built around and on top
    of a 20 foot shipping container.

  • Little Dragon Tamer

    Class K Permit:
    I do not know if or how this might apply to aircrete dome home pursuits,
    but I wish to share what I know about the Class K Permit in Mendocino County
    for outside the city limits on at least one acre parcels (as I remember):
    I have built two houses in Mendocino County with their relaxed (hard fought for)
    Class-K Building Permit option (years ago). The Class-K Permit is for conventional
    wood framed type buildings and is relaxed in requiring at least one
    inspection at end of the building process, which also allows for inspection & legalization
    of a residential building built without a permit including after the fact,
    like after possibly getting red tagged.  Fines apply after the fact or when red tagged.
    In my memory, my Class K Permits also had the advantage of being valid for a longer time period
    (I remember 3 years, and that could be extended twice for 6 months via a formal written request
    or by getting an inspection).  I once had to demand my Class K Permit when I went to pay for it
    because I was first given papers for a regular permit w the counter guy saying the regular
    UBC Codes Permit was just as good. I later learned the Class K option to get relaxed
    inspections kind of blew some building inspectors minds who were new to the dept
    and previously only known about the standard UBC codes inspection standards.
    My view of the Class K Permit is that most scrutiny is given to where the
    fire hazards are; like electrical, propane or natural gas lines, and wood stove
    heater requirements.  I do not know if anyone got something like a dome home
    (which is outside regular 2 x 4 and 2 x 6  standardized wall construction technique),
    yet do think some did. Not sure where line was for telling someone they needed
    to get an engineer involved (like for some huge oversized beam type buildings).
    The Class K option that was born in Mendocino County back in the late 70s
    resulted in a State Level Building Code change that provided each county  a
    way adopt there own version of  a Class K Permit option as they saw fit.
    While many counties did not give this Class K option the time of day,
    Mendocino County with it's clout of activists and voters who rallied
     for the Class K option (including at the State Level) surely did!
    That was such an interesting time in the late 70s. The whole political
    spectrum of the Mendocino County's Board of Supervisors and their
    District Attorney was changed at the voting booth with the help of
    the small Mendocino Grapevine newspaper that swelled in readership,
    all around the then local building codes issues.
    The Class K Permit has helped so many folks live in and legalize their homes
    while also giving rural Mendocino County's government a way to legalize
    a huge number of rural situated homes built back then without permits back
    because some of the specific requirements were really ridiculous!
    The Head of the Mendocino County Building Dept recently rallying for
    retiring the Class K Codes. I am happy to hear our low stock of low
    income housing plus need for economical building options including from
    impact from the Oct 2017 Fire Storm that took down 300 plus home to ashes,
    our Mendocino County Board of Supervisors voted to keep our Class K Building Code
    I understand some modification where made including to limit the maximum size
    building Class K could be used for (have not studied the specifics).
    I have doubts an Aircrete Dome Building could pass through
    the Class K slot, yet wonder about that. I did hear about
    an Aircrete Dome building going up in Willits, California on
    Commercial Street and will be asking the owners about how
    they managed their building permit hoop when I get a chance.
    Ideas I might consider if I was younger in my building dreams:
    I would consider building something small, economical and easy
     (like a one bedroom), connected to an oversized septic system
    (like rated for 4 bedrooms) then after getting that legal,  ... the build
     an agricultural (aircrete dome) building, or storage building, or maybe
    a car port aircrete dome.  What would be the lesser requirements for that?
    The option one might then consider is to later quietly convert your ag
    storage or carport building to your home.  You have to be getting along with
    your neighbors to pull that idea off. I have seen some folks pull that off.
    The other options that would help you go to the bank and get a loan
    or for those who will give priority to protect their investment potential to resell,
    is to then go find the right Engineer support.
    Food for Thoughts,  Bill

  • Nevada County, California Building Permit Application Handbook sez:

    "EXEMPTED WORK: Sec. L-V 2.4, Land Use and Development Code, Work Exempt from a Permit
    A Building Permit shall not be required for the following:
    "One-story detached accessory building without electrical, mechanical or plumbing not intended
    for habitation provided the projected roof area does not exceed 200 square feet. Meet setbacks,
    one structure per parcel."

    So that's just a dome with just under an 8' radius/16' diameter. Do the standard Domegaia window and door extensions count as roof area?

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